This will be the first of a five part series of how Sidney Crosby could affect your fantasy hockey teams in the stretch run. The goal in our debut is to introduce some factors (both good and bad) on the impending return of the game's best player. By the way, Crosby could return either Sunday or sometime in the next week.
The Pittsburgh Penguins could use his talent, but with the current winning streak at eight games and counting, does Crosby disturb the chemistry?
The answer that one gets from most pundits is a resounding no. However, the fantasy hockey and NHL worlds can often mix at this time of year more than any. As of now, Crosby is noncommittal on a return. He has been practicing, but not as much as he would like.
Any bumping that has gone on is minimal, but the most important thing is "The Kid" has experienced no setbacks. There are also no symptoms, and the soft tissue damage has clearly healed.
What really is left for Crosby at this juncture? Simply, it comes down to more practice time and whether he feels ready to play. He has gone on record many times saying he has to be 100 percent, and the Pittsburgh Center does not want to go through this again in a few weeks. That is understandable and expected.
The problem with concussions is the unknown. For all that people are learning about the head injury, there is so much more that is not known.
If Crosby does return on Sunday, he would have four weeks to impact fantasy hockey leagues. The NHL would be ecstatic to have its star back, especially Commissioner Gary Bettman. Also, the season ends on a Saturday, April 7. Most fantasy playoff leagues (head-to-heads) start this week. The timing almost could not be more perfect.
The first questions are obvious. Does your league have a weekly or daily lineup? Most do have daily, but a few leagues are weekly, so please read the rules carefully since they always vary from league to league. Let's start with a few baseline facts about Crosby's first return:
1. Crosby had four points against the New York Islanders.
2. He had 12 points in eight games before a David Krejci hit.
3. Later, it was revealed that Crosby also suffered soft tissue damage in his neck.
Those are the baseline facts. First off, is Crosby returning soon? That answer is not clear at all. However, the policy from Pittsburgh is that there will be 24 hours notice as far as a Crosby return. Also, depending on your leagues, it is either Week 22 or Week 23.
The week does not matter but having two, there, or four weeks does. Whether it is a H2H, points or rotisserie league, one thing is certain. Crosby will return before your fantasy season ends.
Let's also list Crosby's career statistics now.
Pay attention to the last two years please. What is lost in everything is that when Sidney Crosby was hit first by Washington's David Steckel and then Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman a few days later, that the captain was on pace for his best season in the NHL.
He might have reached a point total in the 130 to 140 range, which had not been seen since the early 1990s.
That would have changed scoring patterns and how goalies and teams played superstars, which would have had consequential impact on the fantasy hockey and NHL realms.
If Crosby had not been injured and tallied 132 points (which he was on pace for), would there have been an increase in scoring this year? Perhaps. Even Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos or Claude Giroux can't quite generate the fear in your eyes look like No. 87.
However, there has been a noticeable drop in scoring in general. If Crosby had between 70 and 75 points after 50 games right now, things would look a lot different and the ripple effect would be created.
Now, let's get back to the here and now. Whenever Crosby returns, the obvious is place him in your lineup immediately and watch overall league scoring go up. Is he going to be around that 1.5-point pace?
The answer is not known. It does seem likely that he will return on a home date. The next two are the 11th against Boston and the 20th against Winnipeg.
The 11th gives you four fantasy weeks and the 20th gives you three, so we know what most Crosby owners and Pittsburgh are rooting for. However, that should be tempered by whether he can stay concussion-free.
Our projections have him scoring 1.25 to 1.33 points per game, but that could fluctuate. What we are asking hockey fans is what will Crosby ultimately do. We will give you the framework but will also say this. Crosby is going to create that offensive ripple.
Comment away and have your say. Thanks for reading.