A hot and troublesome storyline around the National Hockey League this year has been concussions and the effects it is having on players. It also has wreaked havoc on the fantasy hockey world.
The league's best player remains sidelined with post-concussion
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has been dealing with his concussion
and his subsequent absence, recovery, absence again, and the ongoing recovery
has really changed the way hockey players in general deal with concussions.
So what do you do if you find one of your star players is diagnosed with a
concussion? Who are the key players that have been affected by concussions and
who are the players stepping up in their place? These are some of the guys that
you may want to try to go get, whether through trade or the waiver wire:
Fantasy headache 1: Sidney Crosby, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby has been the face of the concussion epidemic. The good news, from a
fantasy perspective, is that fantasy hockey players knew coming into this season
that Crosby was not going to start the season healthy and were able to plan
accordingly. It looked like fantasy owners were going to get some relief with
Crosby and probably even got excited about his return, which saw 12 points in
eight games. Unfortunately, Crosby owners were quickly disappointed once again
when concussion like symptoms returned in early December.
The one player that has stepped up in Crosby's absence and is worth consideration
of acquiring if you are a Crosby owner is Jordan Staal. Staal has filled
in nicely in the role Crosby vacated. While no one can replace Crosby's level
of fantasy production, Staal has held his own with 15 goals and 21 points in
Fantasy headache 2: Jeff Skinner, Center, Carolina Hurricanes
Last year's Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) winner, Skinner, only played
in 18 games this season before suffering his injury in the first week of September.
In that time, Skinner was averaging just under a point a game and was a bright
spot on a struggling Carolina Hurricanes team.
One player to look at in trying to replace Skinner on fantasy teams is Brandon
Sutter. The center that is known more for his defensive play rather than
having offensive upside has shown a scoring touch of late, with three goals
in his last five games. While he will never bring what Skinner provided to fantasy
squads, he is worth a look for those hoping that Skinner's injury is more of
a short-term injury rather than a long-term one.
Fantasy headache 3: Chris Pronger, Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers
The marquee defenseman's status is not up for debate; he is out for the rest
of the year with what the Flyers have classified as "severe post-concussion
syndrome" and has left many fantasy teams with a gaping hole after only
playing in 13 games this year.
The one Flyer who may benefit the most from Pronger's absence from a fantasy
perspective may be Braydon Coburn. Coburn has a goal and nine assists
through 36 games; he is on pace to surpass his point totals of 16 and 19 over
the previous two seasons respectively.
These are just some examples of players that are taking their time returning
from concussion injuries, but there are plenty of examples of players who have
suffered concussions and returned to their lineup. Claude Giroux, Milan
Milhalek and Mike Richards all come to mind as players who were diagnosed
with a concussion but did not miss much time. So as a fantasy hockey owner,
it is important to not overreact when a player gets diagnosed - obviously the
severity of it, like any other type of injury, will play a big role and each
player is different. Players who have suffered multiple concussions over time
are also more apt to have lingering problems and longer-term issues.
While concussions will most likely continue to be a an issue moving forward,
planning ahead and responding quickly to an announcement of your star player
sustaining one will go a long way towards helping your team stay above water
until you can get your stars back into the lineup - or make that big trade to
About Mike Corcoran
Mike Corcoran joined KFFL in 2011 as their senior fantasy hockey writer. The Tarrytown, New York, native hosts a hockey radio show on ESPN Radio in Tampa, and covers the Tampa Bay Lightning professionally.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeCorcoranNHL