In terms of productivity and longevity, there has never been a fantasy goaltender quite like Martin Brodeur.
But over the last three regular seasons, no goalie League-wide has been more efficient than Cory Schneider.
With both netminders on the New Jersey Devils' roster entering 2013-14, this inevitable time share should be one of the more compelling storylines of the fantasy season. The Devils, who acquired Schneider in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2013 NHL Draft at Prudential Center, will not hesitate to integrate the 27-year-old into the lineup early and often next season.
Considering the 41-year-old Brodeur hasn't been challenged for playing time when healthy since 1993-94, the Schneider deal could change the scope of the veteran's fantasy value as owners have come to know it for two decades.
With the heaviest workload of any goaltender in NHL history (1,220 games), Brodeur owns records for most career regular season wins (669) and shutouts (121). The height of Brodeur's durability came during a 12-season span from 1995-96 to 2007-08 when he played in 89 percent of his team's games, averaging 73 appearances per campaign. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur played more games (877) over that time frame than any other NHL goalie by far (Olie Kolzig was second with 687).
Over the last five seasons, though, age and injuries have only allowed Brodeur to play in 252 of his team's 376 games (67 percent), a sizable drop-off in terms of fantasy reliability. But even during that span, Brodeur has remained relevant among League leaders. He led all goalies with 45 wins in 2009-10, and, in his three ensuing seasons, has appeared in 144 games (T-15th in NHL), winning 67 of them (19th).
But the Devils' addition of an emerging goalie in Schneider means fantasy owners of Brodeur should expect -- at best -- a split in time if both netminders stay healthy next season. Schneider has simply been too productive in regular season action to deserve any less time than Brodeur moving forward.
To this point in his career, Schneider is all too familiar with time shares. But despite having to compete for playing time with Roberto Luongo through the years, Schneider still made enough appearances (88) over the last three regular seasons to prove his effectiveness.
Since 2010-11, Schneider has won over 60 percent of his regular season games. He has posted the best goals-against-average (2.09) and save percentage (.931) League-wide for any goalie with more than six appearances over that three-year span. He's also seen steady improvement in the shutout category, improving his total from one in 2010-11 to three in 2011-12 to an NHL-leading five in 2012-13.
Now, the past collides with the present in what could be the final go-around of Brodeur's illustrious career. So with Brodeur and Schneider set to compete for the Devils' starting job next season, where do fantasy owners go from here?
If you're wondering which of the two Devils goaltenders to target earlier in fantasy drafts, the answer is Schneider at this point. He's entering his prime and more likely to have an edge in a time share because of the price New Jersey paid to bring in this goaltending commodity. That said, Brodeur is certainly worth eyeing soon after in drafts -- as he could turn out to be just as valuable as Schneider when it's all said and done.
After all, it's highly unlikely Brodeur will let the job he's held for 20 NHL seasons slip away without a competition.
Targeting both Schneider and Brodeur in fantasy drafts is also worth considering, as this duo has a chance to be one of the most productive tandems in the NHL. New Jersey's trademark defensive-oriented system held true yet again last season, as the team allowed the fewest shots on goal per game (23.1) and finished in the top half of the League in goals allowed per game (2.54, 13th in NHL). Remember, this was a club that relied upon Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, who turned 40 years old in May, all season long.
But while both goalies deserve fantasy ownership in all leagues, the nature of time shares indicates neither goalie is likely to reach the 60-game plateau in 2012-13. Thus, neither warrants top-10 fantasy consideration at the position over the many workhorse goalies around the League.