The biggest news of the week around the NHL was the injury to Steven Stamkos. With a broken tibia, Stamkos is expected to be out until at least the Olympics, which doesn’t even seem all that likely for the Tampa Bay forward. A perennial goal-scoring machine, many people most likely took Stamkos in the top four overall in their fantasy hockey draft if he didn’t go first overall. With the recurring injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin paired with the inconsistency of Alex Ovechkin, Stamkos would have been the safest bet. Now, Stamkos owners are wondering what to do.
For one, if you are in a league where you are allowed to place a player on injured reserve, that’s the easiest and safest bet with Stamkos. However, if you are in a league that doesn’t have IR, this is where you have a decision to make; do you keep him or do you drop him?
If you are in a league with an active waiver wire, then you should keep Stamkos. This is the category that most people will fall into, as they are in leagues with their friends. I know if I saw Stamkos in free agency, regardless of how long he was expected to be out, I’d pick him up in no time. Our own Steve Jacot seconded that motion this week on Twitter. You will be working a man down for a good chuck of the season, but one of the biggest point producers in the league will join your team for the last part of the season to help you in a playoff push.
If you are worried about playing a man down for a good portion of the season, see if you can deal Stamkos for a big return. As I just mentioned, many people will want to pick up Stamkos, even if he doesn’t play for a few months. Knowing this, why drop him to free agency rather than getting something in return? You could probably get another high point producer. Maybe not an elite player, but another high-scoring forward. Claude Giroux might not be a bad option, as he is having a slow start to the season, but he could turn it on during the time when Stamkos is out.
Another star that is out is Jonathan Quick, who is sidelined for anywhere from two weeks to six weeks with a Grade 2 strain of the groin muscle. You should without a doubt hang on to Quick, as he won’t be out for that long of a time and you don’t want to lose him in free agency.
What the injury to Quick opens up, however, is the chance to grab a goalie who will post solid numbers for the next few weeks, as Ben Scrivens will get most of, if not all of, the workload now for the Los Angeles Kings in Quick’s absence. In the three games he has started since Quick went down, Scrivens is 3-0-0 with two shutouts and a .977 save percentage. The Kings are going to keep playing defensive, physical hockey, which won’t leave the opposition with too many scoring chances. Also, Scrivens proved last year that he can come in strong in a relief effort with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He won’t be the answer to your goaltending woes for the whole season, but he can help solve them for a month or so.
Another player you may want to consider dropping and is also out for a good chunk of time is Marian Gaborik. Out four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee, Gaborik may be worth dropping, as he only has five goals and six assists in 17 games this year. Add on that he only has six PIMs, a plus-1 rating, and 42 shots on goal, Gaborik isn’t blowing any single stat category out of the water that would make you want to sacrifice a roster spot to keep him. You can most likely drop him for three weeks and pick him up before he returns. Even if you are in a league with people active on the waiver wire, if you lose Gaborik, it might not be the biggest loss, as he is on the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.
As for Kris Versteeg, he was acquired over the weekend by one of his former teams in the Chicago Blackhawks. The former Philadelphia Flyer can play anywhere in the lineup, so keep an eye on his production over the next few games if he isn’t owned in your league. He had a goal and two assists in his first two games with Chicago, as he also had five shots on goal and averaged 14:35 time on the ice. He is currently owned in 22.5 percent of ESPN leagues. He wasn’t utilized in Florida as much as he’ll be utilized in Chicago, so give Versteeg some thought if your team is currently lacking goals and points.
In terms of goaltending news, Ilya Bryzgalov has joined the Edmonton Oilers. Unless you are in an absolute hole in terms of goaltending, you shouldn’t consider adding the former Flyer. After going 1-1-0 with a .880 save percentage and a 3.03 GAA in a pair of games with the Oklahoma City Barons, Bryzgalov has joined the Oilers and could start on Tuesday against Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets. Honestly, why pick up Bryzgalov? The Oilers have struggled and they have struggled more than the Flyers did last year, when Bryzgalov posted a .900 save percentage and a 2.79 GAA along with a 19-17-4 record. He hasn’t seen NHL action for awhile and posted poor numbers in the AHL last week. If you want to consider picking him up, give him time to prove something.
TEAMS WITH BACK-TO-BACKS THIS WEEK
Anaheim Ducks – Hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday and @ Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
Boston Bruins – @ Carolina Hurricanes tonight and @ New York Rangers tomorrow night.
Carolina Hurricanes – @ Boston Bruins on Saturday and hosting the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.
Columbus Blue Jackets – @ Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night and @ Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Detroit Red Wings – Hosting the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and @ Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Florida Panthers – @ Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and @ Calgary Flames on Friday.
Minnesota Wild – @ Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night and @ Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
Montreal Canadiens – @ Washington Capitals on Friday and hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
New Jersey Devils – @ Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday and @ Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
New York Islanders – @ Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and @ Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Ottawa Senators – @ Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night and hosting the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, @ Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and @ Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Hosting the New York Islanders on Friday and @ Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning – @ San Jose Sharks on Thursday and @ Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Vancouver Canucks – Hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Washington Capitals – Hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Friday and @ Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
LEAGUE LEADERS WHO AREN’T 100 PERCENT OWNED
Goals: Forward – Joel Ward (WSH, 28.6% owned), Tied for 19th with nine.
Defenseman – Michael Stone (PHX, 1.1% owned) Tied for first among d-men with 6.
Assists: Forward – Marcus Johansson (WSH, 84.4% owned), Tied for sixth with 15. Defenseman – Jake Muzzin (LAK, 44.3% owned), Tied for 17th with 9.
Plus/Minus: Forward – Dustin Penner (ANA, 80.3% owned), Second with plus-15. Defenseman – Hampus Lindholm (ANA, 26.2% owned), Second d-man with plus-14.
PIMs: Forward – Derek Dorsett (NYR, 5.0% owned), First with 73.
Defenseman – Radko Gudas (TBL, 88.8% owned), First d-man with 61.
Power-Play Points: Forward- David Legwand (NSH, 51.1% owned), Tied for 20th with 7. Defenseman – Jakub Kindl (DET, 1.2% owned), Tied for 22nd d-man with 4.
TOI: Forward – David Perron (EDM, 96.4% owned), 19:55.
Defenseman – Andrew MacDonald (NYI, 60.5% owned), Second d-man with 27:10.
Shots on Goal: Forward – Chris Higgins (VAN, 82.6% owned), 73
Defenseman – Jason Garrison (VAN, 93.3% owned), Fourth d-man with 60.
Goalie Wins: Jonathan Quick (LAK, 96.7% owned), Tied for sixth with 10.
Save Percentage: J.S. Giguere (COL, 86.2% owned), Third with .947.