Lancione offers up some injury-replacement suggestions for Western Conference teams
Injuries are an inevitability in sports. No way around it. Players, teams and leagues will increasingly take measures to mitigate the risk as we evolve. Although the reality is that in intense contact sports, real life GMs and fantasy GMs alike are faced with the unenviable task of both having to cope with said injuries and attempt to bring in the most adequate temporary replacements as possible during the recovery period.
Every so often, we may be fortunate that a replacement is wise and skilled enough to take the opportunity and run with it; converting that temp job into an elongated or (every so often) permanent stay. Worst case, we’re gunning for someone to step in and hold the fort until the proven player returns. When all else fails a picking up the slack by committee approach need be resorted to.
Let's take a look at each of the Western Conference teams’ current injury wards, and my recommended courses of action from the personnel department waiting in the wings.
The Ducks have been hit harder than anyone in the West with the injury bug of late. Although it surprisingly hasn’t really taken away much of the winds from their sails, having maintained the lead in the Pacific. Injuries to Sheldon Souray, Jakob Silfverberg, Francois Beauchemin, Luca Sbisa, Viktor Fasth and Mathieu Perreault have landed them all on trips to the Injured Reserve. The last four all received IR status over the last two weeks alone. However, it goes without saying that if you haven’t jumped back on the Frederik Andersen train by now, you’ve missed out and no longer likely can (unless you’re in a four team league). Freddy has yet to allow more than two goals in a game since his recall, and sports a glittering 1.74 GAA & .938% SV percentage.
In Perreault’s absence centering the second line, Nick Bonino has stepped up to the plate from the bottom six and really thrived, with points in six of his last seven games, including two multi-point efforts. Add 84 faceoff wins over his last three weeks, and you’ve got a gem of an in-house sub. Ben Lovejoy is an under the radar defensive replacement to nab if you are in deep league. Ben only has five points on the season. However, three of those five have come in he last two weeks, after Beachemin and Sbisa went down; not to mention 13 blocked shots over three contests last week.
The Flames at one point in the two months we’ve seen thus far, have lost each of their top players to the IR. Why is that not deemed a more depleted roster than the Ducks, you ask? (who haven’t lost Perry or Getzlaf). Simple. Calgary’s best players aren’t as potent as Anaheim’s second tier group! Mike Cammalleri began the year on the injured reserve, allowing for Jiri Hudler to light it up and rookie, Sean Monahan to enter the big show on a high note. However, after Mike returned, Sean’s room to produce was minimized, before finding himself on the IR himself. He’s currently joined by Curtis Glencross and Dennis Wideman. In their absence Jiri has continued to obliterate his career high numbers. Heading into this season, Jiri’s highest single-year PPG average was .69 with Detroit in their 2008-2009 cup title defense, with an all-star cast supporting him. His career average PPG clip was .53. in 2013-14, he’s smashing that with a .93 rate! He’s nearly doubling the second highest scoring flame in points.
The Hawks have been quite healthy with nothing more than a couple day-to-day spells from significant players. This has resulted in them being the highest scoring team in their latest title defense campaign, evident in a 6-2 whooping of Florida in their latest contest Sunday night. Bryan Bickell, last spring’s postseason warrior is on the sidelines for a couple weeks, however newly acquired Kris Versteeg has stepped in admirably with four points in his last three games. Versteeg is only 11% owned at the moment; nearly undoubtedly available on your waiver wire. Swipe him if you’re looking for a short term fix and a half decent plus/minus rating with the run and gun Hawks (he was minus-9 with Florida and plus-4 with Chicago already). (update: Word is hitting the newswire that Corey Crawford has been taken out of tonight’s (Sunday’s) game – Antti Raanta has actually had better stats than Crawford in relief ever since the Bulin Wall went down (2.16 GAA and a .922 SV% percentage).
The Avalanche’s only notable figure out of the lineup is Alex Tanguay. The 34-year-old put up nine points in his first 13 games before going on the shelf indefinitely with a sprained knee. However, reinforcements were not required with a young squad waiting to bust out into their own superstardom, such as the likes of super-rookie, Nate Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, etc. They’ve used this opportunity to pick up their games. For instance, in 10 games less than last season, the young captain blondie has equaled last year’s goal total and beat his assist number by five.
