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Fantasy injury bounce-back candidates for 2016-17

James van Riemsdyk, Justin Faulk can rebound after missing significant time

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Fantasy Insider

Injuries can squash high fantasy hopes in the blink of an eye. But as much as they may have derailed your team last season, it's important to have a short memory, because players often bounce back.

The most notable fantasy assets who missed significant time because of injury last season are Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid and Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson. But those players have the track records and/or future potential to be widely considered top-10 players at their positions.


Beyond those examples are plenty of players who missed time because of injury last season, have top 100 fantasy potential and are being overlooked in drafts. Here are 10 injury bounce-back candidates, each limited to fewer than 67 games (fewer than 40 for goalies) last season. Each has either seen his fantasy value take a hit because of injuries or brings concerns because of injuries in previous seasons.

Rick Nash, LW, New York Rangers (Yahoo ADP: 106.8)

Games played last season: 60

Nash missed nearly two months with a bone bruise on his leg, and struggled upon returning with three goals and no assists in his final 15 regular-season games, totaling an NHL career-low 15 goals. He has a new center in Mika Zibanejad and plenty of forward depth behind him, giving him a chance to continue his strong even-strength goal scoring (third in NHL since 2002-03). He has underachieved on the power play since joining the Rangers (34 power-play points in 248 games), but could score 30 goals again if he stays healthy for a full season and his shooting percentage (8.2 last season) resembles his career average (12.3).

Stat projection: 33 goals, 26 assists, plus-10, 42 penalty minutes, 14 PPP, 271 shots on goal

Justin Faulk, D, Carolina Hurricanes (Yahoo ADP: 82.5)

Games played last season: 64

Faulk was on fire to start the season, scoring all 12 of his power-play goals (T-8th in NHL) in his first 30 games. But he took a big step back in his next 34 games with 12 points (three PPP) and a minus-15. He missed 18 games because of a lower-body injury, but remains one of the highest-scoring defensemen of the past two seasons; his 31 goals rank seventh in the span. The Hurricanes have a young, promising defense and are trending upward offensively after adding Teuvo Teravainen and prospect Sebastian Aho, so Faulk could have his best season yet. Don't reach for him too early, but he's a bargain in the 17-20 range at his position.

Stat projection: 18 goals, 35 assists, minus-9, 30 PIMs, 21 PPP, 229 SOG

Video: CAR@WPG: Faulk scores Hurricanes' fourth goal of 1st

James van Riemsdyk, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs (Yahoo ADP: 123.0)

Games played last season: 40

Van Riemsdyk was off to a great start (29 points, nine PPP, 129 SOG in 40 games) in coach Mike Babcock's possession-based system before missing the entire second half of the season because of a fractured foot. He was a 30-goal, 31-assist performer in 2013-14, and could return to fantasy prominence this season alongside either Nazem Kadri or Auston Matthews in a top-six role. Expect 25-30 goals with 15-20 PPP and more than 250 SOG from van Riemsdyk if he's healthy for a full season, which would be well worth a pick outside the top 100.

Stat projection: 30 goals, 29 assists, minus-7, 48 PIMs, 18 PPP, 255 SOG

Jaden Schwartz, LW, St. Louis Blues (Yahoo ADP: 145.5)

Games played last season: 33

The Blues have plenty of left-wing depth with Schwartz, Robby Fabbri and Alexander Steen but could shift Steen or Fabbri to center, keeping all three among their top six. Schwartz, 24, missed more than half of last season because of an ankle injury, but came back strong in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 14 points in 20 games on Vladimir Tarasenko's line. Schwartz is always undervalued in fantasy and a proven 55-60 point player with power-play experience. He will miss at least one month because of an elbow injury, but is still worth a late-round pick.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 27 assists, plus-12, 24 PIMs, 13 PPP, 175 SOG

Video: TOR@ARI: Riemsdyk puts it past Domingue on PPG

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Montreal Canadiens (Yahoo ADP: 151.9)

Games played last season: 53

Gallagher was on track for a career-best season before sustaining an injury in November; he had 19 points (five PPP), a plus-7, 14 penalty minutes and 70 shots on goal in his first 22 games. Not many players are capable of covering all six standard categories to that degree, so Gallagher could be one of the biggest steals among right wings considering he's going outside the top 150 on average and should finish among the top 100 if healthy. Alexander Radulov is a threat to take his place on the top line, but Gallagher should even surpass his ADP if he ends up alongside steady performer Tomas Plekanec.

