By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Tuukka Rask, Bruins (Last season: 15-5-2, 2.28 GAA, .913 Sv%)
Another fantasy hockey week, another Rask update. He's been a roller coaster throughout this fantasy season, but the irony is goaltending has not really been a big worry for the Bruins. Rask was supposed to get some playing time in the AHL, but the Providence Bruins' games were postponed and Rask was released without seeing any game action. The B's signed him for the rest of the season, anyway, and also re-assigned Jeremy Swayman, who is exempt from waivers, to the AHL.
Rask's fantasy value gets a big boost because he's officially back, and fantasy managers can activate him off the NA slot or pick him up from waivers without knowing when he may actually play. Rask's season debut could come as soon as Wednesday or Thursday with the Bruins playing back-to-back against the struggling Flyers and lottery-bound Habs; either team would be a good way to ease Rask back into the league. However, expect Linus Ullmark to be the No. 1 (4-0-0 in 2022) until Rask proves that he has the ability and the conditioning to take back his former job.
Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger, Stars (Last 5 games combined: 4-1-0, .892 Sv%, 3.15 GAA)
The numbers weren't pretty against the Panthers and the Pens, but at least they got the wins. The Stars continue to prove that they're excellent at home (13-3-1), getting a lot of offense from their big line and strong defense and goaltending. Oettinger won consecutive games (at home, of course) and it looked like he was on the verge of gaining the upper hand for the starting job, but then the pause happened and the Stars promptly went back to Holtby. He showed well, beating the Panthers (at home, of course) and allowing just two goals against the Blues.
It was a tumultuous ride to start, but there's some confidence brewing in net again and the Stars might be the only team other than the Isles who can operate a true 50/50 split and be comfortable starting either goalie. The only caveat is that Oettinger and Holtby will be excellent fantasy options only when they're playing at home. Their performances in an upcoming eight-game stretch will be key because six games will be on the road where they're 4-10-1, but the competition will not be tough. If the Stars can show they can beat bad teams on the road, Holtby and Oettinger's fantasy value will rise again. Both goalies are only rostered in half of Yahoo leagues, though note Holtby is in COVID protocol so Oettinger will start in the interim.
Kaapo Kahkonen, Wild (Last 2 games: 2-0-0, .942 Sv%, 1.95 GAA)
There is still no timetable for Cam Talbot's return, which bodes well for Kahkonen, who has won consecutive games and allowed only four goals in two games. The Wild don't play again until Friday, and Talbot has not been placed on injured reserve so there's a chance he could be back, but in the meantime, Kahkonen looks like a good option as a temporary fill-in.
The more worrying part of the Wild's game is the seriousness of the injury to Kirill Kaprizov, who can be activated in time for Friday's game. He is their MVP, and without him, the Wild's chances of winning are considerably less.
Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (2-2-0, .926 Sv%, 2.27 GAA in January)
No Igor Shesterkin, no problem. Georgiev has only two wins to show for it, but he's been quite good in four consecutive starts, holding the Oilers and Ducks to one goal each and getting only one goal of support in losses against the Knights and Kings. Obviously, it's still Shesterkin's net, but it's unknown when he will clear COVID protocol. Georgiev should be approached with caution, but given his recent play and the Rangers' winning record this season, he is a fine option against most opponents. He's already rostered in 39 percent of leagues, but even when Shesterkin comes back, he might be worth holding onto until we see what kind of workloads they will get.
Honorable Mention: Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes; Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers; Cal Petersen, Kings; Tristan Jarry, Penguins; Adin Hill and Zach Sawchenko, Sharks; Ville Husso, Blues; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning; Jack Campbell, Maple Leafs
Joonas Korpisalo, Blue Jackets (1-3-0, .866 Sv%, 3.79 GAA in January)
If Korpisalo is the odd man out in Columbus, he's tanking his trade value. He was tagged with his fifth loss in his last seven decisions after losing to Chicago on Tuesday, and his save percentage is at a career-low while his GAA is a career-high. Even the Jackets' improved goal support hasn't helped him this season. The good news is Elvis Merzlikins is back, which banishes Korpisalo back onto the waiver wire. The name to watch is Daniil Tarasov, who is on injured reserve but could step in as the backup if Korpisalo is moved, and despite the short sample size has fared better than Korpisalo.
Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar, Flames (combined 1-3-0, .884 Sv%, 4.25 GAA in January)
Admittedly, it was a tough stretch facing Florida, Tampa and Carolina, but going 0-3 bounces the Flames back closer to playoff contender than Cup contender or dark horse status. Markstrom should be back soon from a day-to-day ailment, but it's worth noting that five shutouts among 12 wins are a mark of an obviously unsustainable pace and that Markstrom's numbers probably won't be as good as they were in the previous months. Vladar has been a victim of this with consecutive shutouts early in the season but has allowed 19 goals in four games (1-3-0) since, and has now seen his save percentage and GAA move closer to the league average.
Markstrom will retain his fantasy value because he's a workhorse and the Flames are still a good team, but he's completely dropped out of the top-five conversation; he's on the lower end of the top 10. The wins will be much more valuable than his save percentage and GAA. Vladar's fantasy value has taken a hit the last two games and is no longer a safe play for streaming starts.
Ilya Samsonov, Vitek Vanecek and Zach Fucale, Capitals (combined 0-2-2, .858 Sv%, 3.89 GAA in January)
It's been two weeks, but January has been a disaster for the Caps, who have lost four straight with 18 goals allowed. They'll have four days to think about the 7-3 drubbing against the Bruins before playing back-to-back and then facing Winnipeg, Boston and Vegas. Fucale has since been demoted to the AHL after the loss against the Bruins, so it'll be back to Samsonov and Vanecek.
This happens with young goalies, who go through tough stretches in what is becoming yet another challenging season. Fantasy managers should be patient with Samsonov, and along with Vanecek might be better off benching until they can find their groove. They'll play back-to-back on the weekend, ensuring that they will both get at least one start to get themselves back on track.
Dishonorable Mention: Jeremy Swayman, Bruins; Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Sabres; Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, Oilers; Carter Hart, Flyers; Casey DeSmith, Penguins; Philipp Grubauer, Kraken; Thatcher Demko, Canucks