Let there be hockey!
The NHL has long been my first love, so it pains me that the NHL lockout cost so much of the season. I could spend hours whining and complaining about the lockout, but it is finally behind us and the NHL is set to return soon -- and so is fantasy hockey.
Chances are your team has already been drafted -- in many cases, like most of my fantasy hockey leagues, it happened months ago. With that in mind, let's buzz around the league's injuries and what you need to know on the injury front entering the start of the 2012-13 fantasy hockey season.
Sidney Crosby ready to go for 2012-13 fantasy hockey season
Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins - It wouldn't be an injury report without a mention of Crosby, right? It appears all systems are still a go for Crosby, which is exciting for fantasy hockey teams. As long as he's on the ice, he remains a No. 1 options for fantasy lineups.
Marian Gaborik, RW, New York Rangers - Gaborik had shoulder surgery in June and it appears all systems are go for him ... the extra time off from the lockout surely didn't hurt in his recovery window. Gaborik is no stranger to injuries, so keep an eye on this situation. The team confirmed Monday, Jan. 7, that he will be ready for the beginning of the season. Gaborik, who had 41 goals and 76 points last season, remains a top-line option for your team.
Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings - Quick had back surgery over the summer and has been medically cleared. He had what was viewed as a minor surgical procedure in August to take care of an inflammatory cyst and disc fragment. Barring any setbacks, he appears A-OK to start the year and remains one of the top goalies for fantasy hockey teams.
If he is indeed fine, it could open up trade chatter surrounding backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, who would be an intriguing fantasy option provided he is given ample playing time.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals - Backstrom (neck) hurt himself while playing in Russia and his status for the start of the season is in question at this time. The team isn't allowed to talk about his health until training camp opens, so keep a close eye on this one. Having Backstrom healthy will be key in their offensive play. He posted 14 goals and 44 points in just 42 games last season. Consider him a 2C for the time being with room to improve if his health is where it needs to be.
Danny Briere, C, Philadelphia Flyers - Briere (wrist) should be ready at the start of the season or quickly after it begins. He's dealing with a bone bruise and sprained left wrist, which he suffered in late December. Briere will see a specialist; use some concern here, as the injury could impact his play. He had 16 goals and 49 points in 70 games last season.
Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings - Kopitar (knee) suffered a right knee injury Saturday, Jan. 5, while playing for Mora IK of Sweden's Allsvenskan hockey league. He likely suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right MCL, which could sideline him at least three weeks. Kopitar came up big in the playoffs last season, recording eight goals and 20 points. During the regular season, he had 25 goals and 51 assists. Knock him down a few notches on your board, and don't be surprised to see a sluggish start for him when he returns.
Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver Canucks - Kesler (wrist, shoulder) is still recovering from surgery and said there isn't a timeline for his return to the ice. The Cancucks will have a big hole at center to fill if he misses significant time. If you can avoid Kesler, it may be in your best interest simply because the abbreviated season won't provide a lot of room for sitting on injured players.
Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks - Hossa (concussion) used the lockout to return to full speed and recently said he's back to normal. Hossa was knocked out of Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year due to an illegal hit. He was cleared medically in November.
Tomas Plekanec, C, Montreal Canadiens - Plekanec (upper-body) is dealing with an upper-body injury, which isn't believed to be significant. He should be ready for the start of the season and is expected for the start of training camp. He's a mid-range option for your depth at center.
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.