20 Fantasy Thoughts: Navigating the arrival of the NHL injury bug


Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. (Ben Nelms/CP)

My word, what a week. The injury bug has arrived.

In order to stay ahead of the curve in fantasy hockey, it’s imperative to stay on top of day-to-day news and information, especially when it pertains to injuries. So, next time you take that extra-long lunch at work, don’t forget to scour social media for the latest happenings around the NHL.

1. Let’s start with the fantasy implications of the ever-growing list of wounded, an infirmary as large as a Dodge Ram right now (What a beautiful vehicle).

Below, you’ll find the sidelined player and someone who stands to gain value, in-house, in their absence.

PIT: Sidney CrosbyDerick Brassard
TBL: Andrei VasilevskiyLouis Domingue
WSH: Evgeny KuznetsovLars Eller
NSH: P.K. SubbanRyan Ellis
NSH: Viktor ArvidssonKevin Fiala
ANA: Cam FowlerBrandon Montour

Good luck to you all during these difficult times.

2. Brian Elliott is banged up once again for the Flyers. I trust Philadelphia’s crease about as far I can toss their mascot Gritty. Wake me up when Carter Hart gets summoned. He isn’t ready just yet. Run away.

3. With Braden Holtby out, Washington Capitals backup Phoenix Copley commands your attention. He now owns a 3-2-1 record, 2.76 goals-against average, and a .905 save percentage through six games this season. Stream away.

4. Tanner Pearson (LW) has a grand total of one assist in 19 total games this season. Even though it’s been a slow start in Pittsburgh, I wouldn’t put it past the former first-rounder to find his scoring touch again soon. Sometimes, a change of scenery is just what a player needs to find his confidence. Having Evgeni Malkin on your line doesn’t hurt either.

Also, no need for Carl Hagelin (LW) on your team.

5. Speaking of Los Angeles, it became clear rather quickly that Peter Budaj wasn’t the answer with Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell rehabbing for the foreseeable future. So far so good for rookie Cal Petersen. Like any young netminder, he’ll have his ups and downs but there’s no doubt the future looks bright. Lose for Hughes!

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6. Don’t skip a night out with your friends to secure Ryan Spooner or Ryan Strome on your fantasy roster.

There’s larger fantasy upside for Spooner in Edmonton. Neither player has really lived up to expectation so far in the NHL. With Spooner, the McDavid factor should always be in the back of your mind. Have an eye!

7. Hope you took my early season advice on Buffalo’s Carter Hutton. The 32-year-old has rattled off four consecutive wins, improving his overall record to 8-6-1. The numbers speak for themselves (2.52 goals-against average, .919 save percentage), all well above league average. As you all know, I believe in Buffalo.

Get out there and land Hutton.

8. Looks like Elias Pettersson (C) is starting to miss Brock Boeser (RW), who’s currently considered week-to-week with a groin ailment. The stud Canucks rookie centre has tallied just one goal over the past five games. It’s easy to forget he’s just 20. Not every game will be great but the flashes of brilliance sure are exciting. Enjoy the ride.

9. As if the Maple Leafs needed it, Auston Matthews (C) continues to get closer and closer to a return from his shoulder injury. That news bodes well for the likes of Toronto’s power play and Kasperi Kapanen (RW). It’ll depreciate the value of Nazem Kadri (C).

You’ve all been officially warned.

10. It appears sophomore winger Jake DeBrusk is starting to find his stride. After a three-goal October, the dual eligible (LW, RW) 22-year-old already has five goals and two assists in eight total November contests. I would say 20 goals and 50 points is very achievable.

With the injury to Patrice Bergeron (C), Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has elected to split up David Pastrnak (RW) and Brad Marchand (LW). That also bodes well for DeBrusk. Take note.

11. You should be dangling Henrik Lundqvist on the trade market right now. This isn’t sustainable (7-6-2, 2.71 goals-against-average, .918 save percentage). I chalk this up to a hot stretch for the Rangers. They’ll likely revert back to early-season form sooner rather than later. Sell as soon as you can.

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12. Be on your toes if you own Cam Talbot. That’s because it looks like Mikko Koskinen is taking the No. 1 job. The 30-year-old (4-2-0, 2.60 goals-against average, .917 save percentage) has grossly outplayed Talbot (5-7-1, 3.09 goals-against average, .895 save percentage) and it’s not even close.

Bottom line, Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli need wins and are in no position to be patient when it comes to anyone on their roster right now. Monitor closely.

13. Given his age and recent medical records, it wouldn’t be outlandish to test the trade waters on Roberto Luongo. There’s nothing wrong with maximizing value. The 39-year-old is 4-2-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. See what you can get.

14. Sticking with the Panthers, Evgenii Dadonov’s hot start and dual position eligibility (LW, RW) makes him a very attractive name on the fantasy trade market. Ditto for Mike Hoffman (LW, RW).

The dynamic duo became the first set of teammates to record simultaneous 12-game point streaks since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back on November 17, 2007 (13 total games). That’s pretty elite company. Both are cheeky sell-high options right now.

15. Wild captain Mikko Koivu (C) has burst back onto the fantasy hockey picture. After a 45-point dip last season, Koivu is off to a consistent start. He has 11 points over the last seven games and is well on his way to returning to the 55-to-60-point range. Sneaky value here.

16. Contract-year Joe Pavelski (C/RW) has arrived. The Sharks captain is currently enjoying a nice, tidy four-game point streak. He has eight goals in the last eight games. The 34-year-old is a nice trade target if you’re looking for some right-wing depth.

17. Circling back to No. 19 from last Sunday’s piece. Now through two NHL games, Drake Batherson (C) has a goal and two helpers. The late-bloomer is currently on Ottawa’s second line with the red-hot Matt Duchene. I’m feeling it.

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18. Nate Schmidt’s return to Vegas’ lineup tonight should provide a positive boost to the struggling Golden Knights, especially on the man-advantage (15.9 per cent — 25th in the league). The 27-year-old tallied 11 power-play points last season, part of a career-high campaign where he notched 36 points in 76 games played. Test him out.

19. They don’t get much press but Columbus’ top-line of Cam Atkinson (RW), Pierre-Luc Dubois (C/LW) and Artemi Panarin (LW) should be considered among the best in the NHL.

Atkinson’s average draft position (130-150) this season suggested owners didn’t know what to make of his brilliant finish last year after returning from a broken foot. Fresh off his fifth career hat trick in a 4-1 over Carolina on Saturday night, the 29-year-old is on pace 51 goals. Not crazy to suggest a new career high is coming. Buy.

20. As you construct your Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool rosters, keep in mind that the upcoming week will feature 54 games crammed over six days.

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