With most fantasy drafts taking place over the next couple of weeks, this is a good time to look at players that are on the injury list and how it could impact a teammate or two.
It’s important to not overlook anyone when finalizing your draft rankings. As an example, an injury to Jonathan Huberdeau and other Panthers last year opened the door for surprise player Jonathan Marchessault to become fantasy relevant.
Below are 10 players who are going to start the season on the sidelines, and what it might mean for some of their teammates.
10. Alexander Steen
Steen will miss the first few games of the season after he was slashed in the hand during a game against Dallas a week ago. There shouldn’t be any major long-term impact, but it will be interesting to see what happens to Colton Parayko while Steen is out as Steen plays the point with Alex Pietrangelo on the Blues power play. There’s no word yet on whether the Blues will go with a 4-1 setup or a 3-2 in Steen’s absence. If it’s the latter, this could be Parayko’s opportunity to show the Blues he could fit in just fine on the top power play unit.
Dubinsky’s loss is huge for pools that count peripherals. Dubinsky was the only player last year to have at least 40 points, 90 PIM and 200 hits. It’s hard to guess who will replace the PIM and hits — after all, no player goes out looking for PIM — but what about Dubinsky’s 18 minutes per game? This could open the door for Pierre-Luc Dubois to get a regular role at the beginning of the season (Dubinsky is skating but is still unsure if he will be able to start the season). It may not be as much ice time as Dubinsky was getting, but Dubois should see an increase.
8. Torey Krug
Krug is out for three weeks after fracturing his jaw during a preseason game against the Red Wings a week ago. That means he’ll miss the first few games of the season. The most obviously candidate for an uptick in fantasy relevance is Charlie McAvoy. There’s already plenty of expectations on the Bruins rookie but a chance to run the power play would boost McAvoy’s value a little bit, even if it is for just a couple of games. When Krug was out for the playoffs last year, McAvoy led the Bruins in average power play time per game. Expect the same until Krug is healthy enough to return.
7. Alex Nylander
The only one hurt by Nylander’s lower body injury is Nylander himself. Nylander was the eighth overall pick in the 2016 draft and struggled last year in the AHL. He needed a strong preseason showing to make the Sabres as he was on the bubble whether he would make the team or not. The Sabres forward prospect hasn’t played a game yet this preseason because of a lower-body injury and will likely start the season back in the AHL because of it.
6. Ryan Ellis
Ellis is out until January with all-too-common lower-body injury. That creates a giant hole to fill on Nashville’s blueline as Ellis averaged almost 24 minutes a game last season. Alexei Emelin will pick up some of the slack, but isn’t fantasy relevant unless your league counts hits. A dark horse pick could be Yannick Weber, who has been able to step up in past seasons in Montreal and Vancouver for small stretches at a time.
Sekera is out for anywhere from another two to five more months as he recovers from a torn ACL. This opens the door even further for Oscar Klefbom to solidify his role running the Oilers top power play unit. Klefbom started last season as the top PP quarterback before losing it to Sekera for half a year. Klefbom took that job back in the last quarter of the season. There’s no one else on the Oilers that could possibly man that top power play. If Klefbom performs well enough, he won’t lose that spot once Sekera gets back.
4. Ryan Kesler
Kesler is out until at least Christmas after hip surgery. Maybe Antoine Vermette steps up into a second-line role, or Rickard Rakell loses his spot as top-line winger to get moved down to the second-line centre position. But the biggest impact could be on Jakob Silfverberg. Silf has been tied to the hip to Kesler for the past couple of years and might be counted on to be even more defensive minded with Kesler out. There is a chance Silfverberg could also steal Kesler’s role on the top power play unit, but it’s more likely either Patrick Eaves or Rickard Rakell gets first dibs.
3. The Ducks defense
Everything is still up in the air here, but it is possible that the Ducks will start the season with two of their top three defensemen on the sidelines. Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen both had offseason shoulder surgery and it appears they won’t be back until November. Brandon Montour is most likely to pick up the slack in their absence.
2. Travis Zajac
Zajac is out for at least half the season with a pectoral injury. Adam Henrique will likely see a small increase in playing time. But I believe Pavel Zacha has the best opportunity to really step up. Zacha could be in line for a top-six role and playing regularly with the likes of Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson with increased power play time can only be good for his future. But he’ll have to battle first overall pick Nico Hischier first.
Karlsson has gone on record saying he won’t be back until he feels 100 per cent although he skated with the team for the first time on Saturday. But there’s still uncertainty on how long he will be out of the lineup for. If Karlsson misses October, that’s 12 games. It likely won’t be that long. The Sens play two at home to start the season before heading west on a three-game Western Canada road trip. It might make sense to let Karlsson miss those five games and have him suit up against Vancouver at home on Oct. 17. Dion Phaneuf stands to see a jump in ice time and PP ice time if Karlsson misses any length of time.
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