If it isn’t enough that fantasy hockey owners are already dealing with massive holes on the blueline left by Zach Bogosian, T.J. Brodie, James Wisniewski and Kevin Shattenkirk, now there’s another major missing piece for some fantasy owners.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced that defenceman Duncan Keith underwent successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The injury is likely to keep Keith out of Chicago’s lineup for 4-6 weeks.
Duncan Keith underwent surgery to repair a right knee meniscal tear. Can resume full hockey activities in 4-6 weeks. #Blackhawks
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) October 20, 2015
With that in mind, owners of the defenceman in your fantasy league will be looking to replace the former Norris Trophy winner and it won’t be easy. It is important to note that league depth and the type of the league will affect the kind of players that can replace Keith. But bandaid fix or long-term solution, here are a few possible fixes for the defensive deficiencies if you’ve been affected by the Keith news.
Marc Staal (New York Rangers)
Don’t let the name or the team he plays for fool you. Marc Staal hasn’t been the healthiest option over the past couple of seasons, but when he is in the lineup he can be a consistent addition to any fantasy roster.
Three times in his career, Staal’s eclipsed the 20-point plateau. He plays on both the powerplay and penalty kill which offers fantasy owners a well-rounded replacement for their roster. Depending on the value of special team points, this could increase how high Staal is ranked on a list of possible Keith replacements.
Add to that the fact that Staal averages over 20 minutes per game on a team that will likely turn it around soon and the Rangers’ defenceman is a prime candidate to fill in for the next four to six weeks while Keith recovers from surgery.
Ben Hutton (Vancouver Canucks)
Who? Some of you might be asking this, but won’t be for long. According to an article in The Canadian Press, Hutton could be a mainstay in the Canucks lineup after surprising the team’s management staff during the preseason.
Over six games so far in his rookie season, Hutton’s playing just over 18 minutes per game and over two minutes on the powerplay – an asset for leagues that add extra value for special team points.
At just 22, the Vancouver defenceman could be an even better addition for owners looking to add depth in a dynasty or keeper type league.
Mark Stuart (Winnipeg Jets)
Finally, staying with western Canadian teams, Mark Stuart is another option as a bandaid fix for Keith owners. While he’s not a powerplay stud like the player he would be replacing, Stuart sees ample time on the penalty kill and should consistently contribute offensively.
Through six games this season he has two points (1g-1a) and a plus-six rating for the Winnipeg Jets. He’s typically known for his defensive play, but for those looking for a part-time fix to fill the void left by Keith, Stuart is a candidate to stop the bleeding.
For more, find Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or his THW column at @Tape2TapeTHW.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.