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Fantasy Mailbag: Dealing with the injury wave

by Pete Jensen fantasy insider Pete Jensen has you covered all season long with the weekly Fantasy Hockey Mailbag. The most compelling questions posed each week will be answered in an effort to provide you with the best chance to succeed in your particular league.

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JEFF FROM ST. LOUIS is contemplating trading Sidney Crosby since there's no time frame for his return in dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Jeff has received a trade offer where he would receive Claude Giroux - who is also out indefinitely with a concussion - straight up for Crosby.

This trade involves two of the game's top offensive forces, both of whom are young and dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby (2 G, 10 A, plus-7, 8 PIM, 3 PPP, 31 SOG, 7 hits) battled a similar injury earlier this calendar year with a 10-month absence from the game, but dazzled upon his return to the League in November. Crosby absorbed a number of hits in the Penguins' loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5, leaving the 24-year-old out indefinitely again with concussion-like symptoms only eight games into his season. Giroux, meanwhile, leads the NHL with 39 points on the season but a ended up with a concussion last Saturday against Tampa Bay and is out indefinitely as well. Like Crosby, the injury came as a major setback to Giroux – who was putting together a top-tier fantasy season at age 23.

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 39
SOG: 81 | +/-: 7
Both Crosby and Giroux are game-breaking fantasy threats who were taken in the first few rounds of most drafts this season. For that reason, owners are naturally concerned with their players' statuses moving forward. But the bottom line is that this will be a waiting game on both counts, because the Flyers currently lead the Eastern Conference and the Penguins are not far behind. Neither team will take any risks in expediting the return of their player in dealing with this unpredictable situation. As far as this trade, it's really your call. These are both top-line players for their respective teams and have each displayed immense scoring and puck-moving abilities this season. Crosby has an amazing pedigree in this League but has recently experienced a previous severe injury of this nature, unlike Giroux. But, to be honest, it's impossible to distinguish which player will return sooner and how much or how little their performance will be affected by the injuries they have endured. Patience is essential in dealing with all injuries from a fantasy standpoint.

GAJAN FROM SAN JOSE is considering dropping Dustin Brown because his league does not count hits as a category. Among the players he is considering to replace Brown are Jason Chimera and Kyle Brodziak.

Brown's strong hit total (96) has certainly been a positive, but since that total is irrelevant in your league, it's important to seek balance in this three-way comparison. Chimera and Brodziak are both third-line players, but have proven to be instrumental pieces to the success of their respective teams. Chimera (11 G, 6 A, plus-9, 16 PIM, 0 PPP, 81 SOG) has the most experience of the three players in this comparison at age 32. He doesn't get much power-play ice time because of Washington's deep arsenal of forwards, but has compiled an outstanding plus-minus and goal total through 30 games this season. Brodziak (11 G, 7 A, even rating, 33 PIM, 5 PPP, 70 SOG) is the goal-scoring leader for the Minnesota Wild – who currently sit atop the NHL standings. Brodziak has the highest PIM output of this trio, and also provides a nice touch of point-production on the man advantage.

Jason Chimera
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 17
SOG: 81 | +/-: 9
But neither Chimera nor Brodziak has surpassed 40 points in a season during their respective careers, leaving Brown (6 G, 11 A, plus-3, 24 PIM, 7 PPP, 82 SOG) as your best option. Brown has compiled four consecutive 24-plus goal, 50-plus point seasons and has missed a total of only 10 games dating back to the 2005-06 season. He's clearly the most proven fantasy producer of the three players, and has the edge this season in power-play production and shots on goal. Operating on Los Angeles' second line, Brown also sports a respectable rating and PIM output. He scored a goal and added an assist on Thursday in Columbus and is quietly putting together another solid season in Hollywood. It's no secret that Brown's goal-scoring is down this year, but he's still finding a way to produce in all areas – a good sign considering the Kings' offense is ranked last in the League (2.13 goals per game). Once Los Angeles gets healthy and used to the style of interim coach John Stevens, there remains a chance their offense will pick up steam.

