Written by: Tanner Henkel – Staff Writing Intern (@thenkel)
With lot of teams using Monday for travel, it was a busy Tuesday night in the NHL, and an even busier night for team physicians.
Three impact forwards went down to injury on Tuesday, leaving massive questions surrounding their teams, their fantasy value, and their future.
Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau suffered a broken finger in a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. And all night it looked like Gaudreau had a target on his back. Ryan Suter took an interference penalty on Gaudreau in the second period before Eric Staal repeatedly slashed Gaudreau’s hand on three separate occasions eventually shattering one of Gaudreau’s digits. Causing him to leave the game after scoring the game’s only goal.
This looks malicious, but Staal is a veteran and he was almost certainly on a defensive assignment from coach Bruce Boudreau who had given instructions to shut down Gaudreau. There was no penalty on the play.
The Flames find themselves in 24th overall, mostly because they are struggling to keep pucks out of their net. The Flames need to mitigate their defensive woes with scoring, something that will be an even bigger challenger without Gaudreau in the line-up.
The likely candidate to take over for Gaudreau’s minutes is Matthew Tkachuk. With seven points in 14 games, Tkachuk has put together a respectable start to his first NHL season and a jump in minutes will show what he’s ready for. An 11% ownership rate means Tkachuk is still available in a lot of Yahoo leagues but keep an eye on the situation in Calgary. Someone has to fill the hole left by Gaudreau.
The New Jersey Devils are going to be without Taylor Hall as he recovers from a torn right meniscus suffered on Tuesday. Hall underwent successful surgery on Wednesday, but is still expected to miss 3-4 weeks.
The Devil’s won 2-1 on Tuesday, but losing their top scorer will hurt them down the line. Hall is tied for the Devils team lead in points and goals, with five and twelve respectively, and has emerged as a leader providing a steady injection of offense.
With Hall out of the lineup the weight of the offense will fall on Mike Cammalleri and Kyle Palmieri.
Cammalleri has missed the last three games for personal reasons, but he is expected to return next week. At 34, Cammalleri isn’t a player the Devils want to rely on for offense in the long-term, but he is capable of filling a top line role in Hall’s absence.
Cammalleri put up 38 points in an injury-shorted season last year, proving he can take over for Hall. His ownership (31%) is low enough that he might be available in leagues with 15 teams or less.
The biggest news from Tuesday is that for the second straight year the Tampa Bay Lightning will be without captain Steven Stamkos for a significant period of time.
Stamkos will miss 3-4 months with a torn meniscus.
This past offseason was filled with uncertainty and drama surrounding Stamkos. He was rumoured to be headed to almost every team in the league except Tampa, where of course the 26-year-old winger re-signed to an eight year, 68 million dollar contract.
The stability that comes with a long-term contract seemed to have a positive effect on Stamkos.
He was in the midst of comeback season. On pace to eclipse the point per game mark for the first time since the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Stamkos looked ready to re-establish himself as one of the game’s premier goal scorers.
Unlike Calgary and New Jersey, Tampa Bay is an elite team even without it’s best player. While the injury to Stamkos hurts, The Bolts will still continue to ice a competitive team, and they could rally around the loss of Stamkos. This sounds ironic but look at last year. The Lightning made it to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals without Stamkos. With much of the same core in place they could do that again.
The reason the Bolts can do this is because of their depth. Both Tyler Johnson (59%) and Alex Killorn (37%) have low ownership in Yahoo leagues, and are capable of production when called upon. Additionally winger Jonathan Drouin is off to a slow start but has the talent to replace Stamkos and will return to the lineup Thursday.
Do you own one of these players? How do you plan to make up the difference in the lineup without them? Tweet me @Thenkel or leave a comment below.