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NHL Free Agency Recap: Goalies

October 4, 2015 | by Scott Maran | Comments Comments Off on NHL Free Agency Recap: Goalies
Jhonas Enroth is the new backup goalie for the Los Angeles Kings.
Jhonas Enroth isn’t likely to see much action for the Kings. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

The defensemen and forwards are now done, so today we turn our attention to the goalies as we continue our Fantasy hockey free agency recap.

Jhonas Enroth

The Contract: One year, $1.25 million, with the Los Angeles Kings.

Last Season: With the Sabres — 37 GP, 13 Wins, .903 save percentage, 3.27 GAA; with the Stars: 13 GP, five Wins, .906 save percentage, 2.38 GAA.

Analysis: We always thought of Enroth as the Sabres’ goalie of the future and believed he had the potential to be a starter in the NHL. Considering how cheap the Kings signed him for, we think they were able to sign a solid backup for a very team-friendly price. However, we don’t like this deal from Enroth’s perspective for reasons we will get into below.

Fantasy Impact: In the past five seasons while playing on the Sabres, Enroth has posted a save percentage of .907, .917, .919, .911 and .903. Those might not seem like great numbers, mostly because they aren’t, but you have to remember that he played on some really bad teams. The last time Buffalo was a top 20 team was in 2011-2012 and the last time it wasn’t in the bottom six was in 2012-2013, when it finished 23rd overall. It seems the only time Enroth wasn’t being swarmed was when he was warming up (see video below).

Considering this, we’re only going to look at Enroth’s first three seasons when the Sabres weren’t insanely terrible. In 2010-2011, his adjusted save percentage was .929, ranking 16th out of a group of the 21 most prominent starting goalies in the NHL.

In 2011-2012, Enroth’s adjusted save percentage was .931, 13th in that same group of goalies. It was higher than Carey Price and Pekka Rinne and just behind Craig Anderson, Antii Niemi, Jimmy Howard and Tuukka Rask. The following season, Enroth had an adjusted save percentage of .934, ranking eighth — higher than Roberto Luongo, Braden Holtby, Rinne and Brian Elliott and just behind Corey Crawford, Henrik Lundqvist and Jonas Hiller.

During the seasons when the Sabres were okay, Enroth was able to post strong save percentages and adjusted save percentages. On most good teams, he should be able to post an even stronger save percentage. When you consider Enroth is only 27, we think he can post a .920 save percentage (for comparison, Cam Talbot is 28) and put up good enough numbers to be a Fantasy relevant backup.

However, we think signing with the Kings could be really bad for Enroth. If Jonathan Quick gets hurt, then Enroth will finally be able to start on a good, defensively-reliable team. However, if Quick doesn’t get hurt, that could spell a lot of trouble for Enroth. We don’t see a scenario in which Quick is healthy and plays less than 70 games, meaning that Enroth may only around 12 starts. Obviously, that would make Enroth’s Fantasy value plummet and could really hurt his career.

Projection: 11 GP, five Wins, .921 save percentage, 2.36 GAA.

Michal Neuvirth

The Contract: Two years, $3.25-million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Last Season: Sabres — 27 GP, six wins, .918 save percentage, 2.99 GAA; Islanders — five GP, one win, .881 save percentage, 2.94 GAA.

Analysis: We like this signing a lot for both sides. The Flyers get a reliable backup goalie and Neuvirth will probably receive an above average amount of games for a No. 2 man.

Fantasy Impact: Throughout Neuvirth’s career, he has actually been a pretty decent goalie. The only time when his save percentage dipped below .910 was in the 2011-2012 season. Other than that, Neuvirth has been able to maintain a save percentage close to the league average (see graph below).

Year Neuvirth SV% Neuvirth average SV% NHL average SV%
2009-2010 0.914 0.912 0.911
2010-2011 0.914 0.912 0.913
2011-2012 0.903 0.912 0.914
2012-2013 0.91 0.912 0.912
2013-2014 0.921 0.912 0.914
2014-2015 0.914 0.912 0.915

His quality start percentage last season was 53.1 per cent — better than Ryan Miller (52.3) and Michael Hutchinson (52.8), slightly below Sergei Bobrovsky (53.2) and the same as Jimmy Howard. Neuvirth should provide good value to the Flyers and good value to his Fantasy owners.

He will probably play more than the average backup — we’re expecting him to see 30+ games of action. Last season, even though Steve Mason played 51 games, he was reportedly injured four times! It’s not a stretch to think Mason has a good chance of getting injured again, which mean will mean more PT for Neuvirth. GM Ron Hextall has actually said that he thinks Neuvirth is “probably going to play more than the typical backup.” Even if Mason is healthy, the Flyers might want to give him more rest this season.

Projection: 31 GP, 13 wins, .915 save percentage, 2.42 GAA.

Thomas Greiss

The Contract: Two years, $3 million with the New York Islanders.

Last Season: 20 GP, nine Wins, .908 save percentage, 2.59 GAA.

Analysis: Going into last year’s free agency period, we thought Greiss was one of the best backup options out there and after he landed in Pittsburgh, we believed he was going to challenge Marc-Andre Fleury for starts. This year, we’re confident the Islanders got a quality backup for a cheap price and that this signing will pan out better than the Chad Johnson contract did last season.

Fantasy Impact: In 2013-14, Greiss posted a .920 save percentage with an adjusted save percentage of .941 in 25 games for the Coyotes. However, last season he ended up posting a measly .908 save percentage and wasn’t re-signed by the Penguins. So what can we expect from Greiss this season? He’s actually been really consistent up until last season. Below, we created a table of his statistics of the past five years (note that he split the 2010-11 season between the AHL and the Swedish Elite league).

Season Team Games Played Wins Save % GAA
2009-2010 Sharks 16 7 .912 2.69
2011-2012 Sharks 19 9 .915 2.30
2012-2013 Sharks 6 1 .915 2.53
2013-2014 Coyotes 25 10 .920 2.29
2014-2015 Penguins 20 9 .908 2.59

Before last season, Greiss had never posted a save percentage below .912 and was at or above .915 for three straight seasons. Consequently, we think he’s more likely to post a save percentage closer to .920 than .908 this season.

Projection: 20 GP, 10 Wins, .917 save percentage, 2.42 GAA.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which free agent goalie signing will have the biggest impact this season.

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