February 26, 2024

Fantasy hockey pickups – Goalies who win while losing

For the most part, goalies who lose more often than not don’t make for attractive fantasy assets. This maxim rings particularly loudly in competition that dings netkeepers for every goal surrendered. Such as ESPN Fantasy’s default league, where two whole points are docked for each allowed, while granting only 0.2 for every save. You can see how the four points awarded for a team victory most certainly softens the blow of letting a pair or more get by. With a view to the arithmetic, while a 28-save, 3-2 defeat nets -0.4, a 28-save 4-3 win earns your netminder 3.6 fantasy points. To reiterate, losses hurt.

But usually doesn’t mean always. Of course there exists a few NHL netminders who still succeed in garnering positive points for their managers despite playing for teams that lose more often than not. And regularly enough. Characters who shouldn’t be disregarded, just because they compete for non-contenders. Especially if your current gaggle of fantasy goalies isn’t exactly slaying it out there. So here’s a handful of loveable losers to help your fantasy team even while their own remains chilling in the NHL’s standings cold cellar.

Petr Mrazek, G, Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks starting netminder appears to be leading today’s parade of losers who still manage to “win”. While failing to earn a victory through all of his past fours games, Mrazek nonetheless managed to escape with positive fantasy points in every single one – even in competition that punishes poor goaltending with negative integers (again, such ESPN.com’s standard league.) That there is the embodiment of good goaltending on a not-so-good team.

I’m not suggesting Mrazek himself, no doubt a good teammate, takes much solace from holding such a hollow title, but desperate fantasy managers might make the most of it. Because sometimes he wins games too, piling up a good number of positive points in the process. Which helps even further to offset the occasional negative-numbered fantasy loss. Available in more than 87% of ESPN.com leagues, Mrazek also plays for a Chicago team that often competes on more lightly-scheduled nights, when most other sides are off. If in the fantasy goaltending much, give him a gander.

Mackenzie Blackwood, G, San Jose Sharks: Perhaps the largest gap in a team’s poor performance and the quality of their primary goaltending rests between the Sharks and their No. 1 netminder. After a truly dreadful collective start to 2023-24, Blackwood has somehow managed to cobble together a 6-8-1 record along with a .901 SV% since Nov. 26. Not exactly brag-worthy numbers unless you consider how unsuccessfully San Jose (minus-92 goal-differential) has fared altogether.

The ex-Devil is also accruing valuable fantasy points: 29.6 in the last 30 days alone, which ranks seventh(!) amongst goalies in ESPN standard leagues. Point is, Blackwood might merit rostering in deeper competition, especially the type that doesn’t ding managers too badly, or at all, for losing performances. He’s probably available in yours. Who knows? With a single year left on his current deal, the 27-year-old could also get traded to a contender before Mar. 8.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Buffalo Sabres: Establishing himself as Buffalo’s clear No. 1, Luukkonen has 44.2 fantasy points to show for 2024 to date, despite winning only five of his assigned nine starts. Only a handful of other fantasy netminders are in that company. In fact, the club’s go-to dipped into the red only once – minus-1.4 against the Lightning on Jan. 20 – since we flipped the calendar six weeks ago. What’s even more fun is many still believe the Sabres are a better-than-their-record-suggests hockey team. Maybe so, in which case we might see a few more Buffalo wins down the stretch. Available in of 83% of ESPN.com leagues, Luukkonen may very well be unspoken for in yours.

Connor Ingram, G, Arizona Coyotes: Posting a winning record (17-12-1) for a team that altogether hovers around the .500 mark, Ingram is another goaltending asset that gives his squad a reasonable shot at escaping with a victory most nights. Fantasy-wise, a proclivity for blanking opposing sides – his five shutouts on the season rank only behind Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry – help make up for the odd blowout loss. If less interested in rolling out Ingram regularly, know that Arizona is much more successful at home (15-10-0) than on the road (8-13-3). So give him a little extra thought as a viable streaming option when the Coyotes compete in the friendlier confines of Mullett Arena and when the matchup makes sense. Particularly on days when most other NHL teams are idle.