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Ville Husso, Blues (8-2-1, .943 Sv%, 1.88 GAA) and Kaapo Kahkonen, Wild (9-2-2, .921 Sv%, 2.50 GAA)
Both goalies were featured in last week’s column, so I’ll keep this short for the two Finnish backups … or are they starters now? Jordan Binnington had yet another bad outing in a 7-1 loss to Calgary on Monday — to be fair, the whole team was bad — but that’s now three losses in his last four starts with 18 (!) goals allowed. Husso went from being barely rostered in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues last week to 50 percent, and while his hold on the No. 1 job isn’t 100 percent secure, it’s obvious that he’s been far better than Binnington, and the Blues are a good veteran team that can cover up some of Husso’s inexperience and inconsistency.
Kahkonen’s fantasy value is very much tied to Cam Talbot‘s health, who lasted four periods against the Habs before leaving with a lower-body injury. Kahkonen’s the second fiddle once Talbot returns, but his strong play means the Wild don’t have to rush Talbot and their offense has provided very good goal support. Even when Talbot returns, we might see a 1A-1B-type rotation, so fantasy managers should be ready to roster both Wild goalies as Dean Evason figures out some sort of platoon. It’s a good problem to have for the Wild.
Philipp Grubauer, Kraken (Past 4 games: 3-1-0, .900 Sv%, 2.73 GAA)
They say January is sometimes the “forgotten month” but we’ve just entered the Grubauer twilight zone. The embattled former Vezina finalist — shockingly — managed to win three consecutive games, though it’s worth noting that based on public GSAA models and the eye test, he’s still probably the worst starter in the league. The winning streak ended Tuesday against the Preds on home ice where the Kraken continue to be pretty abysmal, but it’s better late than never for Grubauer to deliver some wins. The Kraken have so much ground to make up they should probably be sellers at the trade deadline, and this may be the right time to see if Grubauer can be pawned off for another fantasy asset if managers haven’t already dumped him on the waiver wire.
Spencer Martin, Canucks (0-0-2, .952 Sv%, 1.86 GAA)
Martin was spectacular in his season debut, his first start in nearly five years after going 0-2-1 with the Avs as a 21-year-old. Older and more experienced, Martin was picked up by the Canucks early in the season to shore up their goaltending depth, and their under-the-radar move has now earned two points in what otherwise would’ve been blowout losses to the Panthers and Oilers. Remember, Martin’s second scheduled start was disrupted after he was placed in COVID protocol, which could’ve thrown any goalie off rhythm, but he didn’t miss a beat in his next start against a vaunted Oilers offense and put in another spectacular performance with 47 saves. Thatcher Demko‘s status for Thursday’s game is unknown at this point, but with the Jets struggling and Martin playing so well, perhaps he’s worth streaming in his next start, whenever that may be.
Michael Houser, Sabres (2-0-0, .948 Sv%, 2.00 GAA)
The amount of déjà vu is kind of interesting. For the second straight season, the Sabres signed Houser midway through their campaign and watched him emphatically win his first two games. Last season, Houser made his debut in May in back-to-back wins against the Isles with a .937 Sv%. The worry, however, is that Houser allowed eight goals in his third start and finished with a 2-2-0 record and a .901 Sv% overall. The Sabres have a three-day break; look for Houser to possibly start against the Coyotes on Saturday, which should be a low-scoring affair. Be cautious with Houser; if he can keep this up, he may take more playing time away from Aaron Dell.
Honorable Mention: John Gibson, Ducks; Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes; Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz, Avalanche; Elvis Merzlikins, Blue Jackets; Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger, Stars; Juuse Saros, Predators; Ilya Sorokin, Islanders; Igor Shesterkin, Rangers; Matt Murray, Senators; Carter Hart, Flyers; Tristan Jarry, Penguins; Robin Lehner, Golden Knights
Connor Hellebuyck, Jets (Past 5 games: 0-3-2, .884 Sv%, 3.60 GAA)
The Jets seem even more inconsistent with the new voice in the room and are now 4-4-2 under Dave Lowry. Part of the reason they’ve disappointed has been Hellebuyck’s play, which has been fine (14-12-6, .913 Sv%, 2.80 GAA) but not good enough to be anywhere near Vezina-worthy, and the Jets need him to do that to win a lot of games. Whatever ails the Jets doesn’t seem to be a quick fix — Paul Maurice leaving was supposed to be part of that — and so Hellebuyck’s fantasy value continues to steadily dip. The next stretch will not be easy because six of their next eight opponents will be divisional foes. Fantasy managers may want to gauge want kind of return they can get for Hellebuyck as the Jets are five points out of a playoff spot.
Cayden Primeau, Canadiens (1-4-1, .889 Sv%, 4.32 GAA)
Samuel Montembeault is dealing with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day, and it’s unfortunate because he had just put together such a spectacular performance against the Stars in an upset win. He’s the most capable of the Habs’ stable of goalies, and his injury has suddenly thrust Primeau back into the spotlight. Primeau had been one of the Habs’ prized prospects, but his NHL career has been rocky, to say the least, and he was pulled in his last start in favor of Michael McNiven, an undrafted 24-year-old who allowed three goals on seven shots. Primeau’s fantasy value gets a bump only because of playing time. Otherwise, his play has actually trended downward the last two seasons.
Dishonorable Mention: Linus Ullmark and Tuukka Rask, Bruins; Aaron Dell, Sabres; Jack LaFontaine, Hurricanes; Marc-Andre Fleury, Blackhawks; Alex Nedeljkovic, Red Wings; Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen, Kings; Martin Jones, Flyers; Casey DeSmith, Penguins; James Reimer and Adin Hill, Sharks
Source: Yahoo Sports