Eric Johnson has missed this entire campaign after hurting his knee in the off-season (Getty Images)
The NHL trade deadline is next week and if your fantasy league is like most, it has the same cut-off date. This is it, folks. Let’s get to some letters!
Hey Dobber, I'm in a keeper league approaching the deadline to make any roster moves. Our players are signed to contracts before the season starts and this decides who is a keeper and who isn’t. I have the option to pick up Drew Stafford for the rest of the year, but I would have to drop one of Ryane Clowe, Jamie Langenbrunner, Petr Sykora, Daniel Alfredsson or Mike Ribeiro. I would lose all of these players at the end of the year unless I win the pool, then I can keep one of them for an extra year. I was thinking of keeping Alfredsson if I win and dropping Clowe or Langenbrunner for Stafford. Can Langenbrunner continue at his torrid pace until the end?
Daniel, Moncton, N.B.
Hey Daniel. Stafford is playing well, but I’m not sure it’s worth a move to swap out Langenbrunner or Clowe unless you can keep Stafford. I would stand pat.
Hey Dobber: I've heard you say before that a player's fourth year is often his breakout season. With that in mind, who are some players to keep an eye on for the 2009-10 season in terms of "coming of age?"
Jarvis, Moose Lake, Alta.
Well, Jarvis, Wayne Gretzky saw his production rise more than 30 percent in his fourth professional season and Mario Lemieux saw his jump more than 50 percent. So what is in store for Evgeni Malkin next season? Will that be the year we see 150?
Looking at the lesser lights, my favorite is Detroit’s Jiri Hudler. Don’t think 70 points – think much bigger. Boston’s Phil Kessel will hit 60 points this year, but I think that’s just a taste. Expect much more next campaign. I know Anze Kopitar has already had a 77-point year, but he will do better in his fourth season. In Pittsburgh, Jordan Staal seems poised for increased production. Calgary’s David Moss has limited upside (65 points), but you could see that next campaign. Colorado’s Wojtek Wolski has been very steady in his first three NHL seasons, but his fourth will show us what his upside will be. And Loui Eriksson is having an impressive season in Dallas, but his fourth in 2009-10 will see him top 70 points.
Other candidates: Valtteri Filppula, Detroit; Robert Nilsson, Edmonton; Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal; Joe Pavelski, San Jose; David Backes, St. Louis; Tomas Fleischmann, Washington.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, whom would you rather have on your roster: Ilya Kovalchuk or Henrik Zetterberg? Goals are worth two points and assists are only worth one. I always enjoy reading your answers, thanks in advance.
While Zetterberg is a better player to own year-in and year-out, not only am I dazzled by Kovalchuk’s tremendous upside, I also like how he does not get hurt. He could be on a new team in a year or two and that only makes things better. If the post-season does not count in your league, I would prefer Kovalchuk by a hair.
Although troubled by injuries, has Alexander Semin vaulted into the fantasy elite (i.e. a top-five winger) with his 'healthy' production this year? What is his future upside in Washington?
If he stays healthy, yes. But since he doesn’t, I would choose more than five wingers ahead of him for sure. His upside is 95 points or more with the Caps if he can get in 80 games. Can he? I would bet against that.
Hey Dobber! Love your articles. Just had a quick question about the futures of two young players: Erik Johnson and Carey Price. First, do you see Johnson having a slow start next year and then producing, or will he produce at all? Second, do you see Carey Price returning to form this season or next and what kind of numbers do you think we'll see? Thanks. Keep up the insightful work!
Thanks, Ralph! With Price, he is an excellent buy-low candidate. Unless this groin/ankle injury lingers into next season, which it shouldn’t, he will put up top-five numbers among NHL goalies. Bold statement, I know, but you have to make those in fantasy hockey and hope you make more right ones than wrong ones. As for EJ, I would not want him on my fantasy squad – all signs point to “injury prone.” Trade him while his name still grabs the attention of the other owners in your league.
With my fantasy rebuilding team, I have Igor Makarov, Jack Skille and Kris Versteeg. Should I be moving Versteeg, since the other two prospects might take away his time/points? Or should I be moving Skille, Makarov, or both?
Ed, Windsor, Ont.
Versteeg will be a steady 65-point player who should have C/W position eligibility. Makarov is a boom-or-bust prospect who looks very promising and has the highest upside of the three. I think he’ll have an impact next year, but his arrival will not affect Versteeg. Jack Skille is looking more like a third-line hustler with a bit of a scoring touch than a top-six sniper. He would be the one I’d move.
Hey Dobber, I'm in a 12-team head-to-head league. Who do I pick up now that Ryan Miller's hurt? Available goalies are: Patrick Lalime, Vesa Toskala, Yann Danis, Peter Budaj, Antero Niittymaki and Josh Harding.
Matt, Pickering, Ont.
Hi Matt. You should roll the dice with Harding. A week from now, he could be the starter for the Wild if they move Nicklas Backstrom. If they don’t, you will have to swap Harding for Toskala and see how Lalime fares. If he is does well, you could take him instead of Toskala.
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.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.