Slapshot Fantasy

Fantasy Hockey: It’s Time to Cut Deadweight Goalies

The NHL’s deadline day is two weeks away which means that the fantasy season has officially entered crunch time. Hundreds of fantasy managers have been holding on to goaltenders who have been anchors to their team; dragging down their stats and averages and spoiling week after week. Some of these goalies were once sure things in fantasy hockey or former stars, but they have all been major disappointments this season.

The time has come for fantasy managers to take a long, hard look at those goalies who will likely be in an even worse situation than they are now after deadline day. If a goaltender’s team is a seller and out of the playoff hunt, things can only go from bad to worse.

James Reimer

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but what little fantasy value there was in having either Reimer or Jonathan Bernier is gone. After the Dion Phaneuf trade it is clear that the Leafs are tanking and will be dressing something akin to an AHL roster for the remainder of the season. To add to the certainty behind getting rid of Reimer, both of Toronto’s goalies have had issues with consistency and confidence this season.

It would be too easy to waste time trying to trade Reimer to managers who will have no interest in him. The best thing you can do, unless he is absolutely necessary to you roster, is to cut him and look for a hot skater on the waiver wire.

Ryan Miller

Not only are the Vancouver Canucks battling for a wild card spot with seemingly half of the conference, they are also straddling the line between buyers and sellers, possibly looking to move Radim Vrbata, Alexander Burrows, and other pieces. Ryan Miller remains one of hockey’s most overrated goalies and a disappointment to fantasy managers who were hoping for a renaissance season out of the veteran netminder.

In addition to Miller’s underwhelming personal statistics, backup Jacob Markstrom has been great in his appearances and could be stealing starts from the former Olympian any game now. The Canucks playoff aspirations aren’t dead yet thanks to the poor quality of hockey in the Pacific Division, but they are starting to look desperate. Vancouver’s veteran roster is one key injury away from being a long shot to make it to the playoffs to a lost cause.

FEB 07, 2016 : Cam Ward #30 of the Carolina Hurricanes makes a save on Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Philippe Bouchard/Icon Sportswire)

Cam Ward

Now that Steven Stamkos is officially off the market according to Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, the biggest name among forwards who are likely to be moved by deadline day could be Eric Staal. If the eldest Staal brother goes there simply won’t be much talent left for the Hurricanes who play in a brutal division filled with several teams — including the Penguins and Flyers — who are starting to turn things around.

Ward’s recent injury gave Eddie Lack a chance to make a case as the solution to Carolina’s goaltending woes, especially since Ward may hit the open market this upcoming offseason. Ward is owned by very few fantasy mangers for good reason: he’s a shadow of his former self and has poor stats on a poor hockey team. Almost any return would be worthwhile in a deal that divorces Ward from your fantasy roster.

 

Pekka Rinne

The biggest name on this list has been a reliable fantasy netminder for the better part of a decade. Fantasy hockey is the definition of a “what have you done for me” game and in the 2015-16 season Rinne has been a cataclysmic disappointment.

After years of being solid as a rock in the blue paint in Nashville, Rinne is having the worst season of his career. According to Elliotte Friedman, there is also a chance that the Predators might add a goaltender before deadline day to push Rinne or give them another option besides Carter Hutton who has caught some attention in his spotty starts.

Rinne’s nightmarish fantasy season has broken almost as many hearts as Carey Price’s injury. Rinne’s name recognition should give him plenty of fantasy hockey value that may be unwarranted at this point. Is it a gamble? Sure it is. But if you’ve stuck with Rinne all season long and watched how he has dragged your statistics down, you should know it’s time to try something different.

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