Capped: The Cap Value of NHL Goaltenders

Eric Daoust

2013-07-11

 

Rask USA Today

 

 

Should proven, elite (and highly paid) goaltenders be ignored in favour of cheaper options?


 

In fantasy leagues with a salary cap, building a winning team is more complicated than simply acquiring the best players available. Instead, the goal is to try to find the best combination of players that collectively do not exceed the cap ceiling. Managers will be faced with the challenge of deciding how much cap space to allocate to which position.

 

The goaltender position is the most important in hockey but also the most unpredictable. There are only two goalie positions per team (60 NHL positions in total) and only one can play at a time. In some cases a few random events can make the difference between a goalie getting 60 starts in a season and the same goalie getting as few as 20.


The unpredictability of goaltending gives the opportunity to unproven guys with cheap contracts to put up great fantasy seasons. Such examples in 2012-13 include James Reimer and Sergei Bobrovsky. Neither was seen as a slam dunk starting goalie but they certainly delivered strong numbers.


But what does this mean for the proven elite goalies that generally have the highest cap hits? Should they be ignored in favor of cheaper alternatives to give your team more cap dollars to spend elsewhere? We have to evaluate the benefits of owning these top-tier goaltenders.

 

First, here is a chart showing cap hit versus games played:

 

CappedG

 

Out of the group of goaltenders with a cap hit above $5 million, Cam Ward and Miikka Kiprusoff missed significant time to injury and would have started the bulk of the games if healthy. Only Roberto Luongo sat out a large chunk of games as the backup. Everyone else in this group received significant ice time. These are the proven workhorses with a track record of strong production.

 

On the flip si