by Johnny Fantasy
A quick post this week, discussing injuries to some of your top draft picks and how to deal with them.
Injuries are inevitable in hockey and there will always be injuries to star players at some point in each season. Whether you’re a fantasy owner or a just a big fan of a particular team, it can really hurt when your top guy goes down.
In this year’s draft, if you went with Carey Price, you were (justifiably) confident that you’d have one of the (if not the) top goaltending option in the league, and it probably cost you your first round pick to do so. We suffered through his “1-week” lower body injury for three weeks, but now after just a few games back, Price is injured again (with some reports indicating he’ll be out at least a month). Good for you if you grabbed and held onto Mike Condon (although some of his luster has worn off after some rocky games – looks like we’ll get a chance to really see what he’s made of over the next few weeks), but whoever is your replacement, you’re certainly downgrading from Price. There are a number of other instances this season where highly drafted players are now (or have been for a significant time) unavailable, such as Logan Couture, Jordan Eberle, Duncan Keith and Kevin Shattenkirk (not to mention Connor McDavid), as well as the ones that have combined time on the injured list with otherwise disappointing or mediocre play, such as Tyler Johnson and Zach Parise.
What are we to do? Those were our top picks! Well, it’s important to remember that it’s a long season. Most if not all of these players will be back and will be playing most of the season for you. While you may be nearer to the bottom of the standings now, there’s plenty of time to climb once your players return to form. At the end of the day, you just need to make the playoffs and anything can happen.
But, we need not resign ourselves to losing until our top guys return. Most leagues have IR slots to stash these guys away and pick up replacements. No one will be able to match what we’ve lost, but since we have a short-term extra roster spot to play with, we might as well plan to use it only for the short-term, i.e., by picking up guys that are on hot streaks or that have short term opportunities to produce (e.g. Mike Condon).
Here are a few players you might want to consider using to help fill the role of your fallen stars and limp your way into stealing some wins.
Alex Galchenyuk – With the injury to Brendan Gallagher (sidelined at least 6 weeks), Galchenyuk has moved up to Montreal’s top line, and he has 6 points in his last 4 games. While Galchenyuk might not be available as a free agent in most leagues (69% owned in Yahoo), he is a great option over the next several weeks until Gallagher returns, if you can get him.
Ryan Strome – Strome has recently returned from a stint in the AHL after a rough start to this NHL season. He’s got two points in two games since his return and is even seeing some power play time. He’s not getting big minutes (only about 13 per game) or time on the top line, but he’s got a lot of potential so he’s a ‘high reward’ option, which is nice when you’re playing with a low risk IR replacement roster spot.
Mikkel Boedker – Someone who has a greater chance of being available as a free agent pickup is Mikkel Boedker. He’s seeing first line and first power play unit duty in Arizona. He’s been a relatively consistent point producer (for a guy who is only 12% owned). Arizona has been a fairly pleasant surprise this season. It looks like we can expect at least 0.5 points per game going forward from Boedker going forward (with the occasional hat trick, as happened Saturday night), which isn’t bad for the short term.
Jason Chimera – An even shorter term option who is almost definitely available is Jason Chimera. He’s got 4 points in his last 2 games and 10 points in his last 9. Those points have only come in 4 of those 10 games, but if you’ve got some depth and room to take a chance, you might as well give him a shot while he seems to be on this roll. It surely won’t last, as Chimera is on the 3rd line in Washington (although he is seeming some time on the second power play unit). He may be worth a look for a few games if none of the other guys mentioned above is available.
Remember, these aren’t guys you are picking up for the rest of the season. You are only limited by the number of weekly roster moves that your league permits (if limited at all). If you can time it right, you can ride some streaks from less-heralded guys and come out ready to rally into the playoffs later in the season once injuries have healed.