Schmidt takes a look at some of the injuries around the league, including Varlamov, Getzlaf and Lupul...
Get The Stretcher (Latest Injuries)
Semyon Varlamov hasn’t exactly been a reliable fantasy netminder this season. Now Colorado’s No. 1 goaltender is dealing with a hip injury. Those unfortunate fantasy owners employing him in leagues have to sit Varlamov until more information is known about the severity of his injury. All we know is that he didn't make the road trip, meaning two more games at least. Jean-Sebastien Giguere should see the bulk of action in net for the Avs until Varlamov is ready to come back.
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How good is Patrice Bergeron? Only one Bruins player (Chris Kelly) has seen a lower percentage of zone starts on the offensive end in 2013 than Bergeron. Furthermore, only a handful of players are playing tougher minutes, according to quality of competition numbers posted on Behind the Net. Despite all of this, Bergeron has been a point-per-game player and a plus-23 player in 35 games played. Now, however, he’s sidelined with a concussion and is day-to-day. It seems unlikely he’ll be available much, if at all, at any point during the rest of the regular season. He missed most of 2007-08 with a concussion, so a lot more than his career is at stake.
Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky is currently out with a foot injury. The severity of the ailment and his potential return isn’t known at this time, but he has been playing through pain for several weeks, apparently.
A trio of high-end fantasy options that play for the Pittsburgh Penguins remain out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time. Sidney Crosby, who broke his jaw when he took a puck to the face on March 30, (probably) won’t be relevant in one-year leagues for the remainder of 2013. James Neal, who was diagnosed with a concussion earlier this week, is very much in danger of missing the rest of the regular season. However, defenseman Kris Letang has been practicing with the team and could be a factor in fantasy at some point during the regular season’s final weeks. While Letang isn’t quite ready for action in a game, the Penguins could deem him ready to return any day now. His is a situation to monitor very closely.
Ryan Getzlaf owners are seeing their collective patience tested by the star center’s uncertain status after injuring his leg on Wednesday of last week. He remains day-to-day with the injury, but there’s been no confirmation as to when he is to return. As an aside, Getzlaf is a prime example of a player who was undervalued in one-year drafts this winter due to a down (i.e. extremely unlucky) in 2013. His track record in the NHL suggests he’s a point-per-game player who can provide solid production in a number of categories relevant to multi-category leagues. However, he registered a shooting percentage of just .059 a year ago (half of his career mark of .118) and saw his fantasy value slip immensely. Getzlaf’s shooting has bounced back again this year, and he’s regained his status as a trusted core member of fantasy lineups.
It doesn’t look like Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul will be back in the near future. He isn’t practicing and is dealing with what the team describes as an upper-body injury - but he was wobbly getting off the ice after his head bounced off of Jay Rosehill's shoulder pads last week. Look elsewhere for offensive help during your fantasy playoffs. There’s no telling if, let alone when, Lupul can get healthy enough to return.
Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Dany Heatley is a shell of what he once was as a player, but his fantasy owners still rely on his goal-scoring and proven ability to produce on the power play. However, he is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury and underwent surgery on Tuesday of this week. The Wild have already added another scorer on the wing by trading for Jason Pominville, so don’t expect them to rush Heatley back before he’s ready to return to action. That will not be until the playoffs at the very earliest. Meanwhile, Pominville joins the Wild and gets to see action on the same line as Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. Not a bad way to start things off with a new organization.
One Day At A Time (Uncertain Future)
Ilya Kovalchuk is expected to resume skating soon. However, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be a factor in fantasy for the remainder of this season. Kovalchuk has been out of the lineup with a shoulder injury since March 23 – a little more than two weeks. The original timetable for his return was 2-4 weeks, and he’s not even back on the ice yet.
