Fantasy Hockey: Early-season injury analysis
If you're a fantasy owner of either Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell (foot) or Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul (forearm), you're already singing the injury blues. To make matters worse, the long-term injuries to the two Eastern Conference forwards comes at a position which is a little scarce, too.
If it makes you feel any better (and I hope that it doesn't!), I own both players in my big-money fantasy league, so I have been scrambling around for assistance.
Hartnell is expected to miss anywhere from four to eight weeks due to a broken first metatarsal in his left foot suffered Jan. 22, courtesy of a slap shot from defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Hartnell will be especially tough for fantasy owners in pools, which encourage penalty minutes. The blow will be lesser in leagues that penalize PIM.
The team announced it was bringing back 40-year-old right wing Mike Knuble to fill Hartnell's roster spot, although the veteran is a shell of his former self and is simply looking to resurrect his career and stay in the league. For fantasy purposes, he is only worth a look in the very deepest of leagues.
The Knuble move might not be the last one for the Flyers, who could still move to add someone like left wing Marco Sturm (Panthers) or right wing Petr Sykora (Devils) if they decide a more talented veteran presence is needed.
The news is also bad on the defensive side for the Flyers, as defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) is expected to miss about four weeks due to a left shoulder ailment. He was scoreless with a minus-1 rating this season, but he managed seven goals and 25 points last year. He can be a huge contributor in plus/minus, as well as hits and blocked shots. He managed 88 blocked shots with 144 hits in 62 games, so this is a big loss for owners in advanced scoring system pools. Defenseman Andreas Lilja was recalled from the minors to fill his roster spot, but his fantasy appeal is negligible at this point.
The news isn't all bad for the Flyers, who have cleared a roster spot for the return of center Daniel Briere (wrist). Winger Eric Wellwood was sent down to the minors to clear a spot, so Briere's return is imminent. Briere was sidelined for the first five games of the season after slowly recovering from a hairline fracture. If he can make it through two full games without any ill-effects of the injury, plug Briere back into your active lineup. He'll make for a nice No. 3 center in most formats.
Lupul was also hurt courtesy of a teammate's shot from the point. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf wired a shot against the Penguins that struck Lupul in the forearm, fracturing the bone and sending him to Injured Reserve for at least six weeks. The Leafs, which aren't particularly deep as it is, might turn to minor eague recall right wing Matt Frattin to replace Lupul on the team's top scoring line with right wing Phil Kessel and center Tyler Bozak. If Frattin sticks as a top-six forward, he has the offensive potential to be a fringe fantasy option in pools of 12 or more teams. Monitor his early progress before considering him for a roster spot.
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons. Follow @danieledobish
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