This Valentine’s day I hope you’ve been hit with Cupid’s arrow and not the injury bug! If you don’t see a certain player below, there probably haven’t been any major developments in their progress. Once there is a significant update, I’ll be sure to have it for you on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza!
The Big Guns (>75% owned in Yahoo Leagues)
Jack Eichel – The Buffalo Sabres will be without their superstar for the next four to six weeks as he recovers from a high ankle sprain. Considering they’re competing for the first overall pick more than a playoff spot, it’s interesting to see that they didn’t shut Eichel down for the rest of the season. This leads me to believe he’ll be back sooner rather than later. That belief was fueled by teammate Sam Reinhart, who noted that Eichel is moving better now than he was last year when he suffered the same injury. Eichel’s 53 points in 55 games will be tough to replace, but the Sabres have managed nine goals in two games without him so far. The aforementioned Reinhart has 13 points in his last 10 games! While there is a timetable in place, there’s also some uncertainty around when exactly Eichel will be back, so I encourage you to follow me on Twitter @BrennanDesouza for the latest updates.
Mike Smith – The Flames’ goaltender appeared to suffer a serious groin injury on Sunday against the Islanders. While he has been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Predators, he’ll be day-to-day after that, so the injury isn’t as severe as initially expected. Smith has provided excellent goaltending for Calgary this season, and his .922 SV% is a big reason why they’re currently in a playoff spot. David Rittich has been a great backup this season with a .923 SV% and 5-2-2 record. That being said, I wouldn’t endorse Rittich as a spot start on Thursday considering his high-quality opponent.
Nathan MacKinnon – He’s two weeks into the original two to four-week timetable, and he’s close to a return. The Avalanche forward has been practicing in a non-contact jersey, and while he won’t face the Canadiens on Wednesday, he could return in the next few games. Considering Colorado is very much in the playoff hunt, the team is going to insert him back into the lineup as soon as he’s feeling ready. Hopefully next week I can tell you that Nate Mack is back!
Corey Crawford – Participated in Monday’s morning skate which included taking shots from his fellow Blackhawks (fellow Blackhawks isn’t the name of his hip flask). There’s still no timetable for his return, which I understand can be frustrating, but you have to realize how unpredictable head injuries can be. Each day can hold a new set of symptoms, while some days can be symptomless. He has to feel good for a few days in a row before we can really start thinking about a return. Chicago lost 6-1 to the Coyotes on Monday. They allowed six goals to a team that averages a league-worst 2.39 goals for per game. With each loss, it becomes less likely that the Blackhawks qualify for playoff hockey. At this point, sitting 12 points out of a playoff spot, doesn’t it make more sense to shut Crawford down for the season?
Shea Weber – Has resumed skating! I wouldn’t consider him close to a return as he still hasn’t participated in practice, and isn’t travelling with the team on their four-game road trip (their next home game is on February 22nd). As a Habs fan, I wouldn’t be mad if the team shut Weber down for the rest of the season. Considering the Canadiens aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, why should Weber return for games that have relatively no meaning? He’s already 32 with lots of term left on his contract, so they need him to be healthy in coming seasons. However, I also own Carey Price in my most competitive fantasy league, and Price’s numbers would certainly benefit from Weber’s return.
Cory Schneider – The Devils goaltender is expected to start skating next week. While Keith Kinkaid did start strong in Schneider’s absence, he has struggled mightily recently. Kinkaid has dropped three of his last four contests, allowing 17 goals in those four games…
The Second Liners (40%-75% owned in Yahoo Leagues)
Jeff Carter – The Kings have four games remaining in a seven-game road trip that Carter was ruled out for. Obviously, this doesn’t mean he’ll be back in the lineup when the team returns home on February 22nd, but it means he won’t be back before then. Hopefully, I can give you a more encouraging update next week.
Brian Elliott – Will be out five to six weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery. Michal Neuvirth will probably see most of the starts going forward. Neuvirth was impressive in a 4-1 win against the Golden Knights, but followed that up with an unimpressive showing on Tuesday that saw the Flyers lose 5-4. I’d say that’s what we should expect from Neuvirth going forward, inconsistency.
Ryan McDonagh – Could return from an upper-body injury on Thursday when the Rangers take on the Islanders. His 26 points in 49 games are garnering a great deal of interest around the league as the trade deadline approaches and New York begins to rebuild.
Tomas Hertl – Left Tuesday’s game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, we should know more on Wednesday. An interesting takeaway from this is that coach Pete DeBoer is open to playing Brent Burns as a forward if Hertl misses time.
The Depth Guys (10%-40% owned in Yahoo Leagues)
Roberto Luongo – Could be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Panthers take on the Canucks. We still don’t know if he’ll be starting or backing up James Reimer, but watch for his activation from injured reserve. Even if he isn’t ready for a return on Wednesday, he certainly has come a Luong way since suffering the injury in early December.
Chris Kreider – Very likely he participates in Wednesday’s practice, and he personally guarantees a return before season’s end. Kreider has made great progress since a rib resection surgery last month to deal with a blood clot. Before the procedure, he had trouble breathing, and was feeling tired after short shifts. He quietly went through weeks of coughing up blood before realizing the severity of the situation. Now that we know Kreider was playing fatigued prior to the surgery, we can expect a higher level of play when he returns.
The Mr. Irrelevants (<10% owned in Yahoo Leagues)
- Ramblings: Gibson Slams Door on Losing Streak, Is Lehner Fantasy’s Top Goalie? (Jan 18)
- Ramblings: Niederreiter Canes’ Debut, Trocheck Return, Demko Debut (Jan 19)
- Ramblings: New Injuries to Key Players, Thoughts on Zibanejad, Patrick, Marchessault (Jan 20)
- Looking Ahead: Look Out For Bye Weeks
- Saturday's NHL Picks - January 19, 2019
- Frozen Tools Forensics: Brenden Dillon
- DFS Saturday: Johnny's World
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles