Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had knee surgery Tuesday and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Keith played 80 games last season and had 10 goals and 45 points and was plus-12. In 2013-14, he had six goals and 61 points and was plus-22. He was off to a slow start this season with two assists and eight shots in six games, but Keith is a perennial top 5-10 defenseman in scoring.
Keith will be hard to replace. He averages more than 28 minutes of ice time per game and is owned in 97 percent of Yahoo leagues. Keith is good for points, plus-minus, shots and power-play points.
The Blackhawks' other top four defenseman included Brent Seabrook (84 percent owned), Trevor Daley (19 percent) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (11 percent). At this point, Daley and Hjalmarsson, who each have one point this season, aren't worth owning. Neither are the Blackhawks' other defenseman who have rotated into the lineup (David Rundblad, Viktor Svedberg, Trevor van Riemsdyk). However, Chicago may trade for a defensemen, which would change the situation.
If your league has an IR or an IR+ spot, the decision is easy to stash Keith there. If not, the question is, do you bench him for 4-6 weeks or drop him? That depends on how good your other defensemen are.
If you need a defenseman to replace Keith, here are a few suggestions:
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (18 percent owned): Dumba had a hot stretch to end last season but has one goal in six games this season. He plays in a variety of situations and chips in with shots and penalty minutes. If you're patient with Dumba, it may pay off.
Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues (19 percent owned): In five games, Parayko has three points and 11 shots and is plus-4. He also has two power-play points. The rookie has seen an increase in ice time in each of the past three games.
Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders (29 percent owned): Hamonic had five goals and 33 points in 71 games last season and was plus-15. He also had 85 penalty minutes, 213 hits and 131 blocks. He has 12 shots and one point in five games but is capable of filling in for Keith with points, penalty minutes and plus-minus.
Tyler Myers, Winnipeg Jets (34 percent owned): After his trade to the Jets last season, Myers had 15 points in 24 games. He has two assists this season with 16 shots on goal and is a threat to score playing on an offensively minded Winnipeg team.
Francois Beauchemin, Colorado Avalanche (48 percent): Beauchemin set an NHL career high with 11 goals last season and had 23 points. This season he has five assists, including two on the power play. He doesn't shoot that much but it's possible he'll set new highs in goals and points this season.