We all knew injuries would be a big factor when the league announced they would play a shorten season, and now we are starting to feel the effects when it comes to fantasy hockey.
The Ottawa Senators, off to a great start this season, announced Thursday that forward Jason Spezza would be out at least two months with a back injury. At best, he will be back before the NHL trade deadline which is set for April 3rd.
The question most fantasy owners are asking though is how to replace him on your roster. In the first five games, Spezza rewarded owners with two goals, three assists, a +3 rating, two power-play points and 12 shots on goal. Coming off his breakout season last year, scoring 34 goals and recording 50 assists, some owners even made him one of their keepers in 2013.
Now that he has officially been placed on IR (in Yahoo! anyways) the first thing is to is check the waiver wire. It’s probably slim pickings with the centres available, but here a few that may help in the short term.
Avalanche centre John Mitchell: (Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 0.9 percent of ESPN Leagues) Mitchell has been an early surprise, and is seeing time on the power-play as of late.
Stats: 4 goals, 2 assists, +7, 11 SOG
Coyotes centre Martin Hanzal: (Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo Leagues/ 54 percent of ESPN Leagues) Hanzal recorded 34 points in 64 games last year, and is worthy of being added. His three goals have come in only five games this year due to an early injury.
Stats: 3 goals, 2 assists. -1, 11 SOG
Coyotes centre Antoine Vermette: (Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 28 percent of ESPN Leagues) Off to a good start after just eight goals in 60 games for the Blue Jackets last year.
Stats: 3 goals, 2 assists, +2, 17 SOG
Islanders centre Brad Boyes: (Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 2.4 percent of ESPN Leagues) The former first round selection of the Maple Leafs may not be the same player from the 2007-08 season when he scored 43 goals while with the Blues, but he’s also not the same player from the Sabres last year. The Islanders are scoring goals, second in the Eastern Conference with 27, so if that continues, Boyes will be a nice addition to your lineup.
Stats: 2 goals, 4 assists, -1, 12 SOG
If the wire is thin, exploring your trade options should be the obvious next step. If you can swing a deal for one of Patrik Marleau (14 points) Logan Couture (10 points) Eric Staal (9 points) or Henrik Zetterberg (12 points) you are in good shape, but in reality, your fellow owners know you lost a big piece this week, so here are a few players to target without losing more offence on your roster.
Blues centre Patrik Berglund: (Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 52 percent of ESPN Leagues) He’s averaging almost a point per game after eight games, and looks to be on pace for a 40 point campaign.
Stats: 5 goals, 2 assists, +1, 18 SOG
Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec: (Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 94 percent of ESPN Leagues) If he’s still on the wire in your Yahoo League, grab him immediately, but most likely, you might have to give up a winger or defencman to acquire him. He recorded 6 shots Saturday vs. the Sabres, so he’s getting his chances, and is on pace for 48 points this season.
Stats: 4 goals, 3 assists, -1, 22 SOG
Senators Kyle Turris: (owned in 17 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 93 percent of ESPN Leagues) Turris is already on a point per game pace this season, and unless the Sens go out and acquire another centre, say Stephen Weiss, Turris should continue to get his points.
Stats: 4 goals, 3 assists, +3, 17 SOG
Top 5 pickups on Yahoo:
1. Mikkel Boedker (PHX)
2. Cory Conacher (TB)
3. Sam Gagner (EDM)
4. Tomas Vokoun (PIT)
5.Tomas Plekanec (MTL)
Greatest Change in percentage owned on ESPN:
1.Tom Gilbert (MIN) 61.4%
2.Saku Koivu (ANA) 38.6%
3. Dan Hamhuis (VAN) 36.5%
4. Marc Methot (OTT) 31.9%
5. Frans Nielsen (NYI) 30.5%
If you any fantasy questions this season, let me know in the comment section, and good luck this week.