Sidney Crosby has been out of Pittsburgh\'s lineup since Jan. 5 with a concussion. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s yet another new trend in the ever-evolving world of fantasy hockey: injuries. Not that injuries are on the rise or decline - I wouldn’t trust publicized numbers in either direction - but the way they are being handled is changing. Fantasy owners will have to add yet another consideration to their ever-growing off-season preparation list.
First, to address the above statement about publicized numbers. Most notably, teams and/or the media will spew out a rather daunting number and call it “man-games lost.” They’ll use this number to proclaim their particular team had it harder than another this season because they’ve lost 350 “man games” compared to the other team’s paltry 205.
It’s laughable, really. Calgary’s number is quite high this season because tough guy Raitis Ivanans and minor-leaguer Ryan Stone both missed pretty much the entire season. So do we really count those 150 “man games lost?” Note: I’m not laughing at or belittling the injuries themselves in any way, I’m just taking this from the standpoint of the fantasy world. It’s a cold world that looks only at the numbers and treats players like assets. Maybe we weren’t hugged enough as children.
To me, as it applies to fantasy hockey, you look at your pre-season projections. Pull out the names of the top 12 projected scorers on each team, plus one or two impact rookies who have made their mark. Using those 12 to 14 players, how many games have they missed? Now that’s a stat I care about. The man-games missed by Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin impacted my league a lot more than the man games lost by Ivanans, Stone and Adam Pardy.
This leads me to the X-Factor. I believe, from decade to decade, injuries are on the rise due to a combination of harder equipment, bigger players and a faster game. But compared to last season, I don’t believe the difference is all that great. What I do believe is teams are being more careful with players and players are being more careful with themselves. This is a trend that will grow over the next two or three years.
What it means is a minor concussion that didn’t cost a player a single game in 2009-10 will cost him as many as 15 games in 2011-12. It means 60-goal scorers who would normally play through nagging injuries will take two weeks off down the stretch. Yes, I’m referring to Alex Ovechkin. Would the Caps have given him this time off in 2007? Would Sidney Crosby miss 35 games in 2007 with the same concussion, or would he have rushed back after, say, 20 games? This is being cautious - and rightfully so. This trend is here to stay and fantasy owners need to adapt.
Now, more than ever, you need to stay away from injury-prone players and focus more on durability. You also need to start doing your projections based on 75 games instead of 80 or 82. On average this season, only two players per team will play the full 82-game schedule. Last season, the number was closer to three per team. You need to pay closer attention to your bench, where the likes of Michael Grabner or Tyler Kennedy were residing (and now look at them).
In the coming seasons, when your league has a couple of closely-matched teams at the top, the difference between winning and losing may come down to which team’s six best players average the most games.
I’ve always thought highly of Detroit prospect Gustav Nyquist and was interested to see the Red Wings signed him to an entry-level contract. Now two games into his professional career, Nyquist has a point in both of them for American League Grand Rapids. With Jan Mursak likely joining the NHL team full-time next year (his contract is one way), look for Nyquist to get cups of coffee much like Tomas Tatar is getting this year. Nyquist’s future lies in the top six.
In case you missed it Monday, my website DobberHockey.com announced the acquisition of famed starting goalie site “Goalie Post.” Details of the various partnerships, the acquisition and the immediate plans are in the announcement found here.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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