NHL Fantasy Hockey Focus: Filling in Those Injury Holes

Matt SitkoffCorrespondent INovember 9, 2009

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 05:  Antero Nittymaki #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tries to make a blocker save off a shot by the Ottawa Senators during a game at Scotiabank Place on November 5, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada.  The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators are tied 2-2 after two periods. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

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Injuries are all over the NHL—Alex Ovechkin is week-to-week, Evgeni Malkin is day-to-day, Eric Staal is out two-to-four weeks, and now Cam Ward is out three-to-four weeks.

So how do you stay afloat with so many big-time injuries to top ranked players? My advice is to not panic; just imagine how these players will give your team a boost when healthy. Here are some injury quick fixes on the waiver wire to try to plug the big hole...

Steve Reinprecht, C, Panthers

The 33-year-old center has been more known as a face-off specialist with some goal scoring ability. His career high is 22 total goals with Phoenix and Calgary but he is already on pace to break that with nine goals in 15 games played. Now with the injury to another star, David Booth, Reinprecht is getting some ice time with the sizzling Nathan Horton. 

If you are in a league that has shots as a category, he has just 200 shots combined over the last two seasons, though he is on pace for 183 this year. He could fill in at center for the time being for those who own either Staal or Malkin as he continues his move from a checking center to scoring center

Raffi Torres, W, Blue Jackets

The 28-year-old Torres did score 20 goals in consecutive seasons for the Oilers, but he has had a tough time staying healthy with knee surgeries shortening his last two seasons. Now healthy, he has solidified the second scoring line for Columbus with eight goals in 16 games, half of those coming on the man advantage and two of those tallies game-winners, only helping his fantasy value. 

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This is a good filler for an injured star, for he is still an injury risk himself, but, being owned in less than 10 percent of leagues, you should be able to pick him up and ride the streak until your star returns.

Antero Niittymaki, G, Lightning

The 2006 Olympic MVP has shown that, when asked to play well for a short period of time, he can produce. With incumbent starter Mike Smith struggling and Niity leading the league in save percentage (0.940) and third in the league in GAA (1.95), there seems to be a goalie controversy brewing in Tampa. The 29-year-old Finland native has seen time in five straight games and four of those in a starting role, yet he is still only owned in 30-percent of leagues. 

He is a prime candidate as filler for the injured Ward since his problem has always been consistency, so ride the hot streak. Pick up Frank Niity over the likes of Michael Leighton and the recently signed Manny Legace. Or go with a guy I have mentioned here before in Ondrej Pavelec, who is still only owned in 40 percent in leagues and, with the news of back surgery for Kari Lehtonen, will be in the net for an extended period of time.

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