Easily the most frustrating aspect of fantasy hockey is having to deal with injuries.
You can draft a flawless team and make the perfect trades, and it can all blow up with injuries to a few key players. It can easily turn a championship team to a draft lottery squad.
Every year normally sees a glut of these kinds of injuries. In most years, we see injuries to elite players such as Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Carey Price, Aleksander Barkov, Evgeni Malkin, etc.). With only a couple of exemptions, this year didn’t have too many injuries to the elite. Maybe that can explain why scoring is up.
Below are 10 players whose injuries screwed up your season. More weight is given to skaters who missed time later in the season as they impacted your fantasy hockey playoffs as well. That’s why you won’t see names such as Auston Matthews, John Klingberg and Torey Krug on this list.
10. Jonathan Quick
Losing a number one goalie at any time of the season makes it difficult to compete, especially when it’s a high pick. It’s easy to forget this now, but after a decent 2017-18 season, Quick was highly regarded going into this year, generally being selected in the third round and was the seventh goalie taken off the board on average. All of L.A. was bad this year, and Quick was no exception. However, a lower-body injury cost him at least 18 starts as he missed time in October and November and put you behind the eight ball early.
Who would have figured getting away from Patrick Kane would be good for a player? That’s exactly what happened for Schmaltz. A popular pick for a breakout season, Schmaltz was awesome once he was dealt to Arizona, seeing a small uptick in ice time but a significant increase in power-play time on ice. He had 14 points in 17 games with Arizona to go along with seven power-play points. Those who drafted him as a sleeper pick were laughing until a knee injury caused him to miss the last four months of the season.
The only bright side to Crawford’s injury-riddled season was the fact not as much was expected of him as he was selected in the 11th round and was the 21st goalie selected on average. I picked him up cheap in a keeper pool last summer for a third rounder in 2019. He was expected to be out for a while, but many had hope that he would be back in the net soon. He missed the first couple of weeks before returning, but unfortunately, he wasn’t healthy for long as he missed another 10 weeks with a concussion.
7. Ondrej Kase
Kase was another popular pre-season pick for a breakout season and, after missing the first month of the season with a concussion, he was one of the few bright spots in a dismal first-half for the Ducks. His 20 points in 30 games were decent, and the 0.67 points per game was the highest mark of his career. His power TOI was up a minute per game over last year, his overall ice time was up almost two minutes and his 3.13 shots per game was almost a full shot per game higher than his previous high. On Jan. 17, he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the season. Be prepared for a lot more stories this offseason about Kase being a good pick for a breakout campaign in 2019-20.
6. Antti Raanta
Much was expected of Raanta, but a slow start thanks to a team having trouble scoring didn’t help instill much confidence from fantasy general managers. Neither did a knee injury that cost him the season after Nov. 27. Overall, injuries ruined what could have been a breakout season and will likely force Raanta to earn back the starter’s job after Darcy Kuemper was excellent for the Coyotes this year.
In one of my head-to-head Yahoo leagues this year, I drafted Erik Karlsson in the second round and Dustin Byfuglien in the third. Suffice to say, I did not have a good playoff. Byfuglien has been a frustrating own the last couple of years. He’s great in multi-cat leagues, but you can’t trust him to stay healthy. This year he put up his best assists-per-game, points-per-game, PIM per game, power-play points per game in years while still be a force for shots, hits and blocked shots. Unfortunately, he only played 42 games and missed the fantasy playoffs, so that great performance was for naught.
The most frustrating aspect of being a Malkin owner isn’t that he misses a bunch of time, but the timing in which he misses games. Despite being a point-per-game player, Malkin is usually on the IR come head-to-head playoff time. This year he was out from March 17 until April 4 with an upper-body injury. This is nothing new, and it should be enough to slide Malkin down draft lists every September.
After a slow start with his new team, Karlsson had a great December on, rewarding anyone who bought low on him, until a mid-January lower-body injury kept him out of the lineup for a month. He came back for four of the next five games before missing the rest of the season with a groin injury. General managers had to have been happy with 45 points in 53 games, but 45 points overall from Karlsson is a disappointment, as was the timing of his injury.
2. Matt Dumba
If you think you were frustrated by Dumba’s season-ending ruptured right pectoralis muscle injury on Dec. 15, imagine how Dumba felt. At that point, his 12 goals were tops in the league among defensemen, and his 12 power-play points were tied for fourth. His 93 shots were tied for sixth. He was on pace for a career high in goals, points, shots, power-play goals, power-play points, hits and would have only been two off of a career high in blocked shots. As great as Dumba had been in previous seasons, it was all lining up for a truly elite season until that injury.
1. Taylor Hall
Hall used to have a big reputation as a Band-Aid boy, and while he would never be fully free of that label, he was starting to somewhat shed it the last few years. From 2015-16 to 2017-18, Hall averaged five missed games a season. After a Hart trophy nomination last year, much love was given to Hall in drafts, being taken on average with the 16th overall pick and the fifth left-winger off the board. So of course, he gets hurt and misses most of the season with a knee injury, but not before posting 37 points in 33 games. He’s been elite for the last two years, so feel free to draft him high next year. Just don’t expect 82 games.
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