Fantasy 31: Early-season injury impacts for each NHL team

Back in the lineup after suffering a knee injury, Tyson Jost will see top-six minutes with the Avalanche. Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Teams haven't yet reached double digits in games played, but injuries are already impacting each team on some level. Some teams are seeing the return of players who haven't yet played, while others are facing sudden losses to key pieces of their rosters -- Marc-Andre Fleury anyone?

Here is a look at the early-season injury report and the underlying fantasy impact for each of the 31 teams.

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks are about to benefit from a big boost to their blue line. Not only is Hampus Lindholm (shoulder) loosely pegged to return versus the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, but Sami Vatanen (shoulder) could be back within a week. Initially, both weren't expected until early November. Once active, Lindholm is immediately tasked to serve on Anaheim's secondary power play, followed by Vatanen, bumping both Francois Beauchemin and Brandon Montour from that ensemble. Additional note: There's overly optimistic chatter that Ryan Getzlaf (lower body) could return as soon as Friday, but his return will more likely be next week.

Arizona Coyotes: "Yeah, I think so," said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet on whether he would again turn to Adin Hill against Dallas after the rookie netminder stopped all but two of 33 shots faced in Tuesday's tough loss to the Stars, and it has since been confirmed. With Antti Raanta hurt and a floundering Louis Domingue the only other option, Tocchet's decision doesn't surprise. Hill has also been a cement wall through two AHL contests this season. Daily fantasy competitors might consider the 21-year-old as a dark-horse asset.

Boston Bruins: Oh boy. The Bruins will turn to backup Anton Khudobin after Tuukka Rask was run over by teammate Anders Bjork during Wednesday's practice. Boston's No. 1 had to be helped off the ice and didn't return. Rask was diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely, handing starting duties to Khudobin and No. 2 status to Zane McIntyre. In other fantasy-relevant injury news, top center Patrice Bergeron (lower body) returns against the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, as does power-play cog David Backes (illness). Both veteran forwards have yet to compete in this campaign.

Buffalo Sabres: Even before Zemgus Girgensons took a shot off his foot Tuesday, he had already been demoted out of necessity to a bottom-six unit, subbing in for injured center Jacob Josefson. And now he's also hobbled. Fantasy owners are advised to shelve Girgensons until he heals and reclaims a position from which he's favored to produce. At present, Justin Bailey serves as your dark-horse fantasy commodity on the left side of Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

Calgary Flames: Guess who's starting to jell on a Flames top scoring line while Micheal Ferland (lower body) convalesces on the sidelines? Now that he has enjoyed a good stretch off between games, plus additional practice time to acclimate, Jaromir Jagr should offer a strong hint of what he's still capable of alongside gifted forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, starting with Thursday's contest against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina Hurricanes: Forward Lee Stempniak has yet to be able to shake his current upper-body injury. While the well-traveled forward (10 NHL teams and counting) doesn't merit dumping an otherwise decent fantasy performer, he does have a reputation for providing a productive spark straight out of the gates. Keep that in mind if you require an injury plug or favor DFS play -- once, of course, the 34-year-old is fully healthy.

Chicago Blackhawks: For all we know, Brent Seabrook is healthy. If so, there's no perceptible explanation for the veteran's uncharacteristically dismal start to this campaign. Since potting three points opening night, Seabrook has struggled, punctuated by his minus-four showing in Tuesday's loss to the St. Louis Blues. Even though this slump is likely to be short-lived, there's little to gain from sticking with the 32-year-old in the dreary meantime if other defensemen are available on your roster.

Colorado Avalanche: A few days separated from missing two games with a nasty bone bruise (knee), rookie Tyson Jost is about to join a scoring line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. That's quite the opportunity for the 19-year-old, who was drafted 10th overall in 2016. As a result of the shuffling, fellow rookie Alexander Kerfoot falls out of the top-six.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Out with a back injury since the summer, Boone Jenner might not be long for making his 2017-18 debut. While last season was a bit of a letdown, the power forward scored 30 goals and 19 assists, while collecting 77 penalty minutes, in the previous campaign. When ready, look for Jenner to join a potent line with Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand. That doesn't bode well for rookie Sonny Milano, who enjoyed top-six minutes until he stopped scoring after the first three games.

