Many fantasy drafts are taking place over the next few days and weeks. Let’s take a look at the latest news regarding player injuries and recoveries.
The Bad News
The Carolina Hurricanes will be without one of their top defensemen for the entire 2013-14 campaign. Joni Pitkanen suffered a broken left calcaneus (heel) in early April, and it seemed like he was a good bet to miss a bit of time early this coming campaign. However, now the Canes will be forced to look elsewhere for help on the blue line. In case you missed it, here’s Dobber’s take on the Pitkanen injury and its fantasy ramifications.
It is official - Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will not be ready for the start of the 213-14 NHL season. His nagging shoulder injury, which led to surgery in late April, should keep him out of the lineup for the first month of the season. According to NHL.com, RNH’s target return date remains November 1. Given how much the shoulder affected his numbers a season ago (4 goals and a mere 24 points in 40 games) Nugent-Hopkins remains an incredibly risky draft-day selection in one-year leagues. There’s no telling if (or how much) the extended layoff will affect him and his numbers upon his return.
Scott Clemmensen is expected to miss about three weeks with a minor knee injury that required surgery. Given the timing of the news, the Florida goaltender should be ready for the start of the regular season. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Panthers turn to Jacob Markstrom more often than not in the early part of the season. Markstrom remains a low-end No. 2/high end No. 3 netminder for 2013-14. This news gives a little short-term bump to his value, but not much.
No real surprise here, but Martin Havlat is expected to open the season on the injured list. The veteran winger underwent something called bilateral pelvic floor reconstruction in June. He’s been skating some, but there’s been no indication as to when he may be ready to return to the lineup. Havlat appeared in two postseason games for San Jose this past season but left both early due to injury. The 32-year-old also missed 53 games over the course of the past two seasons. He’s not a viable fantasy option in anything but the deepest of leagues right now.
There’s no real immediate fantasy impact to this injury, but Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov hurt his shoulder and is expected to miss about two months of action. More than anything, it significantly lessens his chances of playing for Team Russia in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The 22-year-old winger and 2010 first-rounder still has one year remaining on his contract in the KHL.
The Good News
This story from the Raleigh News and Observer should make fantasy owners nothing but optimistic regarding the health (and short-term fantasy value) of star center and captain Eric Staal. His PDO from a year ago suggests he got a few lucky bounces (which probably explained why he was a +5 after two seasons in which he was a -10 and -20), but Staal’s shooting percentage of .116 was only six points higher than his career mark. A healthy Staal could top 80 points for the first time since 2007-08.
Glaude Giroux should be ready to go right around the time the regular season starts. The Philadelphia Flyers center will have the splint on his surgically-repaired right index finger removed “soon” and is hoping to see action in at least one preseason game. Fantasy owners shouldn’t let this injury (which was sustained in a freak golf accident last month) deter them from selecting Grioux in the first round of fantasy drafts this fall.
“I feel good. I’ve been able to work out and it’s been good up to now. I’m 100 percent and ready to go.” That’s Milan Michalek’s latest assessment of his health. The knee injury that plagued the Ottawa Senators winger throughout much of last season looks to no longer be an issue. This should allow the veteran to excel in a role that could see him see significant ice time alongside Jason Spezza and the newly-acquired Bobby Ryan.
“It’s up to my hip,” is how Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne responded to reporters’ questions regarding when he’ll be ready to return to game action. The workhorse goaltender has seen action in at 84 percent of his team’s games over the course of the past three seasons, but offseason hip surgery has made him a somewhat unknown fantasy asset heading into the upcoming season. He could be a nice value pick if he slips too far in early drafts, but it’s too early to when he’ll be ready to reassume his role as a No. 1 fantasy goaltender.
Patrice Bergeron has been cleared to practice, but Boston’s top center has yet to be cleared for game action. This isn’t much of a surprise or concern. Considering the laundry list of injuries and ailments he’s dealt with as of late, it makes sense for the Bruins to keep him out of harm’s way until the games count. There’s no real reason to move Bergeron down draft lists because of this news, as he should be ready to assume his role as one of the NHL’s best two-way centers sooner rather than later.
There is no definitive timetable for Nathan Horton’s return to health, at least according to The Columbus Dispatch. The Boston Bruin-turned Columbus Blue Jacket remains on track to return to the lineup in December or January, but his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery appears to be going well.
Lingering back problems caused Detroit center Darren Helm to miss all but one game in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. Now he’s sidelined with a groin injury that should cause him to miss some exhibition games. However, he is expected to be healthy once the regular season begins. Probably. Maybe. Okay, who really knows for sure with this guy?
Check out Aaron Brouwer’s offseason roundup of injuries from last week to see how some other offseason afflictions have affected the fantasy outlook of various fantasy-relevant players.