First, some rapid-fire answers to rapid-fire questions:
What has been the biggest factor in Washington's Nick Backstrom’s slow start?
Matt, Vancouver, B.C.
It happens with rookies. That’s why the ‘sure things’ for prospects are pretty rare – as in…if his name isn’t Sidney, he’s not a sure thing. Backstrom will come around, but it may take a couple of seasons.
How much longer should I hold on to Alexander Semin?
Greg, Phoenix, Ariz.
You’ve held onto him this long; you may as well stick it out. The Caps are being cautious with him, but he is getting close to returning now.
What do you think of Mats for Kipper?
John, parts unknown
John – I need details! If you own Henrik Lundqvist and Pascal Leclaire, then acquiring Kiprusoff is silly. However, if you need a goaltender, then the deal is sound as Sundin won’t keep up such a torrid pace.
I am wondering: Robert Lang became a free agent and I was considering dropping Tim Connolly to pick him up. Is this a good idea?
Steve, St. Louis, Mich.
Lang is certainly on fire, while Connolly has slumped as of late. In the end, Connolly is a better producer. The only intangible is the injury factor. For that reason, I would jump on the Lang bandwagon unless you have very limited transactions.
What should I do with Semin? What should I do with Cheechoo? What should I do with Havlat?
Scott, Neptune, N.J.
Semin and Havlat are close to returning (within a couple of weeks) so you may as well wait. Cheechoo will have a strong second half, similar to last year. Hang on to the former two and stick Cheechoo on your bench until he starts to heat up: And he will heat up.
Now let’s tackle the most common question of the past week. Many of you have asked for my take on Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins.
Fleury had a weak start last season and he is having an even weaker one this time around. His rebound control has been horrendous and his consistency has been even worse.
Owners have been pulling their hair out because of this guy and many have been bailing on him. I liken Fleury to Grant Fuhr of the mighty Oilers of the ‘80s. He’ll give up a ton of goals, but will stop enough for the win.
He’s not there yet, but his team isn’t really scoring, either. He’ll come around in the second half. Long-term, he will be one of the better goalies to own in your league because the Penguins will put up a pile of wins.
They have no plans to remove him as their starter and all I can do is preach patience.
On to some more letters…
I'm in a 10-team rotisserie keeper league where goals are worth three points, assists two, GWG/SHG and plus-minus are worth one point. Would you trade Getzlaf for Gaborik straight up? Gaborik's past injuries and Getzlaf's upside are keeping me from pulling the trigger on this deal.
Dan, Toronto, Ont.
Hi Dan. I would much rather own Getzlaf than Gaborik. His upside is perhaps 10 or 15 points below the slick Slovak’s, but the injury factor is just too strong to ignore. My heart couldn’t take owning Gaborik. I would need to see back-to-back healthy seasons from him first. Getzlaf is the way to go.
Just wondering if you have heard anything about Matt Carle and do you think it is only a matter of time before he gets on track?
Steve, Metairie, La.
Steve, defensemen take longer to blossom in the NHL than forwards do. It looked as if Carle would be an exception, but there are still some things to iron out in his game and he has been a healthy scratch at times.
The signing of Sandis Ozolinsh has further complicated matters. Unless an injury happens on the Sharks blueline, or there is a coaching change, I would expect only repeated numbers from last season out of Carle and a good two or three years before things drastically improve.
Hey Double D! Just a quick question: I’m in a pretty big fantasy hockey league, and my defensemen are all injured (Shea Weber, mainly) and I was wondering if you had any quick replacements I could possibly snag.
Cheers, Brett, Nobleton, Ont.
Hi Brett, if Steve Wagner (St. Louis) or Tobias Enstrom (Atlanta) are available, I’d consider grabbing one of those guys. Also, in Toronto with Bryan McCabe struggling with an injury and Pavel Kubina on the shelf, the door has opened for Ian White to step up offensively.
Hello Dobber, I cannot seem to understand the situation in Buffalo right now, they have been shut out in the last two games and their defensman Campbell is tied for first in points, what is the deal with Vanek, 10 points in 14 games, is he good enough to bring his number to the 80-85 point range this season? And how many points do you think his linemate Derek Roy will finish with? Am I crazy to think he can break the 90-point barrier this year? (It’s not like Vanek and Afinogenov are helping at all!).
Steve, Toronto, Ont.
Steve, yes, you are crazy. I don’t see Roy ever hitting the 90-point plateau and certainly not this year. I think he’ll be a consistent 80- or 85-point player in his career. This season I still think he can get into the low 70s. Don’t give up on the Sabres yet, they are just going through a prolonged scoring slump. In fact, now is the time to go shopping for them, as owners are getting a little sour. Afinogenov, Roy and Vanek could be had for pretty cheap right now I would say.
The mail has been pouring in and I’ll get to as many of your questions as I can. Keep them coming, and make sure to include your first name, your city, and if necessary some details about your league rules and team.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag appears Wednesdays only on The Hockey News.com. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.