One of the best places to find a bargain in fantasy hockey is on the injured player list. It's also very risky since there's a chance the player may not return to form and your bargain can turn to bust in a hurry. Players that frequent the infirmary are often devalued by many fantasy hockey junkies. Some of the top NHL players have developed
a reputation as band-aid boys and fellow general managers will shy away as a result. But like most things in fantasy hockey things change and if your often injured superstar can return to health your reward will be worth the risk.
At the top of our list is often injured Martin Havlat. When healthy Havlat can produce with the best of them. When healthy that is. There is no denying Martin's talent level, but everyone wonders will the kid ever stay healthy. Based on the fact that Havlat makes more trips to the x-ray room then most players do to the shopping mall, it's safe to say Martin's value has sagged a bit. If you ignore the fact that Havlat is injured so often, and drafted him purely on ability, he'd probably go in the 1st round of most deep pools. However, Havlat is more likely to be drafted in the 3rd to 4th rounds of most pool because of his history. Our advice, pick him up in the 60th overall pick range if he's there and don't look back. Havlat is still young enough to regain his health and finish in the top ten in scoring for many years.
A lot of what was said about Havlat easily applies to Gaborik. Gaborik has had more groin pulls then anyone not named Hasek. Hasek seems to have overcome his nagging groin injuries. Can Marion do the same? Still young with plenty of years ahead of him Gaborik should have many healthy years ahead of him. If Gaborik can stay healthy he'll likely be in the running for the Rocket Richard trophy. Our prediction, expect Marion to be a top 10 point producer very soon. We wouldn't expect, after his strong finish last year, that he'll fall as far as Havlat in your fantasy draft . So look for Gaborik in the 35-40th overall range.
The current leader in the all-time groin pull club proved last season at 40+ it's still to early for the fat lady to be singing. Playing on Detroit has it's benefits, year after year they just keep rolling along. While we don't expect the Dominator will dominate much longer we still like him for this year. Expect Hasek to start around 60 games and to win most. He should also be a steal for GM's that want to win now, since most expect this will be his last season.
Connolly has had some serious issues with concussions the last few years and his value has almost bottomed out because of it. Connolly's health will always remain a question mark but he might be available in the late rounds of some pools. We like Connolly as a late round pick for teams needing a center. Expect Connolly to get a ton of playing time this year with the departures of Briere and Drury. Buffalo also has plenty of talented wingers to go around, so it should be a problem finding quality linemates.
Huet won't have much time to return to health with Carey Price knocking on the door but we suspect that Price will spend a year in the minors before he comes to the big show. This certainly impacts on Huet's value and as a result we only see him as being a bargain in the later rounds. Don't reach for him but Huet has put up good numbers when healthy. If Huet gets on a roll I'd be looking to deal him since Price will eventually steal his job. In the last couple rounds he should still be very good value since most are concerned about his injury status and Carey Price busting onto the scene.
Morrow shouldn't be considered in leagues that don't heavily reward penalty minutes. But in leagues that do he can often be found among the league leaders. The question is after serious wrist surgery will Morrow return to form? Not only as a point producer but as a penalty minute leader as well. Morrow is definitely a high risk high reward player that might get overlooked by many on draft day. The Fantay GM that snaps him up in the middle to late rounds will make out like a bandit if Brenden returns to form.
Boucher is a great blueline PP point man, with a canon from the point. In Dallas he is a go to man on that PP. Sergei Zubov feeds Boucher with those soft passes and Boucher unleashes his howitzer. He is another player who seems to always have minor, nagging injuries and who's production could slip depending on how the team uses him. There won't be many Dalls players worth drafting this year but Phillipe BOucher certainly should be one of them.
Avery was a top point producer in some fantasy leagues last season that heavily award bad boys. While Avery isn't a risk health wise like many on this list. One wonders whether Avery as he gets older will fight less. Many tough guys fight less as they get older and earn more of a reputation for themselves. Avery's recent production might have him thinking he's more of a hockey player then a pugilist. Which won't be good news for fantasy owners. However with this being the last year of Avery's contract expect him to come out swinging and put up some big numbers. Chances are slim the a player with the attitude of Sean Avery not come out with guns a blazing in his contract year.
Forsberg deserves to be on the top of this list. Heck we could make a case for Peter having his own list. Seems a bit optimistic to expect Forsberg to ever be 100% healthy again but miracles do happen. If you are lucky enough to have a healthy Forsberg, you're getting one of the league top point producers. Forsberg has the ability to lead the league in scoring and put up huge points in a short amount of time. Be warned however that Forsberg has more surgeries on his ankles then most people have had vacations.
Last but not least is NHL bad boy Todd Bertuzzi. Ever since the Steve Moore incident Bertuzzi has not been the same dominant force he once was. The combination of the suspension, trade to Florida, and subsequent back problems dropped the power forwards value to an all-time low. Bertuzzi must overcome more then one issue to have any hope of returning to form. The demons from the Steve Moore incident, back surgery, and the adjustment to new surroundings are a tall order for anyone. Keep an eye on Bertuzzi early, a quick start might be an indication of a big things to come. If he falters out of the gate the chances of recovery are slim.