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Slump busting

It's been a rough year for Ottawa's Jason Spezza, scoring only three goals and 17 points in 27 games. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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It's been a rough year for Ottawa's Jason Spezza, scoring only three goals and 17 points in 27 games. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Christmas break is fast approaching and then the mid-season drafts are upon us. Let’s get to some letters!

Dobber! Long-time reader here. I am currently in a brand new 12-team rotisserie keeper league. A trade has just been processed where I gave up Phil Kessel and Danny Briere (DTD) for future 100-plus man John Tavares. I guess what I’m looking for is your thoughts on it, maybe an official Dobbs stamp of approval? Also, since at the end of the year each team manager keeps just nine of their 25-player roster, would you support two-for-ones such as my Ryan Suter and Matt Carle for say Duncan Keith or Jay Bouwmeester? And what are your thoughts on Suter? Do you think he'll be an offensive force next season? Should I keep him over Matt Carle, Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers and the future top gun John Carlson come end of season?
Brandon, Creston, B.C.


Hi Brandon, since your league only allows you to keep nine players, I think you made a fantastic deal. Your two-for-one strategy is the right approach. That way you can whittle your team down to nine absolutely fantastic keepers and be all set for next season. I like Suter, although he is a bit streaky. I think he’ll be a reliable 45- or 50-point rearguard. I would consider keeping him over Carle – it would depend on how they are looking in March. But I would not keep Suter over the other three players you listed.

I'm getting more than a little burned by my selection of Blues this year (with the exception of Erik Johnson, who is paying off nicely as a No. 4). Is there any reason I should hold on to David Backes and/or Andy McDonald at the expense of passing on available free agents like R.J. Umberger, David Legwand, Stephen Weiss, Niklas Hagman or Wayne Simmonds?
Scott, Plymouth, Mich.


I’m not sure you would be a lot further ahead swapping one of those two for any of the guys you listed, but Weiss seems to be the best bet to flirt with 70 points. If your league only considers points, then swapping him for Backes would help. I do think Backes is coming around now and will get to 55 points, but Weiss is still an upgrade.

My fantasy team (non-keeper; goals, assists, plus/minus, PIM, shots, PP points) is struggling mightily this year, mostly stemming from having too many centers. I've got Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Mike Ribeiro, Travis Zajac and Paul Stastny. Other than Crosby, who do you think I should keep and who should I get rid of?
Sam, Kitchener, Ont.


You don’t want to consider moving Spezza or Ribeiro because their seasons have been pretty weak to date and their value is low. Between Zajac and Stastny, I would prefer to move Stastny because the Avs have a greater chance of hitting a slump than the Devils. I say this, of course, because Colorado has been playing far above expectations. Stastny also has a spotty injury record over the past two seasons, so the safer play is to shop him.

Hey Dobber, I currently own Jonas Hiller and with him seemingly losing starts to J-S Giguere I'm wondering if I should drop him in favor of a goaltender who may get more starts (my other ‘tenders are Rinne and Backstrom). Notable free agents in my league are Antti Niemi, Antero Niittymaki, Brian Elliott and Jimmy Howard.
Jim, St. Louis


All four of the free agents you listed have a chance of doing something this season if the chips fall in place, Jim. Howard strikes me as your best bet. Although his numbers haven’t been the greatest, he is getting the starts over Osgood and I think it will be a 70/30 split for him the rest of the way. As long as Detroit wins games, he’s worth the gamble over the slumping Hiller.

Dobber...I’m in a straight points pool, but I’m flabbergasted at the slumps some of my players are in. Brad Boyes, Thomas Vanek, Bryan Little, Shawn Horcoff, Peter Mueller and to some extent Alexander Frolov, Derick Brassard and J-P Dumont. Since I can’t trade, is there any hope in the NHL that they make some trades to shake up the chemistry?
K.C., Vancouver


Don’t count on it. When we’re talking about names with some prestige, such as the ones you listed, you are looking at one, maybe two trades per season in the entire league. And odds the one or two deals that do happen (likely closer to the deadline) involve one of those eight players are pretty slim. Your best bet for a turnaround is a coaching change (only Brassard and Boyes have a hope of that happening) or a couple of key injuries hitting the team (which would help the likes of Mueller, Frolov and Little).

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Good day sir. I'm in a 12-team head-to-head dynasty league (25 man rosters divided into major/minor league squads) that's been going for nearly a decade now. We're currently involved in a long-running debate as to whether/how to score penalty minutes. What would be your argument for scoring PIMs positively? Background info: When we first started out, we actually penalized PIM under the theory that they often tend to hurt the team more than they help. A few seasons in, somebody made the case that sometimes PIM can actually be helpful to a team (setting the tone by fighting, etc), and we ended up dropping the category altogether. Now, some of the owners want to revisit the issue, this time hoping to add PIMs as a (modest) positive scoring component, arguing that: A) nearly all other fantasy hockey leagues do so, and B) it broadens the base of valuable players to more realistically reflect the make-up of a real life hockey team (grinders and goons count for something, too). Other owners continue to view PIMs as solely negative and they object that some of the proponents for changing the rules are interested only because some of their players would suddenly see a spike in value, which isn't entirely false – I have Corey Perry on my squad and would love to see him emerge as a more valuable player than he is under our current set-up. So, as an expert in the field of fantasy hockey, please explain to me how to sell my league rivals on the idea of positive penalties. Thank you kindly.
Tim, Asheville, N.C.


I’m in five hockey pools this season, but just the one rotisserie league cares about penalty minutes, so I’m indifferent towards it myself, Tim. I don’t believe PIM should be a negative statistic in any league – I’m on the fence with it either not counting at all, or counting as a positive. Since there is no other way to measure grit (unless you count hits), penalty minutes is the best you can do. Since you are in a H2H league, you face off in one-week increments. So either the PIM will be matched up against your opponent’s PIM with the higher total “winning” the category (or losing it, if you decide to make it negative), or you count total points and the PIM number will be incorporated in with the points to give you one grand total at the end of each week. If it’s the latter situation, you can ease PIM into your league (to make it fair) by assigning a value of 0.5 the first year before bumping it to 1.0 the following campaign.

If it’s the former situation, you would need to set something up in your league to make introducing this stat fair. One suggestion would be to take the 10 highest PIM earners on each team in your league to come up with a total. Take the six lowest teams on that list and give them a bonus draft pick at the end of your draft. Not the greatest solution, but food for thought – a little bonus for the owner who went after Henrik Sedin instead of Corey Perry last summer. Better yet, agree to the rule, but don’t implement it until 2011-12. That way teams have nearly two full years to prepare.

To help with your initial question, I have seen hundreds of league rules and it is extremely rare to give a negative value for penalty minutes. I have seen it, but it is extremely rare.

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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