Brian Rafalski Out Indefinitely, Help!

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?”

With Brian Rafalski out for a while, there are still quality defensemen available in your fantasy league.
With Brian Rafalski out for a while, there are still quality defensemen available in your fantasy league.

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.

5 Comments

  1. Haha, thanks for pointing out how much it sucks to be me right now Eddie. It wasn’t a problem to hold out on Markov to come back, but with Rafalski going down I now have no defenseman. And I can’t put either in my IR spot because Savard currently occupies that position. I’ll just have to tough it out until those three get healthy, but watch out once they do!

  2. So I’m in a standard Yahoo Hockey pool with an automatic draft.

    I was given Kaberle, Enstrom, traded R. Whitney for John Carlson, and my fourth is Tyler Myers. Stats incl. G/A/+-/PIM.

    Myers has been slow out the gate and I’m wondering if it is worth grabbing John Michael Liles instead…. but am concerned about the long term for this season.

    Any thoughts?

  3. How competitive is your league? If you drop Myers and he begins to turn it around, will someone pounce on him quickly?

    My concern with Liles is that he has only scored 40 or more points twice in his NHL career. He usually hovers around the high 30’s, which means he could just be off to a very hot start and will cool off shortly, or he could be off to a career season. It’s tough to tell. But he plays with a young team that has a lot of speed and he will see a lot of power play time. It might be worth it to nab him for the time being and keep Myers on your watch list to see how he progresses. Buffalo as a whole seems to be playing below par, and Myers is taking a beating for it (one point and a minus-7 in six games this season).

    Another option, if he’s available, could be Paul Martin. He’s getting power play time in Pittsburgh and he should help with your plus/minus as well. Six points in six games before tallying another assist and a plus-3 tonight against Ottawa.

  4. Choo,

    This is a rather tough decision with many factors. In an initial assesment of your 4 defenders, you are looking pretty darn good.

    With Toronto showing life, Kaberle will be good this season as he will be heavily relied upon.

    Enstrom is expected to be great for points as well a power-play time, and that shows with 3 power-play assists already. Plus Atlanta is much better this year with their team swapping with Chicago.

    Now this is where it gets tricky. Myers is in his second season, and although he is expected to do as good if not better, second years always are tough. Factor in Buffalo in my eyes is more of a defensive team with mediocre offensive talent, you question how many points they will put on the board. With his -7 rating thus far, that’s not looking good at all. The positive though is Myers is almost splitting his time between Morrison and Leopold, so this could just be working out the kinks and getting settled with a line-mate. On the flip side, last season he played with Tallinder who is now with the Devils. Tallinder could have been a big factor in his success, we will not know this until the season is over with.

    The other element is more or less rookie John Carlson. You are taking a risk with him as young players always have a harder time later in the season with consistent performance. He is however seeing power-play time with Mike Green.

    Now on to Liles. Chris mentioned Liles does not have a track record, but as he also mentioned, maybe the youthful team is good for him.

    My opinion, it’s still early, which means if you do make a decision now, you still have some time to make up for it later. I say drop Myers and pick up Liles as your other defenders will provide good points, so you can view this as your third/fourth string guy for defense.

    Hope this helps, you can mail 25% of your winnings to Chris and I for our advice, and good luck this season in your fantasy.

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