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Fantasy Spin: Luongo excels; time to sell high?

by Pete Jensen

Roberto Luongo may have returned to the forefront of the fantasy goalie landscape, but predicting the next twist or turn of the Vancouver Canucks' goalie conundrum is still anybody's guess.

Set to make his fourth consecutive start Monday for the Canucks, Luongo has temporarily re-affirmed his status as the team's No. 1 goaltender after stopping a combined 51 of 52 shots in consecutive victories over the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks.

Roberto Luongo
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 2-0-2
GAA: 1.46 | SVP: 0.944
The 33-year-old netminder has already registered a shutout this season and is second in the NHL in both goals-against average (1.46) and save percentage (.944). He's appeared in five games thus far, allowing two goals or less in each of those outings.

But as promising as his play has been over the past few days, fantasy owners must take it with a grain of salt because of how dicey the Canucks' goalie situation has proved to be in recent memory.

Cory Schneider appeared in 25 games (compared to Luongo's 60 appearances) during the 2010-11 season before seeing action in 33 games (compared to Luongo's 55) in 2011-12. Last postseason, the top-seeded Canucks flamed out in the first round against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and the team's goaltending situation officially became a dilemma. Luongo surrendered seven goals in the first two games of the series before Schneider found more success in the three games in which he appeared with only four goals allowed in that span.

Then, with Luongo trade rumors swirling this past offseason, Schneider finally emerged as the team's starter entering the season. But that quickly changed when Schneider allowed four-plus goals in two of his first four starts, opening the door again for Luongo to respond.

All things considered, the concern from a fantasy standpoint here is the erratic nature of this goalie time share, which can often leave an owner of one of the Canucks' netminders in the dust from time to time. A perfect example is the fact that Schneider has not seen any action since Jan. 27 due to Luongo's strong play. That's simply not practical for head-to-head fantasy owners.

Cory Schneider
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 2-2-0
GAA: 3.13 | SVP: 0.897
Unless you own both Luongo and Schneider in fantasy leagues, it is impossible to predict how things will pan out on a weekly basis. The Canucks are a talented team from top to bottom and are likely to produce wins more often than not, but if your goalie is not a part of the success on a consistent basis, where is the real value of these goalies individually from a fantasy standpoint? If Luongo struggles in his next two starts, the tables will likely turn back in Schneider's favor, leaving Luongo owners in a state of flux.

So, while it's somewhat productive to ride out each of these goalies through their ups and downs, shopping either of them in fantasy trade offers while they are on a roll could prove to be an even more effective strategy -- especially in Luongo's case.

On average in Yahoo! leagues, fantasy owners paid a much steeper price to draft Schneider (early 3rd round, pick No. 31 overall) compared to Luongo (late 6th round, pick No. 71). Therefore, it's safe to say most owners who took a chance on Luongo recognized his track record of seven straight 30-plus win seasons, hoping he would either be traded or re-emerge as the Canucks' No. 1 goalie.

Now, with Luongo productive again between the pipes for Vancouver, owners who obtained Luongo as a steal in drafts could get maximum return for the proven netminder. While his status as the team's starter may only be temporary, any opportunity to trade Luongo for a fantasy asset in a more stable situation should be pursued.


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