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Picking for playoffs

Jimmy Howard is in the running for the Calder Trophy with 34 wins, a 2.30 GAA and .923 SP in 60 games. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Jimmy Howard is in the running for the Calder Trophy with 34 wins, a 2.30 GAA and .923 SP in 60 games. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Who to keep? Which kids are coming down the pipeline for next year? We even have a playoff pool question thrown in for good measure. Let’s get to some letters!

Dobber, I've got a dilemma. I'm in a 14-team keeper league, where I can only keep five players (I know, way too few). The stats are G, A, +/-, PIM, PPG, PPA, SHP, GWG, SOG and FOW for skaters. I have a tough choice for my last two keepers and need some advice. My sure-fire keepers are Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Marty Brodeur. I must choose two of Dan Boyle, Daniel Alfredsson, Ryan Kesler, Chris Stewart and Nik Antropov. I'm leaning towards Kesler and Boyle, but throwing Alfie away could be tough. What do you think?
Adam, Daegu, South Korea


Kesler is the right call here. Just entering his prime, close to a point-per-game player who also gives you shots and PIMs – and that’s not even considering the fact he is eighth in the NHL in faceoff wins. In your league, Kesler is probably more priceless than Thornton! Boyle, by the way, is a given when you consider how tough it is finding steady defensemen who habitually top 55 points.

Hi Dobber, My question is with the Oilers. They are loaded with young talent (Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Jordan Eberle and soon with Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin) who will compete with young NHLers (Patrick O’Sullivan, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Potulny). Which youngster will make the team and how many points do you expect from MPS, Eberle and Hall/Seguin?
Josh, Toronto


Hi Josh, unless something has changed or I’m mistaken, MPS will remain in Sweden for one more year. It’s Linus Omark who should be in your sights for next campaign. The diminutive Swede played in the Kontinental League this season, but has signed to play in North America in 2010-11. I will tell you to do what all media profiles of Omark suggest – look him up on YouTube.

I believe Eberle will make this team next year and have an impact. I also believe the Oilers, assuming they win the draft lottery, will take Hall, who will make the team. Omark will be up and down from American League Springfield and will show enough towards the end of the season to make an impact in 2011-12. In terms of points, I would expect 55 to 65 out of Eberle – I’m going bold. With Hall, I wouldn’t be hoping for any more than you got out of John Tavares and Steven Stamkos as rookies. That is, high 40s. Omark will probably produce the way Tyler Bozak is producing in Toronto – a point here and a point there with each call-up and then a slew of points in the final month or two when he sticks.

Hi Dobber, I'm in a standard Yahoo league with 12 GMs. We can keep nine players each and I’m having a hard time deciding on some of them. Our stat categories are G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SHP, FOW, SOG and for goalies: W, GAA, SP and shots against. We start three centers, three left wingers, three right wingers, four defensemen, one goalie and have four bench spots. My team: C – Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Spezza, Matt Duchene, LW – Ilya Kovalchuk, Scott Hartnell, Guillaume Latendresse, RW – Marian Gaborik, Joe Pavelski, Peter Mueller, D – Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Myers, Erik Johnson, Erik Karlsson, G – Jimmy Howard, Bench – Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, M-A Bergeron, James van Riemsdyk. I really like my team, but have some hard decisions on who to let go. I'd like to hear who you would keep. I know your opinion on Gaborik…
Kelly, Calgary


I’ll start with the toughest call you have to make – goaltending. On one hand you have Howard, who will likely be a 65-game starter for Detroit next year, as they can’t afford to sign or trade for a more proven goaltender and Howard is coming off an amazing season. On the other hand you have Halak and Price, who are both better goaltenders with much better upside, but they play on the same team and will thus split the duties. You have to keep either Howard or both the Habs. We’ll get back to this after looking at the rest of the team.

Defense – E.J., Myers and Karlsson are sure-fire keepers and Phaneuf is coming off one bad year. Forwards – Kovalchuk and Backstrom are no-brainers. As I look at the other guys I’m getting a clear understanding that you can only afford to keep one goalie and that you must release Phaneuf. That still means you can only keep three of Spezza, Duchene, Gaborik and JVR. I hate recommending that one-third of your keepers are pivots, but that’s what I’m seeing here.

Howard, E.J., Myers, Karlsson, Kovalchuk, Backstrom, Spezza, Duchene and Gaborik are my keepers. Looking at their numbers this season, Price, Phaneuf and Mueller should be easy to re-draft. You’ll still have a team you like.

Hey Dobber, I'm in a 12-team keeper league (1G, 1A, 0.25PIM, 2W, 3SO). There are no position requirements when determining the keepers although we carry 12 forwards, four defensemen, two goalies and three bench players during the season. I'm hoping you can rank these players for me based on who you think I should keep: James Neal, Jakub Voracek, Cody Hodgson, Pekka Rinne, David Clarkson, Peter Mueller, Dustin Brown, Derick Brassard, David Krejci, Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard. I put them in the order I think they should rank and I would really appreciate your input. I ranked Franzen lower because of his proneness to injury (ditto for Brassard). Thanks for your help.
Steve, Vancouver


Hey Steve, I’m assuming you stuck Howard at the end because you already have two quality goaltenders you are keeping. If not, then Howard is a must; so is Rinne, for that matter. Without being fully clear on that situation, I will have to rank Rinne and Howard as 1-2 on this list. The rest of the players I will rank in this order:

Voracek, Krejci, Mueller, Neal, Franzen, Clarkson, Brassard, Brown, Hodgson.

I agree Franzen and Brassard are injury-prone, but Clarkson is showing signs of that as well, not to mention Hodgson’s well-documented struggles with his back so early in his career. Mueller’s concussion is the reason I slid him back a notch behind Krejci. But the three players who I like for the biggest years next season I put at 1-2-3.

Hi Dobber, I'm a huge fan of you and your writing. I'm entering in my annual office pool for the playoffs and would love to get a head start. It's a pick-any-player type of pool and with a point system of just goals, assists, wins and shutouts. Are there any players you see who will surprise with an excellent post-season? And which teams are your picks for the final? Thanks.
Alex, Thornhill, Ont.


Thank you for the kind words, Alex. Well, the way Detroit is rolling it is hard not to pick them to go to the final. The problem is, they could face Vancouver in the first round and I love the way the Canucks look. In fact, the winner of that series should be the team to go to the final. I know I’m discounting the mighty Blackhawks and Sharks and the excellent team play of Phoenix and Nashville, but just call it a hunch. In the East, I won’t be considering any other team but Washington and Pittsburgh. So in a pool I would be choosing from those two teams and flipping a coin on the Detroit series and loading up on the team with “heads.”

The other team in the West I would build on, because I always go with four teams in my pools and sometimes five if the roster is big enough, is Nashville. It used to be Colorado, but they have faded over the past two weeks, so I’m going with the Preds as my Cinderella. If I do go with a fifth team it will be Buffalo as they are virtually guaranteed to go to the second round.

A few dark horses I’ve dug up, not necessarily of the teams I noted above, but for your own reference, are as follows: David Bolland (CHI), Raffi Torres (BUF), Max Talbot (PIT), Ruslan Fedotenko (PIT), Milan Lucic (BOS), Braydon Coburn (PHI) and Sergei Kostitsyn (MTL).

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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