The Stars had a scare less than two weeks ago with Tyler Seguin and long term concussion fears. He shook them off though and returned to much aplomb, with a natural hat trick in Saturday’s matinee. The recently injured Stephane Robidas is the only key player out long term, with a horrid broken leg incident.
This means Brendan Dillon’s stock has risen immensely. He may even see sometime on the power play now, with Alex Goligoski. Dillon puts up PIM as well as a strong plus/minus ratio and is currently only 18% owned.
The Oilers have an astounding seven players on the reserve, though Ilya Bryzgalov is the only integral one. With Richard Bachman also in the infirmary, this simply means time to scoop up Devan Dubynk as he’s been handed back the keys to his car. Labarbera’s shadow imposing itself on the ice from the bench is not all that threatening.
Its no secret elite netminder, Jonathan Quick is out long-term, with his spell on the shelf projected to expire around Christmas. His replacement, Ben Scrivens, acquired from Toronto along with Matt Frattin, for Jonathan Bernier last summer has proved to be a major boon. Scrivens led the league in both GAA and SV% Percentage heading into Sunday. However, enter a new contestant for a share of the temporary crease reign, with Martin Jones, who is coming off a shutout in his second career start last game and has stopped 42 of 44 total, when relieving Scrivens. If you’re badly in need of a goalie, he’s a great gamble to get you a few valuable starts over the next three weeks or so. Only a whopping 2% owned friends.
Mikael Granlund is the only injury Wild Wildman? Wildian? at the moment. His absence hasn’t been felt too much, although Minny can certainly use some more scoring punch, with Harding having to bail them out night after night seemingly after countless futile displays. Charlie Coyle is a nice bet to pick up some of the slack at 6% owned in Yahoo.
Pekka Rinne has been out of action for most of the season, with a gauntlet of backups vying to take over his spot full time. Carter Hutton got the first stab and failed. Magnus Hellberg received the baton next and also stumbled immediately, making way for Marek Mazenec. He has finally taken the puck and skated with it ball and run with it. Mazenek has posted decent 2.51 and .915 peripherals in his first stint in the big show. Still possible, although not an assurance that he’s still available on your waiver wires at a subpar 25% ownership bar.
Zbynek Michalek is the lone dog in the desert awaiting a call back to the arena. All the Yotes’ are missing in his absence however are his exceptional shot blocking tendencies. Even though he hasn’t played since November 14th, his 63 blocked shots are not just hanging on to the team lead, but evidently nobody else on the team has even the slightest inclination of jumping in front of a puck. He is STILL doubling the closest shot blocker on the team, despite missing 30% of the team’s games played so far. The situation in Glendale is unfortunately, a rare case where there is not an internal answer. If he is not deemed to return soon, outside help will need to be required top help out Mike Smith fend off some rubber.
All three resident pugilists are taking up the Sharks pavilion Centre medical facilities (Raffi Torres, Adam Burish and Mike Brown). If you need more PIMs, San Jose’s fourth line centreman, Andrew Desjardins and his 42 PIMs can essentially 100% be plucked off free agent wires with a laughable 0% ownership number.
**No notable players are injured at the moment.
The Canucks are currently without the services of Jordan Schroeder, Alexandre Burrows and Alexander Edler. The latter two are fairly important components of the squad, and will require some serious cavalry to be called to help chip in. It’s a shame that Burrows is back on the docket, having already missed a dozen games to a bruised shoulder last month. He earned himself a run back on the top line with the Sedin twins, only to have the opportunity snatched as quickly as it was gifted to him. In his place the Sedins have been shockingly paired with Janick Hansen – Please grab him as he’s 99.99% still on your free agent wire! As for Edler, unfortunately there is no such replacement available internally. It will certainly be a case of contribution of committee in this case. Times like this where Erhoff and the ol’ trusty Mattias Ohlund are missed.
Although franchise star, Evander Kane has missed games this week, it is not deemed to be a big deal, as he is expected to return to the lineup any day now. That leaves us with Zack Bogosian as the sole Jet out for a while. Tobias Enstrom has gotten off to a terrible start from the blue line, but he will be counted on to bring his game back to past levels and Jacob Trouba is too inexperienced to be given that much responsibility at the stage in the game. Although, the latter has been chipping in a little more as of late. Not worth the add though from a fantasy perspective, as he doesn’t offer more than a couple points per month.
(~~ Follow Anthony Lancione on Twitter @Anthisdaman)
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