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Sleigh full of letters

Nathan Horton has 13 points in his past 10 games and is on pace for a 79-point season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Nathan Horton has 13 points in his past 10 games and is on pace for a 79-point season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Christmas break is upon us. Fantasy owners may take a short break from actively making moves and decisions, but we’ll never take a break from thinking about our teams – let’s get to some letters.

Hey Dobber, always enjoy your insight. Keeper league: regular season points-only. Nikita Filatov – do you see him getting traded and coming back to the NHL after the Olympics? Devin Setoguchi – second year jinx or not? Peter Mueller – is he going get it together in the second half of the season? Patrik Berglund – what happened? Was he too young coming into the league? Last one…Brent Burns – don't really want to move him – does he shake off his current health problems and do you see him coming back and making a statement? Thanks for the tips...hoping to make a run next year.
Ed, Hamilton, Ont.


Hi Ed, let’s ping these off in order:

1.    I don’t see Filatov returning this season, but I haven’t shut the door on the possibility. He is eligible to return after the Kontinental League season is over and that league ends a month before the NHL does. He probably won’t be moved, but if Ken Hitchcock gets fired, we may see him back in a Columbus uniform soon. But that’s a big if.

2.    I think Setoguchi played above expectations due to his linemate (Joe Thornton) last year. Now, without the superstar linemate, he has reverted back to his ‘expected’ development curve. He’ll gradually improve every year until he breaks out in Year 4 or 5.

3.    No. I still see big things from Mueller, but not until next season. I would take 55 points next year as a positive step towards a breakout in 2011-12.

4.    St. Louis is just a deep team. Berglund is NHL ready and needs more ice time and better linemates. As the older Blues retire or move on, Berglund will play a bigger role. A new coach who preaches offense would expedite things for Berglund.

5.    I’m thinking Burns will always have an injury of some sort dogging him. At this point, I wouldn’t want him on my fantasy team. His name still carries weight so you might want to consider trading him.

Hey Dobber, love the column. I'm in a straight points, one-year league. First place looks to be out of reach, but the battle for second – a good prize still – is tight. With Jason Spezza going down, I can no longer hold onto him and will use my last of three trades to move him. Who out of the following FA's would you recommend picking up: Tomas Plekanec, Nathan Horton, Wojtek Wolski, Mikko Koivu or Mike Fisher? Lastly, would Ryan Smyth be a good idea instead? Kopitar has cooled without him, but do you expect to see them resume pace upon Smyth’s return?
James, Oshawa, Ont.


I would take Horton, by process of elimination. Plekanec, my second choice, was this hot two years ago, but dropped off in the fourth quarter, so I wonder if that will happen again. Koivu and Fisher each get hurt every year and I don’t trust it won’t happen again. Wolski is still unproven and has a track record of inconsistency. So go with Horton.

As if that isn’t enough, the Panthers have been a huge second-half team for several years now, so he’ll only get better. As for Smyth, yes I do feel he will pick up where he left off, but he is also an injury risk. Horton is the safe bet here.

Hey, Dobber. I was wondering who you would take in a keeper pool: Dion Phaneuf or Alex Edler? Phaneuf's been trending downwards since that 60-point season and Edler's on the rise, so who do you see being a better player fantasy-wise, all stats included, this season and for the next few?
Andrew, Vancouver


Put me down for Phaneuf. He’s 24, so there will be several times throughout his career where his year-over-year numbers seem to be declining and then bam he’ll hit you with 65 points. I don’t see Edler ever getting to 60.

Hey Dobber, always look forward to Wednesdays...big fan of the Fantasy Mailbag. I'm in a one-year points-only league and need some help with my goalie situation. I currently have Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas, but Timmy isn't playing much, so I need a third guy. I'm guessing there's a ton of poolies out there staring at the same goalies wondering who's going to be a second half winner. Among those available for pickup are: Carey Price, Jimmy Howard, Dwayne Roloson, Antti Niemi, Johan Hedberg, Brian Elliott, Ty Conklin and Rick DiPietro (if he actually comes back). I'm thinking Price is best here, but the Habs only pot an average of two goals per game it seems.
Jay, Vancouver


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I like Price as well. Most teams have a goalie they prefer to start and they’ll start him through thick and thin. These are the goalies worth owning, even if they are doing terrible, because the backups won’t see enough action – even if they are performing well. The Isles, Red Wings, Thrashers, Senators and Blackhawks all have their preference: DiPietro, Chris Osgood, Kari Lehtonen, Pascal Leclaire and Cristobal Huet. I wouldn’t consider DiPietro because I don’t trust his knee, so we’re down to Price on your list. If Lehtonen is available, I would take him second.

Hi Dobber, for a keeper league that wants to implement a farm system, where is the best place to go? I keep seeing teams with junior players on them who would not be in a database like Yahoo or ESPN. Do these leagues just use message boards to keep track of that kind of thing or are there places that can keep track for you?
Dave, Ancaster, Ont.


There are lots of pool manager options out there. I have one keeper league on officepools.com, one on armchairpools.com and one over at CBS SportsLine. All three track players who are not in the NHL, although you may have to manually add or have them add some. Other managers I have tried in the past are poolexpert.com and pickuphockey.com. Depending on your type of league, each one of these managers could be a good fit.

Hi Dobber, I am thinking about going after Nikolai Khabibulin. I currently have Craig Anderson, J-S Giguere and Steve Mason as my goalies; I didn't foresee this, but I'm thinking I need some insurance in net (I currently sit third in a very competitive keeper league and goaltending is my weakest link this year). Khabibulin is being shopped with the hope of getting scoring in exchange. Is Khabibulin worth chasing? Who would you use to make the deal? I am worried about giving up too much for little in return, but there are no decent keepers on waivers.
Richard, Hamilton, Ont.


I am really concerned with Khabibulin’s back and I wouldn’t touch him if he were offered to me for free. Serious stuff. If I were desperate for goaltending I would make inquiries on Kari Lehtonen. I think he’ll be back within three or four weeks and when he returns I can see him shouldering a heavy workload pretty quickly. His value is just as low, if not lower than that of the ‘Bulin Wall.

Merry Christmas everyone. Have a happy and safe holiday, from a fellow fantasy hockey freak.

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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