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Look to the future

Simeon Varlamov of the Washington Capitals has two NHL games under his belts, both wins. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Simeon Varlamov of the Washington Capitals has two NHL games under his belts, both wins. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mid-season drafts are in full swing in many fantasy leagues. Whether you’re trying to right the ship or completely re-tool, this month is key for your squad. Let’s get to some letters!

Who are the top 10 young goalies with less than two years of experience in the NHL who will be No. 1's next year or have a legitimate shot of competing for the No. 1 job?
Steve, St. Louis


1.    Simeon Varlamov, Washington – Jose Theodore is under contract, but has been inconsistent.
2.    Josh Harding, Minnesota – Niklas Backstrom is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
3.    Jaroslav Halak, Montreal – I can’t help but wonder if he will be traded and made a starter somewhere else by Christmas of 2009.
4.    Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta – Kari Lehtonen is far too fragile to hold Pavelec off for much longer.
5.    Brian Elliott, Ottawa – Hey, it’s Ottawa. This job is far from being secured by anyone.
6.    Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Edmonton – He is more of a long shot, but at the very least he’ll be No. 2.
7.    John Curry, Pittsburgh – He keeps rising above and beyond expectations and should be the No. 2 next year. He’ll surprise you whenever Marc-Andre Fleury gets hurt.
8.    Corey Crawford, Chicago – He should be the No. 2, provided Antti Niemi keeps floundering in the American League.
9.    Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles – This is a bigger question mark because Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg are doing just fine right now.
10.    Cory Schneider, Vancouver – He may be the most talented on this list, but look who he is parked behind on the depth chart. On a different team, he would be No. 1 on the list.

Hi Dobber, I'm in a 10-team keeper league where we can draft two rookies next year. G, A, PPG, SHG, GWG are worth one point each. Tavares will definitely go in the regular draft, so he won't be available in the rookie draft. Can you help me rank the top 20 going on that scoring system? Rookies do not need to be activated until after they play their rookie season, so they don't need to be NHL ready just yet.
Dan, Moncton, N.B.


Hi Dan, based on the list you submitted, I would rank them this way:

1.    Jordan Eberle
2.    Nathan Gerbe
3.    Ryan Ellis
4.    Lars Eller
5.    Oskar Osala
6.    Brett Sonne
7.    Jordan Schroeder
8.    Evgeny Grachev
9.    Colin Wilson
10.    Tyler Bozak

To explain why Victor Hedman is not among my top 10: he has all the intangibles that make an NHL team drool…but not so much a fantasy hockey team.

Why is Alexander Semin always injured?!?
Zach, parts unknown


Disclosure: I’m not a doctor. However, I have my theories on why Semin and other players such as Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat and Simon Gagne are hurt so often. I think a lot of it is hereditary.

If a skull is one percent thinner than the average skull, or the ligaments are just one percent looser than average – a hit most players would shake off just might be enough to put one of these more ‘fragile’ players out for an extended period. And there are no degrees of severity for a groin tear or a concussion. Much like not being able to be ‘almost pregnant,’ the groin either torn or it’s not.

This is why I give a player a pass if his injury is a fluke, but if he has two “fluke” injuries in consecutive seasons, I give him a Band-Aid Boy label and try not to have him on my team.

Example – I owned Derick Brassard in two of my leagues this year. Between his 20th and 25th game I traded him in both leagues and by Game 31 he was out for the season. Now, you could call his injuries from last year and the year before “flukes,” but I called it a “trend” and as a result it helped me in two leagues – I got rid of him when he had a high value (received Eric Staal in one league and brother Jordan Staal – who has LW eligibility – in the other) and was correct in forecasting the injury.

The trouble with quality is there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We can keep three skaters and one goalie at year's end. Ovechkin is a lock, so I have two skating positions left. Which two do I keep: Backstrom (AO's centerman), Mike Green (Was - D), Corey Perry (Ana - RW), K. Versteeg (Chi - LW/RW), or N. Filatov (CBJ - LW)? I don't have a problem going with all Washington players (my gut instinct), but I've heard Filatov is the second coming of Ovechkin. In goal, I'm strongly leaning toward Price, but S. Mason is making a case. Categories in my roto league are PTS, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG, FW and goalie stats.
Kevin, Montreal


While the Nikita Filatov vs. Nicklas Backstrom question is a good one, I think you have to go with the proven here – even though the center position is the easiest to fill. So go with your “all Washington” instinct. Also, go with Price, because he has proven more as well.

Do you have an update on Jack Johnson? Reports say he’ll return in early January, but I haven't heard anything.
Kirk, Vancouver


He was initially expected back after the all-star break, but is a little ahead of schedule and you may see him for a game or two before then.

Dobber... I just traded Nicklas Lidstrom for Shea Weber and some people are giving me the business about it. It's a keeper league, what would you have done? P.S. - I'm in a standard Yahoo! league G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SHG, GWG are the relevant stats.
Cam, Wiarton, Ont.


I would have made that move, Cam. Lidstrom is the best, but for how much longer? If he gets to 60 points this year, does that mean 55 next year? How many more years will he be able to reach that mark? Meanwhile, Weber should be a 60-point defenseman or better for 10 of the next 14 years (and I say that to allow for the occasional “off year” or injury).

I have to drop one of the following defensemen in a one-year pool: Ryan Whitney, Jay Bouwmeester, Filip Kuba, Dan Boyle or Tomas Kaberle. I think it is safe to say I will keep Boyle, but would still need to drop one of the others. Suggestions?
JS, Airdrie, Alta.


Filip Kuba has the least upside and the least amount of proven history of the five, so to me this is a no-brainer. He is the one who has to go.

Note regarding the Fantasy Mailbag – it is important to indicate whether or not your league is a keeper league or a one-year league. Also note whether the league is “points only,” “standard roto league,” or if there are any uncommon rules that are important to know. This will help in advising you on the right course of action.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear every Wednesday throughout the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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