With the All-Star game in our rear view mirror it’s time to look forward to the last 10 weeks or so of the regular season. Hopefully we will see the return of several star players immediately or shortly thereafter. This is a short week in the NHL, as there are no games Monday and minimal games Wednesday and Sunday so once again please set your Fantasy Hockey lineups accordingly.
Remember that Alexander Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews were both suspended one game for bowing out of the ASG. Ovechkin is nursing a lower body injury while Toews has an illness. Both are expected to return to the lineup after missing only the single game.
Connor McDavid is slated to return to Edmonton on Tuesday, and you should feel secure putting him back in your lineup. The Oilers have constantly changed lines all season long, but as of now, it looks like McDavid will play between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot. This should be a boon to Eberle, who hasn’t had the season expected with only 11 goals in 37 games. Eberle will need to develop chemistry with McDavid however, or the line tinkering will continue.
Jaden Schwartz won’t play Tuesday, but his return from the ankle injury is not that far off. He will see the team doctor Wednesday and if cleared, could return to play Thursday versus the Sharks. If Schwarz is still available in your league, now might be the time to claim him as once he returns to the lineup, and if he does play well, everyone will want him.
There is some bad news however. The Rangers won’t have Rick Nash for the game Tuesday. He hasn’t played since Jan. 22 due to a leg injury. What is most concerning to me is that even though the Rangers haven’t played in over a week, he’s still not healthy enough to go. The Rangers are being hush hush about his injury (apparently a bone bruise) but in a case like this, I’d take him out of my lineup for this week if I had the option.
There is good and bad news on defense as well. Johnny Boychuk is slated to return to the blue line Tuesday for the Islanders, as his separated shoulder has healed. Conversely, Niklas Kronwall was placed on long-term injured reserve by the Red Wings, which would seem to indicate that his knee injury might be worse than first feared.
Mike Cammalleri is still dealing with issues involving his hand and won’t play Tuesday. This is a big loss for the offensively deficient Devils, as they can’t afford to lose one of their best scorers. Cammalleri missed eight games in January with the injury, and then returned to play four games before the injury cropped up again. This is obviously not a good thing, and there is no word yet on the severity of this injury and if it will keep him out of one game or several.
Unless you have been living in a cave, you have seen or at least know about the hit Dennis Wideman put on the linesman during a game last week. The NHL has suspended Wideman indefinitely at this point in time, but unless he has the best lawyers on Earth or the NHL just doesn’t like that particular lineman, there is no way he will be playing this week or anytime soon. One has to think at the very minimum he gets a 10 game suspension with 20-plus not out of the question.
One last thing to keep in mind. The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 29 which means NHL teams will have to declare within the next couple of weeks as to whether or not they are buyers or sellers. We know that certain teams Columbus, Toronto, Buffalo, and Edmonton are sellers, but what do these teams have to offer. Scott Hartnell could be that piece of sandpaper that a playoff team would want. Maybe a JoffreyLupul or Dion Phaneuf could interest a playoff team or two. Will the Oilers finally move one of their surplus forwards for a defenseman? The Islanders and Travis Hamonic would make sense here. The hardest part will be if you have a starting goaltender on a team that is trading out, as they are likely only going to get worse as they drop in the standings, hoping to get a better shot at the first overall draft pick.
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