The Goalie Report: Most Surprising and Disappointing Goalies of the Season

The Goalie Report: Most Surprising and Disappointing Goalies of the Season

This article is part of our The Goalie Report series.

In a season where Connor McDavid set a new cap-era scoring record and power-play efficiencies increased league-wide, it was clearly not a banner year for goalies. Though Linus Ullmark is expected to run away with the Vezina, the position most fraught with inconsistency in fantasy became even more volatile than before.

The five goalies with the most wins last season (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sergei Bobrovsky, Juuse Saros, Jacob Markstrom and Darcy Kuemper) rank sixth, 18th, eighth, 19th and 23rd, respectively, going into Monday's games. Last year's top five in save percentage among goalies with at least 10 appearances (Igor Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin, Frederik Andersen, Markstrom and Kuemper) rank 15th, third, 34th, 63rd and 26th this year.

After leading the league in wins for five straight seasons, Vasilevskiy wasn't close to being the league's best goalie. He may finish outside the top five in Vezina voting for the first time in six seasons, and ultimately wound up hurting fantasy managers who used a first-round pick on him.

Goalie tandems are now a thing, and some of the best ones can come out of seemingly nowhere. Logan Thompson looked very good despite being pressed into the No. 1 role prematurely following Robin Lehner's injury. Pheonix Copley saved the Kings' season. The Panthers are still in playoff contention late because Alex Lyon has been lights out.

Here are your top surprises and disappointments for the 2022-23 season in this week's Goalie Report.

Biggest Disappointments

In a season where Connor McDavid set a new cap-era scoring record and power-play efficiencies increased league-wide, it was clearly not a banner year for goalies. Though Linus Ullmark is expected to run away with the Vezina, the position most fraught with inconsistency in fantasy became even more volatile than before.

The five goalies with the most wins last season (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sergei Bobrovsky, Juuse Saros, Jacob Markstrom and Darcy Kuemper) rank sixth, 18th, eighth, 19th and 23rd, respectively, going into Monday's games. Last year's top five in save percentage among goalies with at least 10 appearances (Igor Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin, Frederik Andersen, Markstrom and Kuemper) rank 15th, third, 34th, 63rd and 26th this year.

After leading the league in wins for five straight seasons, Vasilevskiy wasn't close to being the league's best goalie. He may finish outside the top five in Vezina voting for the first time in six seasons, and ultimately wound up hurting fantasy managers who used a first-round pick on him.

Goalie tandems are now a thing, and some of the best ones can come out of seemingly nowhere. Logan Thompson looked very good despite being pressed into the No. 1 role prematurely following Robin Lehner's injury. Pheonix Copley saved the Kings' season. The Panthers are still in playoff contention late because Alex Lyon has been lights out.

Here are your top surprises and disappointments for the 2022-23 season in this week's Goalie Report.

Biggest Disappointments

Jacob Markstrom, Flames (Yahoo ADP: 30.6)

No goalie was more disappointing than Markstrom, the Vezina runner-up whose play was so poor this season he ranked fourth-last in goals saved above average at 5-on-5, according to naturalstattrick.com, and at certain points ceded the starting job to backup Daniel Vladar. The Flames were certainly unlucky with a league-leading 16 overtime losses and 13 one-goal losses despite ranking in the top five in possession analytics. A bounce-back season is very possible, but between now and September, who knows what kind of changes are in store. The Flames are talented but are also the sixth-oldest team in the league with an average age of 27.71, according to eliteprospects.com.

Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes (Yahoo ADP: 50.0)

The injuries came and went, as expected, but a sub-par save percentage and a three-way split in net with Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov made Andersen one of the worst value picks this season. The 33-year-old will finish with a save percentage below .910 for the third time in four seasons after winning the Jennings and coming fourth in Vezina voting last season. With free agency looming and the Canes already known for being unwilling to spend big on goalies, Andersen's fantasy value is near, or at least close to, rock bottom.

Jack Campbell, Oilers (Yahoo ADP: 76.2)

Campbell's good for about a month or two per season, and the rest of the time he's a really expensive backup. Campbell's first season with the Oilers was worse than expected because he was displaced as the starter much sooner than anyone had really anticipated. He reached 20 wins rather easily despite a poor save percentage (.888) thanks to the Oilers' scoring prowess. Campbell was the 14th goalie off the board according to Yahoo's ADP, but he ended up being a streaming option for nearly the entire season except for January.

Spencer Knight, Panthers (Yahoo ADP: 87.8)

Sometimes, it pays off to reach for goaltending, but those expecting Knight to take over for Bobrovsky were in for a rude surprise. Not only did Knight fail to usurp the starting job, he was admitted into the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. There's been plenty of pressure for Knight to take over, and it was a curious decision by Andrew Brunette to sit Knight for the entire playoffs last season. Perhaps we should just face the fact that Bobrovsky is here to stay and will be the Panthers' starter for the remainder of his contract.

Cal Petersen, Kings (Yahoo ADP: 170.6)

Petersen was a popular dark-horse pick to take over in the Kings' net since Jonathan Quick's play was fading quickly as he got older. The second part remained true, but Petersen was so bad the Kings ended up demoting him to the AHL, where he was materially better but still not good enough to displace Copley or Joonas Korpisalo.

Biggest Surprises

Linus Ullmark, Bruins (Yahoo ADP: 146.3)

The Bruins operate a timeshare with Jeremy Swayman but Ullmark was clearly the better goalie all season. Despite a smaller workload than most starting goalies, what Ullmark lacked in quantity he made up for in quality. He stood in a class of his own this season.

Stuart Skinner, Oilers (Yahoo ADP: 169.8)

The fact that Skinner was drafted at all showed how little confidence there was in Campbell. He ended up being one of the best value picks of the season, taking over the starting job on a team that could score its way out of trouble at any time. Going forward, Skinner's going to be highly sought after due to his low floor and high ceiling.

Vitek Vanecek, Devils (Yahoo ADP: 173.0)

It's interesting to note Vanecek went nearly 60 picks after Ilya Samsonov (ADP 117.9) even though they shared duties with the Caps in the previous season and it was difficult to tell who was the better goalie. The mistake here was discounting the Devils, who broke out in a big way thanks to Jack Hughes, a willingness to spend money in free agency (Dougie Hamilton, Ondrej Palat) and some shrewd trades along the way (John Marino). Vanecek kept pace and though fatigue may explain his inconsistency, his job as the No. 1 is surer than Samsonov's in Toronto. Vanecek could be drafted in the top 50 next season.

Filip Gustavsson, Wild (Yahoo ADP: n/a)

Gustavsson was a big reason why the Wild were so competitive despite having Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's punitive cap hits still on the books. Acquired by the Wild in exchange for Cam Talbot, who wasn't content potentially playing second fiddle to Marc-Andre Fleury, Gustavsson ended up providing immense value and potentially the Wild's long-term solution in net.

Joonas Korpisalo, Kings (Yahoo ADP: n/a)

Korpisalo entered the season as the clear No. 2 behind Elvis Merzlikins. Over the course of the season, he ended up outplaying Merzlikins and attracted a trade-deadline suitor in the Kings. He went from being valued as one of the worst backups in the league to a timeshare with a playoff-bound team and provided massive surplus value as a waiver wire pickup. At 28, Korpisalo still has plenty of good years left and his fantasy value next season will depend on where he signs this summer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason won the 2021 FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award, and was also a finalist on 2019. He joined RotoWire in 2013. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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