Marc Staal left yesterday’s game vs. the Flyers in the third period after a Kimmo Timonen slapshot deflected off of Jakub Voracek’s stick and hit Staal above the right eye.
Staal hit the ice visibly in pain and bleeding from the face. He also has a history of concussions so a blow to the head like this is alarming for the Rangers. There is not a lot of news on the extent of Staal’s injury because the Rangers didn’t practice today, but according to Nick Kypreos the injury isn’t career threatening but he is out indefinitely. Marc’s brother Eric has also told reporters that they are waiting for the swelling to go down around Marc’s eye before further determination can be made about his injury.
Staal is enjoying a career year offensively with two goals and nine assists in 21 games. This is a big loss for the Rangers because Staal plays an average of 24:27 a night. The Rangers claimed Roman Hamrlik off of waivers from Washington today which likely indicates that Staal is going to miss substantial time with this injury.
This injury sparks the on-going conversation on whether or not it should be mandatory for NHL players to wear visors. However, the NHL can’t force the players to wear visors; it would be something that NHL and the NHLPA would have to agree on. There has been some serious injuries in the past that visors could have prevented. Chris Pronger was high-sticked last season and he suffered serious eye damage and a concussion that appears to have ended his career. When Pronger returned he wore a visor for the last five games of the season.
Although visors are not mandatory, according to the NHLPA visor use continues to increase across the league. 73% of the NHL wears them which is up from 69% in 2011-12. Incidents like this are likely to help increase the number of players who wear visors, which is similar to what happened with the increased use of kevlar socks after the Erik Karlsson injury.
From a fantasy standpoint Staal wasn’t an elite fantasy option but he was among the Top 30 defenceman. With him out of the Rangers lineup look for Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman to see an increase in playing time. If you are going to replace Staal there are a few players that could be available in your league that would be worth-while fantasy replacements.
Roman Josi – (61.4% Owned in ESPN Leagues) – Nashville Predators
Josi plays 22+ minutes a night giving him ample opportunity to put the puck in the net. He is averaging two shots a game as well, however he has seen his plus-minus drop with the Predators recent struggles. Josi scored 40 points in 69 games in the AHL during the 2010-11 season, meaning he has the potential to score at the NHL level.
Ryan McDonagh – (55.5%) – New York Rangers
McDonagh will fill an even larger role with Staal out which should help his fantasy value. McDonagh scored 32 points in 82 games last season, and he is just starting to get on track this season. It could be a good time to add him.
Jared Spurgeon – (31.8%) – Minnesota Wild
Spurgeon plays around 20 minutes a night on a good Wild team. He has two goal and one assist in his last four games.
Jake Muzzin – (1.0%) – Los Angeles Kings
Muzzin has seen his minutes increase lately and he has taken advantage of the extra time. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games. Muzzin scored 67 points in 64 games in his last season in the OHL and 31 points in 71 games last season in the AHL.