Offensive defenseman Kris Letang could be suffering from his second concussion of the season. Last night, the All-Star was hit directly in the head by Dallas Stars forward Eric Nystrom. If you haven’t seen the hit, see for yourself. It’s bad.
One can only expect him to miss at least a week due to the team’s protocol. Considering he plays for the Penguins — the same team being ultra-cautious with Sidney Crosby — he probably misses more time. Letang scored nine goals and 31 points through only 40 games.
So as you lament, or freak out, at the loss of Letang, we at Daily Faceoff want to let you know there are still other fish in the sea. Let’s take a look at your options.
Matt Niskanen, Pittsburgh Penguins
If Letang’s first concussion was any indicator, Niskanen will see extended periods of time on PP1. In fact, last night he did just that, moving up into the top four and manning the point alongside the also-injured Steve Sullivan. Niskanen has a good pedigree as a former first round pick; he also has two decent fantasy hockey seasons under his belt. Should Letang miss an extended period of time — which unfortunately seems like a foregone conclusion — Niskanen should be Johnny-on-the-spot.
Jason Garrison, Florida Panthers
Garrison has pretty inflated ownership numbers, and rightfully so, but he could be available in your fantasy hockey league. The formerly undrafted defenseman already scored 14 goals in 57 games which certainly proved himself as a worthy addition to the ranks. However, owners have been onto his scoring prowess since October. Nevertheless, the White Rock, British Columbia, native just returned from a five game absence which could have caused a nervous opponent to drop his big bomb. The 27-year-old is still seeing time on the top defensive pairing and top power play unit on a should-be playoff team making him a must-add if available.
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks
It’s no secret that the Ducks are one of the hottest teams in hockey. Similarly to the New Jersey Devils of last season, Bruce Boudreau has his team on a legendary run which could get this talented bunch into the postseason. Right in the thick of things is Fowler, the former 12th overall pick of last season. And while the 20-year-old has been mired in a sophomore slump for the most of the season, he continues to get top billing at even strength and on the power play. Furthermore, he has three assists over his last five games which should be a sign of life.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
As a guy who grew up in the 90s, I’m partial to all things Avs. So when Joe Sacco has his talented bunch of forwards producing in his up-tempo system, I swoon a little bit. Currently, Sacco has found use for his stud defenseman, getting big minutes out of him in all situations. By that same token, Johnson is the only defenseman on a PP1 that features Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly. Moreover, the former 1st overall pick has three goals and five points in his last eight games. If you still see him on your waiver wire, he’s your guy.
Filip Kuba, Ottawa Senators
Kuba has a bloated contract; he’s also old. Luckily, neither of these factors apply to fantasy hockey. What we are interested in is his partnership with Norris, and possibly Hart, Trophy shoe-in Erik Karlsson. The two have great offensive chemistry which unites them at both even strength and the power play. And despite those awesome factors, his ownership numbers are quite low at 18 percent. In deeper leagues, he’s probably your best option.