Stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in all cellular organisms. They retain the ability to develop into any number of different types of cells, and thus their worth to all living things is incalculable. This, as with many other important topics of our day, I learned from "South Park," specifically Episode 513, entitled "Kenny Dies." By the end of the episode, undifferentiated stem cells are being used to create a cloned Shakey's Pizza restaurant, and so we learn that by placing the undifferentiated stem cells close to something, they can clone that thing.
How does this relate to fantasy hockey, and a column about injuries, you might be asking? Well, I worry for rookie Jonathan Toews, who represents the undifferentiated cells in this metaphor. Just being in a reasonably close proximity to the perennially injured Martin Havlat (more on him later) has caused him to break his finger, and he missed Chicago's first two games. Luckily, Toews should be back in action this week and hopefully this will be no harbinger of things to come.
'Tis But a Scratch
Every week in this section, you'll find the folks whose injury, to a common human being, would cause at least a week off from work, but to an NHL player translates to just a night or two of rest.
Ray Emery, G, Senators: Emery is actually several days away from returning to the lineup due to a wrist injury. In the meantime, Martin Gerber is your main man between the pipes for the Sens. Not a bad backup to have on your roster in any case, Gerber has been impressive in Emery's stead, including the shutout of the hype-festival Rangers on Saturday, and two wins against divisional foe Toronto.
Alexander Semin, LW, Capitals: Semin, who put together a nice 38-goal, 90-penalty-minute season last year, started this season with an ankle sprain. Since ankles are pretty important to skating and all, he was kept home for the team's opener in Atlanta, but was back in action on Saturday, notching an assist in the Caps' win. So far, this is not a reason for concern, but ankles can be tricky, so have a backup plan if you own Semin.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G, Ducks: Yet to play a regular-season minute for the Ducks, Jiggy had originally aimed to play in the team's home opener on Oct. 10. It remains to be seen if that will actually happen, because hernia injuries tend to be fairly troubling to butterfly-style goaltenders such as Giguere. In his place, trade bait Ilya Bryzgalov has been splitting time with Jonas Hiller. Bryzgalov is worth owning, but you already knew that, and he's probably not available. Hiller is better left on the free-agency pile, since he won't be getting much time in goal once Giguere returns.
In this section, I'll be detailing the injuries for those who will be out longer than two weeks. Unfortunately, we've already got some names for you in this cohort.
Martin Havlat, RW, Blackhawks: He's done it again. As Tristan Cockcroft wrote in our Box Score Blog on Friday, it took Havlat just 57 minutes to get hurt this season, an unfortunate outcome for an emerging Blackhawks team as well as for his fantasy owners. His return timetable from the shoulder injury is uncertain at this point, as the team seeks a second opinion after Friday's initial MRI. Close to a point-per-game player when healthy, he should be stashed away on your bench or injured reserve slot until his return.
Sean Avery, RW, Rangers: It's hard to find a more polarizing player over the last few seasons than Avery. Romantically linked in the past to the likes of Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter, the 27-year-old will miss the next four weeks due to a separated shoulder. Much was written about the Rangers' unwillingness to roughhouse and protect stars such as Jaromir Jagr before the acquisition of Avery last season, so it will be up to the likes of Colton Orr and Ryan Hollweg to shoulder that load in his absence.
Jamie Langenbrunner, RW, Devils: Another hernia victim, Langenbrunner will be out of the lineup for 8-10 weeks, which has provided an opportunity for Brian Gionta to hitch a ride on the Travis Zajac-Zach Parise express. Gionta has something to prove this season, after failing to live up to expectations during last season's 25-goal effort.
Shea Weber, D, Predators: Weber got tangled up during play near the boards on Thursday night, and the diagnosis is a dislocated kneecap. Aside from horrifying anyone who hears the diagnosis, this will keep Weber out of the lineup for anywhere from three to six weeks. While he is out, the Predators will rely on Marek Zidlicky and Dan Hamhuis to man the point on the power play, and it was Zidlicky who drew first blood with a power-play assist in Saturday's game.
Johan Franzen, LW, Red Wings: Franzen sprained his knee Saturday against Chicago (can we blame Havlat for this, too?) and is lost for three to four weeks. That's a shame because Franzen had a shot at some playing time with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom whenever the Red Wings decided to put Henrik Zetterberg on the second line to spread out the offense. He's worth keeping around in deep leagues, just in case that scenario still exists when he returns.
Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com