Fantasy Hockey Advice: Should I Give up on My Goalie?

It’s just a click of a button and you feel instant gratification. Trading away Sergei Bobrovsky and getting anything in return is the equivalent of deleting that annoying friend on Facebook and never seeing his annoying meme posts ever again.

Wait a second, though. Let me talk you out of it.

Goalies are the most loved – and the most hated – position in all of fantasy hockey. If your goalie is killing it and boasting an above .930 save percentage, he’s your golden boy. But, in Bobrovsky’s case, if he’s posted a sub .870 save percentage and a disastrous 3.99 goals-against average, you don’t even want to see his name when you are setting your team’s lineup.

Give it time.

The biggest mistake a fantasy manager can make is trading a high-end player during a slump (just ask anyone who might have traded Claude Giroux at the beginning of the 2013-14 season). Goalies are especially the case in this event. One week, a goalie can boast two shutouts in four games, then go winless with five goals against the following week.

Let’s completely get away from the belief that goalies are headcases and focus on the sport itself. Hockey is an up-and-down, tempo-changing sport that is constantly sending teams from fearless powerhouses one game to a team that can’t buy a goal the next. It’s a wicked carousel that brings the best and worst of times. You could argue that this is why we love it.

Goalies are at the forefront of this. Starters are in the crease night in and night out, seeing the best of their team in front of them and getting pulled when their squad isn’t giving them any support. Chances are, they will turn it back around.

Here are some goaltenders you may be considering dropping or trading because of a slump that is ruining the start of your fantasy season.

Sergei Bobrovsky


Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets, Fantasy Hockey
Sergei Bobrovsky just hasn’t lived up to expectation so far this season. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Bobrovsky’s Columbus Blue Jackets have had an abysmal start to the season. Even Bobrovsky himself has publicly stated “I have zero confidence right now.”

Ouch. As a fantasy owner, that is not what you want to hear from a guy you likely drafted within the top five rounds. However, Bobrovsky has been touched by King Midas since arriving in Columbus. He’s had small stretches here and there that weren’t promising, but he can still be the guy you thought you were getting during the draft. Columbus already got the monkey off their back with its first win last week (and another Tuesday night); adding a few more wins will get them back on a pleasant track.

You’ll be kicking yourself if you trade him for a third right winger and he goes on to shine for a playoff-hungry team.

Martin Jones


Martin Jones had a monstrous start (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Martin Jones had a monstrous start (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Nobody started the season hotter than unknown-fantasy-commodity Jones. Going 4-0-0, Jones allowed just two goals on the first 110 shots he faced in the season. That’s not too shabby for a guy who’s average draft ranking was 125th in the 11th round (according to Fantasy SP).

Shortly after, fantasy GMs began to worry. Jones has just one win in his last three starts, allowing 10 goals on 91 shots (.890 save percentage).

Is this reality setting in or has Jones already entered his first slump of his young San Jose Sharks career?

It’s tough to say, but it is definitely too early to give up on him. Referencing the aforementioned Blue Jackets goalie, we have seen netminders come out of nowhere in their first season as starters and steal the show. The Sharks may have crashed back down to reality (especially with an unfortunate injury to Logan Couture), but Jones still has plenty of time to prove he is deserving of a starting NHL job.

Also consider that the average hockey fan may not even know who Jones is. This fear of the unknown likely drops his trade value.

Tuukka Rask


Rask has had a slow start to the season (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) Rask will always haunt the Leafs.
Rask has had a slow start to the season (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) Rask will always haunt the Leafs.

Rask has been a staple on fantasy teams for quite some time, but his reign has come to an end. In an eight-team league, there’s a good chance he is sitting on the free-agent market.

Despite a shutout Tuesday night, his abysmal 3.67 GAA and .874 save percentage are flirting with being one of the worst in the league in both categories, while his Bruins team, although a semi-respectable 4-3-1, is far from the Presidents’ Trophy winning team in 2013-14. Still a relatively young man at 28-years old, Rask has plenty of elite play left in his tank, but a falling team with a rebuild in sight does not bode well for the Finland native.

Even though his numbers are sketchy, there is likely someone in your fantasy league that holds him in a high regard. There is plenty of positive left in Rask’s game, but there’s also the potential that his numbers continue to crash and burn throughout the season.

Mike Smith

Trade or Drop

Smith and the Coyotes had a surprising start to the season (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
Smith and the Coyotes had a surprising start to the season (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

About 10 months ago, you would have been labeled a fantasy newbie if you even considered having Smith on your roster for anything other than a spot start here and there.

Left as a free agent in many 8-12 team leagues to start this season, Smith showed signs of returning to his 2012 Western Conference Final form. His 3-0-0 start, accompanied with a .981 save percentage and one shutout, made him out to be the greatest early-season pickup in free agency.

However, the 33-year old, along with his Arizona Coyotes teammates, is starting to fall to the preseason expectations. By no means is Smith a bad goaltender (as he may have been labeled last season), but he is the starter for a team that is still far from challenging for the Pacific Division, despite a nice start. He will continue to steal games here and there and should be a shoo-in for a late-week pickup to meet your starts requirement. But he should be one of the last names you sift through when deciding who your top-two rostered goaltenders are.

For more fantasy advice, tweet me anytime at @jponder94.