We are a little bit more than halfway through the NHL Fantasy Hockey season. The time has come to take stock of your team. You should have a pretty good idea of what is working and what isn’t. Do you need power play goals? Do you need saves? It’s time to make moves to improve your team. If you have an overabundance of goals, it could be time to ship off a sniper for a playmaker to help out with assists. Unless you’re in a points league, you don’t get any extra credit for winning a category by 100. Winning by one nets you the same number of points. With the NFL Fantasy Football season now a thing of the past (boo hoo), I’ll be writing two columns per week about the comings and goings of Fantasy Hockey. Here’s hoping you will be coming along for the ride.
When it comes to goaltenders, the injury I fear most (aside from a broken bone or a complete tear) is a groin injury. These injuries are impossible to predict. It seems no matter how long you keep the backstop sidelined, there is always a better than average chance of re-injury. We have seen this twice now within the past week, as both James Reimer and Sergei Bobrovsky have had setbacks after returning to their respective teams. The problem for goalies is that they have to push off to go from post to post, which puts a tremendous strain on the groin muscles. While they try to simulate this move in practice, no one really knows if they are 100-percent healed until they get into a game. Bobrovsky has been placed back on IR, but with no timetable for his return right now. Reimer hasn’t been placed back on IR, but since he plays for Toronto this may not matter even when he’s healthy.
There have been very few trades in the NHL so far this season, which is unusual. One possible deal we did hear about involved Travis Hamonic. He had requested a trade from the Islanders during the off-season for personal reasons (he wanted to be traded to a western Canadian team to be closer to home). The Islanders stated they would grant him his request and tried to move him, but with his team-friendly contract that has been much easier said than done. The Isles also just lost Johnny Boychuk (shoulder) for an undetermined amount of time. Boychuk and Hamonic are the Isles’ two best defensemen, and if Boychuk is going to be out for more than a few games, then the Hamonic deal is going to have to wait until the offseason, when the Islanders will have more options for a return than just another defenseman. One player you may want to check on to see if he is available on your waiver wire is Nick Leddy. Leddy had 10 goals for the Islanders last season, but only scored his first goal of this season last week. He could be available on your waiver wire and will now lead the Islanders on the blue line.
Speaking of the Islanders and Boychuk; he has missed two games with his injury. In those two games the Islanders have given up 10 goals. They had better hope this is not a sign of things to come. Those 10 goals came with Thomas Greiss starting in net in place of the injured Jaroslav Halak. Greiss has actually been very good in net this year, so maybe those games were just a blip on the radar. As for Halak, it was thought he might actually start Sunday, but the Islanders may have decided to hold him out until Thursday to give him a few more days to heal. You may want to keep Halak out of your lineup this week to protect yourself, not only in case he isn’t ready to start this week, but also because the Isles aren’t quite up to par defensively.
After the Lightning sent Jonathan Drouin to Syracuse of the AHL, he demanded a trade. Drouin was once considered a top prospect; one that could flourish playing on a line with Steven Stamkos. This hasn’t happened. One could argue that he was never given a long enough chance, and injuries certainly haven’t helped. This has been a trying year for the Lightning in general. They lost in the Stanley Cup finals last season, and the slow start this season could be attributed to a Cup hangover. Injuries to Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat haven’t helped. As for Drouin, perhaps he does need a change of scenery, but the Lightning aren’t just going to give him away and we don’t know if general manager Steve Yzerman is ready to move on from Drouin. One last thing, as Fantasy owners know, they would also be trading low on Drouin now. Fantasy owners may want to watch the Lightning now, as they seem to be getting healthier. Nikita Kucherov is already starting to turn his season around. It may be time to start to think about buying low on these players.
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