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Fantasy Pool Look: These kids are all right

John Carlson leads all Washington defensemen with three points in three playoff games so far this season. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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John Carlson leads all Washington defensemen with three points in three playoff games so far this season. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

Any keeper-leaguer worth his salt knows about rookie defensemen John Carlson and Erik Karlsson by this point. But most owners do not peg their fantasy value high enough.

Sure, we all acknowledge Washington’s Carlson (20 years old) and Ottawa’s Karlsson (20 next month) will be exciting, young offensive players. But you can say that about dozens of prospects. These two are more special. Let me put it this way; I can count on one hand the defensemen I would not trade straight up for either of these kids – Mike Green, Duncan Keith, Dan Boyle and Drew Doughty.

That’s the full list. Do we have your attention now?

If I own Tomas Kaberle, Tobias Enstrom, Brian Campbell, Shea Weber, or Erik Johnson, I would happily trade any one of them for Karlsson or Carlson. And that is where a lot of keeper league owners fall short – which needs to change.

After an impressive rookie camp, Karlsson stumbled a little early on and wound up spending some time in the American League. However, with every recall he showed incredible progress. By the end of the season, the Sens were leaning on him as their go-to guy offensively. He has 14 points in his past 13 regular season and playoff contests. That’s not to say he’ll rack up a point-per-game next season, but pencil him in for 50 to 55 and don’t be surprised if he Drew Doughty’s his way to 60 or more.

And all before his 21st birthday.

Carlson’s case is even more special. After all, he plays for far-and-away the most offensive team in the NHL, which pushes his upside through the roof. One could argue the presence of Mike Green will slow Carlson’s offensive progress. One could also argue that if Carlson were a “normal” top prospect, he wouldn’t crack the Capitals playoff roster. Yet there he is, playing 19 minutes a game while veteran John Erskine takes it all in from the press box. And Carlson’s not just playing either – he’s excelling.

His three points and plus-5 rating after the first three games led all Washington rearguards – his plus-minus rating leads the entire team along with Tom Poti. In the same span, Green has one point and a plus-1 rating.

I get the impression Carlson’s upside is every bit as high as Green’s, but without the defensive shortcomings. The economic realities of the NHL today will probably see Green on a new team by the time Carlson’s entry level deal expires. Pencil Carlson in for 45 to 50 points next year, but with a long-term upside that is even higher than Ottawa’s fellow who shares the same-sounding last name.

The bottom line is, any non-Carlson (or non-Karlsson) owners will be making pitches this summer to try to acquire him, but will back off as soon as the asking price becomes clear. I’m recommending you not back off. The price may seem high now, but when you look back on it down the line, it will seem laughable…

Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: The Boston Bruin hurting most from Marc Savard’s absence, besides Savard himself, is Marco Sturm. The German left winger has just three points in his past 19 contests. With talk of Savard possibly coming back for the second round (if they get there), or even Game 6 or 7 of the first round, Sturm’s game will turn around soon…

Farm Report: Vancouver prospect Jordan Schroeder, who signed a pro deal in March and joined the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, has shown early signs of being a streaky player. He made a big splash with six points in his first four games, but followed it up with three in his next nine, extending into the post-season. He then garnered a three-goal, four-point contest in Game 3 against Hamilton. A future first-liner, Schroeder will get a long look at camp in the fall, but he will need a one-year AHL apprenticeship.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com
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