Robert Luongo owners, rejoice! Dance a little jig or hum a happy ditty to yourselves because the No. 1 Vancouver netminder will be back between the pipes as early as Thursday, or at least by this Saturday.
Luongo has been on injured reserve since Nov. 22 with a strained groin muscle. During that time his fantasy owners have been trying to temporarily fill his void with flash-in-the-pan and hot-hand goalies.
Why does this matter to the rest of the fantasy hockey community?
When Luongo is reactivated en masse this weekend, many owners will be kicking their stopgap goaltenders to the waiver wire curb and as the old adage goes: one team's garbage is another team's fantasy title. Even if these soon to be widely available netminders are not dropped in your league, they probably could now be had for a very cheap trade.
Here is a short list of such goalies.
Andrew Raycroft Colorado Avalanche
9-2-0 (W-L-OTL) / .901 SV% / 2.70 GAA / 0 SO
Raycroft is slowly stealing the No. 1 job in Colorado from Peter Budaj. He has made the last four starts for the Avalanche and January has a 2.25 goals against average (GAA) and a .915 save percentage (SV%). Raycroft showed he can handle the rigors of being a everyday goalie when he started 71 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006-2007.
Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators
10-5-0 (W-L-OTL) / .921 SV% / 2.16 GAA / 4 SO
Rinne has been spectacular since the beginning of the new year. From Jan. 1 on, the Finnish goaltender has a .943 save percentage and a freakishly low 1.67 goals against average. Rinne is tied for third among goalies with four shutouts (SO) and has allowed only six goals on his last 132 shots faced. Keep in mind the Predators only play one game next week.
Jon Quick Los Angeles Kings
4-4-0 (W-L-OTL) / .927 SV% / 2.04 GAA / 2 SO
The Los Angeles Kings play back to back games this Friday and Saturday and then again next Tuesday and Wednesday. Therefore, Quick is a wise pickup, at least for the immediate future. If one ignores the 5-1 trouncing by the New Jersey Devils and a 6-4 loss at Detroit, Quick has a .957 save percentage and a 1.17 goals against average. The trade of Jason LaBarbera to the Canucks leaves the young goalie in a time share split with Erik Ersberg, but the L.A. defense allows the fewest shots on goal in the NHL. This bodes well for anybody between the pipes.
Jonas Hiller Anaheim Ducks
10-8-1 (W-L-OTL) / .926 SV% / 2.20 GAA / 3 SO
When Hiller is hot, he is on fire. This season he has twice won three consecutive starts. Also, Jonas has started four of the last six games for the Ducks (although an argument could be made that Anaheim is resting Giguere for the All Star Game). Tied for fifth in shutouts and sixth in goals against average, Hiller is definitely worth waiver wire speculation.
Dwayne Roloson Edmonton Oilers
13-8-3 (W-L-OTL) / .919 SV% / 2.61 GAA / 1 SO
Roloson has a record of 4-2 in January, winning his last two starts, and 7-3 in his last 10. However, he happens to play for the Oilers, which means wins and shutouts won't come easy. But if he is paired with a No. 1 goalie his averages will lead to fantasy success.
Mike Smith Tampa Bay Lightning
10-15-9 (W-L-OTL) / .920 SV% / 2.50 GAA / 2 SO
It took half a season for Smith to reach 10 wins. It must be noted that he plays for an abysmal Lightning squad that allows the second most shots in the NHL but scores the third fewest goals. Therefore his goals against average and save percentage demand respect. Like Roloson, if teamed up in a two-goalie format with a top-tier netminder, the result will be formidable.