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Fantasy impact: Conor Sheary injury

Plenty of replacement options on Penguins' top line with Sidney Crosby

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins are left with a void on their top line with left wing Conor Sheary expected to miss 4-6 weeks because of an upper-body injury.

This could give veteran left wing Chris Kunitz (39 percent owned in Yahoo) or rookie forward Jake Guentzel (C/LW, 3 percent owned) an opportunity to step up and provide extra value in fantasy, though it appears forward Patric Hornqvist will get the first crack at playing with center Sidney Crosby on the top line.

Hornqvist is 84 percent owned in Yahoo, so chances of him being available on the waiver wire are slim. But if he is out there, he's a must-add. He scored two goals against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, giving him four goals on 16 shots on goal in his past four games.

Video: NSH@PIT: Hornqvist beats Rinne with a wraparound

Sheary (LW/RW; 57 percent owned) has 17 goals and 18 assists in 42 games this season, playing predominantly with Crosby and right wing Bryan Rust. He ranks 11th in even-strength points (33) and is just outside the top 100 in Yahoo's performance-based rankings (105th). 

Playing with Crosby had made Sheary a solid contributor of points to go with an above-average plus/minus (plus-18, leads Penguins forwards). The Penguins have plenty of options to replace Sheary on the top line, and whoever fills in next to the best player in the world will surely get a boost in fantasy production.

The familiar name to consider adding is Kunitz, who had been known for playing with Crosby in the past. Kunitz hasn't been the same player since he had a career-high 35 goals and 68 points in 78 games during the 2013-14 season, but also hasn't been a complete disappointment (215th in Yahoo) considering his role this season. Kunitz has points in back-to-back games, and the chemistry with Crosby is built-in.

Video: PIT@CAR: Kunitz heads to the net, finds twine

The unfamiliar option to see an increased role in the short term is Guentzel, who has been a pleasant surprise in two separate stints with Pittsburgh. Earlier in the season after being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, Guentzel had three goals, one assist and eight SOG in five games from Nov. 21-30. He's been scoreless in his past four games, but had a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists) from Jan. 16-20.

Keep an eye on the Penguins' depth chart with Sheary out because coach Mike Sullivan will likely move players around until something clicks. Should Pittsburgh, or Hornqvist individually, falter during this stretch, expect Kunitz, Guentzel or even Carl Hagelin (LW, 10 percent owned) to benefit from exposure to Crosby.

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