The 2016-17 NHL season is finally scheduled to start Wednesday. However, it isn’t going to start smoothly for Fantasy Hockey owners due to the number of top forwards sidelined due to injury.
Word came down Monday that Sidney Crosby could miss time due to a concussion. He has had concussion problems in the past and although Crosby states that he feels good, there is no current timetable for his return. We all know the deal with concussions. They are impossible to predict. Some players will only miss days, some weeks, some months. His history would suggest that this could last a while but in reality, we just don’t know. He’s a Top 5 pick in most Fantasy leagues, so this hurts. If you’re in a weekly lineup league, you’re benching him right now.
I wonder how this will change the Penguins lineup. Does Evgeni Malkin now play on the top line with Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist? If so, who would center the second line? Will they reunite Nick Bonino with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin, a line that was so successful in the playoffs last season. If so, Bonino will have a nice bump in value in the early part this season.
As if the Crosby news wasn’t bad enough, we found out Wednesday that Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (second overall pick last season) will miss at least a month due to a high ankle sprain suffered in practice earlier this week. This is extremely concerning because high ankle sprains can linger for quite a long time. The original prognosis is 4-6 weeks, but it really wouldn’t surprise anyone if Eichel is limited for half the season.
Kyle Okposo will also be unavailable to the Sabres in the short-term due to a bruised knee. He took a puck to the knee in practice last week. His injury it not serious and he is considered to be day to day. Sam Reinhart could get a longer look as a Top 6 forward in Buffalo due to these injuries.
Finally, Ryan O’Reilly is also out Thursday with a back injury. That is three of the Sabres’ top forwards out for the game versus Montreal, including their top two centers. If you’re playing DFS on Thursday, you may want to go with your Canadiens.
Carey Price will not be one of the Canadiens you start, though. He is dealing with the flu and will miss the game. Al Montoya will start Thursday and will be a sneaky DFS play. Price should be back this weekend.
Patrice Bergeron suffered a lower body injury in practice Wednesday and won’t be available for at least the first game of the season. There is no word yet on the exact nature of the injury or how long he will be out, but it’s not expected to be serious. Centers are taking a beating this week. With Boston only scheduled for two games this week and Bergeron missing at least one, he is also out of my lineup.
The Islanders made some interesting moves this week. They placed P.A. Parenteau on waivers. Parenteau was scheduled to play on the top line with John Tavares, which gave him Fantasy value as a late-round draft pick. Well, he’s with New Jersey now, so those hopes are dashed. Jason Chimera will get first shot at playing with Tavares but once again, I would expect a revolving door at right wing, especially when you consider how much coach Jack Capuano likes to tinker with his lines. The Islanders also kept a couple of their top prospects in Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. They are both expected to at least get a nine-game look before their entry-level contract kicks in. Beauvillier could be a sneaky pick since he may get a look on the top line with Tavares before too long.
Fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief, as Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning came to a contract agreement. Kucherov will be in the lineup Thursday versus the Red Wings. He’s a top-line wing who really may have come into his own last season when Steven Stamkos was out. The Lightning are loaded with young talent between Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat, Stamkos, and Kucherov.
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