Coming into this shortened season the main concern was injuries. A lot of players didn’t play in the offseason and they were coming in to a short camp and then jumping right into the season. Then there is the fact that teams are cramping in around 13 games into a month, there is bound to be a lot of injuries.
Were almost at the halfway point of the season and we have seen a number of high profile goalies go down with injuries. We’ve seen Miikka Kiprusoff, Craig Anderson, Martin Brodeur, James Reimer, Kari Lehtonen, Jonas Hiller and Mike Smith all miss a decent amount of time due to injuries.
This week during a home-and-home between the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes we saw two more netminders go down with serious injuries. In the first half of the home-and-home we saw Jose Theodore go down early in the game tearing his groin on the play. He will miss 5-6 weeks. On Sunday it was supposed to be Dan Ellis between the pipes for Carolina. However he was sick and was forced to sit on the bench while Cam Ward made his second start in as many nights. This would prove to be terrible for the Hurricanes, as in the second period of the game Carolina defenceman Justin Faulk went sliding into Cam Ward. Ward was visibly injured on the play but stayed in the game. The very next shot the Panthers fired at him he went down to make the save, immediately rolled onto his back and was forced to leave the game. Ward suffered a grade-3 MCL sprain and will miss 6-8 weeks. The good news for both Ward and Theodore is no surgery is required, but they both have likely played their last games of this shortened season.
While Theodore wasn’t a great fantasy option and should be easily replaceable, the same can’t be said about Ward. He was 9-6-1 with a 2.84 GAA and .908 SV%. Now those aren’t the best numbers but he struggled early in the season and just started to turn his season around at the time of the injury. Here are a few goalies that may be available in your league that should help fill the hole that Ward’s injury has left.
– Dan Ellis (5.4% owned in ESPN Leagues) – Carolina Hurricanes
Ellis will now be the starter in Carolina. The Hurricanes are a solid team led by the Staal brothers (Eric & Jordan) and should continue to play well regardless of who is in between the pipes. Ellis is 74-59-15 with a 2.68 GAA and .909 SV% in his career, those are numbers of a very capable and veteran goalie that could step in and play well with Ward out.
– Braden Holtby (91.6%) – Washington Capitals
Holtby is owned in a lot of leagues but if you are in a league where he isn’t, you better rush to the waiver-wire to get him. He is the obvious #1 in Washington and they are a team that is starting to look more and more like the Capitals of old as the season goes on. Holtby was spectacular in the playoffs last year and is a very calm and collected 23 year-old. He is 7-7-0 with a 3.01 GAA and .907 SV% and three shutouts this season. He will continue to see the vast majority of starts going forward.
– Miikka Kiprusoff (23.4%) – Calgary Flames
Kiprusoff has been dropped in a ton of leagues since being hurt, but the Finnish netminder has been skating fairly frequently and appears to be nearing a return. If he is available in your league and you can weather the storm without Ward and can wait a few days for Kipper to get back between the pipes I don’t think you will regret it. Kiprusoff is still one of the NHL’s elite goalies even at the age of 36. The Flames have won three of their last five with Joey MacDonald and Danny Taylor in net so they should be able to win games with Kiprusoff in net.
– Jacob Markstrom (3.9%) – Florida Panthers
The Panthers have brought Markstrom along slowly but the Theodore injury will open the door for Markstrom to step in and become the starter. He is one of the best goalie prospects in the NHL and he should have no problem getting the majority of starts over Scott Clemmensen. Markstrom is 0-2-0 with a 3.05 GAA and .915 SV% in two starts this season.