Mike Schmidt takes a look at injuries around the league, including Letang, Kovalchuk, Lindback. Hossa and more
Get The Stretcher (Latest Injuries)
The New Jersey Devils are expected to be without the services of star winger Ilya Kovalchuk for at least the next 10 days. He sustained a shoulder injury Saturday in his squad’s 2-1 home win overFlorida. It goes without saying it’s a major loss for the Devils, a squad that is losing a proven point-per-game player who leads all forwards in ice time per game by more than three minutes.
The Penguins lost Kris Letang - one game after getting him back. He re-aggravated his lower-body injury and, according to RDS, he suffered a broken toe (just to add to his fun). No word on how long he will be out for, but it's a safe bet that we won't see him before April 10.
Mike Smith hasn’t performed anywhere near as well last year’s career campaign in goal for Phoenix, but the Coyotes would probably settle for him getting healthy and back in net at this point. Smith has been out of action since last Thursday when Vancouver’s Alex Edler crashed into him and received a five-minute major for charging. Jason LaBarbera is a competent backup netminder and should be the team’s primary option in net while Smith recovers from an upper-body injury.
Anders Lindback remains sidelined indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain. His backup, Mathieu Garon, has made little of his increased playing time in Lindback’s absence. Expect Lindback to quickly regain his role as a workhorse in net (albeit an underwhelming one) as soon as he’s healthy and ready to return.
Remember when Zack Kassian was healthy scoring goals at an incredible rate? Yeah, late January seems like a REALLY long time ago now. Kassian hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 30, and now he’s currently dealing with a back injury that came about as a result of an on-ice fight last week. To be fair, he’s not seeing major minutes, he’s not being sheltered defensively despite his lack of experience, and his PDO of .954 suggests he’s been incredibly unlucky. However, let Kassian prove himself to be a top-six forward capable of producing decent goal totals before considering him in one-year formats.
Not much has gone right for longtime veteran Daniel Briere in 2013. His scoring is down, and his shooting percentage has dropped for the third straight campaign. He hasn’t been very productive on the ice this season, and now it looks like he’ll be off the ice for a considerable amount of time due to a concussion. Look elsewhere for offensive help at this point in the season.
Former fantasy standout David Booth will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle. Booth scored 54 goals and tallied 100 points in 145 games with the Florida Panthers between 2007 and 2009, but a devastating concussion a season later altered the course of his career. He’s a decent two-way forward, but injuries and ineffective (fantasy-relevant) numbers have made him an afterthought in a lot of formats.
Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk is expected to miss about 1-3 more weeks with a sprained knee. One of the game’s top young shutdown defensemen, Faulk was able to put up decent fantasy numbers (11 points in 28 games) despite playing the toughest minutes of all Carolina blueliners this season -- his age-20 campaign.
One Day At A Time (Day-to-Day)
Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin remains sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained more than two weeks ago. There’s no denying Malkin’s status as one of the game’s preeminent fantasy options in both points and multi-cat leagues, but he has missed almost a full season (73 games) since the start of the 2009-10 campaign. Compare that to just four missed games over his first three seasons. It’s hard to advocate taking Malkin over Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos in one-year or dynasty leagues given the former’s struggle with injuries and the latter’s durability (three straight years of 82 games played and not a single game missed so far in 2013).
It’s not like he’s a superstar, but San Jose’s Ryan Clowe has been one of the most disappointing players to own in fantasy this season. An often-overlooked option in past years despite his unique ability to put up points and penalty minutes, Clowe has yet to score a goal this season and has just nine points in 25 games played. To make matters worse, he’s been out of the lineup since the middle of the month due to a lingering shoulder injury. While he should return soon, it’s difficult to blame fantasy owners for turning away from Clowe in favor of another fantasy option.
It seems like Marian Hossa will be ready to return to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup in short order. He’s been dealing with a shoulder injury for a little more than a week now.
Pull Off The Band-Aid (Returning To Action)
Tobias Enstrom celebrated his return to the ice from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since February 15 by scoring the deciding goal for the Winnipeg Jets in their 3-2 home win over the Tampa Bay Lighting. Don’t expect him to continue his point-per-game pace or continue to maintain a shooting percentage of .300, but Enstrom should be a highly-effective two-way defenseman for the remainder of the year. Dustin Byfuglien, Enstrom’s primary partner on the blueline, could also see a boost from the return of his fellow defenseman.
The Nashville Predators got arguably their most dangerous offensive weapon back this week. Patric Hornqvist, who has struggled with injuries throughout the shortened season, returned to the lineup Monday after missing more than two weeks with an upper-body injury. He has a mere three goals in 15 games played this season, but he should receive ample time on the power play. Furthermore, he averages almost four shots on goal per game. Look for him to return to form soon.
T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues Saturday after missing 11 days due to a rib injury. His recent recovery, along with those of Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen, has bolstered St. Louis’s depth at the forward position. While that’s certainly welcome news to St. Louis fans, it will be interesting to see how it affects the fantasy value of the rest of the forward corps – most notably David Backes and Chris Stewart. Backes has had an uneven season, while Stewart has shined after a couple of uninspiring seasons in St. Louis in past years. It will be interesting to see how minutes are distributed and how it affects the statistical output of several St. Louis skaters moving forward.
Tom Gilbert was back in the lineup for Minnesota after missing about a week due to a lower-body injury. Ryan Suter and Calder Trophy candidate Jonas Brodin are playing so well right now it’s easy to forget Gilbert is still a solid (though unspectacular) defenseman. However, he isn’t as productive as he was during the season’s first month (2 goals and 4 assists in 7 January games) and isn’t seen enough ice time to warrant much fantasy consideration. However, keep an eye on his role with the Wild moving forward. His past track record and overall ability suggest the Wild could turn to him to provide more offense if needed.
One of my favorite buy-low deep league defensemen is Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov. Florida’s 2009 first-round selection returned to the lineup Saturday after missing more than three weeks with a shoulder injury. He established himself as a legitimate to-four defenseman a year ago and should see some time more than 20 minutes of ice time per game and contribute on his team’s power play. He’s still looking for his first goal of the season, but he does have seven assists in 22 games. The cost to acquire him is minimal. Give him a shot.
Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog was back in the lineup Sunday after missing one game with a torso injury. There was some concern he was expected to miss more time. Disaster averted, Landeskog owners.