Fantasy Hockey Implications of Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Injury

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It was announced this morning that Toronto Maples Leafs star Centre Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a knee strain.

This is a massive blow for the Leafs who have been dealing with injuries seemingly all season. For fantasy hockey owners, this is on the heels of Matthews going beast mode lately. Six goals in his last eight games, two on the power play, and filling the blocks category. Here are some suggestions on how to replace this production as you move Matthews to your IR spot.

How Matthews Injury Affects Fantasy Hockey Decisions

Other Maple Leafs forwards

We always look internally first as we know a roster spot is open. This leads us to Michael Bunting, who could replace Matthews on the top power-play unit. This is intriguing. If the injury is three weeks, Bunting will have opponents who struggle on the kill in two-thirds of the games. Aside from the next three games, The Leafs will play five games against teams who rank bottom third on the penalty kill. This does not help you much for the remainder of this week, but as a long-term solution, it is worth considering.

Bunting is owned by 66% and 76% of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey leagues respectively. Sure, you would rather have William Nylander who should slide up the depth chart. Good luck having him available in your league though. Bunting is at least available for some of you and should see a boost in playing time. When Matthews missed two games earlier this month, Bunting saw his ice time rise nearly three full minutes per game over average. This could be the place to find your solution.

Solutions for deeper leagues

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This may be blasphemy replacing a Leaf with a Montreal Canadiens forward but look at Kirby Dach. Montreal has been decimated by injury and are missing key players. This has led to Dach receiving huge top-line minutes. In the last three games, he has skated for at least 22 minutes in each. What has he done with that? Two goals, one on the power play, and a shorthanded assist. For added value, he is now being shifted to centre more often, with means he is winning you faceoffs. Moreover, if you are looking to replace the categories that Matthews has been giving you, Bunting does not block shots often. Dach does.

Dach is widely available in most fantasy hockey leagues. That ownership has been increasing lately, so do not wait too long on this. He sits at 23% and 16% ownership in Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Some may be turned away by the opponents Montreal will face over the next three weeks. You should ignore that. Every game is tough for Montreal with the injuries they have sustained. Let’s also mention that Dach scored both goals for Montreal in a 4-2 defeat to the Boston Bruins just a few days ago. He is a legitimate solution for the next three weeks to help you get through this tough spot.

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