This week's Capped covers players recovering from injury, and what impact their recovery may have on your fantasy team.
Hot off the presses, get the DobberHockey 2018-2019 Fantasy guide today!
In fantasy sports, losing a player to an injury at the wrong time can cost you a championship. In some formats, the impact is mitigated, as injury replacements are more readily available. ROTO leagues specifically are usually a little easier to fill in for an injured player, while H2H leagues do offer streaming possibilities when a star player goes down. Depending on the league settings, specifically related to how add/drops work, and the number of injury slots, the impact of bumps, bruises, sprains and stitches can vary greatly. We try to avoid players who are constantly missing time due to injury, but even that can be unpredictable.
Every fantasy team hits parts of the season where they have more players injured than they have IR slots, and at that point, tough choices have to be made. Don’t put yourself behind the eight ball to start the season, and try to avoid these players that will miss significant time to kick off the season. Especially in salary cap leagues, managing your cap space can be difficult at the best of times without worrying about when players are coming off of your IR, and how you are going to temporarily fill in the production for your injured star.
Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens
Current Cap Hit: $7,857,143 (UFA, July 2019)
The preface here is that only in certain cap leagues will Weber be valuable. Based on the construction of some leagues, defence has been devalued, and cap-space becomes too valuable to spend large sums on a rearguard. For most other leagues though, there would have been some rebound value to be found in the big Habs defenceman. On a per-game basis last season, there was almost no better fantasy rearguard. However, when you only play 26 games in one season, and you’re expected to miss at least half of the next season, it’s tough to warrant any kind of associated cost – let alone $7.86 million per season.
Shea Weber missed most of last season after nagging injuries and is projected to miss at least half of this upcoming season. That is the optimistic end of the spectrum, so don’t get too excited for a bounce back just yet. Maybe next summer you can buy low on him, but for now, coming off of a major surgery, without a summer of training, and not having laced up the skates since December 16th.
Internal Replacement: Jeff Petry
Petry costs about two-thirds of what Weber does, and in the second half of last season, he was an excellent all-around replacement. If he keeps the powerplay time from last season, to begin this campaign, then we may see the results come close to living up to his $5.5 million price tag.
Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks
Current Cap Hit: $6,875,000 (UFA, July 2022)
By now you should be well aware that one of your best multi-category centremen is rumoured to be missing the entire 2018-2019 season. There isn’t much else to say for him, as for all we know he could decide to call it at that. Coming back after his hip surgery may just not be worth it in the end.
Internal Replacement: Sam Steel/Troy Terry
There is no replacing what Kesler can bring unless you can somehow snatch Vincent Trochek away from his current owner. It seems as though Adam Henrique will receive the bulk of the second line minutes in the wake of Kesler’s absence. Henrique’s new contract is, unfortunately, a little more than most will want to pay for his fantasy contributions though. If Henrique can cover the defensive responsibilities, perhaps one of Troy Terry or Sam Steel jump in and surprise with a solid rookie campaign as the third line centre. Don’t count on it though.
Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
Current Cap Hit: $6,000,000 (UFA, July 2020)
This is a bit of an odd situation, as we don’t even really know what is ailing Crawford. It is possible he is ready for the start of camp, however with conflicting reports it may be best to err on the side of caution and drop him down a few rungs on your goalie rankings (it’s not like Chicago is going to be all that great this year anyway).
Internal Replacement: Cam Ward
The Blackhawks signing Cam ward to a $3 million deal, shows that they want him to be a little more than your standard 20-start backup. On one hand, Crawford could miss part of the year, and Ward continues as a starter, seeing somewhere in the range of 50 starts. However, on the other hand, even if Crawford is healthy, he will likely not be pushed too hard, meaning we could see closer to a 60/40 split in Crawford’s favour (~35 starts for Ward), rather than the 70/30 split he has been used to in other seasons.
Darkhorse Anton Forsberg waits in the wings as well.
Cory Schneider – New Jersey Devils
Current Cap Hit: $6,000,000 (UFA, July 2022)
It surprised me to hear that Schneider had undergone offseason hip surgery, and may end up missing the beginning of the season. Somehow this one flew under the radar in some of the mainstream circles (but the DobberHockey guide has that info of course). Schneider’s teammates Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier should have their injured wrists healed up in time for the start of the season. Hall underwent offseason surgery, while Hischier’s injury just needed rest.
