Fantasy Grapevine: Week 24
April, 2, 2014
By Victoria Matiash | ESPN.com
Dave Reginek/NHLI/Getty ImagesWith health problems elsewhere in Minnesota's goalie stable, it's Ilya Bryzgalov's show.Just like that, Ilya Bryzgalov is once again worth discussing as a fantasy-relevant goaltender. The latest injury to Darcy Kuemper has prompted the Minnesota Wild to recall minor league journeyman John Curry from the AHL, suggesting Bryzgalov will be the go-to netminder for the next couple of contests, at least. If Kuemper’s upper-body ailment is even slightly serious, the 33-year-old Russian could start each of the team’s final six games.
Owned in only 13 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Bryzgalov hasn’t had the sweetest of campaigns, shuffling from Edmonton to Minnesota at the trading deadline. But he’s been pretty good lately; stopping a combined 41 of 44 shots, the perennially candid veteran has won two straight. Pushing to lock up a playoff spot in the West, the Wild coaching staff is justified in feeling confident in their experienced No. 2 netminder.
Moreover, Bryzgalov has a lot to prove, not only as a potentially viable candidate to play in the postseason, but as a pending unrestricted free agent. The next few weeks -- starting Thursday -- could significantly influence the former Vezina finalist’s next contract, whether he lands another gig in the NHL or elsewhere. We anticipate an inspired performance from the fantasy dark horse to close out 2013-14, if he's given the opportunity.
Then there’s the Harding factor. On the injured shelf since late December with complications related to his multiple sclerosis treatments, Josh Harding has joined the Wild for practice in Chicago. Whether the squad’s top netminder from earlier this campaign makes a meaningful appearance before the playoffs remains to be seen, but you might want to keep him in mind for postseason fantasy competition.