NHL Fantasy Hockey Player Comparables: Marc-Andre Fleury

The volatile position of goaltender is once again put on display with one of the more talked about netminders in the NHL.

Welcome to Player Comparables, a chance to embrace the past in fantasy hockey while living in the present. Each article will take a present-day player and pit him up against the player from the past that is his best match or comparable, according to numberFire analytics (you can see comparable players on each player page).

The goal here is simple: take a player, compare him to his top historical match, and analyze their similarities and differences.

Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the most scrutinized goaltenders in the NHL. The first overall pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft has okay career numbers. His 2.60 goals against average and .911 save percentage are not bad but also not elite. The expectations of being the top pick may make him the target of negative conversation, but he has been nothing short of an acceptable netminder.

He currently has two straight season of at least a .915 save percentage and if the 2014-15 season ended today, the streak would be three. His goals against average have also been below 2.39 in each of the past four seasons.

His solid numbers this season are most comparable to Martin Gerber’s statistics from the 2005-06 season.


Yes, the Martin Gerber with a career 2.63 goals against average. Here is a look at their numbers in which the similarity percentage is 98.61%.

PlayerGamesGAASave %ShutoutsWinsVORP
Martin Gerber 2005-06602.7890.63384.61
Marc-Andre Fleury 2014-15402.3691.96237.14

The stats are not the closest. Gerber never had a anything better than a mediocre season as a starter. Wins are what they are, but save percentage carries more weight than wins for netminders.

Value over replacement player (VORP, in the table) is a bit off between Fleury and Gerber. The difference in value can be suggested by looking at the teams for which they played. According to our algorithms at numberFire, similar players refers to players who are statistically similar, with some relevance given to the teams in which they play.

Martin Gerber played on a Hurricanes team that was one point away from tying for best in the Eastern Conference. The Canes did not have a losing record against any team in the East. Marc-Andre Fleury is on a perennial favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final. This season is no different.

The difference is level of competition. Gerber played good enough in net with a team that scored the third most goals in the NHL in 2005-06. According to Hockey Reference, Gerber saved 7.72 more goals than the average goalie based on save percentage and shots faced on the same number of shots (GSAA). That mark was the best in his career as a starter. Carolina won the Stanley Cup that season but with Cam Ward in net.

Fleury has seen a lot of fresh faces playing in front of him this season. Only two players from opening night have played in each of Pittsburgh’s 50 games this season entering Monday evening. The Pens blueline alone is responsible for 54 games missed, including 30 from promising youngster Olli Maatta. The last line of defense in front of Fleury has been anything but set in stone, yet he has still performed well. His GSAA is 6.66 in 40 games. The Eastern Conference is also improved from last season.

The last point to prove the value of Fleury over Gerber is strength of schedule. Based on strength of schedule in terms of goals above and below average -- with zero's being the average -- the 2005-06 Canes had a strength of schedule of -0.13, 28th that season The 2014-15 Penguins strength of schedule through 50 games is 0.04, 10th in the NHL.

That is a lot to look at, but it is clear that even the most mediocre goalies can look like one of the best for a period of time. Martin Gerber will never be spoken in the same breath as Marc-Andre Fleury.

Well, not anymore at least.