Capped: Backing Up

Eric Daoust



Which backup goalies could soon become relevant?


Have you ever been in a keeper or one-year league with a championship within your grasp only to have your season ruined by injuries? This can be a very frustrating turn of events especially when you have the best team on paper.  If the player you lose to injury is a goalie you could be in a lot of trouble. Many league configurations offer two starting positions per night which forces teams to own three or four goaltenders. Losing an ace goalie can leave you scrambling for scraps.


Goaltending is a very tough position to evaluate. A goalie’s organizational rank is often more important than his level of talent. A veteran “good guy” backup can keep his spot in the league for years while many more talented netminders are not able to rise to the NHL. And that backup can suddenly hold a ton of value if his team’s starter goes down with a major injury. The goaltending landscape changes every day and the effects on the fantasy hockey world are significant.


In leagues that have a salary cap using player salaries or cap hits, the problem of building your team and preparing for a disaster is much more complicated. If there are bench positions containing players that you only use in the event of an injury, you are probably better-served using players with a low cost to keep as much cap space as possible for those who will play the bulk of the games for your fantasy squad.


Types of leagues where it may be wise to stash away an extra goalie who can pay dividends later include:

  • Leagues with multiple active goalie positions
  • Shallow leagues with extra bench positions
  • Deep leagues
  • Weekly lineups


By now, the obvious names such as Jacob Markstrom ($1.2 million) and Steve Mason ($1.5 million) are probably gone.  That does not mean that there are not some good options still there on the wire. They may not be valuable today but could come in handy later if their team situation changes. Guys who are behind injury-prone starters, have unstable number-one goalie situations and play behind strong teams make good candidates. When the doomsday scenario occurs it is much better to have the emergency replacement in-house than to be left scrambling for a trade or a bad waiver-wire pickup. At the very least, the goalies mentioned here should be watched this year.

Josh Harding (Minnesota – $1,900,000)


Despite his own personal health struggles dating back to last year, Harding remains a very talented goaltender who has a track record of putting up good numbers in the NHL in a backup role. His career .916 save percentage and 2.60 GAA are very respectable totals.


His team’s starting goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, has a history of getting hurt including a current knee injury. If the injury bug strikes in a more significant way Harding could get a pretty heavy workload down the stretch behind a good Wild club.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Colorado – $1,500,000)


Like Harding, Giguere also sits behind a starter who gets injured often. Semyon Varlamov will play the majority of games when healthy but has yet to prove himself as a workhorse number-one goaltender. If he goes down then Giguere could become a very viable option behind the seemingly-improved Colorado Avalanche.


Another interesting story in Colorado is the reunion between Giguere and goalie coach Francois Allaire. The duo enjoyed