Goaltending is by far the most important fantasy position. Most fantasy leagues have categories for at least Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Wins and Shutouts. That’s nearly half of all categories. And yet it’s probably prudent to only have two or three on a roster, or four if you’re willing to sacrifice some offensive stats.
But there just aren’t that many workhorse Martin Brodeur types to guide you to glory all by themselves anymore. There are your Holtby’s and Schneider’s and Carey Prices’ of the world, but do you trust Devan Dubnyk, Sergei Bobrovsky and Chad Johnson to both stay healthy, in Bob’s case, and keep playing this well over an entire season? I’d think there’s some regression in there.
And don’t get me started on the disaster of Ben Bishop.
So you have to go scour the waiver wires and try to find the goalie who’ll save your season or put you over the top. Not every quality goalie is going to go in the draft. There are players like Cristobal Huet in 2006 who don’t come on until late in the season and then almost win your league for you (thanks Devils for winning the division that year in the last game by scoring a lot of Huet and costing me my league!).
Players like Peter Budaj are doing that this year and providing half a season of Top 40 value, even if that’s coming to an end as soon as Jonathan Quick returns. Chad Johnson looks like he could keep his job, but he could turn into a pumpkin any day. So you have to find guys to possibly replace them.
Enter Mike Condon.
Previously best known for being the goalie on Montreal’s sinking ship last season while Carey Price went down and being a Penguins roster filler while they were down a Matt Murray earlier this season, Condon has taken the reigns in Ottawa after Anderson left the team and probably won't be giving his job up if Anderson comes back.
He’s got ten wins, a 2.25 GAA and a fantastic .922 save percentage. Those aren’t exactly Vezina numbers, but they’re the best you can hope for when looking for waiver pickups to bolster your net in fantasy. He may not be that good overall or likely to repeat these numbers, but there’s no reason he can’t keep it going for another few months, either buoyed by luck or a more defensive system behind Guy Boucher in Ottawa. Erik Karlsson weeps.
He just beat the Penguins, allowing only one goal and the Senators somehow sit in a playoff spot, which few probably expected in that division. But Florida and Tampa being disappointments sure helps things.
The best part of the upcoming Condon experience is that even if he falters, the Senators are probably going to work him as hard as they can, with little future investment in him and a team that probably would like to make the playoffs after missing the playoffs two out of the last three years, with the Hamburglar run the only time they made it in that span.
They shouldn’t be afraid to run him into the ground, and so he’ll get every opportunity to keep playing with Anderson on indefinite leave. There’s no proven goalie behind him to take his job at the drop of a hat, as there is with Johnson in Calgary. This is Condon’s job with Anderson gone and it may well be his when Craig comes back if he keeps playing like this.
Injuries to Pekka Rinne or one of the Dallas goalies could result in a younger, readily available player like Juusi Saros, Nashville's backup getting more starts as he's been fantastic in limited duty. Dallas could pull a goalie out of anywhere and they can't be much worse than the situation that's been going on down there.
The lesson of this column is to look out at goalies who are going to get extended minutes due to injury or lack of competition, even if they have poor histories like Condon or Budaj. You never know.