Commentary

Icing It Down: Zednik's injury trumps stars' returns

Updated: February 11, 2008, 4:22 PM ET
By Tim Kavanagh | Special to ESPN.com

A truly horrific sequence of events played out in the Sabres-Panthers game Sunday afternoon, one for which many superlatives apply. Fortunately, there was no on-ice fatality, but there certainly was a lot of blood after Florida's Richard Zednik took a skate to the neck during the third period. More details below if you missed any of the coverage.

On the other side of the injury spectrum, there were several triumphant returns this week, three from fairly long-term maladies, so the story today is mostly positive in spite of the scary scene at HSBC Arena.

It's business time

[+] EnlargeDany Heatley
Andre Ringuette/NHLI/Getty ImagesDany Heatley has seven points in two games since returning from injury.
Dany Heatley, LW, Senators: Someone should tell Heatley he doesn't need to make up for missing 11 games all in one fell swoop. In his return Thursday night, he scored two goals, including the game-winner, and had an assist; however, this pales in comparison to Saturday's four-point output where he led the charge in what was a "statement game" for the Senators, as they defeated Northeast Division rival Montreal, 6-1. It's obvious that the Heat is on for the duration of this season.

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Thrashers: For Heatley's former teammate, he ended up missing just two weekend games with his knee injury. While Kovalchuk did only manage to score one point during the three games of last week, he skated over 19 minutes in each contest, which illustrates that the knee is just fine.

Bryan McCabe, D, Maple Leafs: Perhaps if McCabe had not sustained such a devastating injury, Toronto would not be in such calamity right now. While that debate is for another day, McCabe did return to the ice this past Thursday. He skated more than 23 minutes in that game, as well as Saturday's, where he also contributed an assist. Those who found a home for McCabe on their bench during the break now have a top-level defenseman back. For the rest, he is still somehow available in about four percent of leagues, so certainly pick him up.

Glen Murray, RW, Bruins: Although he's a little more under the radar than the All-Stars above, Murray had a nice return this past weekend after missing 19 games. He was held scoreless Friday but contributed four penalty minutes, while on Saturday he notched a goal and an assist. Murray has a sniper's touch and could be useful as a low-end option for the rest of the season.

'Tis but a scratch

Richard Zednik
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty ImagesRichard Zednik had been playing well lately before taking a skate to the neck.
Richard Zednik, LW, Panthers: The injury that befell Zednik on Sunday afternoon during Florida's game in Buffalo was easily the most gruesome injury to a player in recent memory, and had jarring similarity to the one sustained by linesman Pat Dapuzzo about 24 hours earlier. Olli Jokinen's right leg was sent skyward after he was upended by Clarke MacArthur, and in a most unlucky of circumstances, the skate blade sliced into the right side of Zednik's neck. While the game was delayed 15 minutes, Zednik was rushed to the hospital, and the latest report puts him in stable condition. While the fantasy relevance of this injury is certainly on the back burner for those close to Zednik, I'd be remiss to not point out his remarkable February -- nine points in six games -- that had sent his ownership in ESPN leagues up to nearly 18 percent. The recovery period from this type of sensational gash can vary -- Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk missed only two weeks after a similar injury 19 years ago -- so keep an eye on the news reports during this week to find out exactly how much time Zednik will miss.

Simon Gagne, LW, Flyers: The capricious concussion carousel continues in Philadelphia. After learning last week that Joffrey Lupul was close to making his return from an earlier concussion and spinal cord injury, Gagne missed the final two periods of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh with a mild concussion. This raises a huge red flag because Gagne had missed two months earlier this season because of a concussion. Be wary of starting Gagne this week, and keep a close eye on his status.

Rob Blake, D, Kings: One of the hottest commodities being tossed around the trade rumor mill is Blake, a veteran defenseman who could help many teams that are on the cusp of becoming viable Cup contenders. Blake has missed all of February with an ankle fracture and was officially placed on injured reserve this past week. He is expected to return in two weeks. This official pronouncement sent Blake's fantasy ownership plunging down 26 percent, but a move to any of the rumored teams -- Sharks, Avalanche, Rangers, Devils, Red Wings -- would seriously increase his value. It's very smart to pick up Blake now and stash him on your bench if he's been dropped; alternatively, it would behoove you to try to make a trade if he wasn't dropped, as a change of scenery could make him a top-10 defenseman from here on in.

Lights out

Shawn Horcoff, C, Oilers: After missing all of February with a "sore shoulder," Horcoff underwent surgery this past Wednesday for a torn labrum. Horcoff's 2007-08 season is over, so we'll see ya next season, Shawn. Two rookies who happen to be two of the Edmonton fan base's favorites, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner, will now be forced to, ahem, shoulder some of the burden of their fallen leader. They're both first-round draft picks and as such are worth keeping an eye on and making a move for if you can detect a pulse.

Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.

Tim Kavanagh

Fantasy and Insider
Tim Kavanagh is an associate editor for ESPN Fantasy and Insider, with specific responsibility for NHL and fantasy hockey coverage in addition to other sports.