Uh oh. Sidney Crosby will sit out the next two games “as a precaution.” And just like that, Crosby owners went from high-fiving each other for being so patient with him to shaking their heads in frustration. What does this mean? What are fantasy owners to do?
Veteran poolies have been through this before. Mario Lemieux and Peter Forsberg were always missing games due to injury, while Eric Lindros was pretty much a 65-game player at his peak. And, gulp, Lindros was a shadow of his former self when he returned from one of his later concussions at the age of 27. At the age of 27. Think about that.
Is it too soon to compare the 24-year-old Crosby to Lindros?
In a word – yes. Crosby has already proven to be more durable than Lindros, even though injuries impact him almost as frequently. The difference is that Crosby either plays through them or heals quickly. But that’s with the “other” injuries. With the concussions, it’s a little different. Lindros came back from his early ones relatively quickly, but by the time the seriousness of the concussions were truly addressed, he sat out much of the 1999-2000 season and the entire 2000-01 schedule.
But Crosby has been extremely careful with his concussions and has had the full support of the team. I’m no doctor (duh), but watching the summer press conference and hearing everything his concussion specialist had to say, my belief is the long-term IR stuff is over with.
But, the downside to this is that we may see some extra “precautionary” games missed every time he takes a big hit. Two games here, three games there. This recent example is the first such instance, but from a fantasy hockey standpoint I fear this will become the norm. At this point, I see a 70- to 75-game player at best.
In one-year leagues, I would be listening to offers. Crosby’s value is still high and we know Pittsburgh’s recent track record with injury information. You know, where “mild concussion” turns into “misses 10 months,” or in the recent case of Kris Letang, a “broken nose” turns into “concussion symptoms.” So if I can get a great return for Crosby I trade him – but only if I’m happy with it and I keep my standards high. In a keeper league, I’m not ready to move him at all. I want to see this play out. His value will be just as high in a year as it is now.
Once again, while I suspect most hard, jarring impacts will result in a couple of “precautionary” games missed, I’m just not ready to call Crosby the second coming of Eric Lindros.
Is a new coach all Eric Staal needed? I don’t think so. Staal has often had slow starts. In fact, I recall in one keeper league taking advantage of Derick Brassard’s hot start in 2008-09 and trading him straight up for Staal. Brassard, who had 25 points in 31 games at the time, was injured shortly after. Meanwhile, Staal had 10 points in 19 games at the time of the deal, but tallied 65 in his last 63 games to give me one of my best trades in history.
This year was no different. After 11 points in 25 games, Staal was bound to snap out of his slump eventually. That’s the great thing about proven stars: nine times out of 10, they come around. It’s just a coincidence Kirk Muller took over as coach and Staal followed with seven points in five games.
Muller hasn’t done anything drastically different with Staal. Sure, he’s primarily playing with Jeff Skinner now, but he was tried with Skinner dozens of times under former coach Paul Maurice. The only tangible change Muller has made is going with four forwards on the power play instead of three. But that hasn’t impacted Staal because he has zero power play points since Muller took over. Sometimes, a player just needs to find his rhythm so he can build some confidence. Whatever the reason, Staal is back and should be a safe bet – still – for 70 points.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.