Band-Aid Boys in Training

Ryan Van Horne

2010-01-09

Logan Couture

As most loyal Dobber readers know, some players are more prone to injury than others. When they're on your fantasy team, they hurt your team’s performance, but a player can very easily return from injury and still be just as good (as long as the injury is not a serious one). But major or frequent injuries at a young age can derail development by reducing playing time or negatively affecting long-term health.

 

Adrian Foster was a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2001. Foster was a highly touted player before arriving in the WHL, but played only seven games with the Saskatoon Blades as a 17-year-old and five games as an 18-year-old. Despite his talent, it was an off-the-board pick by the Devils because of his lack of playing time.

 

After the Devils drafted him, he played only 27 games in the WHL as a 19-year-old. Foster played just 39 regular-season games over three seasons, but still offered a glimmer of hope with a point-a-game playoff effort in 15 games. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck again and he played just nine games in his rookie season as a pro.

 

It wasn't until the 2007-08 season that Foster managed more than 51 games in a season. Even then, he only played 70 games and managed to put up just 38 points with Houston of the AHL. He left for Europe and after a season in Austria, moved on to the KHL for a brief stint and was looking for work after just 10 games. He'll soon be 28 and has yet to play a game in the NHL.

 

Foster is an extreme example, to be sure, but knowing injury history at the junior or college level can help you make a more realistic projection of a player’s upside and his ability to reach it.

 

One of my favourite prospects a few years ago was Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks. Couture is off to a great start as a rookie with the Worcester Sharks. Ranked No. 15 on Dobber's list of top prospects, Couture notched 35 points in his first 25 AHL games this season. He's also earning frequent flyer miles as he's been called up to San Jose five times since the start of the season. In 11 NHL games, he's managed just one goal and one assist in limited ice time – never playing more than 8:53.

 

Couture's production this year and last year comes as a surprise to me as I thought his development was stunted a bit by injuries. I am wondering how good he might be now had he been able to stay healthy during his second and third year of junior hockey.

 

For the last two years, Couture has been able to stay healthy, but you should do your homework on his injury history if you're looking to acquire him. When a player gets injured as often as Couture – and one of the recurring injuries is a concussion – alarm bells should be going off.

 

It's a common question among Dobberites. Is it bad luck or is he brittle? Couture has suffered a knee injury that hurt his stock in his draft year. Couture also suffered a nasty cut on his leg at a team Canada summer tryout camp and the cut became infected.

 

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