Hopefully you didn’t spend a high fantasy draft pick on Chris Pronger this season.
Over the last 14 months, Pronger has missed time with injuries to his knee, foot, hand, and eye, in addition to the concussion that will end his season and may end his career.
When will this concussion problem end? So far we have Pronger, Claude Giroux, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Milan Michalek, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Mike Richards, and Marc Staal – among others – sidelined with concussions. Who will it be on Saturday? I don’t mean to joke about the situation, but this is getting laughable.
More extreme measures perhaps need to be taken, such as a European-sized rink or the return of the two-line pass. You’re probably groaning, but I’d take a more boring game over one without many of its brightest stars. Players have gotten bigger and faster over the years, meaning that they are capable of doing more damage – something that the experts who have played the game need to recognize.
Anyway, this is a fantasy column, so my job is to focus on the fantasy implications here. So we’ll start the Pick Six for Saturday with two defensemen who you’ll be seeing a lot of in Pronger’s absence.
Kimmo Timonen/Matt Carle, D, PHI – start
With no Pronger, expect Timonen and Carle to log a minimum of 25 minutes of icetime per night. Don’t expect Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to acquire another defenseman until after Christmas, meaning that Timonen and Carle will earn points just by showing up to the rink. Timonen has an amazingly unbalanced no goals and 20 assists this season, while Carle trails him by only two points but has four more goals. I knew you enjoy math.
Jordin Tootoo, RW, NSH – add/start
Tootoo might be up there with Pronger as far as likeability is concerned, but those searching the waiver wire should notice that he has put up ten points in his last ten games. His irritating style of play will always earn him the penalty minutes, but the recent point production could officially earn him a spot on deeper league rosters.
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM – start
I couldn’t believe my luck in one league in which I was able to add Hall from the waiver wire when he was injured. Hall scored two power-play goals upon his return to the lineup on Thursday from a shoulder injury. It’s anyone’s guess where the Oilers will finish in the standings, but Hall and the young Oilers should score a lot of goals this season regardless.
Radim Vrbata, RW, PHX – start
Vrbata has quietly been one of fantasy hockey’s top surprises this season, leading the Coyotes with 15 goals. He has been remarkably consistent recently, scoring 14 goals in his last 22 games. His career high is 27 goals, a mark that he could well eclipse this season. There’s no reason to bench him right now.
Michal Neuvirth, G, WAS – add/start
Following a shutout against Winnipeg on Thursday, Neuvirth is expected to Saturday against Colorado (Washington Post). Since Neuvirth is owned in only 16 percent of Yahoo leagues, he is a distinct possibility if you need a goaltending start in a pinch. Monitor his production closely for further starts, as his season numbers are mediocre (4-5-1, 3.38 GAA, .885 SV%).
Justin Williams, RW, LA – bench
Dustin Penner seems to be the scapegoat of choice for the Kings, but there is an overall lack of depth on the wing. Williams is a perfect example, with just four goals this season and only one goal since October 29 – a span of 22 games. Don’t blame the situation, as Williams has spent much of his time on the top line. His 13 assists makes things somewhat respectable, but we’ve seen more from Williams in the past.
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