It is never easy to foresee the unforeseen. Injuries happen every day in the NHL, and here at FanTrax, our goal is to help you try to stay on top of those maladies with our weekly Injury Report. Counting all the latest bumps, bites, and bruises, there were 96 players held out of lineups. Several of those are long-term injuries from a previous year. Those players are likely not going to return or have retired. Here are some of the more notable maladies out there and their possible prognosis.
Travis Zajac could play on Thursday against Toronto. He was cleared last week and has been skating full contact with New Jersey. Rumors suggest that he could play close to his normal workload. For now, expect him back at modified duty. This is about a month to six weeks earlier than expected. Keep in mind that Zajac is not in his 20s anymore. The forward is likely to use the next couple of weeks as his version of training camp.
Joe Thornton is out with an undisclosed injury. He is day-to-day. More information will be available in the coming days. The fantasy decline of the center has begun in earnest. His shot percentage share has dropped, and now the production has as well. Ice time has decreased, too. There will be times throughout the season where Thornton has to rest or play fewer minutes.
Auston Matthews is day-to-day but could play on Thursday against New Jersey. Head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t expect this to linger much longer. Matthews should be fine for the weekend. He more than likely just banged up his shoulder. Do not panic here. Keep an eye on him to see if he plays on Thursday. If not, he should return on Saturday.
Brad Marchand is day-to-day again, but he’s not believed to be seriously hurt. Although this is not a serious injury, it does impact Boston significantly from a fantasy standpoint. Marchand’s next chance of playing will be closer to the weekend. The Marchand-Bergeron combination is one of the fiercest duos in the league and is Boston’s best hope for fantasy points. Anders Bjork is also day-to-day, but again, this seems to be minor. It just seems a lot of players are playing banged up and paying the price.
The Detroit Red Wings were healthy for a while, but not anymore. Justin Abdelkader, Martin Frk, and Darren Helm are all out with injuries. This injury bug seems to bite Detroit every year. Abdelkader fractured his cheekbone and could be placed on the injured reserve. Frk has a groin issue that could also land him on the IR. Helm has an undisclosed injury that we are tracking for more information. The beat goes on in Motown, as they say.
Scott Hartnell fell on a bad patch of ice and that will cost him 3-5 weeks. The lower body injury that resulted was significant enough. The worst-case scenario suggests he may not play until close to Christmas. Anthony Beauvillier has a leg malady that may keep him out a bit for the New York Islanders. He’s already been sidelined for almost a week.
Clarke MacArthur “retired” due to injury, while Zack Smith suffered a thumb injury that landed him on the injured reserve. Smith is likely out a few weeks, but at least Bobby Ryan has returned. He had a fractured finger and is playing with Matt Duchene now. Ottawa had been mostly healthy all year, but injuries are beginning to mount.
Rasmus Ristolainen is still out with an upper-body injury. The expected recovery time is questionable, and he has been placed on the IR. That is retroactive to November 3. This just seems to be an ailment that keeps lingering. Since Ristolainen is listed as week to week, it could be past Thanksgiving or even December 1 before he returns. Again, this is a fluid situation. If this feels like the Carey Price injury, you are not alone.
Mirco Mueller is out 6-8 weeks with a fractured clavicle. Mueller was hit from behind, and the first thought was maybe a concussion. New Jersey defensemen have had a history with blindside hits (see John Moore last year). New Jersey will have to play Ben Lovejoy or Dalton Prout more often. That will not sit well.
John Gibson came back from his injury only to see Ryan Miller succumb to one. Miller pulled his groin and is day-to-day. It just seems that Anaheim cannot shake their bad injury luck. The hope is that this is minor and is something that does not linger. Remember that Miller is on the wrong side of 30.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s head injury is serious, and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return to action. However, Malcolm Subban is still out maybe a week more, as his groin mends. With Oskar Dansk also still out, Vegas is hurting in the goaltending department. Now, Maxime Lagace is day-to-day after being pulled on Tuesday night. The good news is that he was skating on Wednesday. Subban was skating, as well, which is good news. Dylan Ferguson may end up getting a start. Yes, that is Vegas goaltending in a nutshell.
Mike Smith is day-to-day and did not play on Wednesday. He should be fine by the weekend at the latest.
Chris Wassel is on Fantasy Hockey X every week and on various places throughout the internet. Follow him on FanTrax and Twitter @ChrisWasselDFS. A special thanks this week to nhl.com, Brian Metzer, Pete Jensen, Eric Stephens, Dan Rosen, and Selene Parekh of The Fantasy Doctors for all their information. Also, thanks to all the beat writers that make this column possible each week.