Fantasy Hockey: Goaltenders to Avoid in 2022-23

It’s never too late to think about the upcoming fantasy season. A lot of player movement is expected this summer, which will certainly have an effect on their respective fantasy values, but there comes a point in a player’s career – due to age or lack of opportunity – where they no longer become valuable in fantasy.

Here’s a look at four goalies who are already under contract for the 2022-23 season with an average draft position (ADP) of 180 or higher to avoid for the upcoming fantasy season.

Semyon Varlamov, G, Islanders (2021-22 Yahoo ADP: 50.2)

Statistically, it was one of Varlamov’s worst seasons in years, and it didn’t help that he received close to zero goal support. It’s a contract year for the 34-year-old, giving him one last chance to cash in on a contract before his career comes to a close, but it’s also quite apparent that Ilya Sorokin should be the No. 1 going forward. Barry Trotz is no longer behind the bench, so the rotation he stubbornly stuck with for long stretches last season won’t be repeated in 2022-23. According to naturalstattrick.com, Varlamov posted a -13.35 5v5 GSAA while Sorokin’s was 13.64, essentially a difference of 26 goals, which in simple math terms would vault them from a top-10 defense in goals against to top-3 again.

Petr Mrazek, G, Blackhawks (ADP: 84.8)

For reference, Jack Campbell’s ADP was 63.4, so there was a strong belief in the fantasy community that the Leafs would win a lot of games, which they did, and that both Campbell and Mrazek could form some kind of Jennings-caliber tandem, which they definitely didn’t. Fantasy managers who rostered both Campbell and Mrazek saw extreme highs and lows, and it was debatable if Campbell alone was even worth it. The Leafs shipped Mrazek off to the Blackhawks at the draft, clearing valuable cap space even though it cost them some draft capital, and it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, Mrazek will get the bulk of the starts, but the Blackhawks are expected to be a lottery team for years to come, and as a result Mrazek will be a bottom-of-the-barrel option among goalies. Even being careful with Mrazek’s starts may not ensure positive value for fantasy managers. Avoid Mrazek at the draft as he’s unlikely to provide any value beyond the occasional win for a very bad team, and given his injury history, he’s just far too unreliable.

Mike Smith, G, Oilers (ADP: 132.8)

There are rumblings of an impending retirement from Smith, but as it stands, he has one more year left on his contract, and the only other option for the Oilers right now is Stuart Skinner. While there were definitely some moments of brilliance, a lot of it was also sprinkled with poor puck decisions and inexplicably bad goals allowed. Smith is essentially a fantasy manager’s ultimate poison pill without the upside to help dull the pain from bad starts. Since his 38-win season in 2011-12, Smith has managed to win more than 20 games in a season just four times. When the Oilers acquire another goalie – as they should for the sake of Connor McDavid’s sanity – look for Smith to be a low-end 1B option.

Jake Allen, G, Canadiens (ADP: (134.6)

Allen’s numbers with the Habs through two seasons: 20-32-9, .905 Sv%, 3.30 GAA. Signed to take some pressure off Carey Price, Allen’s poor play has added more pressure on the franchise to find an alternate option and rely far too much on both Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, neither of whom have shown they have the chops to be starting material. The Habs got a bump from the Martin St. Louis hiring but were brought back down to earth soon after, and it’s a roster that’s still very much in need of work. 

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