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Slew of Injured Players Return for NHL’s Second Half

George Kurtz January 4, 2018 12:07AM EDT
The turn of the calendar to the new year is also the unofficial start of the NHL’s second half. As Fantasy owners we should have a much better idea of what is going on with our teams. We should know the categories in which we are deficient and which position(s) we need to reinforce. NHL teams are going through the same process.

It may be time to realize that players like Joe Pavelski, Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Dustin Byfuglien, Erik Karlsson, and Carey Price aren’t going to return anywhere near draft day value. That doesn’t mean you should release the players. Just be aware that they aren’t automatic starters in your lineup. It also wouldn’t hurt to see what the trade market may look like in your league for each player, especially if they hit a hot streak.

nhl's second half

The loss of Filip Forsberg may be too much for Fantasy Hockey owners to overcome. Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The Predators lost Filip Forsberg for the next 4-6 weeks due to an upper body injury. This is a big loss for Fantasy owners as Forsberg has, once again, been one of the best right wings in the game. He was on pace to equal or beat his numbers across the board. The biggest loss to Fantasy owners is that he has been a monster on the power play. Forsberg already has a career-high nine power play goals, and his eight power play assists have him on pace to set a career-high there also.

In most Fantasy leagues, power play goals are gold. We always have goals as a category, and at least one category is specific to power plays. It may be power play points, or it may be separated into power play goals and assists. Either way, there are at least two or three categories dedicated to goals. Forsberg was one of the league leaders in those categories, and that’s a loss you may not be able to make up.

It’s not all bad news. Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Parise, and Ryan Ellis all returned to the ice Tuesday. As mentioned above, Byfuglien has been among the struggling players all season, so perhaps the three-plus weeks off the ice will help rehabilitate his season.

The return of Letang and Schultz seems to have had an immediate impact on the Penguins. They scored five times against the Flyers on Tuesday, the most goals they’ve scored in regulation since Dec. 2. Sure, they are defensemen and neither had a point in the contest but without them, the Penguins couldn’t play the high tempo game they prefer. The Penguins have had trouble scoring consistently all season, so perhaps their return to health will prompt a return to normalcy in Pittsburgh for the second half of the season.

If Parise is available on your waiver wire, he could be a worthwhile pickup as all wings tend to have value. However, you’d be wise to remember that he only scored 19 goals last season and hasn’t been a consistent goal-scoring threat since the 2014-15 season. On the other hand, if Ellis is available, he’s a must-claim. He doesn’t have the name value of teammates P.K. Subban and Roman Josi, but he’s still a major part of the best defense in the NHL.

Devan Dubynk also returned to the crease just before the New Year as he has recovered from a lower body injury. It’s safe to place him back in your lineup. He hasn’t been as quiet as he has in past years, but is still a low-end number one goaltender.

The Canadiens announced Tuesday that they don’t expect Shea Weber to return to the team until after the All-Star break. That means the earliest we can expect to see him on the ice is Jan. 30 versus the Blues. Yeah. The trade in which they sent Subban packing for Weber is looking better and better by the day.

Mark Scheifele, one of the best unheralded players in the game, has been lost for up to two months with an upper body injury. He has averaged 30 goals and 70 points over the past two seasons for the Jets, and he will be a significant loss for Fantasy owners. The Jets should be able to survive without him, as they still possess plenty of top end offensive talent.

As for Fantasy owners, well, he did play center, and that’s a position that is plenty deep. You might want to look at Tyler Johnson of the Lightning who is on quite the goal-scoring binge and may have re-discovered his magic from the 2014-15 season. Injuries are always a concern, but if one is going to happen to your team, let it be at center, one of the easier positions in which you can find adequate replacement players.

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