Had a few people mention recently that they're trying to prepare for their fantasy playoffs (starting in the next few weeks) and want to out-smart the rest of their league by stashing a few key guys on their bench that could return shortly and provide the competitive edge.
Goes without saying that there are no sure things here but depending on your league some of these guys may be available and if you're willing to take the risk then you could reap some rewards.
Here is the list, sorted by potential return date & likelihood of returning:
Andrei Markov (knee surgery) - hasn't played in a game this season but has been skating and practicing for the past few weeks and, barring another setback, he should be returning sometime in March. When healthy, he's a top 10 point producing dman.
Martin Havlat (torn hamstring) - was originally expected back in February but his return was delayed. He has been skating lately and should be back in the middle of March. He wasn't really lighting it up earlier in the year but we'd take our chances that he can find his form with a talented group in San Jose.
Joni Pitkanen (knee surgery & concussion) - he was out with a concussion and so it was decided to get his knee done at the same time. He recently began to skate and is slated to return in a few weeks. He is notorious for missing time due to day-to-day injuries but is a consistent fantasy asset when he's in the lineup.
Dmitry Kulikov (knee surgery) - details have been hard to find but he should begin skating soon with an anticipated return in mid-March. Started the year on fire but had just four points in his last 19 games before the injury, so hopefully he'll return refreshed.
Vincent Lecavalier (broken hand) - the prognosis on his February 20th injury was a 3-6 week recovery, so mid-March would be the earliest he might return but it could drag into April. He is certainly not the Vinny of old but did have 10+18=28 over his last 30 games before being shelved.
Travis Zajac (Achilles) - he has been out since January 2nd due to a re-aggravation of his Achilles injury. He has begun light skating and the team was originally hoping that he could return in mid-March but nothing has gone according to plan for him this season so be warned.
Sidney Crosby (concussion) - he has been skating and taking part in some practices but there doesn't seem to be much urgency to get him back in the lineup... so, at best, he could return with a few games left in the regular season.
Simon Gagne (concussion) - he's been out since December 26th and began to skate about two weeks ago but there is really no expectation on when, or if, he might be able to return before the end of the regular season.
Nathan Horton (concussion) - out since January 22nd and there hasn't been an update on his status lately so he is likely still dealing with concussion symptoms. I have no idea when he might return.
Alexander Steen (concussion) - he started skating a few weeks ago but then seemed to suffer a setback and now is seeking other doctors who might be able to help accelerate his recovery. It's not looking likely that he'll be back any time soon.
Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) - was placed on the LTIR by the Caps recently but since it was retroactive to January 3rd he can return at any time as long as they have the cap space. He has been doing some off-ice workouts but hasn't begun skating yet.
Kristian Huselius (groin injury) - he has played just two games this season and there really hasn't been much word about his recovery lately, so he may not be able to return this season but he is surely sitting on the waiver wire in most leagues.