How could Kris Letang’s concussion affect fantasy teams both short-term and long term?
According to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, Kris Letang will not likely play again this season. Rutherford is referring not just to the final game of the regular season, but also the playoffs should the Penguins make it there. There are both short-term and long-term implications of this bad news.
First off, it goes without saying that Letang should be avoided in playoff pools. In fact, we may even be jumping the gun assuming that the Penguins will make the playoffs. As I type this, the score is 1-1 between the Senators and Flyers in the second period. Pittsburgh must win its game tonight against Buffalo if both the Senators and Bruins win. But even if the Penguins avoid missing the playoffs, they're still in a wild card spot and are staring at a potential first-round matchup with the President's Trophy-winning Rangers.
As far as players that are already benefitting in Letang's absence, Ian Cole really stands out. His acquisition from the Blues at the trade deadline didn't seem to garner much attention, yet Cole has recorded six assists over his last six games. In a Friday game against the Islanders that saw the Penguins dress just five defensemen and sit young Derrick Pouliot, Cole was a few seconds shy of 26 minutes of icetime. Paul Martin has also been logging a ton of icetime recently, averaging 25 minutes per game in April.
Here's an alarming stat: The Penguins are 18th overall in goals scored (another example of why this has been a weird season). In his Geek of the Week article, Terry Campkin explained the lack of any real benefit that David Perron experienced from playing for the Penguins. In other words, don't rank Sidney Crosby first overall in your playoff pools, just as I have defaulted in doing over the last few seasons. In April, the Penguins have gone a dismal 1-for-13 on the power play. Not surprisingly, the Penguins have lost all five games.
Long term, Letang owners in keeper leagues (such as myself) have to be worried about his health. This is not Letang's first concussion, and injuries have hovered over his NHL career like a black cloud. Letang had overcome the stroke he suffered last season, but this concussion will be yet another challenge to face as he attempts to resume his career as a top-producing defenseman.
Players this helps (in order):
Players this hurts (in order):