Vincent Trocheck of the Florida Panthers has fueled fantasy championship runs in his breakout season. Unfortunately, one of the most valuable performers in the NHL based on expectations may not be able to help you finish the job.
Trocheck sustained an ankle injury Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs and reportedly will miss the remainder of the regular season. The dual-eligible (C/RW) asset has been a fantasy stud on Florida's second line alongside mostly Jussi Jokinen (C/LW/RW, 63 percent owned) and Reilly Smith (LW/RW, 38 percent owned) with a NHL career-high 25 goals, 28 assists, plus-15, 13 power-play points, 174 shots on goal and 125 hits.
The 22-year-old is ranked 54th among all players in Yahoo's performance-based rankings and appears on 15.4 percent of the top 500 Yahoo public league rosters (20th most frequent player in head-to-head formats). Among players with center and right wing eligibility in Yahoo, Trocheck ranks 10th behind Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Tyler Toffoli, Ryan Johansen and Jokinen.
Trocheck's Yahoo ownership has already dipped from 62 percent to 56 percent overnight, meaning many championship round participants need an immediate replacement for one of their most valuable assets.
Nick Bjugstad (C, 26 percent owned) is the obvious candidate to replace Trocheck in the Panthers lineup for as long as Trocheck is sidelined. Bjugstad has been limited to 61 of Florida's 76 games this season because of injury, but still has 13 goals, 30 points and 150 SOG in mostly a third-line role.
Video: DET@FLA: Bjugstad scores on the give-and-go
Though that's a sizable step back from Bjugstad's 24-goal, 207-SOG season in 2014-15, he's in position to see a more featured role in the Panthers offense and contribute more at even strength to close out the regular season. On the bright side, Bjugstad has been more effective on the power play (13 PPP) compared to last season (12 PPP) in 11 fewer games to this point.
The Panthers have six games remaining, two coming this week. They host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
As for outside replacement options, here are some top-six forwards with similar position eligibility who can help fill Trocheck's void on your roster. For more options, check out NHL.com's latest fantasy forwards outlook.
NOTE: Make sure to check how long your championship round lasts when taking a player's number of games remaining into account.
C/RW-eligible forwards: Boone Jenner (CBJ, 82nd, 49%, 6 games remaining), Craig Smith (NSH, 175th, 40%, 5), Mika Zibanejad (OTT, 182nd, 24%, 6), Charlie Coyle (MIN, 219th, 14%, 5), Brandon Pirri (C/LW/RW, ANA, 406th, 12%, 7)
Undervalued forwards with C or RW eligibility: Tomas Hertl (C/LW, SJS, 111th, 42%, 5), Cam Atkinson (RW, CBJ, 136th, 39%, 6), Nazem Kadri (C, TOR, 78th, 30%, 6), Anthony Duclair (LW/RW, ARI, 137th, 20%, 6), Travis Zajac (C, NJD, 155th, 14%, 5), PA Parenteau (RW, TOR, 134th, 6%, 6)