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Fantasy Pool Look: Backstrom among the elite

Nicklas Backstrom has 44 points in 39 games for Washington this season. (Getty Images)

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Nicklas Backstrom has 44 points in 39 games for Washington this season. (Getty Images)

Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg…Nicklas Backstrom?

Exactly.

After the “Big Three” (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin), there is a second tier of elite fantasy players and it’s time to take the 21-year-old Backstrom seriously. He belongs there. No more offering Eric Staal for Backstrom and a second round pick. None of that Dustin Brown and a high pick for Backstrom. Stop with the Shawn Horcoff for Backstrom offers.

They’re insulting.

Backstrom is on a level field with some of the big names out there and if his owner in your pool doesn’t know it yet, it’s time to steal him away. On his own, the Washington pivot would be an 80-point player by 2011. Playing with Ovechkin, you can expect at least 20 points more than that this year and 40 points more by the time 2011 rolls around. Can Iginla get 120 points? Probably not. But Backstrom can. That’s what happens when you put that kind of talent on a line with one of the best players in the game.

In both of his NHL seasons, Backstrom had a slow start, but in both of those seasons he picked up his game as the year went along. In 2007-08, he had 60 points in the final 61 contests. This campaign, he has posted 40 in his past 27 games. Last year it took him 21 games to get rolling, this year it took him 12. Next year, he’ll be flying out of the gate and that is when even the dumbest poolie will see he is a 100-point player.

This shouldn’t come as a shock, either. Backstrom’s pedigree is there. A fourth overall pick in 2006, Ovechkin himself went up to the stage to hand him his jersey. If you were paying any attention at all, it was quite apparent the two would eventually be linemates. He was a star in the Swedish Elite League and lining up with No. 8 could only mean he would be a star in the NHL as well.

Bottom line: don’t hesitate when you make an offer for Backstrom, no matter what name you are bandying about. As long as it’s not giving up one of the Big Three, your offer will be a sound one that will pay off…

Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: Nashville’s Steve Sullivan, who we haven’t seen in nearly two years, is practicing with the team and indications are that he will be back in game action within three weeks. Sullivan has proven to be better than a point-per-game player in Nashville, although his time off the ice and his age (34) should slow him a little. His back injury and subsequent surgeries were quite serious, so do not expect him to play the full slate going forward. That being said, he makes a good pickup in rotisserie leagues now. I would look for about 25 points in 30 games from him this season…

Farm Report: Montreal rookie Matt D’Agostini took the NHL by storm with eight points in his first 11 games. However, he is pointless in his past four and sports a minus-4 rating. Meanwhile, the team recalled Max Pacioretty, a prospect whom they are excited about and were impressed with in training camp. Pacioretty scored in his first NHL game Friday. Given that both play on the wing, you may see Pacioretty get a look now while D’Agostini’s role declines. If so, expect a nice little run for Pacioretty and a continued dip from the D’Agostini. Either way, both of these youngsters have bright futures, though Pacioretty’s upside is about 10 points more than D’Agostini’s…

After a monster start to his NCAA season, James van Riemsdyk was expected to take the World Junior Championship by storm. Despite the fact he managed nine points in the tournament, he failed to come up big when it mattered most and his points were primarily scored against weaker teams. He’s still an elite prospect, but his status in the fantasy hockey world went down a little. It’s a small dip – the difference between a potential 90-point player versus a potential 85-point player – but it’s a dip nonetheless. Let me put it this way: I won’t be going after him as hard as I would have two weeks ago.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com.

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