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The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

Pick Six: Senator Shelved

You read this column because you love fantasy hockey, but this hobby can break your heart (pick up on the Valentine’s Day theme yet?) when you receive news that your top player could possibly miss the rest of the regular season. Such is the case with Erik Karlsson, who suffered a laceration to his left Achilles on Wednesday against Pittsburgh. Fantasy owners who made Karlsson a first-round or second-round pick in drafts will need to find a way to move forward without his services.

Erik Karlsson, D, OTT
Just so you understand how valuable Karlsson is, he led NHL defensemen last season with 78 points (19g-59a) – a full 25 points ahead of any other NHL d-man. Let’s put it this way: if the NHL awarded a Bobby Orr Trophy for the NHL’s top offensive defenseman, Karlsson would have won the thing by a mile last season. The defending Norris Trophy recipient was also a near point-per-game scorer this season with 10 points in 13 games, including a league-leading 6 goals among defensemen, also tops among all Senators skaters.

You should probably wait until the full extent of the injury is known before deciding what to do with Karlsson, but stashing him on IR would be advisable. Keep in mind, however, that this type of injury can take months, not weeks, to heal, meaning that it’s highly possible that Karlsson doesn’t return at all in this shortened season. A couple options listed below may help if you need a replacement for Karlsson, although they can’t possibly 100 percent replace what Karlsson would have produced. You’ll have to look for other creative ways to do that.

Cody Franson, D, TOR
Franson’s role with the Leafs has expanded this season, and he has taken full advantage. The former WHL Vancouver Giants standout is currently on a four-game point streak to go with eight points and a +7 in ten games. He has been above the 20-minute mark in icetime just once during that span, so keep an eye on his minutes if you add him. As well, Franson’s minutes could also be reduced when Jake Gardiner is finally able to shake the concussion issues he has experienced all season.

Slava Voynov, D, LA
The young Kings’ rearguard was the greatest beneficiary of the Jack Johnson trade last season, and recently he has been experiencing Johnson-like minutes (at least 24 minutes a game over the last four games). He also has points in four of his last five games, making him a very worthwhile available option in most leagues following a slow first few games. He has yet to record a power-play point, but expect that to change given the minutes he is logging.

Jiri Tlusty, LW, CAR
Tlusty is on a tear following a move to the Canes’ first line alongside Eric Staal. He has five goals in his last three games and nine points in his last six games. He lit up the scoresheet on Monday against the Islanders, scoring two goals and two assists in a 6-4 victory. He will cool off at some point, but Staal and the Canes’ run-and-gun offense have made short-term stars out of players without much fantasy appeal. However, keep in mind that Tlusty is a former first-round pick (2006), so sometimes it takes a while for certain players to blossom.

Leland Irving, G, CGY
Also a former first-round pick, Irving is an exciting acrobatic goalie who the Flames have been hoping will one day fill the shoes of Miikka Kiprusoff. With Kipper on the sideline for a week or longer with a mild knee sprain, the Flames finally have the opportunity to see what they have in Irving. The young  goalie has reeled off five consecutive starts for the Flames, including a 7-4 win over Dallas in his most recent start on Wednesday. Although the Flames could be lottery-bound this season, Irving is at least a decent stopgap option if you need some help in net. If GM Jay Feaster comes to his senses and finally expedites a rebuild in Calgary, trading Kiprusoff, Irving could slide into the starting role permanently.

Ben Scrivens, G, TOR
I’ve mentioned Scrivens in a previous article, although I’m not super high on his fantasy potential (I’ve already added and dropped him in one league). However, the Leafs fans that I know are riding the bandwagon in full force following four consecutive wins. A James Reimer injury for at least a week means that Scrivens is the horse that these long-suffering fans are hitching to for the time being. I know that’s not saying a whole lot, but Scrivens’ numbers (2.56 GAA, .913 SV%) are decent, and he’ll be the Leafs’ starter for the short term.

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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.

A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to gooding74@shaw.ca, or follow me on Twitter.

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