Dallas Stars: He isn't hurt, but bench Julius Honka anyway, if possible. The Stars' rookie defenseman is receiving that very same treatment from coach Ken Hitchcock on Thursday against the Coyotes. More so, the 21-year-old, who deserves keeper-league consideration, with loads of offensive upside, will be on his way to the AHL shortly if he doesn't hoist his socks in a hurry.

Detroit Red Wings: With little else pressing on the fantasy front in Detroit, it's worth mentioning that Jimmy Howard remains the club's undisputed No. 1, even after he was pulled early in Wednesday's eventual 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. That outing aside, Howard has been good-to-superb for the Wings thus far. Less so, backup Petr Mrazek. Look for the former to start against the visiting Washington Capitals on Friday.

Edmonton Oilers: You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief wafting over from central Alberta: Leon Draisaitl (concussion) is expected back in short order -- maybe Saturday in Philadelphia. And considering how the Oilers have fared in Draisaitl's absence (not well), you can wager he rejoins center Connor McDavid on the top line immediately. As it stands, rookie Kailer Yamamoto gets at least one more go in that spot before his inevitable demotion.

Florida Panthers: Rookie Owen Tippett is apparently earning another opportunity after making his NHL debut Tuesday. Ahead of Friday's contest with the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, the 18-year-old is skating on a practice line with Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. While Tippett finished minus-2 in Tuesday's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the teen also broke out some impressive moves while firing seven shots on net. While unlikely to outlast a nine-game audition this season before heading back to the OHL, Tippett remains a keeper-gem in the making.

Los Angeles Kings: Despite his sluggish start, the loss of Jeff Carter is massive for the Kings. After taking a hit to the boards Wednesday night, last season's leading scorer for Los Angeles is rumored to miss weeks with lower-body tendon damage. While Carter's regular linemates, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, are sure to feel negative effects from their center's absence, young Adrian Kempe -- who erupted for a hat trick and assist Wednesday -- and Nick Shore should benefit from additional quality ice time as a result.

Montreal Canadiens: To the satisfaction of many fans and pundits, forward Alex Galchenyuk was promoted to a Canadiens scoring line with Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin in Los Angeles on Wednesday. And the Habs still lost. Badly. This team is noticeably struggling on both sides of the puck. Until it collectively snaps out of this funk -- which it will -- fantasy owners are advised to bench almost all assets involved, where possible. Even Carey Price. The only one potentially worth starting is Drouin for the time being.

Minnesota Wild: Unlike prominent forwards Nino Niederreiter (high ankle sprain), Charlie Coyle (fibula fracture) and Zach Parise (chronic unspecified), Mikael Granlund is fine. Or nearly fine, anyway. Swirling around the practice ice on Thursday, the 25-year-old right wing could return to the Wild's lineup, ahead of schedule as early as Friday. It'll be interesting to see who Granlund immediately supplants in Minnesota's newly cobbled top-six. Since winger Chris Stewart is riding a four-game point streak to start the campaign (four goals, two assists), veteran Tyler Ennis and rookie Joel Eriksson Ek are the likelier candidates for demotion, with Jason Zucker shifted back to the left side of Mikko Koivu or Eric Staal.

Nashville Predators: Center Nick Bonino is expected to miss the next couple of weeks with a lower-body injury. In the interim, the Predators are turning to Colton Sissons (owned in 0.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues) to sub in between Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith and to compete on the secondary power play. Playing a more prominent role, Sissons, not coincidentally, scored his first goal of the season Tuesday.

New Jersey Devils: Center Travis Zajac (pectoral) is healing faster than anticipated. Initially projected to miss four to six months following summer surgery, the veteran forward is already back on skates. An early-December return is hardly out of the question. And while a lot can happen between now and then, rookie center Nico Hischier appears in little danger of losing his top-six center's job, but perhaps coach John Hynes instead opts to shift Adam Henrique back to the wing. Otherwise, Zajac appears destined to fill more of a supporting role.

New York Islanders: Bumbling out of the gates, the Islanders are leaning toward giving 2013 first-rounder Ryan Pulock his first opportunity of the season. Why not? The 23-year-old offensive defenseman who is known for his rocket of a shot should also see minutes with the Isles' top power play. This tidbit should interest keeper-league owners in particular.

New York Rangers: On the subject of young defensemen, the Rangers are demonstrating increased confidence in Anthony DeAngelo. Paired with veteran Ryan McDonagh at even strength, the 21-year-old sophomore notched his first point with the Broadway Blueshirts against the Penguins on Tuesday while skating a season-high 17:56, including 3:21 with the man advantage. That's not bad considering DeAngelo idled as a healthy scratch through two straight games last week. Like the Islanders' Pulock, he's another promising fantasy prospect worth monitoring.

