As we finally approach the raising of the curtain on the NHL season, here is a list of notable players nursing ailments:
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Sidney Crosby – The most recent injury suffered by Sidney- Just kidding! Crosby owners can catch their breath once again as Sid the Kid is at full health – at least for now.
Daniel Briere – A hairline fracture in his wrist has sapped the pesky Flyer of the strength required to properly shoot the puck, but the club doesn’t expect it to be a long-term issue. If your counterparts are scared off enough to let him fall significantly in your draft, I recommend you scoop him up and reap the rewards later.
Chris Pronger – The concussion sustained by the former Norris Trophy winner in 2011 has kept Pronger off the ice since that time with no signs of improvement. The fact that the Flyers have named Claude Giroux as their captain only reinforces my belief that we’ve seen the last of the Dryden, Ontario native in the NHL.
Anze Kopitar – The Slovenian center is recovering quickly from the knee sprain he suffered in early January and although he’s not expected to return for the season’s opening weekend, he hasn’t been ruled out beyond that. He has historically been a very durable player and shouldn’t be significantly bumped down your cheat sheet on draft day.
Ryan Kesler – The combination of shoulder and wrist injuries have the talented center on the shelf for an indefinite period of time. Canucks GM Mike Gillis recently stated that: “his spot isn’t going to be vacant for a long period of time”, but expecting an imminent return to the ice would be wishful thinking.
David Booth – The already depleted Canucks (read: Ryan Kesler) will be without the services of second-liner David Booth for four to six weeks as a result of a groin injury he suffered while participating in his pre-training camp physical exam. I guess it goes without saying that he failed his.
Zack Kassian – The power forward acquired by Vancouver in the deal that sent Cody Hodgson to the Sabres last year seems to be back at full strength after dealing with a back injury over the weekend. At least there are some Canucks ready to take the ice.
Jarome Iginla – Having not missed a game since the 2006-07 season, the Flames captain caused a bit of a stir in Calgary by sitting out the team’s first two practices with an apparent groin ailment, but Iggy rejoined his teammates Wednesday and appears to have the green light for Opening Night.
Jon Quick – Off-season back surgery would have kept the Stanley Cup Champion out of action for the first few months of the campaign if not for the lockout, but the Kings’ netminder says he’s ready play without any restrictions now. The club may allow Jonathan Bernier to see more action than he otherwise would, but Quick should remain near the top of your goaltender rankings regardless.
James van Riemsdyk – The newly acquired forward was forced to leave practice on Tuesday after blocking a Mike Komisarek shot with his foot. Despite missing practice Wednesday, JVR seems to have dodged a bullet, as the Maple Leafs are calling it a bruise and don’t consider it a significant issue.
Tuomo Ruutu – You likely don’t want to select the gritty veteran in redraft leagues this year, as he’s not expected to be fully recovered from off-season hip surgery until April, if he returns this season at all.
Erik Gudbranson – He got off on the wrong foot in his relationship with the Panthers two seasons ago by failing to reach a contract agreement as a rookie, and Gudbranson’s recent shoulder injury suffered while wakeboarding won’t make him any more friends within the organization. Lucky for him, he’s an effective player when healthy and could be back in the Florida lineup within a week or two if all goes well.
Jake Gardiner – The slick blueliner has yet to return to game action after suffering a concussion in early December, but after skating with his teammates earlier this week there seems to be hope for him to be in the lineup for the Maple Leafs opener against Montreal Saturday. We have learned to be cautious with timelines relating to head injuries, but Gardiner seems almost ready to go.
Steve Montador – One of my favorite sneaky pickups in leagues that reward penalty minutes, the rugged blueliner has suffered a relapse in his recovery from post-concussion syndrome and had been shelved indefinitely. Draft him at your own risk.
Roman Cervenka – The Czech-born KHL dynamo isn’t yet ready to take his spot among Calgary’s top-six forwards as he recovers from a blood clot that has kept him sidelined for the better part of the current season. But the fact that he was permitted by doctors to fly across the Atlantic despite his condition is an indication that his return is likely not far off.
Cam Atkinson – Last seen tearing up the AHL for the Springfield Falcons, the man whose next assignment is to play wing on the top line for Columbus missed Wednesday’s practice with a lower body issue. The good news for prospect hounds is that the phenom is not expected to miss any time, but his situation warrants monitoring nonetheless.
Carlo Colaiacovo – The new member of the Detroit Red Wings has yet to skate with the team as he recovers from a shoulder injury he suffered during the Spengler Cup. If history is any indication, this is likely the first of numerous ailments experienced by the former Maple Leafs draft pick this season.
Patrick Eaves – The checking-line winger hasn’t seen live game action since November 2011, but he took a step in the right direction this week by participating in contact drills with his teammates. He has not been cleared to officially return yet, but barring a setback, that next step appears imminent.
Darren Helm – A back injury sustained during a pre-camp workout continues to sideline the energetic forward and his status for the Wings’ season opener remains in doubt.
Mikael Samuelsson – Despite calling the injury a “minor, minor thing” the 36-year-old Swede is no lock to play in Saturday’s season opener for the Red Wings. Take solace in the fact that the ailment shouldn’t drag on much longer.
Adam Henrique – The breakout star of the Devils’ 2011-12 season will have to wait a few more weeks before beginning his sophomore campaign as he continues to recover from thumb surgery performed to repair torn ligaments in November. Given the dearth of offensive options in The Garden State, he’s worth keeping an eye on in fantasy leagues, despite his injury.
Brent Burns – Let’s get Matlock on the case, as there’s some mystery surrounding this situation. Burns was reportedly medically cleared to return in October after undergoing off-season surgery for a sports hernia, yet he apparently may not be ready to play for the Sharks when their season opens this weekend. Whether this is a new injury or a recurrence of the old one, I recommend you proceed with caution.
Brooks Laich – One of Washington’s “glue guys”, Laich appears unlikely to take his usual spot on the Caps’ second line when the puck drops this weekend as a result of a groin injury. His absence isn’t expected to be a long one, but adjust your expectations as a result.
Zach Bogosian – A wrist injury will keep the rearguard out of game action until early to mid-February, though he recently began skating again for the first time in months. Once he returns, his upside is limited by the presence of Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien on the Winnipeg blue line, but an injury to either of those stalwarts would make him a must-grab in fantasy leagues.
Antti Miettinen – Details surrounding the injury are sketchy for the moment, but we do know Winnipeg beat reporters took enough time out from their vilifying of Evander Kane to report the Finnish forward suffered an upper-body injury and will be sidelined indefinitely.
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