With the NHL suspending operations because of the coronavirus, many fantasy leagues have decided to call it a season.
While there is still some hope that the NHL can come back, it's looking less and less likely that teams will get to play 82 games, especially with news Sunday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends no gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks. That makes now a good time to reflect on the season that was.
One of the key storylines this year was the number of injuries that befell many players. It wasn't small, nagging injuries either, as numerous players were out for months.
Below are 10 injuries that killed your fantasy season. Keep in mind that for most of the names on this list, timing plays a huge role. With one exception, a player missing three months from October to December isn't as impactful as a player missing January to March.
10. Mark Stone
Stone always misses some time, but this year was going well until Feb. 26 against the Oilers. It was in that game that Stone suffered a lower-body injury, which put him on the week-to-week injury list. He then missed the next six games and rumour had it he might not have made it back in time for the end of the regular season if the league wasn't suspended. This injury hurt anyone in head-to-head leagues, as Stone was out while fantasy general managers needed him for a playoff push and the first week or so of the playoffs.
Most people on this list are here because they were injured in the second half of the season, making a major impact on your push for the playoffs. Crosby, a top-five pick in most leagues, suffered a core muscle injury in November that caused him to miss 28 games. He came back as if he never missed any time, posting four points in his first game and notching 23 points in his first 13 games. The timing was great for those in head-to-head leagues, but it severely hurt your chances at a championship in points-only pools.
The Blue Jacket's netminders should top any type of list of top surprises for this season. Leading up to the end of 2019, Korpisalo had a 17-10-4 record with a .913 SV % and a 2.49 GAA before being putting on the shelf for the next two months with a knee injury. Owners that were quick to pick up Elvis Merzlikins were greatly rewarded, and many believed he was excellent enough to keep the starter's job once Korpisalo returned from injury. That didn't turn out to be the case, but it's always tough to miss out on a number one guy for a couple of months.
Kuemper does have the talent to be an excellent netminder, but I wonder if he'll ever get there with the amount of time he spends on the IR. It was frustrating for Kuemper owners this year as it always felt like he was going to be ready in a couple of days, but those couple of days would turn into another couple of days, and so on. He got injured in a game when he gave up seven goals on Dec. 19, and was then out until Feb. 25 with a lower-body injury. Upon his return, he lost three of his four games before the league suspended the season.
Your best bet to buy low on Karlsson will be whenever your league reopens trading. After all, he just had a massively disappointing season (his lowest points-per-game since he was a sophomore, with a points pace of just 59 points). His last game was on Valentine's Day, and then he was put on the injured reserve list with a broken thumb, just in time for fantasy playoffs. That's painful when you remember that he was the second defenseman selected in Yahoo pools.
It's been a tough campaign for Rielly, a top-10 defenseman in many fantasy drafts, and his fantasy owners. He started the season as one of the most productive defensemen with 15 points in his first 15 games. Soon after, a coaching change resulted in Rielly losing his plum power-play spot to Tyson Barrie, and Rielly had only 12 points in his next 32 games. In mid-January, he was out with a fractured foot, and missed two months before returning to the lineup on March 10 before the league suspended operations.
While he was still almost a point-per-game player (41 points in 42 games), Rantanen's season is especially frustrating as he spent two different stints on the IR. He missed the tail end of October and most of November with an ankle injury, but bounced back with a four-point night once he returned. He stayed in the lineup until he was injured again on Feb. 17 with an upper-body injury, just in time for the final push for fantasy playoffs.
Taken on average in the fourth round in Yahoo pools, Guentzel was rolling this year and looked like a shoo-in to get not only his first 80-point season, but he also looked good to get his first 90-point campaign. This was helped tremendously as he was finally on the top power-play line. He had 10 power-play points in his first 39 games, only two points off his career high. He was also averaging 3.26 shots per game, almost half a shot higher than his previous career high last year. he injured his shoulder in a game against Ottawa late in 2019, and he hasn't played a game since the calendar flipped to 2020.
I will admit that I never thought we would see a season like this from Hamilton. Mostly because he in his first seven seasons in the league, he was never really given much of an opportunity to be the team's number one power-play quarterback. That all changed this season as Hamilton was on the ice for about 64 per cent of all of Carolina's power-play minutes. His overall ice time was also at 23:17, about three-and-a-half minutes higher than in 2018-19 and easily the highest of his career. He was also shooting the puck at a career rate. His 40 points as of Jan. 16 put him top five among defensemen at the time. And then he went down with a fractured fibula and hasn't played since. It was a tough blow for many fantasy owners.
Tank's injury screwed up more fantasy seasons than any other player. On average, he was the 24th player chosen in Yahoo drafts, so basically a second/third-round pick depending on the size of your league. Considering he hasn't broken 70 points since 2016-17, that may seem like a high pick, but he's excellent with peripherals. He's normally good for at least 275 shots, 20 power-play points and 85 hits. When Tarasenko went down with a shoulder injury on Oct. 24, that hurt every fantasy owner who drafted him. Maybe you could replace the hits, but you wouldn't have been able to replace all the other good things he does for your squad. The length of time is why he's number one on the list, as missing all but 10 games for such a high pick could damper championship aspirations before October is even over.