The Washington Capitals, unable to re-sign Cristobal Huet to a contract at what they considered a reasonable price, have gone to plan “B”.
Instead of locking up the former Montreal Canadiens’ keeper, who they picked up in a trade deadline deal last February, the Caps have opted for former Colorado Avalanche netminder Jose Theodore.
The 2002 Vezina and Hart Trophy winner rebounded from two disappointing seasons to lift Colorado into the playoffs in 2007-08, posting his first save percentage above .900 in three years (.910). In fact, Theodore finished the year as the No. 22 ranked fantasy goalie in sportstwit.com’s exclusive fantasy player rankings, after falling to No. 48 in 2006-07.
If Theodore can maintain his form of last season, his signing is big news for fantasy hockey enthusiasts.
Going to Washington gives the former all-star a new lease on life and a chance to play 70 games a year with one of the most exciting young teams in the league in front of him. A 40-win season (his previous career high is 33 in 2003/04 with Montreal) would not be out of the question.
That would make Theodore a Top 10 goaltender and certainly someone worth targeting in your league’s draft. He should be a legitimate No. 1 goalie or at the very least a high-end No. 2 in most fantasy formats.
Huet landed on his feet as well, signing a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, another team filled with young stars and definitely heading in the right direction. The signing brings into question the future of current Hawks’ goalkeeper Nikolai Khabibulin, who is still under contract for 2008-09 with a cap hit of $ 6.75 million.
Huet’s fantasy prospects are bright, but maybe not as bright in the short-term as Theodore’s.
The Hawks challenged for a playoff spot last season, but it will be interesting to see if they take the next step forward or if they’ll take a step sideways as some of their young players continue the maturation process. 30 wins might be a realistic number for Huet in 2008-09, making him a solid No. 2 goalkeeper on your fantasy squad, but not necessarily a starter.
His numbers were excellent in 2007-08, ranking him 10th in the sportstwit.com rankings, but he had a little bit more in front of him with both Montreal and Washington, then he probably will in Chicago
Until the next shoe drops, I’d be worried if I’m heading into next season with Khabibulin as my number one or number two guy. It’s hard to imagine a contending club who would pick up a $6.75 million dollar contract for a guy who had 23 wins last season, ranking 29th in the sportswit.com rankings.
If you have him on your roster, it might be time to re-evaluate your draft strategy and put goal-tending higher on your list of priorities.