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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Having been the understudy in Washington for five seasons, Grubauer broke out of the shadows in a significant way in 2017-18. He posted a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage en route to a career-best 15-10-3 record in 35 appearances and earned the starting job to begin the postseason before ultimately ceding the crease back to Braden Holtby. The 25-year-old will get his chance to regain the starter's job in 2018-19 after being acquired by the Avalanche, where he will challenge another veteran in Semyon Varlamov. Inked to a three-year contract extension, Grubauer is likely to see a significant boost in playing time, and given Varlamov's familiarity with the injured list, the door is open for the German to become the de-facto No.1 goaltender. He should outperform his draft position and may be a steal in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
The Capitals left Grubauer exposed ahead of the Vegas expansion draft, and they were fortunate that the new club claimed blueliner Nate Schmidt instead, leaving the German netminder to reprise his role as Braden Holtby's backup. He excelled in that job last year, going 13-6-2 with a 2.04 GAA and .926 save percentage that made it hard to notice when Holtby was getting a day off. Unfortunately for Grubauer and those looking to use him in fantasy, the 25-year-old won't see enough work behind Holtby to find relevance in most formats. he'll be a restricted free agent following the season, though, and if he turns in another campaign of star-quality backup work, he could earn an offer sheet from another club.
The 24-year-old Grubauer gets to play behind one of the best goalies around as Braden Holtby’s backup, a gig that leaves him little to do on most game nights, but is surely teaching him a lot. He’s already taken a star turn in the AHL and delivered when called upon in the playoffs two seasons ago, and there’s no complaining about the German’s NHL rate stats to this point. For fantasy purposes, though, he’s little more than a handcuff to Holtby outside of very deep leagues where every goalie start counts.
Money in the bank. That’s what Grubauer was when he stepped into the blue ice in Game 2 of the Caps’ first-round playoff series against the Isles this past spring. Starter Braden Holtby was sick, so the Caps promoted Grubauer from the AHL instead of turning to backup Justin Peters to save the day. And save it he did, winning to square the series at a game apiece. This guy has nothing left to prove in the AHL. He was 27-17-5 with a .921 save percentage in 2014-15, but stumbled a bit in the Calder Cup playoffs. The Caps will need to make a decision on Peters at some point this season, so it’s really just a matter of when, not if, Grubauer becomes their backup. It could happen out of camp or they may wait until midseason. Either way, Holtby is a horse, so Grubauer won’t get enough starts to be relevant in most formats. He might eventually see between 20 and 25 starts, but not until at least 2016-17.
Although Braden Holtby’s subpar campaign certainly was a significant factor in the Capitals’ goaltending controversy during the 2013-2014 season, a better-than-expected showing by Grubauer at the NHL level was also a contributing factor. A fourth-round pick of the Capitals in 2010, Grubauer certainly displayed his abilities as a starting goaltender, sporting a 2.38 GAA and .925 save percentage in 17 outings for the Capitals last season. With the signing of Justin Peters, the Capitals appear to be taking it slow with Grubauer, as they are firmly committed to Holtby as the lead goaltender for the time being. Still, Grubauer’s natural skills and the reputation the new coaching staff has for shepherding goalies means the 22-year-old should have a bright future in the NHL at some point, although not likely until after the 2014-2015 season.
Grubauer made his NHL debut in March 2013; he played in just two games, allowing two goals on 59 shots. He was also effective in the AHL and was named to the ECHL all-star team. His initial value depends on whether or not he can beat out Michael Neuvirth for the backup job or lands in the AHL as Hersey's No. 1. In any case he should be on the radar of all keeper leagues as this raw but talented goalie has some upside.