Playing Fantasy Hockey is different than most other Fantasy leagues. Sure, if you’re playing total points, there are some similarities, but the majority of leagues use some kind of category system. What makes it different? In Fantasy Baseball, you generally play 5×5 or 6×6, in which offense and pitching are weighed evenly. Well, in Fantasy Hockey, goaltenders just don’t have that many categories. Wins, shutouts, save percentage, and goals against average are the big ones. Maybe you can throw in saves, but that is just another way of counting save percentage or GAA. I will always prefer total points, as it puts all players in their correct spot; plus, the best team will generally win. I will always dislike that leagues still reward penalty minutes (PIM). Why reward a negative? I know we need to involve third and fourth line players, increasing the player pool; but why not use hits as a category? It includes the same group of players and rewards a positive rather than a negative? Okay, I’m done with my rant, now onto what is going on in the world of Fantasy Hockey.
The Red Wings need Pavel Datsyuk to get back in the lineup as soon as possible. Datsyuk injured his shoulder early in pre-season and the original prognosis had him out until late October or early November. Then there was some thought that he actually might be able to return to the lineup during the first week of the season. Apparently not, but the news isn’t all bad as it looks like Datsyuk should now return to Detroit next weekend. The Wings needs him, as they have only scored six goals in their first three games. Will he solve all of their problems? No, but he will certainly help Fantasy teams.
The Lightning’s Jonathan Drouin faced almost the same prognosis as Datsyuk. He injured his thumb during preseason, was thought to be out until late October, and then rumors abound that he could return during the first week. Once again, those rumors proved to be false. Drouin is close, though, as he was sent down to the AHL on a conditioning stint. Now, we don’t know what line he will play on when he returns, but if he is still available, I’d grab him now. You don’t want to wait until he returns and find out he is playing with Steven Stamkos, and then fight off the stampede of other owners who want to grab him.
Another young player I’m keeping an eye on is Valeri Nichushkin of the Dallas Stars. He was slated to play on a line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn to open the season, but a groin injury has tabled his start. Still, if an impatient owner has sent him packing and I have a dead spot on my roster, I’m going to grab him. That line could and should be dynamic this year.
The Penguins’ Pascal Dupuis suffered what looked to be serious injury in Thursday night’s game versus the Stars. Dupuis was knocked to the ground in front of the Stars net and then hit with a slapshot in the head/neck area. Dupuis immediately felt numbness in his arm and was taken off on a stretcher. The good news is that Dupuis was on the ice for practice Friday. While he didn’t participate in the full practice, he was able to stickhandle and shoot the puck. He looks to have escaped serious injury. There is still no word on whether or not he will play Saturday versus the Islanders but he looks to be good for your lineups next week.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has missed the past few games for the Oilers with an undisclosed injury but should return Friday night. The Oilers are nothing short of a complete mess right now, and while Nugent-Hopkins return should help things, it won’t solve all of their problems. Jordan Eberle has returned, however, after missing some time with an injury of his own.
Semyon Varlamov was placed on IR by the Avalanche on Thursday due to a groin injury. The injury is considered to be minor but groin injuries are never a good thing for goaltenders. Goalies are forced to push from side to side quickly and forcefully. If he were to come back to soon, he could easily reinjure himself. Things got even uglier for Colorado when backup goaltender Reto Berra had to be removed from the game Thursday due to a head injury. We don’t know if he will be forced to miss any games but if you’re desperate, Calvin Pickard could be a play.
The Bruins signed Simon Gagne and he was immediately paired on the fourth line, which would make him close to useless in Fantasy leagues, but by the end of the game he was on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. What do we make of this? Well, even if Gagne stays on the top line, he’s not a must pickup, especially in 10-team leagues. His best days are over. There is also the question of what to do with Loui Eriksson. The Bruins have placed him on the third line for now. He is a Top 6 forward, so it should just be a matter of time until he is moved up as well.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.