My condolances go out to you fantasy players in 100 percent of ESPN.com and 97 percent of Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues. Chris, you are included too as you already had Andre Markov on the IR. But I can’t really fault you there as I recall you drafting Markov knowing he is out until Thanksgiving due to his offseason surgery. But back to Rafalski, he is out for an unclear amount of time as he underwent a knee scope Tuesday afternoon. The scope was to repair a knee he injured 19 years ago. Not bad for a 37-year-old NHL defenseman who has played in two Stanley Cup finals and an Olympic gold medal game in each of the last three seasons.
Another conrtibuting factor to the arthroscopic surgery was that he underwent back surgery in the offseason which prevented him from strength training his legs in the weight room. Factor that with the rigors of training camp could have lingered the pain in the knee. “He had a little pain and just decided that it hadn’t reacted the way it had in the past,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “They just decided they need to have a quick look and clean up whatever they need to clean up. They didn’t think it (would be) very long, but who knows once they get in there?”
So the big question for all you fantasy players out there is “Who can I pick up to replace Rafalski?” Here’s some answers to the big question. Below is a sampling of defenseman that are most likely available in your fantasy league who can put up the stats necessary for you to win your weekly matchups.
Jordan Leopold- Buffalo
Leopold is only picked up in 20 percent of Yahoo! and 30 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Why am I suggesting such a low taken player? Because he’s one of two (Alex Goligoski being the other) with two goals on the season thats less than a week old. He was only projected to score 23 points on the season, but he is ahead of that curve with four in less than a week. He plays on a pairing with young superstar Tyler Myers so he could see a lot of points playing with the reigning Calder Trophy winner.
James Wisniewski- New York Islanders
He will be useful to pick up after the weekend because he is suspended for two games after his recent incident where he made an obscene gesture at Rangers forward Sean Avery. But on the other hand, he is taken in 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He has three points this season and looks like he can “blow” the puck past opposing goalies with his hard shot from the point.
John-Michael Liles- Colorado
The former Michigan State Spartan is likely to be available in your Yahoo! league as he is surprisingly available in 45 percent of leagues. In the last week he has gotten off to a fast start with five assists. Yahoo! also has ranked him as the 13th best fantasy player in the league since the season began. He had yet to light the lamp, but he has a +4 rating, five shots on goal and one power play point. If your league has blocked shots as a stat, he’s worth a look as he’s had eight blocked shots.