James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Day-to-day Drama

Monday, April 15, 2013

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but severe injuries are among the scariest threats for teams in both the fantasy realm and in reality. All you need to do is ask Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray or any Erik Karlsson owner (probably former owner) how devastating it can be to see a top player’s season end in the blink of an eye.


It’s as if your season got in a head-on collision.


Still, if you ask me, sometimes it’s easier to deal with the blunt-force obviousness of such a scenario. If your car is totaled, it’s definitely a disaster (especially if you give your car a thematic nickname like Erik Car-lsson), but there’s no denying the fact that you have to just put that crushed heap of aluminum behind you. The fantasy equivalent comes down to placing Karlsson on the IR (if you’re an optimist with IR slots to spare) or dropping him altogether.


The moments that irk me almost as much are the smaller dings and dents that come from day-to-day injuries, especially ones where those “days” morph into weeks.


In those cases, the “Drop him or keep him?” questions linger like the telltale screech of poorly maintained brakes. In many cases, it’s difficult to tell you have a lemon on your hands until it’s too late.


(Conversely, it hurts that much more if you decide to sell that car only to see someone driving it around town, all shiny-like and renewed.)




It’s easier to hold onto a banged-up jalopy earlier in the season, however.


In many leagues, people are either in the fantasy hockey championship round or some sort of consolation showdown. (That must explain why guys like Brian Elliott are still widely available. The best 2-4 teams might already have the goaltending that they need while the rest of the league is either a) going through the motions or b) already focused on putting together the best imaginary baseball team they can muster.)


Ultimately, you either have a week or two weeks left,* so it’s your duty to ask a tough question: “Will this guy play in enough games to justify lugging him around on my roster through the games he won’t play?”




Honestly, it’s hard to make an overwhelming argument in favor of keeping a slew of guys with fairly significant injuries. I’m not going to go one-by-one through every team in the league - that would be tedious to read and to research - but here are the factors you should consider:


1. Is he a star? If so, then this decision does get significantly tougher. (Note: I’d almost definitely part ways with Sidney Crosby, though, as he hasn’t even resumed skating yet. Unless you have two weeks left ... then downgrade “95 percent certain” to “85 percent sure.”) Then again, is it better to have 0-2 games with a stellar player or 6-8 with a useful part?

2. Is his team comfortably in a playoff spot/already clearly the division winner? If so, his team will probably handle that situation with kid gloves.

3. Is that team in the cellar instead? In the event that the answer is yes, it’s close to the same pattern as option No. 2, although bad teams sometimes have dumber, more stubborn management so you never know.

4. What’s the nature of the injury? If it sounds anything like a concussion or is a more troubling type of lower-body issue (say, an ankle or groin problem), then these situations can be a lot worse than day-to-day headaches.

5. What is the team saying? Yes, NHL head coaches and GM’s are known for being jerks to fantasy owners when it comes to shrouding every bump and bruise (both big and small) in deeper mystery than a Raymond Chandler yarn, but sometimes they’ll give you hope/provide foreboding details between the lines.


If pondering all five of those possible factors doesn’t inspire you to drop a guy, then maybe he really is worth keeping around. Or maybe you just can’t stand watching that imaginary tow truck drive away with old, helpless Erik Carlsson after the many trips you took together.


Still, having that extra level of courage and killer instinct might just allow you to enjoy a victory lap or two.


Jump for thoughts on this weekend’s events.


* - Unless you’re already done. If that’s the case, you must REALLY like automotive accident analogies. Hey, I’m not complaining, though.


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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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