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Care or Don’t Care: Tuukka Rask and Ben Bishop Both Nearing Return

In this article, I will be looking at some recent storylines and determining how much you should care about them and how you should react in your Fantasy Hockey league.

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Tuukka Rask Joins the Boston Bruins at Practice

How much should I care? 5/5

Tuukka Rask is technically a free agent but he recently joined the Boston Bruins’ practice and it’s only a matter of time before he formally signs with them. Rask is 35 years old and is recovering from a torn hip labrum, but he is still one of the best goaltenders in the league and will still be playing behind one of the best teams in the league. Over the past four seasons, Rask has a 2.32 GAA and .918 Save Percentage and you can expect similar ratios when he returns.

Rask is available in 56% of Fantrax leagues and should be added immediately as a bench stash. He’s likely to officially join the Bruins in the coming weeks. I would expect him to take over as the starter but he may only play 50%-60% of the games as the Bruins manage his workload.

Tuukka Rask’s return also has a significant impact on the Bruins’ current tandem of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark.  Swayman has been better to date with a record of 7-4-1, a  2.26 GAA, and .918 Save Percentage compared to Ullmark’s record of 5-4-0, 2.68 GAA, and .911 Save Percentage.  Ullmark is also currently battling an injury so one would think that Swayman will get the backup job and Ullmark will be the odd one out. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The Bruins handed Ullmark a 4-year contract with a $5 million AAV in the offseason, and Swayman is still on his entry-level contract and is waivers exempt if he is sent to the minors. That may end up keeping Ullmark around and pushing Swayman to the AHL. For now, take no action on either Swayman or Ullmark until we see how this plays out.

Ben Bishop Nears Return for the Dallas Stars

How much should I care? 4/5

Ben Bishop has been sent to the AHL for a conditioning stint, signaling that the 35-year-old goaltender is close to returning to the Dallas Stars. It has been 16 months since Bishop has played in the NHL as he recovers from a knee injury so I’m hesitant to recommend him as an immediate add. However, his numbers are fantastic as he’s had a 2.33 GAA and .923 Save Percentage over his three seasons with the Stars. Bishop is available in 73% of Fantrax leagues. He’s my second choice behind Rask, but is worthy of a bench stash if Rask is taken in your league.

Once Bishop is back, the Dallas Stars’ goaltending situation is even murkier than the Bruins’. Here are the stats for their current goaltending trio:

  • Braden Holtby: 5-4-1, 2.18 GAA, .928 Save Percentage.
  • Jake Oettinger: 5-0-0, 1.41 GAA, .951 Save Percentage.
  • Anton Khudobin: 3-3-1, 3.73 GAA, .873 Save Percentage.

One thing that is clear is that Khudobin will be on the outs. The Stars are reportedly looking to trade Khudobin, which makes sense. He’s still owned in 29% of Fantrax leagues and can be dropped.

Jake Oettinger has been stellar for the Stars. If he keeps this up, Dallas will have no choice but to keep him on the roster. Unfortunately for him (and his fantasy owners), his numbers are completely unsustainable and he’s bound to have a bad game or two eventually. When that happens, Oettinger may end up being sent down to the AHL as he is waivers exempt and the Stars will want to give him playing time as he continues to develop. That would leave Bishop and Holtby splitting time with the Stars. Oettinger is a sell-high candidate and Holtby is a hold for now until we see how this plays out.

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