Fantasy goalie dilemma: Ward vs. Khudobin

Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 12:00 PM | Matt Sitkoff  - Contributor

When Cam Ward missed the last 27 games of the 2012-13 NHL season with a sprained MCL, the Carolina Hurricanes went out to shore up their goaltending by adding Anton Khudobin to a mix that already included Justin Peters.

When Ward went down again last season in October (missed 10 games) and in January (missed 13 games), the Hurricanes were better covered in net.

Ward's October injury coincided with Khudobin being sidelined for 32 games with a lower-body injury. Peters went 4-6-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .921 save percentage during that time. When January hit, and the Hurricanes were hovering around the bottom of the standings, Khudobin took charge.

He was named the NHL's First Star of the month for January and tied a Hurricanes record for wins in a month (10). After the new year, Khudobin started 31 of the final 42 games and was 17-14-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .925 SV Pct. That stretch earned him a two-year contract extension and started rumors of Ward's departure.

Ward is on the roster but, after consecutive seasons with injury problems, is no longer the undisputed No. 1. The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his contract and is coming off his worst save percentage (.898) since his second NHL season (2006-07). His goals-against average has risen each of the past four seasons, from 2.56 in 2010-11 to 3.06 last season.

What does all this mean for fantasy owners looking at the Hurricanes tandem for production?

Though the younger Khudobin (28) has more fantasy value, he still has injury concerns, so he is not inside the Top 15 goalies. He should be targeted as a good No. 2 or 3 for your fantasy team.

Ward might have more value later in the season if he gets traded to give him a fresh start as a No. 1. He should be targeted as a third goalie because he could have a bounce-back season.

Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis and Bill Peters have said each goalie will see action this season. Carolina hired a goalie coach, David Marcoux, who worked with Ward during the 2004-05 season.

This being said, owning both as a tandem is not a smart move, because Carolina will again struggle to contend in the Metropolitan Division.

Follow Matt Sitkoff on Twitter: @MSitkoffNHL

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