Brendan Shanahan swung the Shanahammer today, suspending Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty for three games due to his hit on Kris Letang. If you haven’t seen the hit, click here. If you want to see the ruling, click here. None of that matters. What matters is how we will adapt to this current setback.
Pacioretty will miss all three games this week which renders him useless. Even worse, there’s no way to stash away a player unless they are on IR, so we are left with a dead-weight bench player. Pacioretty is a top-25 goal scorer which will be hard to replace. His 86 shots on goal also rank fourth in the League which is even more impressive.
There are only 10-15 left wings who can replace his value verbatim and they are guaranteed to be taken in any standard fantasy hockey league. However, if you play it safe, you could be able to survive without him and scavenge some production.
Step 1: Find Your Weaknesses
Where does Pacioretty currently rank on your team? Is he your top goal scorer? Second-best? Third?
He likely ranks first in shots on goal and is above average in goals and assists. Rookie Gabriel Landeskog could be able to fill your void for shots as he is in the top 10 among left wings in shots. Chris Kunitz is another option, especially since Sidney Crosby’s return will help him remain active in the offensive zone. For that matter, Pascal Dupuis would be a nice addition to your team as well.
If you are looking for goals from the left side, Clarke MacArthur has been on fire with three goals in his last three games. Little Steve Sullivan has three goals in his last four after tallying only one in his first 20 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Again, Dupuis fits the mold perfectly so he might be your guy in this role.
Step 2: Take Advantage of the Schedule
At the risk of repeating myself, take advantage of the schedule.
Five teams play four games this week — Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, Colorado and Nashville — with the Flames the only team with four more games. Every other team except the Bruins, Flyers, Leafs, Stars, Lightning, Kings and Sharks get three more games as well.
Using those guidelines, Dupuis once again looks like an excellent find. Kunitz also fits the bill as does Red Wings winger Jiri Hudler. Curtis Glencross has been a decent source of goals in spurts and is currently playing alongside Jarome Iginla on the top line. Other recent notable line upgrades are Jochen Hecht, Matt Beleskey, Viktor Stalberg, Nikita Filatov, Ryan Jones and Mikkel Boedker depending on the depth of your fantasy hockey league.
Step 3: Use Your Roster Flexibility
Yahoo! has been great with dual-position eligibility this season.
Fourteen of the top 25 left wings have dual eligibilty. Eleven of the next 25 also can be stashed at a different position, making Pacioretty a bit easier to replace. In fact, he holds right wing flexibility in ESPN leagues, so take note of that.
If you are able to take a center and move them to the wing then you are looking to replace a center opposed to a left wing. In that case, you can find goals in Matt Read, Chris Kelly, Matt Cullen, Luke Adam and the aforementioned MacArthur. Tyler Bozak, Michael Grabner, Tim Connolly, Sam Gagner and Valtteri Filppula are some of the hottest players in hockey and should be seen as options as well.
Step 4: Act Quickly
The quicker you add a skater, the faster you will be able to slot them into your lineup. In Yahoo! head-to-head formats you can usually add players up to 3 AM EST and still play them in your lineup. With ESPN it depends on the specific league but I’ve seen the ability to grab players right up until puck drop. So survey your options and then act quickly and wisely.
Step 5: Stay Positive
Losing Pacioretty is a hard pill to swallow. Our very own Ryan Campbell ranked him quite high on our current Big 50; he’s kind of a big deal. Take the loss in stride and try to do your best to replace him. If you are for some reason unable to do that, remember it is only one week.