ADAM FROM MONTREAL is considering a trade proposal where he would give up Mike Green and receive Drew Doughty. His league counts goals, assists, plus-minus, PPG, PPP and SHP, but does not take hits or PIMs into account.

Drew Doughty
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 9
SOG: 49 | +/-: -5
Green (3 G, 3 A, plus-1, 3 PPG, 3 PPP, 0 SHP) is only 26 and one of the League's most lethal point-producing defensemen, but his string of injuries over the past few years has carried over to this season, where he's only played eight games because of an ankle injury followed by a groin injury. He'll be joining the team in Colorado on Saturday -- clearly good news in his ongoing recovery -- but there's still no timetable for his return to the lineup. Doughty, on the other hand, is healthy, but finds himself in the midst of a 15-game goalless drought. Fantasy owners know Doughty (2 G, 7 A, minus-5, 1 PPG, 6 PPP, 0 SHP) is capable of replicating his 16-goal, 43-assist campaign in 2009-10, but his production regressed last season and has been sub-par based on expectations through 26 games played this season.

But regardless, the bottom line remains that Green is a major risk at this point. He hasn't played since Nov. 11 and is a major risk for fantasy owners. Doughty, who averages 4:25 minutes of power-play ice time, is still a top-20 defenseman who has a high ceiling at age 22. There's also upside in regards to Green, who posted back-to-back 70-plus point seasons in ‘08-09 and ‘09-10 – numbers that you don't find every day from blueliners. But Green's injury history is clearly not a redeeming quality, which is why acquiring Doughty in a straight-up trade would be a great move.

SEAN FROM LOS ANGELES is torn on a trade where he would receive Martin St. Louis and give up Marian Hossa. Sean already has Steven Stamkos in his arsenal, while his counterpart in the deal already has Patrick Sharp. He is wondering if the fact that each fantasy owner would be receiving a linemate of their respective star player makes this trade a fair one for both sides.

Having two (or three) players from an elite fantasy line can never hurt your cause. In fact, it's usually a very effective strategy. When a potent line thrives and has a big night, you can sometimes reap double the benefits as far as plus-minus and point totals are concerned. Obviously a few excellent examples are Tampa's top line (when St. Louis is healthy) and Chicago's secondary line.

St. Louis (9 G, 13 A, plus-2, 6 PIM, 4 PPP, 67 SOG, 7 hits) is out indefinitely after suffered facial and nasal fractures – as well as a scary injury near his left eye – on Dec. 8 at a morning skate. St. Louis is undergoing treatment to improve the vision in his eye and is progressing well, but there is still no timetable for his return. When healthy, St. Louis and Stamkos (19 G, 16 A, plus-10, 30 PIM, 9 PPP, 110 SOG, 47 hits) form one of the most aggressive offensive tandems in the NHL. Stamkos is tied for first in the League in goals and tied for fourth in points, and will only benefit from the eventual return of his veteran linemate.

Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 34
SOG: 113 | +/-: 17
To answer your question, the fact that you would each receive a linemate of your star player makes this a fair trade, but not while St. Louis is injured. Hossa (14 G, 20 A, plus-17, 10 PIM, 8 PPP, 113 SOG, 31 hits) has displayed tremendous consistency on the offensive end for over a decade, making him one of the most reliable fantasy right wingers. Hossa and Sharp (17 G, 17 A, plus-15, 22 PIM, 11 PPP, 118 SOG, 35 hits) form a power-play machine on Chicago's second unit. Sharp is in the midst of an eight-game point streak, while Hossa is on a tear himself with three goals, five assists and a plus-6 rating in his last four games. If your counterpart in this deal is willing to wait until St. Louis is healthy to make the trade, then I would pursue that route, but if not, I would stay safe here and hang onto Hossa. As lucrative a weapon as St. Louis is, his injury raises a red flag for the time being. Plus, Chicago has proved to be a more balanced offensive team this season than Tampa Bay, which is a great reason to keep Hossa. While having linemates is usually a good thing, you already have a budding superstar in Stamkos. Keeping Hossa will pace your team with strong all-around production in both the short- and long-term – which is something St. Louis cannot provide at this time.

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