More than a month ago, we took a look at three household names in net that were potentially toxic to select on fantasy draft day. Ryan Miller, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Semyon Varlamov are all goaltenders to avoid because of their deteriorating personal statistics and the poor strength of their teams. But they are not the only noteworthy goaltenders that should be avoided in the fall when you’re looking for netminders in your fantasy league’s draft.
The starting role and job security are paramount to a goaltender’s fantasy value. Simply put, you want to draft goaltenders that are going to start the majority of their team’s games. Taking goaltenders that have a tenuous grasp on their team’s starting role is a roll of the dice that rarely ever works out, especially if those goaltenders are veterans being challenged by younger and cheaper heirs apparent.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Howard’s stock on the draft board fell significantly last year after two straight seasons with an unimpressive .910 save percentage and a noted increase in his goals-against average after posting a 2.13 GAA in 2012-13. After losing his grip on the starting job to Petr Mrazek after an injury in January, it’s anyone’s guess where Howard will go on draft day.
Howard finds himself on the trading block and a possible buy-out candidate because of yet another rough season and his $5,291,666 cap hit over the next three years. The American netminder made 17 fewer starts last season than he did in 2014-15 and struggled after returning from his injury. Howard finished the year with an alarming 2.80 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
In the unlikely event that Detroit moves Mrazek — a restricted free agent due for a big raise — and keeps Howard as the probable starter, his play over the past three seasons makes him a goalie you just can’t trust on draft day. The 32-year-old isn’t who he was three or four years ago and the same can be said of the team he currently plays for.
If Howard is still with Detroit after the offseason, he will be worth little more on draft day than a gamble pick for your team’s third goaltender. Of course, that could change if he is traded and put into a different situation. What Howard needs most isn’t a change of scenery; it’s a time machine.Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets
Because of an injury and inconsistent play, Pavelec started just 31 games last season for Winnipeg, his lowest total since 2008-09. The Czech goaltender has never been known as a special player in fantasy hockey, but he was popular as a mid-to-late-round pick in the last few years because of his job security. Managers that found themselves in need of a goalie often selected Pavelec because he was one of the few starters still available.
That job security no longer exists.
When Pavelec missed three months with a knee sprain, 26-year-old Michael Hutchinson was given the opportunity he had been waiting for: a chance to claim the starting role in Winnipeg’s crease. Unfortunately for Hutchinson, he dropped the ball in his 25 starts last season after a promising rookie performance.
However, rookie Connor Hellebuyck did not waste his opportunity.
In addition to starting in a dozen straight games, Hellebuyck posted the best stats of the Jets’ three goaltenders in a similar sample size. Before being sent back down to the AHL, Hellebuyck had a record of 13-11-1 and a .918 save percentage. He is currently the favorite to take the starting job out of camp next season, which would be the first time since the franchise moved from Atlanta that Pavelec wasn’t the starter to begin the season.
Pavelec’s days as a low-risk late pick in the draft to fill out your roster are over. He has one year left on his contract and both Hellebuyck and Hutchinson are better options moving forward for a team that desperately needs help keeping pucks out of its net.