Dose: Opportunities on IR

T.J. Oshie helps the Capitals become the first team to clinch a playoff spot, Connor McDavid regains the points lead and more in a busy Sunday Dose

There’s a line (maybe thick, maybe thin) between exploiting loopholes and just sort of being scummy.

Taking advantage of the system can be quite a liberating experience. It can also lead to strained relationships; take Gary Bettman and “Loophole” Lou Lamoriello no longer being best buds after the latter handed Ilya Kovalchuk one of those “lifetime” deals that was eventually dissolved because of, well, loopholes.

(Credit to Lamoriello for waiting out the NHL on the first-round pick the New Jersey Devils were going to “lose” because of Kovalchuk’s contract. Granted, I wonder if it was a wink-wink, nod-nod kind of punishment from the beginning.)

Sometime in the next couple weeks, I’ll probably discuss a trick that can be pretty dirty: leveraging an inexperienced (or experienced-but-volatile) fantasy owner’s frustration to land a one-sided trade. Maybe that’s not technically exploiting a loophole, yet it’s the sort of practice that makes other owners groan in irritation - maybe, to some extent, because they wish that they got that upper hand first - and generally seems against the “spirit of the game.”

Ah, that phrase.

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“Spirit of the game” is usually one of those phrases that are thrown around by crusty old people who are frightened by things they don’t understand. (Usually hip hop or Twitter.)

Every now and then, there’s a moment that really does prompt what’s normally such a condescending utterance.

Maybe it’s Dustin Byfuglien pulling a Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon by hitting Steve Downie well after the Pittsburgh Penguins pest scored a goal.* Another example is using a reflection to steal someone’s moves in Battleship.**

Either way, there are a lot of underhanded moves that don’t sit right with me. A lot of ways to win that seem to make the actual victory ring hollow.

On the other hand, there are plenty of smaller moves that are totally OK with me. I’d like to discuss a simple strategy that many probably enact without really thinking about it, yet some might not even consider: stashing an IR player.


It’s a pretty simple process that obviously requires your league to provide at least one IR slot. First, you identify some good-for-nothing (or just blandly mediocre) guy in the lower ranks of your roster. Next, you see a quite-good player on the waiver wire who happens to be injured and on injured reserve (some teams are gnawingly slow about this, which is a slow death for fantasy owners). Finally, you exchange that slacker for a Future Great.

Actually, there’s usually another step: place that Future Great on IR and then add a different random guy off the waiver wire. That’s the fun of two impulse buys for the price of one actual roster spot and your IR slot!

Now, obviously there are some drawbacks: if one of your guys goes on IR, you’ll have a decision to make (unless you have multiple IR spots in your league, which bless your heart if you do).

Make sense? I sure hope that does. If not, a quicker version:

1) Drop a low-level roster player.

2) Add a guy who has injured reserve status.

3) Stash that player on your IR.

4) Use that freed up space to take a chance on some on the waiver wire.

Got it? Good.


Please note that this isn’t a comprehensive list and that IR situations generally involve injuries that are fluid situations, so you could end up waiting longer than expected in plenty of cases. In other words, don’t expect this strategy to “save” your team, though it might help you grab an edge.

Also, a guy like Taylor Hall isn’t mentioned because he’s 99 percent owned. The same can be said for Sergei Bobrovsky (94 percent), just to name two.

T.J. Oshie (72 percent owned) - At some point Vladimir Tarasenko won't score ALL THE GOALS, right? Oshie scored 60 points last season, although he did it on just 152 SOG. On the bright side, he has the potential to provide nice value in multiple categories: 77 hits in 79 games last season and 130+ hits twice in his career, a sprinkling of PIM and nice scoring ability. His C/RW status is a bonus, too. He's not a must-add in shallower leagues, but you could do worse than Mr. Shootout.

Derek Stepan (52 percent) - Do it. Add him. He could come back soon and he'll probably line up with Rick Nash and/or Martin St. Louis, in a contract year. He's a good player in a great situation.

John Gibson (42 percent) - I'd probably wait on him if you're not really itching to make changes in your lineup to begin with. He's expected to miss about six weeks, so the odds of a more important player going on IR in the meantime are unfortunately pretty high. I still think he's worth monitoring this season, though now he seems more likely to be a guy who blows up in the playoffs rather than when he can help fantasy owners during the regular season. Then again, coming back in early 2015 wouldn't mean he can't make an impact in the closing stretch, right?

Nathan Horton (15 percent) - No. If you're among the 15 percent, drop him.

Ryan McDonagh (79 percent) - I'm still fairly optimistic about his "upside," at least as a nice depth defenseman in fantasy. It obviously depends on your situation in this position, though.

Jonas Gustavsson (six percent) - Nah.

Joffrey Lupul (53 percent) - Somewhat marginal in certain ways, although he's a surprisingly nice source of hits: 118 in 69 games last season. He can produce almost two hits per game and nearly three shots per contest, so he's not the absolute worst peripheral guy out there.

Plus you can delight in his hatred of advanced stats a little more as his fantasy owner, I'd say.


Feel free to point out other IR candidates worth adding. Note that, as of this writing, a guy like Patrick Sharp hasn’t qualified for such status. I’m not sure how many self-respecting owners would drop Sharp in the first place, mind you, but … just saying.

For a full list of injuries (note Patrick Sharp) and suspensions (including Jack Johnson), click here. Go to Rotoworld's NHL page for breaking hockey news and more.

* - What’s the deal with hunters becoming the hunted lately, by the way? Downie is getting picked on while there have been at least two incidents

** - Do people still play that game or did the fatuous movie drive the final nail in that coffin?