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Finding Value at the G Position

September 23, 2021   Left Wing Lock Staff   0 Comments


In part five of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on goalies. Part I in this series discussed left wings; Part II discussed right wings; Part III discussed centers; and Part IV discussed defensemen. Specifically, we're interested in using the Yahoo goalie rankings to not only determine the best players to target in your fantasy hockey draft, but also when to target them. The assumptions made in this article include the following: (1) you're in a Yahoo standard league, (2) your league has 12 managers, and (3) your league is not a keeper league.

Manager Behavior

Before we jump into the details of which goalies are undervalued, it's important to get a handle on how managers are behaving in their fantasy hockey drafts so far. In the image below, you'll see exactly how many goalies are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). In the first round, managers have their sights set on Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's going to cost you if you want him this year, as his ADP now sits at 5. Three goalies (Robin Lehner, Darcy Kuemper, and Connor Hellebuyck) are coming off the board in Round 2 which is a significant departure from last year's behavior when just one goalie was selected in Round 2 on average. The goalie run gets started early in Round 4 this year and lasts for about 30 picks. During that timeframe, you can expect to see 10 goalies come off the board. Recall, that in Rounds 7-8, there is a surge of managers taking centers, while Rounds 9-11 see a surge of defensemen drafted. This means that Rounds 7-11 will be relatively quiet for goalies before things pick up again in Round 12.

Finding Value at the Goalie Position
Finding Value at the Goalie Position

Player Rankings and ADP

At leftwinglock.com, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits which marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. This exact type of draft kit was used by our team to defeat the fantasy experts at NHL.com and win the first-ever Zero Transaction Fantasy Championship. The draft kit includes sortable spreadsheets filled with projections in 25+ categories for over 600 NHL players. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as goalies in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compared these player rankings to the player's ADP (average draft position) to determine which players are undervalued (it's never wise to draft on rank number alone). That is, we're looking for players whom our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.

Below, you'll find a table of four players who are eligible at goalie and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts. We'll be comparing the ordered list of goalies by Yahoo in their default system against the ordered list constructed by Left Wing Lock. We'll point out some draft-day bargains, but a full listing can be found in the draft kit. Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.

Finding Value at the Goalie Position

Carter Hart PHI G 4 26
Philipp Grubauer SEA G 6 14
Jacob Markstrom CGY G 7 27
Elvis Merzlikins CBJ G 24 51

Carter Hart - Given that there are 32 NHL teams, Carter Hart's ordering at 26 in the Yahoo system suggests that managers believe he will be one of the worst starting goalies in the league (and/or play on one of the worst teams in the league). Both of these assumptions are an overreaction to Philadelphia's season in 2020-2021. The assumptions likely are also based on an incorrect interpretation of the Flyers' performance in 2020-2021. Let's clear the air. The Flyers were not a team that played great in the early part of the season and then collapsed. Instead, the Flyers were awful early in the season (heavily outshot by opponents on a consistent basis) and were riding a major wave of luck (shooting with 11.5% success at even-strength) that allowed them to hold a playoff spot into March. We warned Hart owners in March to do anything to get him off your roster before the impending collapse (while the Flyers were still in a playoff position). In a strange twist, the Flyers went on to become a rather strong puck possession team the rest of the way, but their results cratered along with their lucky shooting percentage. We go into great detail analyzing the Flyers' season in the draft kit. There are solid reasons to believe this year will be a bounceback season for Hart. He will be one of the biggest steals in fantasy drafts this season.

Philipp Grubauer - Grubauer has a career SV% of 0.920 and has posted incredible numbers for two different teams (Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche). Managers are treating him (Seattle) as the 14th best option among goalies this season. While the team-level rank seems reasonable, I surely can't name 13 goalies better than Grubauer in the NHL.

Jacob Markstrom - We have Calgary projected as a playoff bubble team for the 2021-2022 season. With Markstrom getting the uncontested bulk of the starts on a team that ends up with approximately 92 points, he surely has value in fantasy leagues on counting stats alone. Markstrom's save percentage while on the penalty kill (PKSV%) last season was just 0.844. We know that large deviations in PKSV% from the league average are heavily influenced by luck. We create a list of goalies in the draft kit who are expected to rebound based on weak PKSV% from the previous season. Markstrom is on this list.

Elvis Merzlikins - Our team-level model for the 2021-2022 season projects the Columbus Blue Jackets to miss the playoffs (we have them finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference). Because the team won't generate many wins, the Blue Jackets' goalies will have a lower ceiling on their fantasy value. But Merzlikins is a starting goalie and, in a limited sample size of 1,744 shots against, has posted a 0.920 career save percentage on a non-playoff team. Being listed as the 51st best goalie in the Yahoo default system provides managers an excellent chance of drafting him late as a third goalie for their roster. Interestingly, managers are treating his backup as the starting goalie - drafting Joonas Korpisalo a full two rounds earlier.

Customized Player Rankings

If you're looking for a chance to draft players with great projections that are being ignored by the other fantasy hockey websites, then consider downloading one of our fantasy hockey draft kits this season. You won't be disappointed. While this article focused on the Yahoo standard scoring system, our customized draft kits can handle just about any scoring system you throw our way. You'll find plenty of draft day steals.

For 15 years, you've trusted Left Wing Lock as a reliable source to bring you accurate starting goalie information, line combinations, and player news alerts. That same passion and dedication fuels us as we create the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2021-2022 season. Order your kit today!

An NHL player involved in this analysis. Click player name to visit player profile page.
The current NHL team for this player.
The official position designation for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
The rank assigned by Left Wing Lock for this player in this specific scoring system only.
The average draft position for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.

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