Pull Off The Band-Aid (Poised For A Return To Action)
No NHL goalie has put up better fantasy-relevant rate stats than Ottawa’s Craig Anderson this season. His .950 save percentage in 16 starts this year is 22 points higher than any other goaltender’s this year. He’s also one of three goaltenders with a goals-allowed average under 2.00 in 2013. However, a troublesome and lingering ankle injury forced him out of the lineup in late February and prevented him from making his return until this past Sunday. Anderson gave up two goals on 17 shots in a 2-1 road loss to Florida. While the results weren’t great, at least the veteran netminder got back out on the ice. Don’t expect Vezina Trophy-caliber stats the rest of the way, but Anderson’s his team’s No. 1 goaltender and should be safe to use in all formats moving forward.
How much can fantasy owners trust Phoenix’s Mike Smith right now? Is he the guy who put up elite numbers in his inaugural campaign with Phoenix a year ago? Is he the guy who was consistently inconsistent for much of 2013 before going down with an upper-body injury in late March? Opportunity is everything for goaltenders at this point in the season. No one wants to own a goalie who is getting the short end of a timeshare right now (Here’s looking at you, Roberto Luongo), but fantasy owners need to be realistic with their expectations of the veteran netminder. While Smith will be between the pipes more often than not for Phoenix after returning to the lineup this past weekend, his career save percentage (.913) suggests he’s nothing much more or much less than an average option at the position.
Colorado center Paul Stastny has been out since late March with a nagging foot ailment, but he is expected to return to the lineup this Wednesday and reassume his role as a top-six forward for an Avalanche squad that’s already looking to put an underwhelming 2013 campaign to bed.
Fear not, Patrick Sharp owners. The Blackhawks forward made his long-awaited return to the lineup Tuesday evening against the Minnesota Wild. It seems like Chicago was extra cautious with allowing him to recover from a shoulder injury (he’s been out since March 6), so expect him to be at full strength moving forward.
Alex Semin missed a pair of games with an upper-body injury, but the high-scoring Carolina winger was back in the lineup Tuesday evening, as was shutdown defenseman Justin Faulk. While Faulk’s value in real life far exceeds his usefulness in fantasy, his ability to play tough minutes and perform well should benefit the rest of the Hurricanes lineup.
Detroit winger Damien Brunner should be healthy enough to return to the lineup Thursday evening against visiting San Jose. His fantasy value has been volatile this year (to say the least). Brunner is expected to see action alongside Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula.
The groin injury sustained by Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec on Wednesday caused him to miss just one game. He should be fine moving forward.
Sheldon Souray was out of the lineup Monday because he was apparently a little sore after Sunday’s 4-3 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings. It was only the second game he has missed all season. Souray has been a surprising source of all-around numbers this season. He sports a plus-23 rating and has 16 points in 38 games due to a combination of a number of factors – good health, good luck, more good luck and a little good luck. Ducks goaltenders have a save percentage of .949 while Souray’s on the ice. Meanwhile, Anaheim skaters are shooting .148 while he’s on the ice. Souray is someone who didn’t play in the NHL at all in 2010-11. Then he totaled more missed games (62) than points scored (24) over the course of the next two seasons. This has truly been a best-case-scenario-type year for the 36-year-old blueliner.
Calgary winger Curtis Glencross was black in the lineup Monday after missing one game due to a leg injury. He should be fine moving forward. Meanwhile, fellow Flames forward Jiri Hudler missed Monday’s game with what the team deemed as an upper-body injury.
Oft-injured Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler has returned from a broken foot just in time to help those fantasy owners in need of some offensive production in their playoff matchups. Kesler scored a goal, totaled three hits and drew two penality minutes Monday evening in a 2-0 Canucks home win over the Phoenix Coyotes. It was his first game since Feb. 26, and Kesler’s goal was his first since Feb. 17. He played a little less than 16 minutes and found himself centering a line with Mason Raymond and Zach Kassian. The Canucks have a wealth of offensive options (including newly-acquired veteran center Derek Roy) so it’s hard to expect vintage Kesler production right now. While he’s a risky option, he’s better than some of the middling alternatives sitting on waiver wires at this point in the season.
The Los Angeles Kings have activated Dustin Penner from the injured list. He played a little more than 10 minutes in his return to the ice Tuesday night.