There are few joys in life that compare to obtaining a pricey item at an insane discount. You know, the kind of bargain-bin steal that leaves you feeling lucky (and a little guilty) for walking out of the store with something that you clearly shouldn't have gotten for so cheap.
That's how a lot of NHL coaches, general managers and owners should feel early this season for getting fat-paycheck performances out of goalies who are making much less scratch than super-size salaried elite goalies.
Thanks to a perfect storm of injuries, starter slumps, balanced playing time designed to rest a No. 1, and the penny-pinching reality of the post-lockout salary cap, so far this year we've seen more "blue-collar backups" than ever before.
How much of a deal are NHL teams getting with these affordable goal guardians?
Although the average NHL goalie salary stands at close to $3 million, the top five bargain backups ranked below make just $3.125 million combined!
Here are the top goalies who, if they keep playing like they've been, could go from wearing a blue collar to seeing a lot more green after their next contract negotiation.
GAA: 2.15 | SVP: 0.919
No. 4. Brent Johnson ($600,000) -- At 34, Johnson is the elder statesman of bargain backups. But in his role as Marc-Andre Fleury's No. 2, Johnson is pure money. Johnson's reliable play gives the Pens the most consistent – and economical – goalie tandem in the League.
No. 3 Brian Elliott ($600,000) -- As troubled as the St. Louis Blues have been this season, they'd have a Columbus-like record if it weren't for the surprisingly solid play of Elliott. Considered by many to be something of a disappointment during his four seasons in Ottawa, Elliott has looked reborn in the role as the No. 2 behind the Blues' $4-million man, Jaroslav Halak.
No. 2 Josh Harding ($750,000) -- The "richest" on our list, Harding's been the wildest story to come out of Minnesota, posting the best start of his career, a year after sitting out last season with a scary knee injury. When compared to the $6-million salary of the Wild's erstwhile No. 1, Niklas Backstrom, Harding's low-income play has been richer than one of those sugary double chocolate donuts at Tim Hortons.
No. 1 Jhonas Enroth ($625,000) -- Too short at 5-foot-10! Too young at 23! Critics had doubted the Swedish scrapper's ability to relieve All-Star Ryan Miller's 60-plus-games-a-season burden. But, with five wins in five starts, the battler in Buffalo has managed to cast a shadow of his own on the Sabres' crease. Enroth just might have those doubters chanting a new mantra: Too cheap!