Fantasy Pool Look: ‘The Kid’ is injured, so now what?

Sidney Crosby, who was originally diagnosed with a high ankle sprain but will undergo an MRI Monday to find out for sure, could be on the shelf for as long as eight weeks. If the MRI finds a fracture, it may even be 10 weeks.

High ankle sprains are the worst kind, keeping the likes of Martin Havlat (19 games last season), Marc-Andre Fleury (19 games and counting) and Maxim Talbot (18 games) out for extended periods of time.

So what are the repercussions in the fantasy world?

First, let’s look at Crosby himself. It seems as though he will miss 15 to 25 games, so assume it’ll be 20. With a stronger second half, which is what I predicted, that means he misses out on 30 points.

In one-year rotisserie and head-to-head leagues, there are usually decent pivots on the waiver wire. In the DobberHockey expert league, I was able to pick up Peter Mueller. He has nine points in his last six games and it looks as if he could pick up 15 to 18 points during Crosby’s absence. That’s probably the best you can hope for.

Other suggestions include Sergei Fedorov (nine points in his last seven games, but his hip is bothering him and he missed Saturday’s game), Boyd Gordon (seven points in eight games and has taken over Nylander’s role on the second line in Washington) and Mike Fisher (19 points in 19 games for a team that desperately needs offensive forwards right now).

In keeper leagues, you’re doing one of two things (if you are smart). You’re either going for the money this season or you’re going for last place and a better draft position in a rebuild. Finishing in the middle of the pack is a silly strategy (would somebody tell the Toronto Maple Leafs this please?).

If you’re going for last place, then this is the best thing that could have happened to you. Crosby stops producing and you sink further to the bottom in the race to draft Steven Stamkos next summer. Perfect!

If you’re going for the money, this is a devastating blow, obviously. All I can advise is – do not trade him. You have 15 years to enjoy what he can do for your team, he’s the one player you should not trade under any circumstance. Ride it out.

If you don’t own Crosby in your keeper league, but the guy at the top of the standings does, then now is the time to make a pitch for him. Go in early and go in hard – give them an offer they can’t refuse and do it quickly. Dazzle them with dollar signs and promises of glory! This opportunity may never come up again.

Now let’s have a look at the ‘trickle-down’ fantasy hockey effect.

Colby Armstrong, who suffered a bruised hip in Montreal Saturday and may miss a game or two, becomes ‘fantasy useless.’

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He clicked with Crosby, not Evgeni Malkin, so he becomes a fourth-liner again. The aforementioned Malkin doesn’t lose value because his ice time and responsibilities increase to make up for the loss of his talented linemate. He has been moved back to center and has never looked better.

Ryan Malone wasn’t overly great fantasy-wise, anyway, so this won’t impact him in the slightest. Ditto for Petr Sykora. Crosby’s absence may have a small downward pull on Sergei Gonchar’s production.

It’ll have a significant pull on Ryan Whitney’s production, however. I had forecast a big second half for Whitney, but on a normal team he has a 50-point upside. It’s strictly Crosby’s presence that gives Whitney an upside of over 70 points and his absence leaves the young rearguard with little to leech off of.

Last, but not least, Jordan Staal becomes the No. 2 center. He’ll now see more ice time – and top power play time – as evidenced by his 20-plus minutes Saturday. His numbers will see a small ‘pop.’

I think it’s reasonable to expect the Penguins will be a .500 hockey team going forward, which will be something like 9-9-2 over the next few weeks.

Ty Conklin and Dany Sabourin will split those numbers now that Conklin’s hot streak is over and Sabourin is coming off a strong shutout performance. Fleury will return to the lineup in about three weeks and will make things interesting – the team will have a three-man rotation until one goalie stumbles. Even Fleury could wind up back in Wilkes-Barre!

One last thing to look at: I have analyzed the schedule for the next 45 days to give you the best 10 and worst 10 teams (i.e. if Team A plays four games against easy teams, and Team B plays just two games against the likes of Detroit and Vancouver, it would be wise to dress a player from Team A over Team B).

This should help you choose your replacement for Crosby in your lineup (Jan. 21 to March 5).

1 Sabres 22.70
2 Islanders 21.86
3 Capitals 21.75
4 Penguins 21.68
5 Blues 21.60
6 Flyers 21.43
7 Devils 21.22
8 Panthers 20.58
9 Senators 20.29
10 Bruins 20.15
30 Oilers 16.23
29 Ducks 16.99
28 Flames 17.07
27 Blackhawks 17.26
26 Canucks 17.45
25 Kings 17.77
24 Avalanche 18.06
23 Blue Jackets 18.27
22 Thrashers 18.50
21 Red Wings 18.62

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 Monday and Wednesday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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