It was announced last night that center Pavel Datsyuk will be out at least four weeks with a broken hand. The super-skilled center will not undergo surgery but requires a cast in order for the injury to heal. Considering most of his ability relates to stickhandling, you can imagine our concern over losing an elite center and his ability to fully recover.
As of this writing, he is currently tied for sixth in the scoring race with Brad Richards, Alexander Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin.
Despite their loss, one has to be happy with the team’s effort last night. Henrik Zetterberg clearly stepped up to the plate while Jimmy Howard found a way to win against a strong Vancouver Canucks team. However, replacing Datsyuk– a high-end talent who not only benefits from the “new NHL” but also has missed only 13 games since the lockout– is easier said than done.
Below are four players who play on scoring lines and could provide your team with a modest boost while you anxiously await Datsyuk’s return.
Mikhail Grabovski, TOR
Although Phil Kessel is the big ticket attraction in Toronto, Grabovski has been centering the true first line all season. The native of West Germany currently leads the Leafs in goals and points and is a big reason why linemates Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur are breaking out this year. Stop wasting your time with Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak who might have a higher upside but fail to produce on a nightly basis. Over his last four games he has continued to produce with four goals and five points.
Olli Jokinen, CGY
Matt Stajan has found himself in the doghouse with Jokinen the main beneficiary. In his last two games centering Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, the often lauded Finn has two goals which is a start. Just two years ago the Joker was considered a high-end talent and he supposedly is taking a more relaxed, laid back approach to the rink as of late. If he can somewhat show a shell of his former 35+ goal self then he will be an easy short term solution.
Valtteri Filppula, DET
Prior to Datsyuk’s injury, this talented Finn saw himself on a checking line with Jiri Hudler and Justin Abdelkader. After his teammate went down, Filppula was promoted back to the second line with Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary. He also saw time centering the second powerplay unit which has a plethora of talent on it as well. We have seen in the past that with additional playing time, Filppula has a tendency to step up his game. Keep checking the Wings’ lines as we will continue to keep you updated on the combinations.
Vladimir Sobotka, STL
In the deepest of leagues you can find value in Sobotka– who has seen time on the top line with David Backes. Although he only seems to score in bunches he has two goals and five points over his last four games. When watching the young Czech forward there is no lack of effort to his game, which should be of some solace to prospective owners. Grab him if you are desperate but do so before TJ Oshie, David Perron or Andy McDonald come back.
We hope we could help you get over your loss. Feel free to throw tomatoes at Alexander over twitter @nhlhotstove or you can follow the site @dailyfaceoff.