Stat projection: 26 goals, 24 assists, plus-8, 70 PIMs, 12 PPP, 222 SOG

Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks (Yahoo ADP: 146.7)

Games played last season: 64

Hossa missed 18 games last season, and has now missed eight or more in three of his past four campaigns. The 37-year-old appears to be entering the twilight of his career production-wise; his shooting percentage the past two seasons (8.0) is tied for sixth-worst among forwards with at least 400 SOG in the span. His PPP total (nine) was also extremely low by his career standards. That said, Hossa is still a worthwhile late-round pick alongside Jonathan Toews, one of the best two-way centers in the game, in the hope the right wing's shooting luck evens out.

Stat projection: 23 goals, 32 assists, plus-12, 28 PIMs, 13 PPP, 215 SOG

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Hossa uses screen to beat Elliott

Bryan Little, C, Winnipeg Jets (Yahoo ADP: 167.2)

Games played last season: 57

Breakout candidate Mark Scheifele thrived alongside Blake Wheeler last season after Little's injury (fractured vertebrae) and should finally take over No. 1 center duties. Little has been limited to 127 of a possible 164 games because of injuries in the past two seasons, but could benefit from having a young, workhorse center in front of him. That said, Little still can score 50 or more points if healthy alongside any of Winnipeg's young wings with upside (Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor), and should continue to get looks alongside Wheeler on the Jets' first power-play unit.

Stat projection: 21 goals, 32 assists, plus-6, 40 PIMs, 15 PPP, 175 SOG

Michael Cammalleri, LW, New Jersey Devils (Yahoo ADP: 171.2)

Games played last season: 42

Cammalleri scored 38 points with a plus-15, 10 PPP and 101 SOG in 42 games last season, but didn't play after Jan. 26 because of a wrist injury and a setback in his recovery. The 34-year-old has been limited to 173 of a possible 246 games in the past three seasons, but returns to an even stronger Devils offense. Newcomer Taylor Hall will anchor the first line, but Cammalleri may still remain with usual linemates Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri, and can do serious damage alongside Hall on the first power-play unit.

Stat projection: 22 goals, 30 assists, plus-2, 22 PIMs, 17 PPP, 184 SOG

Video: NJD@OTT: Cammalleri gives Devils the lead on PPG

Mike Smith, G, Arizona Coyotes (Yahoo ADP: 177.8)

Games played last season: 32

The Coyotes have come a long way since 2014-15, when Smith had 14 wins and poor peripherals in 62 games. Smith missed more than three months last season because of a core muscle injury that required surgery, but somehow still outperformed that dreadful season with 15 wins, a 2.63 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and three shutouts in 32 games. He was a valuable waiver wire pickup upon returning from injury for the final month, going 5-4-1 with a 1.81 GAA, .944 SV% and two shutouts. Smith is a potential steal attainable in late rounds as your third or fourth goalie.

Stat projection: 64 games, 30 wins, 2.55 GAA, .917 SV%, 5 SO

Kyle Turris, C, Ottawa Senators (Yahoo ADP: 174.6)

Games played last season: 57

Turris had five multipoint outings in his first nine games last season, but was held without a point in his final 15 with a minus-9 before being shut down in late February because of an ankle injury. His stock has plummeted, but don't be surprised if the 27-year-old rebounds, especially with the Derick Brassard trade giving the Senators added center depth. Turris, who had a career-high 64 points and 16 PPP with 215 SOG two seasons ago, easily could return to the top 100 fantasy realm with either Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, or Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith as his wings.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 29 assists, minus-2, 38 PIMs, 15 PPP, 205 SOG

Additional injury bounce-backs: Ondrej Palat (LW, TBL; ADP: 172.5), Sergei Bobrovsky (G, CBJ; ADP: 139.2), Evander Kane (LW, BUF; 162.9), Dan Hamhuis (D, DAL; 160.4), Tyler Ennis (C/LW, BUF; 156.3)

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