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Boston's lament: A giant sized hole

An injury in a Thursday game that alters the immediate future of every fantasy league. Plus a look at the best of the week including goaltending on the cheap.

This is not an illusion. He's huge.
This is not an illusion. He's huge.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

I had planned to talk about the wild week of hockey we saw and the rise of surprising players. Then Thursday night's games came and this happened.

Well, that changes things in a major way. Not just for the Boston Bruins and the entire Eastern Conference, but every fantasy league as well. There is no replacing Zdeno Chara.

This brings up an interesting question for fantasy owners: what do you do with a star player that will miss possibly months due to injury? It happened last season as well with Steven Stamkos' broken leg. Superstars don't see serious injury often in this current age (Sidney Crosby not withstanding), so it's a rare, but important issue to discuss.

As a Chara owner, you have five choices:

  1. Drop him from your roster
  2. Trade him now
  3. Trade him closer to an expected return date
  4. Keep him
  5. Cry

Let's examine each of those options a little closer.

1. Drop him from your roster

Unless you are in a league with a short bench and no IR spot, this is the lowest percentage move. At this point, surgery isn't confirmed for Chara and the expectation is he will miss four to six weeks. If he has to go under the knife, that time frame may change, but for now he should be back by Christmas. If you drop him, there is a good chance someone else will take the chance and snatch him up on the waiver wire just to stash him for return. Or even worse, grabbing him and then offering to trade him back to you. That is a horrible feeling.

Right now, he would be expected to come back around Saturday, December 6th. That game is against the Arizona Coyotes. Because of course it is. Chara would miss 18 games if that is his return date. That is less than one quarter of the season, but still significant time and there is no guarantee he will return as the same player. Through seven games before Thursday on the season, Chara had two goals and an assist for three points, 26 SOG, 12 blocked shots, 6 hits and over 25 minutes of ice time per game. At age 37 with a fairly serious knee injury, the returning Chara might not be the same top guy. But you shouldn't drop him unless your league has no IR and you can't do the following.

2. Trade him now

Yes, if you trade Chara now you won't be getting full value for him. nor should you be asking for full value for damaged goods. However, with surgery a possibility, if you can work a deal with another owner that gets you a player you could plug into your lineup right away (another defenseman or a forward to put in the utility spot), you should seriously consider it.

Chara should have been one of the first five defenders drafted in your league, but you should look at trading him now as a number three or four guy. He will return this year, so the team you trade him to will get Chara back. Plus, with no Olympics this season, teams have more off days and recovery time so Chara could be 100% by the New Year. He's certainly worth a top 50 forward in trade right now, but probably not a top 25. Consider offering a top 25 dman, but not a top 10 to a Chara owner and see where that would get you in talks.

3. Trade him closer to his return date

This option nets you the largest return on a possible Chara trade, but is also a huge risk. If you hold him for that long without replacing him, you may be too far out to fix. Also, possible trade partners may like their teams a lot more in a month and a half than they do now. But, most owners are highest on their teams in the afterglow of the draft, so a few more weeks may allow them to see the holes in their roster.

If you wait until December to trade Chara, don't be afraid to ask for an owner's second best forward or their top goalie or even their best blueliner depending on your needs. There is no wrong way to fill out the trade, but know that getting Chara back may help that team even more than whatever piece you get back helps you. Plus, if you wait that long to try to trade Chara, why not go with the next option?

4. Keep him

If your league has an IR spot on your roster, this is the best option. Plug Chara in the IR, let him sit for a few weeks and reroster him when he returns.

This same situation came up for me last season in my most competitive league with Stamkos. He was injured on November 11 and didn't return to game action until March 6. In total he missed 45 games, more than half the season. In the 20 games he played after the injury, he scored 10 goals and 16 points with 64 SOG. I held him on my IR for the entire time and slotted him back into the lineup at the end. I finished 2nd, thanks in large part to Stamkos' return boosting my goal scoring down the stretch as I went from 4th in that category to first at the end of the year. He also improved my shots from 7th to 2nd and I went from fourth place overall at the beginning of March to the second place finish. Chara shouldn't miss that much action, so his return won't be as grand but his presence will be missed. Enough so that option five is also acceptable.

5. Cry

Poor Boston. Or not, for all you Philly, Montreal and New York fans.

The Week That Was

Some quick points to cover about the last week.

  • Goaltending is fungible. Darcy Kuemper and Frederik Andersen are the two best goalies for fantasy and actual performance to start the season and neither were probably drafted in a standard eight team league. Kuemper added his third shutout in four starts last night against the Yotes and Andersen is 6-0-0 with a tidy 1.32 GAA and a .951 SV%
  • More goalie fun. Keep an eye on Antti Raanta in Chicago. Corey Crawford is still the number one, but his injury combined with good play from the 25 year old could see him get more starts as the season goes on. If you need a goalie, he's worth picking up. If you have roster room, stash him even if you have your goalie situation set.
  • Tyler Seguin is good. After goose eggs in his opening two games, he's posted five goals and five assists in the last four. Among those is a hat trick against the Blue Jackets and a four helper night against Philly. More Kleenex Boston?
  • Corey Perry has eight goals on 25 shots. A .320 shooting% isn't sustainable long-term, but dang that's scary. The Ducks are flying.
  • The Predators are riding the acquisitions of Mike Ribeiro and James Neal to the league's only undefeated in regulation start. Ribs has three goals and three assists through seven games and Neal has five goals, including all three in a victory over Raanta and the Blackhawks on Thursday night.
  • Think playing with Sidney Crosby isn't awesome? Patric Hornqvist, the main cog the Pens got back in the Neal deal, leads the NHL in SOG with 34 in only six games. He averaged three per game over the past four seasons in Nashville.
  • Tanner Pearson leads the league in shooting percentage with at least 10 shots, having potted five goals on 12 shots for a tidy 41.7%.
  • Johnny Boychuk has adjusted well to the trade from the Bruins, rating among fantasy's best defensemen to start the year. He has two goals, four assists, 17 SOG, 15 hits and 13 blocked shots.

Sorry to be a buzzkill Boston. Really I am.