Schneider was apparently playing through the injury for part of last season, and based on his optimistic recovery schedule would be due back right at the beginning of the season. Even upon his return, he may have to earn back the crease. Kinkaid played 41 games last season and could be in line for a very similar number this year based on his performance and Schneider’s injury.
Internal Replacement: Keith Kinkaid
Keith Kinkaid presents an excellent value option here, being paid $1.25 million this season, and entering his peak years (around 30 for goalies). Repeating last year’s numbers would have him above replacement value in fantasy, and well worth a roster spot (and a later round pick in drafts).
As with Chicago, there is a darkhorse candidate here in the Garden State as well. Eddy Lack presents a longshot candidate to grab a few starts as both Schneider and Kinkaid battled injuries at times in their careers.
Zach Werenski – Columbus Blue Jackets
Current Cap Hit: $925,000 (RFA, July 2019)
After playing through a shoulder injury for part of the 2018-2019 season, Werenski should be back to full health sometime in the fall. It remains to be seen whether that will be by the first game of the season or not. Either way, take advantage of this injury concern, as he is not set to miss much time if any. Additionally, with a healthy shoulder, we can expect Werenski’s production to approach (or even surpass) his rookie season’s 47 points, rather than last year’s 37.
Internal Replacement: Markus Nutivaara
Should Werenski miss any time at the beginning of the season, expect Nutivaara to see a bump in production just from the extra exposure to Werenski’s powerplay minutes. In shallower leagues, however, he won’t be worth rostering, as Seth Jones has already claimed the top-dog title for powerplay time.
Nikita Zadorov – Colorado Avalanche
Current Cap Hit: $2,150,000 (RFA, July 2019)
As the NHL’s hit leader from last season, we can’t expect him to escape completely unscathed, can we?
The 6’5” defenceman underwent offseason shoulder surgery and is questionable to return for the beginning of the season. As with Weresnki, see if you can buy low here. Zadorov shouldn’t miss too much time, and on his contract, he is such an excellent bargain for leagues counting hits. Owning him can allow you a little more freedom with owning a skilled forward, such as Artemi Panarin or Phil Kessel.
Internal Replacement: Ian Cole
Signed in free agency this summer, Cole should be able to provide you with some similar stats to Zadorov in the short term. Don’t expect the veteran Cole to keep up the production over the course of the season, as a healthy Zadorov and injured counterpart Patrick Nemeth will eat into the minutes. Additionally, as Samuel Girard matures, he may soak up more playing time as well. That all being said, as an injury fill-in, you know exactly what to expect from Cole.
Quick hits on recent signings:
Robert Hagg settled with the Flyers at an AAV of $1.15 for two years. Perhaps the betting favourite to lead the league in hits if he plays the whole season… The New York Rangers re-upped Ryan Spooner and Kevin Hayes. Both will be earning perhaps a little more than expected, but that is what happens with shorter term contracts. Don’t expect either to play out the full length of their deals with the Rangers, they will become deadline rentals… Miikka Salomaki signed a $750,000 AAV, two-year deal to be Nashville’s 278th (more like 13th) option as a depth forward. In all seriousness, with the depth on the Predators, he will be lucky to play half of the season. On another team, he would make an excellent fourth-line pest… Tom Wilson. What can be said that hasn’t already been spilt in more ink than necessary. The AAV actually doesn’t hurt as much as most would think, it’s the term. Looking around the NHL, would you rather have Tom Wilson (24), or other big winger signings from recent years (Loui Eriksson, Andrew Ladd, Kyle Okposo, David Backes, Brandon Saad, Patrick Marleau, etc.). There is upside with Wilson, and an edge that Washington really needs outside players like Nick Backstrom and Evgeni Kuznetsov. Ideally, Wilson’s point totals are boosted a little based on better deployment (perhaps even powerplay time), and he turns into a Patrick Hornqvist carbon copy. Hornqvist (31) has averaged 31.5 even strength points over his last four seasons, and no one batted an eye at his $5.3 million AAV… A better bet for more starts next season, Tristan Jarry or David Rittich? The correct answer is Rittich, as his new contract is one-way. Expect him to back-up in Calgary, while Jarry gets the top goalie prospect treatment, seeing the majority of the starts at the AHL level. That being said, if a starter goes down with an injury, Jarry likely gets the big minutes, while Rittich gets passed by Calgary’s top goalie prospect, Jon Gillies.
Recent Capped articles:
That caps off another Thursday.
If you want to talk hockey, salary caps, or anything even remotely related, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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