5 Underrated Fantasy Hockey Goalies to Draft

We’ve covered everything from sleeper picks to players who will get your fantasy hockey team stats in every category. Now we move on to goalies and some great options that have the potential to perform much better than they are projected to, whether this is due to past performance, a breakout season, playing for a good team, or a great defensive team.

5. Calvin Petersen

Calvin Petersen may be on the worst team of the goalies on this list, but that doesn’t mean that all of his stats will suffer. In all three seasons that he’s been a part of the Los Angeles Kings, they have missed the playoffs and finished very low in the standings. The first two were in a backup role, which can be tough but also rewarding at times.

The games that a backup will generally get into are back-ends of a back-to-back where the team in front of him is tired from the night before, or against a team at the bottom of the league. Usually, a team likes to go with their starter in games that matter more, such as vs. divisional opponents also in the mix for a playoff spot or a top team in the league.

Petersen just assumed the starter role last season where the Kings took a step forward with a boost from his play in net. Despite posting a 2.89 goals-against average (GAA), his save percentage (SV%) was respectable if you take into account the young and inexperienced group in front of him. With another year and some additions that should help him out in Alex Edler and Phillip Danault, his numbers should increase all around and you should expect at least a 25-win season and over .915 SV% in 2021-22.

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Ranked as the 32nd goalie in Yahoo Fantasy Hockey, a starter on a team that could compete for a playoff spot should be much higher, and you will be rewarded for drafting him as a second or third goalie option.

4. Carter Hart

The first two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers should be more of an indication of what Carter Hart can do in the net in the NHL. He had a .917 and .914 SV% in seasons that could be considered a split time/starter role. Last season was way off the charts of similarity to his previous performance. Though the Flyers didn’t help him much, his numbers were horrible. He had an .877 SV% in 27 games and then went down to injury.

The Flyers made some huge changes on the back end to help fix the problem, bringing in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle, all veteran players. They moved on from a trio of younger defencemen who had different styles of game. At the very least, the experience and change in scenery from the new guys should provide the boost that the team needs to keep pucks out of their net more than last year.

Related: 5 Late-Round Fantasy Hockey Draft Picks

Hart will look to return to form and to the goalie that the Flyers and fanbase hoped he’d be. The Flyers’ season depends on if he can bounce back, and since the team seems to alternate making and missing playoffs for the last 10 seasons, it’s their year again.

3. Linus Ullmark

This is where we get into the sure-fire hits in net. Linus Ullmark replaces Tuukka Rask as the starting goaltender in Boston — big shoes to fill. Now, that’s not to say that Ullmark won’t perform up to the task and be excellent in goal for the Bruins. History says that he is a very good goalie — just take his numbers on a Buffalo Sabres team that finished last in the NHL.

Let’s dive into the numbers behind Ullmark. Over the last two seasons on the Sabres, he has a 9.9 goals saved above expected (GSAA). His SV% hasn’t dipped below .915 in either of the previous two seasons while finishing each with a positive win/loss record at 26-20-6.

Linus Ullmark Buffalo Sabres
Linus Ullmark, former Buffalo Sabres goaltender (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Quality starts are defined by Hockey Reference as the SV% above the average SV% for the year, or at least 88.5 percent on nights with 20 or fewer shots against. That being said, he recorded 30 quality starts over the past two seasons through 54 games, which is above the league average in both. A good percentage of quality starts is above a .600 quality start percent — Ullmark has reached that in his rookie season in 2015-16 and again in 2017-18.

For a Sabres team that only won 15 games all season in 56 games played, Ullmark won nine of them in 20 starts. That leaves six wins for the other goalies in 36 games. The Sabres’ season may not have been so bad if he hadn’t missed a lot of time. On a Bruins team that is set to make the playoffs once again, expect his numbers to rise or even skyrocket with the new team he has in front of him.

2. Thatcher Demko

Thatcher Demko is a really good option for your fantasy hockey team this season, as the Vancouver Canucks look like a much-improved team all-around. His stats don’t match the level that he played at last season. The SV% and GSAA are representative of a well-played season, but the number of wins and GAA don’t really match up. Demko did all that he could, but with a .915 SV% and a 2.85 GAA, it proves that the Canucks just allowed too many shots against. A SV% of that number is well above average, and should only rise this year after the changes.

After finishing last season 24th in the league and eighth in the North Division, the Canucks are set to win a lot more games. Elias Pettersson is signed and healthy, Brock Boeser should return from injury soon, and Quinn Hughes is signed. They also received help in net, as they signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to support Demko. Halak should be able to take a bit of the load off Demko and allow him to play in some more games against weaker opponents, not always the top teams. The Canucks also won’t be stuck playing the likes of Edmonton and Toronto 9-10 times this season and have to face those scoring threats almost every night.

1. Juuse Saros

The Nashville Predators made a surprise appearance in the postseason last year, but that wouldn’t have turned out the same if the divisions were normal. The team stormed their way into the playoffs on the back of goaltender Juuse Saros. The Preds were a team that lacked offence, but made up for it with the solid play in front of the net and with the outstanding performance by their goaltender. (“2021-22 NHL Position Rankings: Top 10 goalies”, NBC Sports Boston, Oct. 7, 2021)

Juuse Saros Nashville Predators
Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Saros played so well that he finished sixth in Vezina Trophy voting and 11th in Hart Trophy voting, having been a massive reason for his team making the postseason. Saros had an incredible 20.9 GSAA last season, and 40.1 for his entire career. In no season has he had a negative GSAA — the lowest being 4.4 in 2018-19.

He is still ranked as the 15th highest goaltender in Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues after finishing fifth last season. Saros will find a way to win the Predators hockey games as he did last season, so if the worry is on how many wins he’ll provide your fantasy team, don’t think they can’t surprise you once again. The GAA and SV% should stay about the same with the possibility of it rising even more if he’s just hitting his prime. He should be a Vezina Trophy candidate once again, and even on the radar for the Hart Trophy if his team sneaks into playoffs this year too.

I suggest you target these options in net if you want great value for where you draft them. The top three goalies will definitely not disappoint, with surprising upside from the other two options.

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