I normally won’t delve into the injury side of things in fantasy hockey for two reasons: First, I am not qualified in any way to determine the length an injury might keep a player off the ice or the nature of such injury other than a “best guess”. I try to take as much guesswork out of this as possible. Second, NHL teams are rarely 100% truthful in disclosing their injuries. We will see a lot of “lower-body, day-to-day” announcements from teams this year. I therefore cannot recommend adding/dropping players on speculative assumptions.
However, last night was a bit different. We got the confirmed news about two players that will have a significant fantasy impact for many of us.
Joffrey Lupul (LW/RW-TOR) - Lupul happened to be in front (side) of the net when Dion Phaneuf let loose one of his acclaimed near-head-hunter slapshots and caught Lupul in the right forearm. We later learned that this break will keep Lupul out anywhere from 4-6 weeks, with the upper-limit representing about half of what’s left in the regular season. This is bad news for Maple Leafs fans and fantasy owners alike. He has been put on the IR and that should be reflected on fantasy sites any minute now (it is not as of time of writing). If you have an IR spot, that’s great news. If you don’t, then I think you can cut bait if you need the spot on your bench and try to recoup him later.
Steve Downie (LW/RW-COL) - What seemed like an innocent hit into the boards on Los Angeles’ Davis Drewiskie turned into a torn ACL for Steve Downie, which will keep him out for the rest of the year. It is very unfortunate for Colorado, as he seemed to fit well on that team. From a fantasy perspective, he was one of those PIM guys that is able to contribute offensively.
If you lost either of these players and are looking for a replacement, I introduce:
Zack Kassian (RW-VAN) - Like I thought from the outset, Kassian finally found his way to the top line last night for the majority of the game with the Sedin twins. Think of Alex Burrows over the last few years, but with more size and more skill. This is a great fit on that line and contributed immediately; one goal, 2 PIMs, 3 shots and he saw his ice-time jump nearly seven full minutes to 19:14. He was also playing on the power-play with the Twins. This could be the waiver wire addition of the year, so get on it now. (3% Yahoo, 2.3% ESPN).
I also think now is the time for two speculative goalie adds if you have struggling goaltenders or might be missing Mike Smith (PHX) for any amount of time:
Michal Neuvirth (G-WSH) – Braden Holtby just has not looked strong at all to start the year. He’s allowed 10 goals on just 73 shots and he was by no means the sure-fire #1 goalie for Washington this year. Michal Neuvirth is confirmed to start tonight for the Caps and if he has a strong outing, this could be his job to run away with for the time-being at least. He’s just starting to reach peak age for goalies and could be THE guy for Washington as long as he doesn’t fall on his face. I would grab him especially if you are a Holtby owner.
Sergei Bobrovsky (G-CBJ) - While I can’t strongly advocate any goalie from Columbus, Bobrovsky has only allowed 5 goals on 76 shots in two starts against Nashville and Detroit this year, good for a .934 SV%. What makes me like him even more is the other goalie in Columbus, Steve Mason, looked terrible last night against the Coyotes. If there was some sort of 60/40 split share in mind before, I could envision Bobrovsky getting 75% of the starts at least from now on. People quickly forget he had a decent 2010-2011 with Philadelphia (2.59 GAA and .914 SV%) and he’s still just 24 years old.
That’s it for today. I will be tweeting out starting goaltenders as the day progresses. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SlimCliffy with your fantasy hockey questions.