As we begin ‘Fantasy Week’ here at RLD, we take a look at five players who are prime candidates to come back from injury or bounce back from down years.
1. Marc Savard 09/10 Stats: 41 GP, 10 G, 23 A, 33 Pts, +2 Last year was a tough one for Savard. Between a broken foot and severe concussion, the Bruins’ premier playmaker missed half of the season and round one of the playoffs. Assuming he doesn’t get dealt, Savard has company around him to rack up points like he did back in 2008/09. Nathan Horton will be on his right wing, and on the left could be Tyler Seguin (depending on his camp). That’s a lot better than Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder by his side on the top line, right? I can see Savard eclipsing 80 points if he stays healthy, and maybe even flirting with 90.
2. Ales Hemsky 09/10 Stats: 22 GP, 7 G, 15 A, 22 Pts, +7 Hemsky went down with a shoulder injury last November, causing him to miss the rest of the year. His presence alone was sorely missed in the Oilers’ lineup, as their season went downhill thereafter. Hemsky’s return to the lineup in 2010/11 will boost Edmonton’s offensive unit. If he can give the Oilers more than 70 games, look for the Czech to surpass the 70-point mark; a 20/50 season would be a safe bet, no matter how the team does in the standings.
3. Cam Ward 09/10 Stats: 47 GP, 18-23-5, 2.69 GAA, .916 SV% Just like the Hurricanes’ season, Ward’s campaign was marred by injury throughout. A lacerated groin kept him out for most of November and into December, and then an ailing back kept the Canes’ netminder out of the crease after the Olympic break. (In total, he missed 31 games.) When healthy, Ward is one of the best goalies in the Eastern Conference; he was just coming off his best regular season (08/09) before these injuries occurred. I really like Ward’s chances to bounce back and grab 35-40 wins, along with a GAA around 2.40.
4. Brenden Morrow 09/10 Stats: 76 GP, 20 G, 26 A, 46 Pts, -3 The Stars’ captain was out of for most of the 08/09 season with a torn ACL, and couldn’t quite return to form right away last year. With a full year under his belt of playing without injury, I expect Morrow to come close to putting routine numbers. Dallas could challenge Edmonton for the last spot in the west, yet Morrow is surrounded by talent up front. His plus/minus may not be attractive, but Morrow could surpass 60 points easily. He’s also a key power play contributor for the Stars.
5. Jiri Hudler 09/10 Stats: 54 GP, 19 G, 35 A, 54 Pts, -4 (KHL) Welcome back to the NHL, Mr. Hudler. Unlike the other four on this list, Hudler isn’t exactly bouncing back from injury. Instead, he’s returning from overseas to rejoin a talented Detroit lineup. When Hudler bolted for Russia, he was coming off his best NHL campaign (57 points in 08/09). If he gets some time in Detroit’s top six, Hudler just might net 30 goals. If not, he’ll still be a steady point producer. Either way, don’t forget about Hudler in your drafts, as he’ll probably be buried in the rankings.
Honorable Mention: Brad Boyes Pierre-Marc Bouchard Johan Franzen Jarome Iginla Bryan Little
Check back all week for different rankings and top-five lists!
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.