Last Tuesday, I argued that you should treat your goaltending rotation as an ever-changing collection. At the minimum, I espoused the virtues of keeping tabs on a group of “break glass in case of emergency” netminders.
(Another fun analogy is to consider yourself a director dealing with a bunch of volatile actors; you should always have Tobey Maguire on call in case Shia LaBeouf loses his mind and starts plagiarizing editorials about manliness. My biggest question is: which NHL goalie would be the best LaBeouf match?*)
This weekend might just be the biggest bullet point in the “Always keep your eye on alternate goalie options” Powerpoint presentation. Let’s take a look at the most interesting and important scenarios.
This weekend's duo of Carolina Hurricanes-Florida Panthers games were costly for both teams, even though the Canes won both games in regulation.
If you look at sheer star power (and ignore one of the most questionable Hart Trophy victories I can recall**), Carolina suffered the biggest loss. It’s too early to ID the exact damage, but it looks like Cam Ward hurt his ankle/groin/some spot on his lower-body after Justin Faulk went sprawling into him. I’d be a little more worried about an ankle because high-ankle sprains are the devil, but we’ll just have to see.
Let’s say Ward is out for quite a while. That leaves the Hurricanes with Dan Ellis, a younger system goalie or a trade option. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just gander at Ellis.
Aside from being subjected to a solid Twitter meme, Ellis has been in the Josh Harding category of backups who seemed to periodically get on the cusp of being a No. 1 goalie. After receiving 44 starts and then 30+ for three more seasons, he settled into a more marginalized role with the Ducks for two seasons before ending up in Carolina.
Those small sample sizes have allowed him to put up the best numbers of his career since he dazzled as a rookie with the Nashville Predators in 2007-08 (23-10-3, six shutouts, .924 save percentage and 2.34 GAA). He’s only appeared in seven games this season, and while his record is mediocre (3-2-0), he’s put up great numbers with a .923 save percentage and 2.53 GAA.
That’s not many games to judge him on, but considering his contract year status, halfway decent track record and weak divisional opponents, he’s an appealing consideration if you want a third netminder.
One game before Ward suffered what might be a troubling injury, Jose Theodore almost certainly had one that could end his season - and with that, probably his time as a Florida Panthers’ goalie. He’s contemplating surgery on a torn groin muscle, which the Panthers would be silly not to encourage considering their situation.
Like with Ward and Ellis, the Panthers are at a fork in the road.
They can opt to embrace the Roberto Luongo trade rumors and bring the former Panther back. Still, I don’t know if I’d do that if I were GM Dale Tallon; the Panthers aren’t really ready to compete (which would be the main reason to nab Bobby Lou) and Jacob Markstrom could very well be Cory Schneider 2.0.
At the very least, the Panthers would be wiser to see how far along Markstrom is in his development. Few believe that career backup Scott Clemmensen can win you games, yet Markstrom has held the title of Best Goalie Not in the NHL for some time now.
(Although, honestly, Viktor Fasth seemingly deserved the championship belt.)
For at least the moment, I consider Markstrom highly intriguing. While his numbers aren’t dazzling, this is his latest chance to end his time at the kids’ goaltending table in the AHL and really grab the job.
I see nothing wrong with grabbing the big Swede in deep leagues, even if it’s just to sample his wares.
Jump for a few other goalie considerations and other notes from around the league.
* - My gut says Ilya Bryzgalov. Both have received as much mockery as they have received acclaim. They might make similar amounts of money relative to their peers. Oh, and the weird intergalactic “Transformers” would totally make sense to Bryzgalov.
** - Jarome Iginla lost out on the Hart in a most unsettling way in 2001-02.