Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Puck Stops Here: The Injury Bug Is Biting

Welcome back to another installment of The Puck Stops Here. I have another topic that I feel is monumental enough to discuss before I get to my hockey discussion. Johan Santana has been traded to the Mets. I believe this solidifies Johan as a top 4 pick this year (Arod, Hanley and Reyes all deserve consideration up there). Johan's struggles in August and September last year worry me a little. A pitcher with such nasty stuff should never be hit so hard, unless he is hurting. While I do believe an injury risk may be there, Johan now has more upside than he ever has. Assuming Johan stays healthy, he will have career highs in run support and in turn wins. I also believe moving to the NL will help his ERA, WHIP and K's (Take a look at his inter league stats, he has been almost un-hittable). In addition to Johan improving, every Mets pitcher should improve simply because of Johan's presence in the rotation. I like a rebound for Pedro, while Maine and Oli Perez will post better numbers than last year. That is enough on Johan, let's hit the ice.

Players are starting to get injured left and right. Over the last month, Crosby, Heatley, Sakic, Smyth, Stastny, Campoli as well as other very valuable players have gone down with serious to major injuries. It is not just studs who have been lost, but also fringe players, which make up the back half of rosters, have been getting hurt as well. The Penguins can barely field an NHL team, they became so desperate that last night they played a defensive defenseman who hasn't scored a goal in two seasons on the right wing.

You can't prevent an injury from occurring, but you can be prepared when an injury does occur. Take 15 minutes a day and figure out what players you would add if you had to add someone immediately. Keep an eye on who is being injured and how that affects others players on their own team. When a player gets injured someone has to try to fill his void, this can lead to jumps in value. If you are pro-active in your injury preparation then you may be able to soften the blow of even the most major injuries. Here are some players you should consider to help with your roster.

Ryan Malone, W, Pittsburgh: Malone brings to the table some scoring punch and a hefty amount of PIM. Prior to the Crosby injury, Malone floated between Crosby's and Malkins line and shared the wing duty when Sid and Evgeni were paired together. Malone has found a steady role with Malkin and this has lead to some consistency in his scoring. Malone is also on the top power play unit and has rewarded the Penguins with solid power play production. This should lead to an increased roll when Sid does return. Malone helps Laraque playing the enforcer role, thus the PIM will always be there. In addition, Malone may be finding a consistent scoring touch that would make him a valuable commodity.

Petr Sykora, W, Pittsburgh: Sykora has also found consistency in the Crosby injury. He has put together his best month of the season and Therrien seems to understand that for Sykora to be of value he needs to be with Malkin. If Therrien continues to play Malkin and Sykora together, Sykora may just live up to his pre-season super sleeper status. Sykora has shown that he can score, perhaps this entire season he was only hindered by his linemates. Go get Sykora, he will have long term value.

Cory Murphy D, Florida: Murphy began the season very strong scoring 11 points in 19 games, most of which came on the power play. However, Murphy has been sidelined for the last 2 months with a shoulder injury, until now. Murphy is more of a power play specialist, but as a defenseman this can be extremely valuable. A defenseman who can produce consistently in the power play department is a defenseman I want on my team. Don't expect high PIM numbers, but he should provide average plus-minus and very good scoring production. If you have room and need D help pick him up, if not, put him on your watch list.

Peter Mueller, C, Phoenix: Mueller is a rookie, which always means inconsistency, however he seems to have found his scoring touch. Mueller has talent, Phoenix drafted him 8th overall two years ago, so this isn't a lucky hot streak. Mueller has 14 points in January putting him in the top 15 for scoring for the month of January. Mueller should be given every chance to succeed in Phoenix and there is no better offensive coach to learn from than Wayne Gretzky. Mueller should be added, however don't be surprised if there is inconsistency.

Dan Boyle, D, Tampa Bay: Not much needs to be said about Boyle. Boyle has been one of the better Defensemen in the league the past couple of seasons. He has missed significant time this season and has frustrated many owners. Therefore, he may be available on your waiver wire, if he is go get him NOW. He has 4 points in his 2 games since returning and this should continue. You may be able to get a top 10 defenseman for nothing. Don't miss out.

Martin St. Pierre, C, Chicago: This may be a bit of a stretch, but St. Pierre is joining the top unit in Chicago and may break out. St. Pierre is definitely available in your league and he should be on your watch list. St. Pierre is averaging about a point a half per game in the AHL and just came off a goal and 2 assist performance in the AHL all-star game. Chicago has high hopes and he has shown he can score. Like I said, it may be a stretch, but this is one sleeper to watch.

Martin Erat, W, Nashville: Erat will score in bunches and then disappear for some time. He is scoring in bunches again and will provide excellent production until his next drought. Erat always tantalizes fantasy owners with point per game talent, but always seems to fall slightly short. He has good talent around him and is getting plenty of ice time. Maybe, just maybe, he may find some consistency.

That is all for this week, enjoy the Super Bowl. Go Giants!!!

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