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Digging deep

Roberto Luongo is the No. 1 goalie in the minds of many poolies. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Roberto Luongo is the No. 1 goalie in the minds of many poolies. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

We are in the final days of fantasy hockey draft season and the mail is still pouring in. Let’s get to some letters!

Last year I had Luongo as one of two goalies on my team and was hurt by his time off due to the birth of his child. It is very hard to get information on why they are not playing and how long they will be out due to these types of personal distractions. Do you have any information on players, especially goalies, who may be impacted/distracted this year by personal concerns?
Laura, McKeesport, Pa.


It’s always interesting to see how in-depth some of the hardcore poolies can get. No, you’re not the first to ask this type of question, Laura. A lot of casual hockey fans would be surprised to learn that a website tracking which hockey player’s wife/girlfriend was currently pregnant, or which player was engaged to be married the following summer, etc., would probably garner a fair bit of traffic.

All I can say about this is – no, I am not aware of such a website. These are intangibles that can’t be controlled in fantasy leagues, much like you can’t control a clearly-over-the-line-goal some ref called back. These circumstances arise and are part of the game. Don’t manage your team around them because it could backfire.

What if you decided not to draft Luongo because of the above reason and his child was born during a three-day break so he didn’t have to miss a game?

My uncle picked up Patrick Marleau, who is my favorite player, most likely to try to the screws to me with a trade. What is the most I should give up for him with a roster four centers deep? My four best are Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Richards, Mike Ribeiro, and Nicklas Backstrom. Should I bite or let him see if Patty comes back this season? Thanks!
Chris, Villanova, Pa.


Chris, if Patrick Marleau had his greatest season ever this year, he still wouldn’t match up to what I think those four will do. Richards may only get 75 points, but the rest of that group should clear 80 points – some of them before March!

Hey Dobber, in a pool that has 12 forwards, 6 D and 2 goalies. The only thing that throws me off is that it’s two points a goal vs. one point an assist and five points a shutout vs. one point a win. In a year-to-year pool, who should be the highest on my list?
Krys, Sherwood Park, Alta.


I would take Alex Ovechkin first, followed by a string of goaltenders. That many points for a shutout would have me making sure to select a goalie with my first pick, unless it was first overall. Ovechkin’s 65-plus goals will be too good to pass up.

Hey Dobber I'm in a keeper fantasy hockey league that has a salary cap. I was looking for a guy who could get huge penalty minutes and still put up respectable numbers (for a defenseman). Any guys out there who are relatively unknown, thus relatively cheap in my hockey pool? Thanks for any help.
Matt, Mission, B.C.


Some defensemen who will get at least 25 points and 100 penalty minutes and are probably under the radar: Mark Giordano, Calgary; Ruslan Salei, Colorado; then you get into more well-known commodities such as Shane O’Brien (Vancouver) and Eric Brewer (St. Louis).

I have Hejduk and Semin in my pool and I haven't heard much from them this pre-season, should I be concerned? In addition, how do you think Simon Gagne and Joe Sakic will do this year? Thank you Dobber!
Jatin, Markham, Ont.

With Milan Hejduk, there is a concern because he has a nagging knee injury that requires surgery. If he has the surgery he will miss the entire season and if he doesn’t, he will play at 80 percent. Also, he has reportedly decided to play two more seasons and then retire. Don’t expect too much from him over those two seasons. Alexander Semin will be fine and should be good for at least 70 points this season. As for Simon Gagne, don’t count on more than 60 points. The upside is there, but so is the risk. Regarding Joe Sakic, I think he’s safe to clear 70 and flirt with 80. Never count out Burnaby Joe.

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I have Nikolai Khabibulin, as one of my three goalies (one starter and two backups), should I wait it out and see if he signs somewhere else or drop him and pick someone else up? Goalies are very important in our draft, three categories out of 10. There are 16 teams and we have a 19-man roster, so there aren’t many good guys left and crap for goalies. Any thoughts?
Lance, Lloydminster, Sask.


If you feel that the best goalie available will be gone shortly, than make the move. Khabibulin will stay with the club for now, but he will eventually be moved – either to a new team or, if the Blackhawks can iron out the details, the KHL.

How will Vanek and Lecavalier do this season? Will Paul Stastny get past the 100-point barrier and, if not, what will he earn? And will Martin Havlat get past the 90-point barrier? Thanks.
Swirls, Toronto, Ont.


Tomas Vanek will bounce back and clear 80 points, while Vincent Lecavalier will easily top 90. Stastny will never get 100 points. Havlat needs to play 75 games before he can think of 90 points – that will never happen. In fact, I wonder if he can ever play 65 again.

I'm in a very deep league. Which two Blue Jackets D-men would you pick from this group... Russell, Tyutin, Backman? Who will be the PP QB?
Mike, Toronto


So far, Christian Backman is getting the most power play time, followed by Fedor Tyutin, Kris Russell and Rostislav Klesla in that order. All have had solid camps, but I was particularly impressed with Klesla and I wonder if it is time for him to break out. It really is a tough call, but I think Tyutin is the safest bet because GM Scott Howson was reportedly after him for a long time. I’d take Tyutin and flip a coin on Russell and Klesla for the second one. I don’t see Backman continuing to get PP time.

I’m looking at a few rookies for my keeper hockey pool. I’m looking at grabbing a rookie who has shown a lot in camp. Who should I pick? Jakub Voracek? Dustin Boyd? Can't decide! Or should I lay up with someone like Scottie Upshall who is more secure with the club, not as much upside for points, but not nearly the risk! Help!
Ryan, Abbottsford, B.C.


No contest here – jump on Voracek immediately.

Enter The Hockey News Supreme Pool with more than $15,000 in prizes and a $5,000 first prize!

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear on the last Wednesday of every month throughout the playoffs and off-season. The weekly edition will begin again in September. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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