The fantasy impact of Letang’s recent stroke.
As I'm sure you have heard Kris Letang's mystery illness has been revealed to have been a stroke, the result of a small hole in his heart.
The Short-Term Impact:
Letang will miss six weeks before being re-evaluated. At the very least you'll be without him until mid-March but note the key word "re-evaluated". This could be a season-ender. We don't know for sure. Obviously with a condition this serious the player's health comes before even considering how to get him back on the ice so I'd expect everyone to approach this with caution – hence the six weeks they are taking.
I'd imagine that Letang won't be back this season. They'll first need to evaluate his neurological state following the stroke and ensure that the clot has been dissolved. Then they'll need to treat the underlying heart condition, which would require surgery. But it's possible they forgo the surgery until the off-season and he makes a late return. I'm no doctor.
Those of you who have been hanging on to Matt Niskanen will continue to see benefits. He is the top dog with Letang on the shelf. Paul Martin sees a boost as well because he could potentially take over the top power play job if Niskanen falters.
This might also limit the Penguins' flexibility in making a trade. Yes, Letang being out opens up some more cap flexibility this season but it also reduces some of the Penguins' depth on the blue line. They may be less willing to deal one of their great defense prospects knowing that they could have greater need for that depth in the future. So the opening up front with Pascal Dupuis out may get filled by a lesser talent that might otherwise have been acquired.
The Long-Term Impact:
Fortunately for Letang and fantasy owners alike there is a blueprint for his return to professional action. Former NFL player Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke in the 2005 offseason the result of a hole in his heart (I've no idea if his was the same type as Letang's). Bruschi underwent the same monitoring as Letang before eventually having the hole treated. He sought out many specialists before finally pushing to make his return to football. But he did return missing the first half of the 2005 season as part of his recovery but he'd finish the 2005 season and then play three more.