Ottawa Senators: To satisfy any lingering concerns, Erik Karlsson insists he felt OK following his first game of the season Tuesday -- a little gassed, after his recent recovery from a foot injury, but fine. "I feel like I did before the game," Karlsson said. "I'm a little bit tired, but that's expected. Overall, it felt pretty good. The legs felt good. It's just the pace of the game and having guys fly around all over the place and being checked all the time." The Senators' elite blueliner is back in action Thursday versus the visiting Devils.

Philadelphia Flyers: Wayne Simmonds is (allegedly) OK. After suffering a suspected groin injury Tuesday, the dynamic winger skated as usual in practice Thursday. Look for Simmonds to fill his usual spot on a scoring line and top power play versus the Predators.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Fantasy owners banking on Ryan Reaves as provider of numerous penalty minutes all campaign long should prepare themselves for disappointment. After amassing 34 PIM in the first three days of the season, the 28-year-old tough guy has earned a measly 4 in the four games since. And there's both rhyme and reason to the cutting back of Reaves' on-ice role. If your league still rewards penalty minutes, you may want to look elsewhere.

San Jose Sharks: Without making too much of matters, there's word that Joe Pavelski is a "little banged up." OK, a "little banged up" is no great worry, but it doesn't hurt to monitor matters. Often in these such cases, banged-up veterans will sit out one of two back-to-backs, a scenario facing the Sharks this very weekend on their road trip through New Jersey (Friday) and Brooklyn (Saturday).

St. Louis Blues: Recovering from a broken hand suffered in the preseason, forward Alexander Steen appeared no worse for wear in his first game of the 2017-18 campaign. Playing on a scoring line with Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko, Steen logged 18:06 of ice time, rifled five shots, blocked three and finished the game plus-1. Unleash him as you usually would.

Tampa Bay Lightning: All signs point toward Mikhail Sergachev sticking beyond his nine-game audition. The 19-year-old defenseman has done more than enough to earn his supper at the NHL level. Now, whether Sergachev reaches that all-important 40th game, which would adversely affect the Lightning organization beyond the usual free-agency factor, is another matter altogether. But we have a way to go before then.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Bumped to a unit with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, Connor Brown adapted beautifully by scoring a goal in back-to-back nights. That should easily earn the 23-year-old an extended stay in the top-nine. Mind you, Brown's successor, the freshly crowned best-fourth-liner-in-the league Mitch Marner, isn't likely long for his new digs either. Barring injuries, coach Mike Babcock faces some tough lineup decisions sooner rather than later. But at present, Brown (owned in 8.6 percent of ESPN.com leagues) surpasses Marner (95.1 percent) on the fantasy depth chart.

Vancouver Canucks: This is his chance. After blocking all 32 shots in Tuesday's shutout win over the Senators, his only appearance of the season, Anders Nilsson is again getting the start Thursday in Boston. A second straight such performance should suffice in pushing Jacob Markstrom straight into the backup role. Still, it's far too early to jump on Nilsson in serious redraft or keeper leagues.

Vegas Golden Knights: With the health status of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) up in the air, the Golden Knights' net belongs to Malcolm Subban. For now. Following his season debut victory with a solid-enough performance for Tuesday's overtime win against the Sabres, Subban is the clear choice to start Saturday versus the Blues. However, as well as the 5-1-0 Knights have been playing, any netminder for this early-days expansion squad remains a less obvious option for fantasy owners.

Washington Capitals: Fantasy owners invested in Tom Wilson will love this: Their guy has been promoted to a Capitals scoring line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie in place of Andre Burakovsky. It seems coach Barry Trotz has been less than pleased with Burakovsky's performance in that role to date. Now, how long Wilson sticks in that plum position will depend on his usefulness, beginning Friday night in Detroit.

Winnipeg Jets: Fantasy owners in keeper or deeper redraft leagues shouldn't sleep on Kyle Connor. Filling a top-six role, either alongside Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele or Patrik Laine and Bryan Little, the rookie has about a month to prove he belongs there while Mathieu Perreault recovers from a knee injury. The 2015 first-round draft selection is off to a solid start, scoring in his first game of the season in a losing effort against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.