As the fantasy hockey season winds down and champions are crowned, don’t be the goof who holds on to a superstar for too long. The time has come to part ways with some of your injured players as you scramble to maximize your games played for the week. These decisions can be very difficult to make, so if you ever need a second opinion feel free to shoot me a message on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza. Without further delay, here are this week’s injury updates!
Torey Krug – The Bruins defenseman is currently travelling with the team as they continue a road trip through New Jersey on Thursday, Florida on Saturday and Tampa Bay on Monday. At this point, he’s been skating but hasn’t been taking contact. As soon as he sheds the non-contact jersey we can start talking about a return. If you’ve held onto Krug this long, it’s probably worth waiting until Thursday to see if he plays against the Devils. However, if there are more enticing options available, I wouldn’t hesitate to cut bait.
Marcus Johansson – Boston has three games remaining in their road trip; Thursday against the Devils, Saturday against the Panthers and Monday against the Lightning. Considering Johansson is travelling with the team on this road trip, I’d expect him to return in one of the above games. He suffered a long contusion after a big hit from Micheal Ferland of the Hurricanes earlier in the month.
Sean Monahan – An illness caused him to be a game-time decision on Tuesday against the Blue Jackets. Ultimately, the team elected to keep him out of the lineup for the second straight game. Considering he was almost ready to play on Tuesday, I expect he’ll have fully recovered from this sickness by Thursday when Calgary faces Ottawa.
James Neal – On Monday, he participated in his first full practice since suffering a lower-body injury on February 14th. Coach Bill Peters revealed that Neal could be an option to play Thursday against the Flames.
Sam Bennett – Was a game-time decision for Tuesday’s contest against Columbus. While the final decision was made to keep him out of the lineup, the fact that he was so close to returning on Tuesday makes me believe he’ll definitely return on Thursday against the Senators. Until he returns, he’s officially day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Gabriel Landeskog – Was skating in a non-contact jersey on Monday, but coach Jared Bednar says it’s still going to be another four to six weeks before he’s ready to return. He’s working hard to keep his lower-body in peak condition while he recovers from an upper-body injury. So while he won’t be able to shoot the puck for a little bit, he’ll continue to skate and won’t be skipping leg-day!
Mats Zuccarello – The Dallas Stars begin a four-game road trip on Monday, March 25th against the Jets and will continue through Calgary on the 27th, Edmonton on the 28th and Vancouver on the 30th. Coach Jim Montgomery says Zuccarello will travel with the team during that road trip and hopes to see him practice during that stretch. Zuccarello broke his arm in late February and was originally expected to miss about a month of action.
Matt Dumba – Last week he skated for the first time since he had surgery to repair a ruptured pectoralis muscle. I wouldn’t read too much into this because coach Bruce Boudreau said Dumba was just bored and the fact that he’s skating doesn’t mean he’s about to return. Following his surgery in December, the team announced Dumba would miss a minimum of three months.
Sami Vatanen – Has been out for almost three weeks with what was originally reported to be an illness. At this point we know he’s been skating on his own but his status going forward is up in the air. I wouldn’t hesitate to part ways with Vatanen in most fantasy formats.
Nico Hischier – Has been skating on his own as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury. The 20-year old was on pace for 70 points this season which is extremely impressive considering he spent large stretches without his superstar winger Taylor Hall.
Taylor Hall – Has been working out off the ice and skating on his own as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Coach John Hynes revealed that if Hall does return this season, it won’t be until the final few games. At this point, I don’t think Hall will have any impact in one-year leagues, especially if your championship will be decided in the next week or two.
Thomas Chabot – Is out week-to-week with a broken toe. While coach Marc Crawford hopes to see Chabot return to the lineup before the end of the season, the team would be foolish to rush his recovery considering they aren’t fighting for a playoff spot.
Evgeni Malkin – The Russian superstar is out on a week-to-week basis with an upper-body injury. I personally dropped Malkin in my one-year league and would probably advise you to do the same if you’re in a similar situation. Even if he does return late next week (assuming your championship won’t be decided by the end of this week), he’ll probably only play a game or two. You can probably find someone on the waiver wire who plays five or six games between now and then.
Zach Aston-Reese – The Penguins forward is dealing with an upper-body injury that won’t require surgery but will still keep him out long term. He’s expected to return before the end of the regular season, but I don’t think he’ll be back soon enough to have an impact on this year’s fantasy hockey playoffs.
Joe Pavelski – The Sharks captain suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Saturday’s tilt with the Predators when he took a hit into the boards and fell awkwardly on his leg. While he did return to face Nashville for the second and third period, he proceeded to sit out of San Jose’s next game. Coach Pete DeBoer revealed that Pavelski’s status is a little longer than day-to-day, so he probably won’t be in the lineup on Thursday against the Kings or Friday against the Ducks.
Erik Karlsson – Has been skating for the past few days but hasn’t yet participated in a full practice. While we don’t have a concrete timetable for his return, we do know that he won’t play against LA on Thursday or Anaheim on Friday. If you’re in a one-year league and your championship will be decided by Sunday, March 24th, I think it’s safe to drop Karlsson (I did the same myself).
Jake Gardiner – Hasn’t been practicing as he continues to recover from a back injury. The team expects Travis Dermott to return to the lineup before Jake Gardiner, so once Dermott returns, we can start expecting Gardiner to get back in the lineup. Unfortunately, I don’t see Gardiner returning in time to have an impact on this year’s fantasy hockey playoffs.
Quinn Hughes – Is dealing with a bone bruise that has him in a walking boot. At this point, he’s probably ready to shed the walking boot and should be re-evaluated in the next day or two. As our very own Cam Robinson so eloquently points out here, we shouldn’t expect Hughes to be a top defenseman right away. Rather, this next month will be a great opportunity to further his development into a top defenseman.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Vegas’ top goaltender is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. In Fleury’s absence, Malcolm Subban started both games of a back-to-back set that saw him win on Sunday against the Oilers and Monday against the Sharks. Considering how well the Golden Knights have been playing recently, the team should be able to register some wins regardless of who’s in net. With that being said, I’d expect Fleury to return for Thursday’s game against the Jets until we hear otherwise.
Dustin Byfuglien – About a week ago, coach Paul Maurice revealed that Dustin Byfuglien was focusing on work in the weight room to build strength in his ankle. He’s having difficulty pushing off as he skates so he’s staying off the ice and trying to rehab his ankle. Officially, we still don’t have a timetable for Byfuglien’s return.
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