Fantasy Hockey: Calling All Questions

Hey folks. With the season starting to ramp up, I'll be stepping up coverage here as well. If anything's keeping you up at night, fire away. I mean, if it's fantasy hockey related. I don't want to know the other stuff. You can post questions here or e-mail them directly to me at JackWeiland@gmail.com.

Today's question comes from PostmanMatt:

"I found out about Niemi signing with the Sharks a couple of days back and I was wondering how his signing affects the rank of Niittymaki and Niemi respectively."

Wisdom after the jump:

So Antti Niemi signed with San Jose, eh? (See what I did there?). And you want to know how that affects his value and the value of Antero Niittymaki. Gotcha.

Step 1: PANIC!!!!!!

Seriously. If you own Niemi or Niitymaki this is a relatively crushing blow. They both go from the "Average Goalie, Good Team" category into the dreaded and unruly "Average Goalie Tandem" ... anyone who owned Manny Fernandez and/or Dwayne Roloson circa 2000-2006 can relate. 

Step 2: Keep Panicking!!!!!!

I am not kidding. Find your fantasy ledge and jump. It's better this way.

Step 3: Alright. Relax. Deep Breath. This Can All Be Fixed.

I'm just saying that. Nothing is fine, everything is ruined.

Step 4: For Realizes, ****ing Chill Out Bro.

Niemi and Niitymaki are remarkably similar goalies. Both Finish, both a tad over 6 feet, both right around league average. In 39 games last year Niemi saw just 24 shots a game and stopped 91.2% of them. In 49 games with the Lightning, Niittymaki saw about 28 shots a game and stopped 90.9% of them. In Niittymaki's last four seasons he's had save percentages of .894, .907, .912 and .909, which really runs the gamut from "Totally Awful" to "Passably Average." Playing for one of the league's best teams in San Jose, and behind a strong defense, it's easy to see why people saw value there earlier in the offseason. He (like Niemi last year with Chicago) won't have to stand on his head to put up numbers. As long as he plays well enough to keep his job Niittymaki was a pretty solid bet for a .910 save percentage, a 2.50 goals against average and a buttload of wins. Now with Niemi in town ... well, everything changes.

It obviously remains to be seen how the two will split time. Will they share the crease evenly? Will the Sharks go with the hot hand? What happens in camp will probably determine a chunk of that, and there's no way of knowing how that will shake out until it does. For the time being, Niemi and Niittymaki still have some value. After all they are both still league average goalies who will play on one of the best puck possession teams in the game. When they're in the net, they'll put up strong numbers. If you can afford to walk that line and check the lineups, so be it. If not, it's time to cut bait and find someone who will play every day. From the Sharks' perspective, a Niittymaki-Niemi combo makes sense, and is probably better than a Niittymaki-Greiss combo. From a fantasy perspective, trying to play that platoon is an absolute nightmare. I'd avoid it at almost any cost. If league average starters are out there who stand a better chance of playing 60+ games, grab 'em. Guys like Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Carey Price, Cam Ward, Kari Lehtonen, Pekka Rinne, Niklas Backstrom, Steve Mason and Marc-Andre Fleurymight still be available and ripe for the picking. Any of those guys would be better options than Niemi or Niittymaki at this point, but as some have learned everything is subject to change. This is precisely why I prefer grabbing safe options in net to speculating on something like an average goalie getting a boost from playing on a strong team. Talent always wins out.

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