Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 35 points in 38 games, but has been out since Jan. 2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Many teams get a six-day break (Detroit and Montreal are stuck with only five) for all-star weekend and this is just what the doctor ordered for players who are nursing injuries, but close to a return. In today’s world, getting a genuine injury status update from an NHL team is akin to getting a genuine list of CIA operative locations in the Middle East. But I’ll give it my best shot to look ahead to the post-all-star festivities…
Jamie Benn, Dallas – An appendectomy took him out of the picture for a couple of weeks, but he plans to play in the ASG. Mike Ribeiro already returned this week, so the Stars’ offense is about to get infinitely better.
VERY LIKELY TO RETURN
Patrick Sharp, Chicago – Known for returning early from injuries, Sharp is targeting Jan. 31 to get back into the lineup. When he comes back (with possibly Jonathan Toews as well) look for Dave Bolland’s production to slip again.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton – Back shooting pucks, but not ready enough to participate in the skills competition, RNH is a possibility to return to action. The hunch is it will be a game-day announcement when he does return from his shoulder injury.
Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia – The “lower-body injury” that we all know is his groin has been consistent in its unpredictability. Generally speaking, it hasn’t held Jagr out for long, so he’ll be back soon. Just don’t expect him to stay healthy right through April.
Andy McDonald and Alex Steen, St. Louis – Both players are back skating, but at last update earlier in the week, neither was taking contact. I would expect both back in the lineup within 10 days, but you never know with concussions.
CHANCE OF RETURNING
Nathan Horton, Boston – With Horton suffering the effects of a mild concussion, Benoit Pouliot gets another shot on a scoring line. He did pretty well when Brad Marchand was out, so Pouliot makes a nice, cheap pickup in roto leagues. The Bruins hope Horton won’t be sidelined for long, but, again, you really don’t know with head injuries.
Tyler Ennis, Buffalo – His ankle injury has kept him out for much of the season, but Ennis is back skating again and is very close to a return. He came back too early last time, so he is (hopefully) being more careful.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago – There are mixed reviews on the severity of his hand injury, ranging from “back soon” to “uh oh.” But the longer he is out, the longer Bolland will produce well.
Brenden Morrow, Dallas – Morrow has been battling a back injury this season and lately the soreness has moved up to his neck. He was put on the injured reserve list last week, but is not expected to be out for very long. That said, he has been relatively ineffective this season and is having one of those off years he has from time to time.
Tom Gilbert, Cam Barker, Edmonton – The two Oilers defensemen are nursing ankle injuries and targeting early-February returns. Since Jeff Petry has now played more than 70 career games he has to clear waivers, so his roster spot is safe. Petry has four points in his past six games.
Matt Duchene, Colorado – After sustaining a knee injury Dec. 29, Duchene was initially scheduled to miss four weeks, which would put him back on the roster after the all-star break. But on Jan. 23 the Denver Post reported he hadn’t even resumed skating yet, making this scenario unlikely.
THE BREAK IS GOOD FOR…
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh – As great as Malkin has been this season, he could be even better. His knee surgeries were given plenty of time to heal, but he probably needed to be ‘eased’ back into action as opposed to immediately being thrown in for 20 minutes per game. This was evident when Malkin had to rest his knee for a few games earlier in the season. The all-star break will help immensely, even though he’ll be ‘playing’ in the game.
Peter Mueller, Colorado – Rightfully being cautious about his concussion recovery, the perfect thing for Mueller would be to return for a few games, then rest for a week and then get back at it. Thanks to this break, that is exactly what will happen.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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