As training camps get rolling, Da Costa has the lowdown on current player injuries…
Hockey’s almost here! Or it’s already here, depending on how you feel about the World Cup of Hockey. I’m a big fan, especially if it means we get the Unholy Trinity of NHL gimmicks: Team North America in 3-on-3 overtime in the World Cup. As a relatively new fan, I gotta say, I think the NHL has knocked it out of the park recently. Say what you will about gimmicks or traditions, each of those three ideas has been solid entertainment. Unfortunately, each one also means increased injury risk, especially to the cream of the crop of fantasy players. Could you imagine the rage that would erupt if one of the league’s most electrifying players got hurt playing a format never-before-used (before last season, at least) in a tournament that apparently doesn’t mean anything for a team that’s never existed? Dangerous waters indeed. Here’s how the World Cup (and other meaningless games) have impacted your fantasy bottom line:
David Krejci – Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney’s wild ride continues, as he drops a term I’ve yet to hear: Krejci and teammate Torey Krug (more on him below) are “fully good to go”, but in a “modified contact situation”. In English, that means that he’s cleared for everything, but won’t go full intensity just yet as he tries to test out his shiny new hip. So far, it all looks good, but there’s lots of time and lots of hockey in between now and October 13. Stay tuned.
Torey Krug – Like Krejci, Krug’s in “modified contact” mode, testing out his new shoulder ahead of the season opener on October 13. With Marchand coming off a 37-goal season and getting on to a heap of dolla dolla billz (he just signed an eight-year, $49 million contract), Krejci and Krug getting back to 100%, and Bergeron being perfect at hockey, the Bruins might turn some heads this season if they can stay healthy.
Phil Kessel – Stanley Cup Champion and God-tier tweeter Philip J. Kessel will, if there is any justice in the world, be ready to grace us with his presence for the Penguins home opener. His hand surgery rehab schedule has him ready for action against the rival Capitals on opening night (which, if that’s when they’re having their banner-raising ceremony… holy $#!+ Pittsburgh, way to salt the wound), but it’s apparently pretty close to call. We can only hope.
Jamie Benn – Benn chose not to play for Canada in the World Cup, instead choosing to focus his efforts on getting Dallas deep into the playoffs. Don’t expect to see him in the first couple of preseason games, but he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. He came in second behind only Patrick Kane in last year’s scoring race, and he did it on not one, but two bum hips. I mean… what? Aren’t hips a pretty crucial part of walking and/or skating? Apparently not, eh? Anyways, go get Benn in the first round. It’s not likely you’ll regret it. Apparently the man can just power through his body not working.
Duncan Keith – The Hawks’ best defenceman resumed skating very recently. According to his boss, GM Stan Bowman, he looked like he hasn’t missed a beat in practice. I’ll tell you what he is missing though: the first four preseason games. There’s still a lot of talk about “getting back to 100%”, which, to me, means he’s day-to-day. I doubt he’ll miss more than a couple of regular season games to start, and even might be ready for game 1.
Ryan Callahan – Callahan’s another player who had hip surgery. His injury will keep him out of the lineup for significantly longer than Benn or Krejci. He was projected to recover in five months, and that was in June. That means he’ll miss a pretty big chunk of the season’s start. He’s a bottom-of-the-barrel player to begin with. The injury plus the time he’ll need to shake off the rust and get up to speed all should add up to a drop in your draft rankings.
James van Riemsdyk – It looks like Kessel won’t be the only Toronto winger who got a first-class upgrade. First overall pick Auston Matthews ripped up the World Cup before Team North America went down swingin’. He’ll likely slot in on the third line to shelter him, but don’t be surprised if he forces his way up the lineup. He’s one-of-a-kind, at least in terms of his development. Unlike most top North American prospects, he chose to go overseas and play against grown men with the Zurich Lions. JVR missed a lot of last season with a foot injury, but is fully recovered and can expect an uptick in all categories if he finds himself lining up with the Leafs’ shiny new toy.
Matt Murray – The goalie that led his team to a Stanley Cup Championship won’t be ready to lead them onto opening-night ice. He’s set to miss three to six weeks with a broken hand. After much ado was a-done about a possible goalie controversy in Pittsburgh, it looks like it’ll be Marc-Andre Fleury’s net to lose once again. For those of you whose only knowledge of Fleury is the 2012 and 2013 playoffs, know this now: He’s actually turned his game around from that. He was the sole reason the Pens were even close to a playoff spot last year. Murray was stellar for their Cup run, but Fleury will make it a hell of a battle for the Penguins’ net.
Mark Stone – The Sens’ 20-goal scorer and former rookie-of-the-year finalist was diagnosed with a concussion earlier this week. He was able to get on to the ice for a skate yesterday, but he’s situation is being treated very gingerly moving forward. It remains to be seen whether or not he’ll play on October 12th.
Clarke MacArthur – Here’s another Sens forward who just got diagnosed with a concussion. I’d love to make a joke about hos MacArthur was not treated gingerly, but I honestly feel terrible for the guy. First time he steps on the ice after missing all but four games last year with concussion issues, and rookie Patrick Sieloff thinks it’s Game 7 and lays into him. It’ll be his fourth concussion in 18 months, at which point you gotta think “maybe this isn’t for me”. Bobby Ryan stepped up to his defense and gave Sieloff the business, both physically and verbally, but the damage was done. There’s no telling just how much time MacArthur will miss, or If he’ll even be back.
Aaron Ekblad – After a pretty rough tumble with Leo Komarov during a Finland-North America game, Ekblad went back to join the Panthers, having been diagnosed with a neck injury (and possible concussion). He doesn’t look like he’ll miss any time during the regular season, as the Panthers already have him skating.
Tyler Seguin – Seguin is probably the biggest name to be hurt in the World Cup to date. After racing to cancel an icing, Seguin lost his footing and slid on fresh ice full-speed into the boards, feet first. He played the rest of the game, and even practised the next day, but was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his heel soon after. He’ll likely be back for the start of the season, but his situation’s a shifty one. Keep an eye on him.
As always, thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more frequent injury updates and general hockey-related tomfoolery! @AjayDaCosta, in case that address bar is too far away.
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