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Fighting for position

Chris Stewart of the Colorado Avalanche is a beast in pools that included points and PIM. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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Chris Stewart of the Colorado Avalanche is a beast in pools that included points and PIM. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

We’re down to the final 10 games of the campaign, so only a small percentage of poolies are still jockeying for prize money (or pride). Most fantasy owners are now looking ahead to off-season changes or their playoff pools. Let’s get to some letters!

Hey Dobber, who has more upside for keeper consideration Nikita Filatov, Evander Kane or James van Riemsdyk...long-term outlook.
Paul, Fort Collins, Colo.


Filatov has the highest upside, Paul, but is the least likely to get there. Besides the obvious Kontinental League questions, he is the least proven of the three. JVR has shown the most and will almost certainly top 70 points on a regular basis; he has an upside of about 85. Kane should put up similar numbers, or perhaps slightly better, but because he is the youngest of the group, his potential range is a little wider. That is to say, while I see JVR in that 70-85 range, with Kane it’s more like 62-88. Filatov, the biggest wild card of the three, could fall anywhere between 65-95 if he gets back to the NHL.

I'm in a 12-player keeper league where you can keep any five players. My candidates are Anze Kopitar, Steven Stamkos, Bobby Ryan, Shea Weber, David Booth, Jonas Hiller and Cam Ward. Who should I keep? Wondering about either or both of my goalies? Ward is the biggest question mark for me.
Bryan, Vancouver


I think Ward will be fine next year and the Hurricanes are already a better team. Keeping him is the right move. Keeping Stamkos is a no-brainer. Weber is also a no-brainer, assuming your league requires defensemen. That leaves Kopitar, Booth and Ryan. Keep Hiller over Weber if defensemen are not required.

I’m having trouble deciding on my keepers for next year and hoping for some insight. I get to keep six of the following, but after the first couple of gimmies, I can’t decide on the rest. They are: Mike Green, Zach Parise, Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu, Steve Downie, Alex Burrows, Tyler Myers, Brenden Morrow, Patrick Sharp, Olli Jokinen, Ales Hemsky and Nathan Horton. The league is a standard 10-team roto.
Scott, Hamilton, Ont.


Yes, Green and Parise are gimmies and so is Myers. Also a gimmie in roto formats is Downie. That leaves two spots and I would roll with Gaborik and Burrows. The latter because of his multi-category upside and the former because he was mostly healthy this campaign and I can deal him for a king’s ransom over the summer. Which reminds me - you should deal Gaborik for a king’s ransom over the summer.

Who should I keep in my keeper league for next year? Marc Savard or Mike Ribeiro?
Edward, Calgary


Savard is the easy choice…but not after that head injury. Take the safe call here in Ribeiro. I acquired Savard in one of my keepers just a week before that injury, so I feel the pain of other Savard owners. But I certainly don’t feel the pain of Savard himself – I wish him a speedy recovery. On the positive side, nobody in this league comes back from an injury faster than Marc.

Hey Dobber, I’m in a full keeper/head-to-head league. I am going to have two open roster spots. I want to grab some prospects and Alexander Radulov. Is Radulov ever coming back, is Nazem Kadri going to see top-six time and is Jonathan Bernier worth a flier for next season?
Jason, St. Louis


I wouldn’t count on Radulov or Bernier for next season, although the 2011-12 campaign looks promising – especially for Bernier. With the KHL you never know, so that’s the risk you’d be taking with Radulov. I think Kadri will make Toronto next year as a third-liner who will see time occasionally in the top six. Think of what Evander Kane is doing in Atlanta this year and that is what I see from Kadri.

Just a quick one, where do you place Chris Stewart's new and improved upside - 85, with a more reachable 75 average? With some penalty minute bonus?
Steve, Newcastle, Ont.


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And…

Dobber, is Chris Stewart the real deal? He is on fire! How much can we expect from him next year?
Steve, Toronto


Of all the players, Stewart gets my nod for most surprising fantasy player. While pre-season I had his upside pegged at the low 70s, things sure have changed. He has 54 points in his past 49 games and has shown fantastic chemistry with star player Paul Stastny.

As long as that chemistry continues over the course of a full season, Stewart can certainly achieve 85 points. His penalty minutes could potentially go higher, but I think as long as he is on the first line you shouldn’t expect more than the 70 or so he is on pace for right now.

As far as next season goes, I would treat him like a 72-point player in terms of drafting and trade talks. That way if he slips a little, I won’t have over-valued him too much.

I have a logjam on defense and would like your opinion. I'm in a 16-team, 25-player keeper league, wherein we're allowed to keep 17 players. My league counts: G, A, PIM, plus-minus, hits, blocks, shots, power play/shorthanded points and hat tricks. With my current breakdown, I have five keeper spots dedicated to D-men. My current keepers include: Andrei Markov, Victor Hedman, Zach Bogosian, Brooks Orpik and Jay Bouwmeester. I do, however, have John Carlson and Erik Karlsson on my team as well and I'm starting to consider keeping one of them over Bouwmeester. I also have Tyler Bozak, Peter Mueller, T.J. Galiardi, Patrik Berglund and David Jones who may sneak into his spot. Any advice you have would be appreciated.
Ross, Bryant, Wis.


I would drop J-Bo in favor of Carlson. That being said, you need to lose some deals. I say “lose” deals because you need to get whatever you can for some of these players because dropping them should not be an option. Karlsson and Mueller are most certainly keepers. Hedman has a lot of value, so trading him away for as strong a package of draft picks as you can would be ideal. Then you could keep Karlsson who I think will be almost as good statistically. Then you need to do the same thing with a keeper forward you value, because I’m confident Mueller will be at least a 60-point player in Colorado next year with upside.

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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