Most fantasy managers have learned the valuable lesson of playing it safe when drafting goaltenders on draft day. Perhaps even more important than picking tried and true quality goaltenders is making sure to avoid goalies who are on poor teams or are attracting attention on draft day because of their history – no matter how removed they may or may not be from it.
When scouting and deciding on a fantasy hockey goaltender, the team that they play on is just as important as their injury history and, in some cases, their job security. Here are three household name goaltenders that are no longer among fantasy hockey’s best after disastrous 2015-16 seasons.
Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks
The recognition of Miller’s name helped him go around 80th overall on average on fantasy draft day back in the fall according to fantasypros.com. That was far earlier than his statistics from the 2014-15 season should have seen him go, and his fantasy managers got to enjoy second-guess picking Miller over goalies like Steve Mason, Martin Jones, and Jake Allen all season long.
In 51 starts with the Canucks in 2015-16 Miller failed to reach 20 wins. A 0.916 save percentage and a 2.70 goals against average combined with just 17 wins resulted in an altogether underwhelming season for the American netminder who finished well outside of fantasy hockey’s top-200 players.
The last time Miller won 3o games was in 2011-12, his last full season with the Buffalo Sabres. Miller is turning 36 this July, and there is already serious talk of a decreased workload for him next season to get Jacob Markstrom more starts.
Miller’s best goaltending days are long behind him and so are his days of fantasy hockey relevancy.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Bobrovsky will be turning 28 next September and is just three years removed from winning a Vezina Trophy, but missing significant time with a groin injury and inconsistent play knocked him clean out of fantasy hockey’s top-200 players.
After two straight 30 win seasons Bobrovsky had an average pick of 48.3 on draft day, putting him just outside of the ten most coveted goaltenders in the fall. But Bobrovsky posted a disastrous 0.908 save percentage and an alarming 2.75 goals against average in just over 2,100 minutes of hockey this season.
Bobrovsky never stayed healthy long enough to gain his form and he finished the 2015-16 season with a losing record on the woeful Blue Jackets. Things are unlikely to improve for the Blue Jackets in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division next season, which makes Columbus’ starting goaltender a dangerous gamble on draft day even though there is outstanding hockey in his recent past.
Given the poor quality of his team and his awful 2015-16 fantasy hockey season the days of Bobrovsky being among the most valuable fantasy goaltenders are, for the time being, in the past.
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
Varlamov was the 62nd average overall pick, which meant that he went before Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in most leagues. Fantasy managers were expecting solid value in Varlamov’s season after he finished just outside of the top-100 fantasy players in 2014-15, but it wasn’t to be.
Varlamov started in the same number of games in 2015-16 that he did 2014-15, but his save percentage and goals against average both headed in the wrong direction during the Avalanche’s disappointing season. Unlike in 2014-15, Varlamov didn’t have five shutouts to help buoy his fantasy value and his goals against average slipped from 2.56 to 2.81 this season.
It’s hard to think that Varlamov’s value could have dropped so much after winning just one fewer game this season, but playing on a team that struggled to score goals and posted a losing record on home ice made for tough sledding for the Russian netminder.
There are more than a dozen goaltenders that will be better fantasy options than Varlamov for the 2016-17 fantasy season. Once a mainstay in the early rounds of draft day, Varlamov has now drifted into the outskirts of fantasy hockey’s significant goaltenders.