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Would you still take Sidney Crosby in your NHL fantasy draft?

There's an acknowledged insensitivity in discussing Sidney Crosby's(notes) status as it pertains to on-ice performance. His health, and the future of his career, are paramount; the Pittsburgh Penguins' power play and the 2011-12 Art Ross race are not.

But the closer we get to training camp, the more focus will be placed on Crosby's effectiveness next season. How much time could he miss? Will he still have the same unparalleled impact on the game? Is there a risk he could be knocked out of action again like so many other players that have rebounded from concussions?

These are the questions Penguins GM Ray Shero is asking himself, as are a large collection of significantly less important general managers: The ones who figure to have a high pick in their 2011-12 fantasy draft.

(Note: Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey is back, but the site's a little buggy right now. Stop by and check out the new features.)

How does one approach drafting someone who is both the best offensive player in the world and a complete question mark for the coming season?

Jim Cerny of About.com, on the Crosby fantasy conundrum back on Aug. 16:

Do you roll the dice that Crosby is, and will remain, healthy, and thus will continue to be the same scoring stud he's been for the past six years? Or do you err on the side of caution and select an Alex Ovechkin(notes) or Steven Stamkos(notes) or Corey Perry(notes) or Martin St. Louis(notes) instead?

What if owners are extremely cautious in your league and Crosby is sitting there late in the first round and it's your turn to pick?  Face it, you don't want to be the fantasy owner who by-passed Crosby and then he went out and recorded a 100+ point season.  But you also do not want to be the fantasy owner who picks Sid first or second overall only to have him compromised by issues revolving around the concussion.

That about sums up the debate; now, what to do about Crosby?

We asked two of our most trusted fantasy hockey experts how they'd approach drafting Crosby this season.

Here's Scott Pianowski, editor of the Yahoo! Sports fantasy blog Roto Arcade:

Great question. It's a tricky year. Usually you get the No. 1 pick and it's like found money, you know you've got a sure thing and an easy pick. Not this year.

A healthy Crosby blows everyone away. But I'm glad we're not drafting today because no one knows.

A non-keeper, today, I'd go Daniel Sedin(notes) at No. 1. I want floor. I want to sleep at night. So the order would be:

1. D. Sedin
2. Crosby, and hope
3. Alex Ovechkin, and wonder
4. Steven Stamkos
5. Corey Perry
6. Henrik Sedin(notes)
7. Henrik Lundqvist(notes)
8. Martin St. Louis

We also asked Dobber, whose site DobberHockey.com is a fantasy leader and who writes a weekly fantasy piece for Puck Daddy during the season: Would you take Crosby first overall?

From Dobber:

Three weeks ago, absolutely. I knew there was a risk, but figured it to be 10 percent that he doesn't start the season. But where there's smoke there's fire ... and there has been a lot of smoke since then.

So to me, and this is just my opinion since I obviously don't know Sid, but that risk is closer to 50 percent that he misses anywhere from one to 20 or 30 games to start the year. I put him at 65 games in my projections, which is still a 100-point season and Top 5 in scoring.

But I don't draft him Top 9 if the draft was today.

In a 12-man league, if my pick is 10th, 11th or 12th, I take him then because I have another pick coming three or four slots later. I do not risk a Top 9 pick because of the gap in the quality level between that pick and the next one. If I draft Sid high like that and he doesn't play 50 games again, I lose the league immediately (as in — I fail to win, which to me is losing).

Even picking him 10th-12th I likely lose, but at least there's a slim chance — enough to roll the dice on.

As was previously stated, Crosby was about the surest of sure things when it came to fantasy hockey. That he isn't a stone-cold lock for a No. 1 or No. 2 spot in a draft just reinforces how much uncertainty there is about his return to the game.

We now rejoin concern for the more serious aspects of Sidney Crosby's brain injury, already in progress …

(Thanks to the boys at the late, great Relentless on The Score Radio for the inspiration.)

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