With only three weeks before the first puck drops on the ice for the beginning of the 2010-12 NHL season, many of you have to take part in a fantasy draft whether it is on Yahoo or ESPN, or among friends at home. Yet, plenty of use are ill-prepared come draft day, especially in the latter rounds where you can easily win your draft with savvy sleeper picks or simply lose your pool by drafting band-aid boys or overrated players.
Please avoid the 10 players below at all cost because of the injury risk they pose. Let another participant take a risk on them and reap the rewards of a safer pick. Players are ranked in team alphabetical order.
1. Brendan Morrison, forward, Calgary Flames Morrison had off-season surgery after suffering a knee injury late last season and isn’t expected to practice fully with the team during training camp. He will most likely need a few games to get his groove back and with the emergence of youngster Mikael Backlund, don’t expect Morrison to repeat last season’s numbers. Don’t expect the aging 36 year-old Morrison to crack the 30-point mark this season.
2. Kyle Quincey, defenseman, Colorado Avalanche After missing most of last season with a very serious shoulder injury which forced him to only 21 games, Quincey will be hard pressed to reproduce the offensive numbers he posted in 2008-09 (38 points with the Kings) and 2009-10 (29 points with the Avs). The 26 year-old rearguard will need time to regain his rhythm and will likely have a very slow offensive start. Also, the acquisition of Erik Johnson as well as the emergence of rookie Stefan Elliot will push Quincey lower on the depth chart and will reduce his playing time. Don’t expect more than 20 points from him.
3. Kristian Huselius, forward, Columbus Blue Jackets Still recuperating from a torn pectoral muscle he sustained while lifting weights, Huselius doesn’t expect to be back until early December at the latest. He also had hip surgery in the off season. Don’t expect him to play more than 40 games this season and that’s optimistic. Steer away from him.
4. Gilbert Brule, forward, Edmonton Oilers Brule was traded to the Kings for Ryan Smyth earlier this summer only to see the deal voided because Brule had not been cleared to play this season. Brule has been working with a sports psychologist in the last months to deal with his off-ice issues (family problems) and on-ice issues (concussion, lack of production). With the depth the Oilers now have at forward, Brule is most likely to odd man out and is not worth drafting in any kind of draft format. Don’t touch him with a ten-foot pole.
5. Ed Jovanovski, defenseman, Florida Panthers After signing one of the worst contracts of the summer with his former team, Jovanovski goes from a defensive-minded team to another goal-starting club. Jovocop good offensive days are long gone and his fragility was displayed last season when he only participated to 50 games, recording only 14 points. Stop living in the past and don’t on the 35 year-old veteran to play more than 65 games and record more than 25 points.
6. Andrei Markov, defenseman, Montreal Canadiens The Canadiens re-signed Markov to a three-year $17.25 M contract this summer to prevent him to hit free agency despite the fact that he only played 52 games in the past two seasons because of serious knee injuries. Markov is currently skating with the injured players at the Canadiens training camp and he will most likely not be ready to start the season. Don’t expect him to play every game, especially on back-to-back games as the Canadiens will handle him with care. Let another GM take a chance on him.
7. Travis Zajac, forward, New Jersey Devils Zajac suffered an Achilles tear doing off-season workouts in mid-August that will sideline him up two three months from the date of the injury. Now the situation is a little bit murkier and Zajac could miss more than the two months he originally was expected to miss. Other players who suffered a similar injury have missed up to six months 9suc as Justin Williams in 2008-09 who played only 12 games that year). Avoid Zajac at all cost this year.
8. Rick Dipietro, goaltender, New York Islanders The ultimate band-aid boy, Dipietro’s locker is surrounded by bubble wrap to avoid any fluke injury to happen (a la Dan Boyle). Even with all the precautionary measures, Dipietro manages to land of the disabled list of an extended period every year. The last time he played a full season is in 2007-08 during which he played 63 games. Don’t touch him with the arm of your worst enemy. Draft Nabokov instead as a 3rd string goalie.
9. David Perron, forward, St. Louis Blues After sustaining a concussion when he was checked by Joe Thornton and playing only ten games last season, Perron is still battling lingering post-concussion symptoms and will miss the start of the season. Don’t gamble on him as his return is uncertain at this point. Grab him on the waiver-wire instead should he be able to hit the ice later in 2011-12.
10. Mason Raymond, forward, Vancouver Canucks After suffering a fractured vertebrae during the Stanley Cup finals, Raymond will start the season on the injured reserve still recovering from this serious injury and will be out until at least mid-November. Raymond’s production declined (39 points) last season after scoring 53 points two years ago and with all the depth the Canucks have up front, he will be hard pressed to crack the top-six forwards when he returns, especially with the addition of Marco Sturm.
Jonas Hiller (vertigo), Peter Mueller (concussion) and Tomas Fleischmann (blood clots) are high-risk high reward players to draft carefully because of their situation. They are currently not injured, but they present a big injury risk so downgrade your expectations.
As most of you know, Marc Savard will miss the whole season with post-concussion symptoms, his professional career is most likely over.
We also know that Sidney Crosby is trying to also recover from post-concussions symptoms, so manage your expectations regarding Sid the Kid. Let a another GM waste a draft pick on him in the first few picks, but if he’s still available in the second round, he is worth the risk as 60 points of Sid the Kid will likely net you 80 points anyway.
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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com