It is rare that a player in the top 10 at his position would need an injury to someone else to ensure more playing time. But that's exactly what happened in the past three days with the St. Louis Blues goalie tandem of Jake Allen and Brian Elliott.
Elliott was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and is expected to miss at least four weeks. That hands the unquestioned No. 1 job -- and accompanying playing time -- to Allen, who himself returned from injured reserve Sunday.
For those of you who handcuffed one to the other, you will be fine. For those of you who own Allen, this development couldn't have come at a better time heading into the home stretch of the fantasy season right into the playoffs.
For those of you who own Elliott, out with a lower-body injury sustained in the game Monday against the San Jose Sharks, it's time to scan a scarce waiver wire.
Allen (84 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) is the seventh-rated fantasy goalie, with 18 wins, a 2.18 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage, and five shutouts. With St. Louis chasing first place in the Central Division, it is likely coach Ken Hitchcock will use Allen as much as possible, rather than hand over important games to untested rookie backup Pheonix Copley.
Elliott, who made 18 consecutive starts with Allen sidelined since Jan. 8, is the 11th-rated goalie (17 wins, 2.14 GAA, .929 save percentage, one shutout).
If you are in one of the 16 percent of leagues where Allen is available, grab him immediately.
Otherwise, that kind of production will be hard to replace at this point in the season, but here are the best options (listed in reverse order of ownership; statistics prior to games played Tuesday):
Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres (28 percent): It is rare to find a No. 1 goalie on the waiver wire, but Lehner missed most of the season with injury and fell off the radar. Wins may be tough to come by, but he has a 2.45 GAA and .928 save percentage in 13 games.
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Joonas Korpisalo, Blue Jackets (31 percent): His status as Columbus' No. 1 may be changing with the return of Curtis McElhinney from injury, but Korpisalo's recent play should allow him to make a fair share of starts (5-2-2; 2.63 GAA; .921 save percentage in nine games in February).
Louis Domingue, Arizona Coyotes (33 percent): With hints that Mike Smith may be returning (someday) from his long-term injury, Domingue's value could take a hit. But until that time comes, he will play most of Arizona's games, though his numbers have slipped drastically of late (3.39 GAA, .893 save percentage in nine games in February).
Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers (46 percent): With Steve Mason always a possibility to wind up injured, Neuvirth could become very important to the playoff hopes of the Flyers and in turn your fantasy team (2.17 GAA, .930 save percentage).
Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders (48 percent): He has pushed Jaroslav Halak for New York's No. 1 job almost all season but never has taken it from him. The Islanders have more games remaining than any team in the NHL other than the Toronto Maple Leafs (each has 25), so Greiss will make more starts that an ordinary backup, with a 1.59 GAA and .945 save percentage in five appearances in February.
There also are some quality backups available for the spot start or two if you can manipulate your roster in that way: Al Montoya, Florida Panthers (10 percent), Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota Wild (7 percent), Carter Hutton, Nashville Predators (6 percent), Philipp Grubauer, Washington Capitals (3 percent).