Wednesday marks the start of the 2017-18 Fantasy Hockey season. Hockey is the forever season. Think about it; Major League Baseball, which is currently in the playoffs, will be starting again just as the NHL regular season is about to finish. What I’m trying to say is that Fantasy Hockey is a marathon, not a sprint. You shouldn’t panic about a player missing a few games due to injury. Patience is required. In Fantasy Football we are reactionary. We have to be as the season is so short, but in hockey, like baseball, patience is truly a virtue. With that in mind here are Fantasy Hockey injuries that you do need to worry about.
Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks: Kesler is out until late December due to a hip injury. Kesler had a good season last year and could make for a sneaky addition to your Fantasy team, especially if you have IR slots. Lindholm and Vatanen are both out for the first month of the season after undergoing labrum surgery. As mentioned above, although a month sounds like a long time, it’s really not. If you drafted them as a D4, that’s a great move. You can stash them on your bench for a month, insert another D (defense is deep) and reap the benefits when they return.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes: He suffered a knee injury late in training camp but Fantasy owners can breathe again. All signs are pointing to Ekman-Larsson being ready for the season opener Thursday.
Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug, Boston Bruins: Bergeron got off to a slow start last season due to a few nagging injuries and did have sports hernia surgery during the offseason, so it’s concerning once again that he is missing practice and likely to miss the first game or two with an unknown lower body injury. He’s certainly on my bench until we see him take to the ice and play a couple of games pain free. Krug took a puck to the face (ouch) during training camp. He has been placed on IR and won’t return to the lineup until mid-October.
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks: Unless you’re living in a cave you know that Hossa is done for the season due to a progressive skin disorder.
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets: He is considered day to day (aren’t we all) with a mid-body injury. All wings have value as there just aren’t enough to go around and Jenner did score 30 goals just two seasons ago. Still, he’s hopefully a reserve on your roster and he should be healthy when you need him in a week or two.
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings: Kronwall is more of a name than anything else. Defense is a deep position so you shouldn’t be worried about the groin injury that is likely going to keep him out of the lineup for a week or two.
Andrej Sekera, Edmonton Oilers: He underwent knee surgery after last season and isn’t expected to be back in the lineup until December at the earliest. Sekera had an under the radar solid Fantasy season last year and we all love the idea of an Oilers defender playing on the power play with Connor McDavid. That love should still be there in December when Sekera returns.
James Neal, Las Vegas Golden Knights: He was placed on IR due to a hand injury and although there isn’t a timetable for his return, he’s not expected to be out of the lineup long term. Neal is not the player he used to be but will likely play on the top line for LV and get plenty of power play time. The Knights will want to showcase him for a trade to a contender at the deadline, as this veteran forward has very little value to an expansion team.
Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings: Here’s another player without a timetable for a return due to a knee injury. Gaborik only has 22 goals over the past two seasons and at this point is valuable in name only. He’s not worthy of a roster spot.
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild: He will definitely miss the first two games of the regular season and possibly more with a back injury. Parise is always bothered by one thing or another and this won’t be the last injury he suffers this season. He’s a hard player to trust and his goal totals have dropped in back to back seasons. Still, he has talent and wings are so valuable.
Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators: Yet another good stash for Fantasy owners, as Ellis may be part of the best defensive corps in the NHL. Unfortunately, he is out until January with a knee injury and with defense being so deep, he may not be worth taking up an IR slot on your team if you only have a certain amount you can use.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators: He will also miss the first game or two of the regular season due to a minor groin injury. Ryan has disappointed over the past couple of seasons and hasn’t scored more than 23 goals in a season since 2011-12. I know all wings have value and Ryan was once a top goal scorer, but I’d let him be someone else’s problem.
Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins: He was placed on IR due to a hand injury but could be back next week. More importantly, though, he is slated to play on the team’s third line which will significantly reduce his value, as that means little to no ice time with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz