Mike Richards has 71 points in 68 games this season and would be a wise early-round pick. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Just more than a week left in the regular season and some big decisions need to be made – for both the post-season and the final days of the regular schedule. Let’s get to some letters!
Decision time on the return of an injured player. Shall I keep Jochen Hecht or should I keep Marco Sturm? Which, for the balance of the year and next year would appear to be the better 'keeper?' Thanks!
Ken, Cincinnati, Ohio
Neither player will give you 65 points in a season, Ken. I like Hecht down the stretch, but I would prefer Sturm’s steady 50 to 60 points. So if I had to choose one of the two Germans I would go with Sturm long-term.
Is Gilbert Brule going to "make it" or what? I'm thinking about dropping him for some younger prospects. Would I be better off waiting out someone like Jakub Voracek?
Tom, Toronto, Ont.
I would prefer to own Voracek, Tom – and I don’t think you’ll have to wait long on him. That is not to say I have given up on Brule. A player like Brule I would give at least four years on before making such a decision. But Voracek is the real McCoy and I think you’ll see him in the Columbus lineup in the fall.
Hi there, quick question: Is Jagr showing everyone his career is quickly declining? As well, since Jagr didn't hit his targets to kick in another $8 million for next year, who might pick him up and at what reduced cost?
Mike, Mississauga, Ont.
Jaromir Jagr will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and whether or not his high production is done will depend on where he lands. I don’t see him flourishing in a city like Columbus or Dallas, nor does he strike me as a good fit for a team like Phoenix. If he signs in any of those cities, 70 points may be tough. However, signing in Pittsburgh will see him reach 85-plus heights for at least another season. Will he give them a hometown discount? Jagr owners sure hope so!
Now, time for some playoff questions…
Hi Dobber. I am doing a fundraiser for the minor baseball team I coach. Do you know of a good method to run a playoff pool without everybody getting together for a draft?
Cory, Toronto, Ont.
Hi Cory. I would suggest setting up a box format and have participants pick from a box. A lot of online managers can accommodate that.
Although the Red Wings have come on a bit lately, for much of February they looked quite vulnerable. Hypothetically, if Edmonton were able to sneak into the playoffs - with their recent run lead by a red-hot offense - would they be able to challenge the Wings who were once unbeatable, but now seem to have some chinks in their armor (most notably, shaky goaltending)?
Daniel, Winnipeg, Man.
If Edmonton manages to get in, they would be such a hot team it would be enough to scare me away from taking Detroit players. I still wouldn’t choose any Oilers, but it would be enough to move my eggs out of the Detroit basket and into another one –namely San Jose. It’s the NHL playoffs; first-round upsets are commonplace!
We have a pool at work, where we pick 10 players ranked 1-10. With your first pick you get 10 points for every point they get - G and A - and so on down to your 10th ranked player who gets you one point. Would it be wise to focus on Western conference teams rather than the best of the East?
Ken, Emerson, Man.
One strategy would be to make certain the player you select first gets out of the first round. Look at the eight matchups and forget about which conference they are in. Take the team you feel is the closest to a guarantee to make it out of Round 1. Another strategy - one I would try - would be to take the best player from every team you can. Everyone will be going after Red Wings, Sharks, Ducks, Penguins and Devils – if one of their top players were available in the first round I would take him. In the early rounds, I would grab Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Richards, Jarome Iginla or Patrik Elias. Their points are heavily weighted and if you have the best player on a team that pulls off an upset, you’re gold.
Let's say you have the first overall pick in the playoff pool draft; who do you take, and why? MY answer might surprise you: Nick Lidstrom. Dude gets about 35 minutes a game in the playoffs, the Wings should beat the No.8 in the West - regardless of who it is - and should take the second round, too. Am I an idiot for thinking this?
James, New Liskeard, Ont.
It would depend on the rules of the pool, James. If a defenseman is a must, Lidstrom would certainly be right up there. If there are no positional requirements, however, there is no way I’d take a defenseman with the first pick.
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