Fantasy or Fiction: The “Day-to-Day” Dilemma

Updated: March 19, 2012 at 11:44 am by Dan Berlin

It’s not just the flu that’s going around now. The injury bug is proving to be just as contagious in the NHL this March, with the list of players listed as out day-to-day growing seemingly by the hour. As fantasy GM’s sit with baited breath hoping – praying – that important players return to their lineups in time for the playoff run, the question remains, is there anything more frustrating than seeing those three tiny red “DTD” letters next to your player’s name at this time of year?

Of course, time is of the essence. With many H2H formats starting their playoffs this week, GM’s can ill afford to wait on making a roster move – for fear of losing production in their lineups when it matters most. Playoff roster freezes can also complicate matters, as can keeper formats. On the flipside, there are a number of DTD players who are nearing return that can be scooped up off the waiver wire. Ultimately, these final roster decisions could be the difference – or downfall – in your team making a run for the championship.

So who stays and who goes? Here’s some fantasy advice on how to handle current “day-to-day” players:

TIME TO MOVE ON?

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, day-to-day as of Feb. 21 (concussion)
Toews is now “officially” listed as day-to-day after unofficially having a setback in his recovery from a concussion suffered back in February. This is the worst possible news for Toews’ owners – it doesn’t appear at this point that the Hawks will place the irreplaceable captain on IR, while it also doesn’t appear as if he’ll return to the lineup anytime soon either. If you’re in a keeper pool, you obviously have to suck it up. But, if you’re not, you’ll have to make a tough call on whether or not to drop one of the NHL’s elite forwards. After Friday’s update, sadly, the move might have to be to walk away now.

Andy McDonald, St. Louis Blues, day-to-day as of Mar. 16 (shoulder)
McDonald’s latest setback, a right shoulder injury suffered Thursday night vs. Carolina, is a crushing blow to the Blues and fantasy owners alike. The red-hot McDonald, who managed to return successfully from another concussion, was on a six-game point scoring streak before going down again. Now, the 34-year-old is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, with St. Louis hopeful he’ll be back for the playoffs.

Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs, day-to-day as of Mar. 6 (shoulder)
Much like the Leafs playoff chances, Lupul’s season has come to an abrupt halt after having his shoulder separated on March 6. Despite being listed as out for 2-3 weeks, don’t expect Toronto to do anything foolish and force him back into the lineup at anything less than 100 per cent, considering the team’s season is over. Half of Fantasy GM owners out there have already cut their loses with Lupul, the other half should do the same.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings, day-to-day as of Feb. 27 (ankle)
It’s becoming painfully clear that the Wings are being extra cautious with their 41-year-old captain and his injured right ankle. While not broken, the deep bone bruise has been slow to heal, and the team is in absolutely no rush to get him back in their lineup until he’s fully healthy. Lidstrom and the Wings are thinking playoffs all the way – theirs, not yours, unfortunately.

Mike Cammalleri, Calgary Flames, day-to-day as of Mar. 5 (back)
The timing of Cammalleri’s back injury was unfortunate, suffered two weeks ago following a stretch where the Flames’ winger had recorded points in eight of 11 games. While reports have suggested that Cammalleri will return prior to the end of the season, with only 11 games left, that offers no real assurances to the 49 per cent of GM’s who still own him. Time to let go.

Other DTD’s to consider dropping: Michael Del Zotto, NYR (hip); Derek Dorsett, CBJ (illness).

WELCOME BACK

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings, day-to-day as of Feb. 20 (knee)
Good news for Datsyuk owners, as the Red Wings star forward is ready to return to game action following a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 11 games. It couldn’t come a moment too soon for the Red Wings – they’ve struggled without their first-line center, going 3-7-1 during his absence.

Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers, day-to-day as of Feb. 28 (hip)
Here’s further proof that it’s better to have your guys go down in February than it is March. Versteeg, who went down with a hip injury on February 26, is set to return to Florida’s lineup. While his overall production has certainly slipped in the second half (10 Pts in last 21 GP), the first-line winger will be a welcome return to both the Panthers – and your – roster.

Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets, day-to-day as of Mar. 9 (hand)
Shocking as it sounds, the underachieving Mason is worth picking up now if you’re looking for some goaltending depth. After making the shift to bigger pads a month ago, Mason appears to have found his mojo between the pipes again, reeling off four-straight wins before missing CBJ’s last two games with a lacerated pinkie. Confidence is an amazing thing, and Mason (28% owned) seems to have found his at just the right time for Fantasy GM’s looking to make a key waiver move before the postseason begins. Likely a better option than Ben Bishop or Ray Emery moving forward.

Other DTD’s worth keeping/adding: Ryan Callahan, NYR (foot); Niklas Backstrom, MIN (leg); Rich Peverley, BOS (knee).

Follow Dan following the fantasy hockey beat this season on Twitter @Dan_Berlin.

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