Six Stopgap Options For Your Fantasy League

by Chris Liggio on December 8, 2017


Currently in one of my leagues my infirmary consists of Jeff Carter, Bo Horvat, Ryan Getzlaf, David Perron, Cam Talbot, and Mika Zibanejad. It is fair to say the injury bug is bending me over and having its way with me. If you find yourself in this predicament you’re more than likely looking for interim help as your assets lick their wounds. In shallower eight- or 10-team leagues finding a fill in is usually no problem but as you enter into the 12-team and beyond stratosphere finding satisfactory fill-ins gets a little harder. To assist my fellow brethren in injury hell let’s take a look at some players that may be available in your league to help you through these trying times.


Esa Lindell


Though he’ll never be heralded like his partner in crime John Klingberg, if you’re hurting on the blue line Lindell could serve as a solid fill-in for the time being. He certainly won’t blow the roof off offensively, but he will provide you with a safe play that generally sports a solid plus minus, healthy average time on ice, and excellent shot totals for defense. Currently on pace for 200 shots, 80-plus hits and 100-plus blocks by season’s end, Lindell is providing well rounded production. At 23 years of age he has seemingly caught on fast at the game’s highest level and allows Klingberg to play the offensive style that suits him best while he provides the defensive coverage. Lindell’s PDO and five-on-five shooting percentage are almost exactly the same figures from last season only speaking ever more to his consistency.


With his CF% rising above 52 and receiving almost two minutes of power play time per game Lindell is making for a solid play in fantasy circles. He certainly will not produce at an elite level but there is nothing wrong with rostering a 30-point defender who does not hurt you in any statistical category.


Erik Haula


Coming into 2017-18 Haula’s two prior seasons saw him post goal totals of 14 in 76 games played and 15 in 72 games played respectively. Most may be unaware that he is currently on pace for a 31-goal, 58-point season. Now that’s something to write home about and more than you could ever ask of an injury fill-in if you’re in the hole. As added bonus for those of you in leagues that count faceoffs Haula has already tacked on 161 draws to his solid depth scoring for fantasy owners. Currently being deployed with James Neal at even strength and centering the top powerplay unit, Haula is yet another sneaky play these days in the fantasy world. The deployment also bodes well for continued production throughout the year as the Golden Knights have surprised us all being in contention in year one of existence.Haula’s sporting a rock solid PDO of 1020 and even though he’s seeing more defensive duties in Vegas with his offensive zone starts sitting at 47% he’s rocking the highest PTS/60 of his career so far at 2.6. Utilizing his fantastic speed and coming off a game where he posted one goal and two assists Haula could be of big help to you in these trying injured times. Be wary of goal scoring regression though as he sits at 17.6% currently compared to his 11.1% career average.


Marian Gaborik


The Slovakian Rocket as I like to call him is back people. Long past the 40-goal scorer days of his prime Gaborik still has a propensity for going on scoring runs despite his advancing age. With four goals and two assists through seven games played since returning from injury he is somewhat living up to that contract. Gaborik keeps up this pace and he could still pot 30-plus goals in 60 games played. He’s not lining up with Anze Kopitar consistently at even strength, but he is being deployed with him and Drew Doughty on the primary power play unit. Gaborik might not be as dominant a scorer nowadays but the man’s release has not left him so if they feed him he can still bury them.


With his power play time almost doubled so far in comparison to last season Gaborik makes for a solid fill-in at the least. Though much can certainly be attributed to the fact that he is coming in with some fresh legs off a seven-month hiatus there is hope he can rekindle the white-hot scoring touch he had in the 2013-14 Stanley Cup run for the Kings (14 G, 8 A in 26 GP). On an interesting third line alongside Adrian Kempe and Trevor Lewis that possesses great speed all around, Gaborik could be a dependable depth scorer for you. With his primary powerplay deployment he is worth a speculative add if in need of forward help currently.


Kevin Fiala


Kyle Turris’ arrival in Nashville has gone exactly to plan, bolstering the Predators secondary scoring and making them a contender down the middle. His arrival has also brought out the best in Kevin Fiala and their line along with Craig Smith has been dynamic. In 13 games played together they sport a CF% of 53.85 speaking to the lines dominance when deployed. Fiala has turned it on since being united with the 28-year old center and in the past 12 games has posted five goals and 11 points. If you are not familiar with Fiala he is a heralded young player with oodles of offensive upside which the following video shall show you.



That was just rude Fiala. Currently only on pace for 15 goals his five-on-five shooting percentage is only 5.92% so some statistical correction bodes well for more goals in time perhaps. Whether that happens or not fantasy managers should be aware that he is on pace for 39 assists. That is phenomenal distribution ability and for a 21-year old that potentially means great things for the future. Fiala has found himself receiving primary power play time due to Ryan Johansen’s injury lately. Though one cannot expect Fiala to maintain this power play deployment upon his return it speaks to the coaching staff’s growing belief in the youngster. Although this article is geared more towards finding injury replacements Fiala is fast approaching must own territory if he keeps up this scoring pace in the Turris era.


Ron Hainsey


In my injury plagued league, we have six defense slots and I like to stream the “third pair” defenders week-to-week with matchup acquisitions. One of the guys I routinely find myself utilizing is Ron Hainsey and it’s worked beautifully all year. Riding shotgun full time next to the offensively blossoming Morgan Rielly, Hainsey is quietly on pace for a 35-point season. Yes that’s right folks the 36-year old is fantasy relevant in Toronto and does nothing so far to hurt your fantasy squad.On top of the point pace he is averaging almost 22 minutes per game and is also on track for 116 hits and 144 blocks. Hainsey is bringing well rounded value and there is argument for rostering him in deeper fantasy leagues.


Hainsey isn’t much of a shooter but if that’s the only knock on him so be it as he makes up for it with his solid plus minus. His PDO is the highest it has been since 2011-12 and he sports a CF% of 51.16 through 2017-18 so far only further driving the case for utilizing his services. He’s not receiving any power play time which isn’t surprising on an offensively stacked Leafs squad capping his potential but he’s a solid option that won’t hurt you a la Lindell. If you are in need of assistance on the blue line give Hainsey a chance.


Pierre Luc-Dubois


When the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Dubois third overall in 2016 many were mildly surprised. A versatile two-way forward who boasts a complete game they saw the potential this kid has and his aggressive attitude. Dubois is more so a speculative addition here and now if you have room to roster while playing alongside an ascending Josh Anderson and Russian slickster Artemi Panarin. The chemistry has been apparent and Dubois has racked up the assists lately to go with his great hits production. Currently on pace for 141 hits by season’s end if he can continue this point-per-game pace he has sustained for seven games or something somewhat close to it you couldn’t do better for a streaming option in deeper pools. For those of you in leagues counting faceoffs, Dubois provides further value with his most recent game seeing him collect nine draws. Ride him while he is hot and hope for sustained production on the top line. Be wary and ready for a significant drop-off at anytime though as Dubois is only 19 years of age and growing pains should be accounted for.