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When to trade Jonathan Toews

Jonathan Toews scored 68 points last season and added 29 in the playoffs to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy. (Getty Images)

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Jonathan Toews scored 68 points last season and added 29 in the playoffs to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy. (Getty Images)

Training camp is here, injuries have hit, line combinations are forming and cuts have been made. There are repercussions to all these things and more – let’s get to some letters!

T.J. Oshie or Brandon Sutter? Can't decide who best to pick up as my alternate center. Who would you recommend?
Shaun, Brantford, Ont.


I like what Sutter did last year and he certainly opened my eyes to his upside. I wondered if he would be more than a 40-point player, but considering he has already done that – and in just 72 games – one has to think he could go as high as 60, or even 65. But Oshie’s upside is even higher, plus he had eight more points than Sutter last year. That’s who I would go with.

What is Corey Crawford's value as a third-stringer? I drafted him betting on him taking over the lead role in Chicago and having a good defense around him, though I'm having second thoughts. Part of me wants to drop him for Brian Elliott, who is still available in my league, and I doubt I can get anyone to trade for Crawford. I have Giguere as a dark horse, even if he shares time with Jonas Gustavsson. So with that said, who would you take as third-tier goalie? 1) Corey Crawford, 2) Brian Elliot, 3) Jean-Sebastien Giguere?
Bruce, Kelowna, B.C.


I don’t mind Crawford as a fourth goalie, in the event that he outplays Marty Turco and eventually steals the job later in the season. But that’s more of a dark horse scenario. However, as a No. 3 that’s too risky. The other two options are preferable and if I had to choose I would take Elliott because his team will win more games and Pascal Leclaire’s health resume is rather checkered.

Hey Dobber, I am in a 12-team, points-only keeper league and I just got sent a trade offer of D Erik Johnson, STL, D Ryan Suter, NSH and his first round pick, which is third overall, for Jonathan Toews. Would you do a trade like that or am I crazy? It would make my D better going with Chara, Pronger, Lidstrom. And with the third pick I will get Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin or Jordan Eberle. I am assuming Hall and Seguin go 1-2. Would Eberle be a good pick to eventually replace Toews?
Brett, Regina, Sask.


Yes. In fact, I think Eberle will be within 10 points of Toews this season. That 10-point gap is more than compensated by those two quality defensemen you acquire.

I am in a points-only league that does an auction and have a chance to keep either Travis Zajac or David Krejci for cheap. Who do you think is better this year and who will be better in the long run (points-wise)?
Harley, Vancouver


While I believe Krejci will have a strong rebound season in 2010-11, I recommend Zajac. Not only is he playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise in camp, but it looks like he will be playing with one or the other (or both) every single shift of the season. I don’t often recommend players strictly for their linemates, because in today’s NHL that situation is so fluid. But I must make an exception here. Zajac.

Hi, I'd like to know who you would take in a points and plus/minus pool: Chris Stewart or Joe Pavelski? And do you think Erik Karlsson will get any power play time with Sergei Gonchar around?
Andrew, Edmonton


Put me down for Stewart in a close call. As for Karlsson – absolutely. He is too good to hold back. In fact, watch him flourish even more thanks to the presence of star veterans.

My draft is a week away in a scoring-only league and I'm almost certain I'll be drafting Bobby Ryan. I thought he would be poised for his first 40-goal season, but then I read he might get taken off the first line to play center on the second line. And last night, I read he may possibly be manning the point on the first PP unit. What are your thoughts about the latest reports and what kind of season do you expect from Ryan?
Douglas, Buffalo


I think as the second-line center for the entire year he will still top 70 points. I also think manning the point on the top power play unit is better than the alternative – not playing on the top unit at all. The team will go with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne up front, so Ryan can either be part of that crew on the blueline or he can play on the second unit (i.e. fewer minutes) with the likes of Jason Blake, Saku Koivu, et al. He is still going to improve upon last year’s numbers. That being said, I don’t think the current situation will last. How often do you hear of a coach hanging onto line combinations for more than a handful of games?

(*I know I contradict what I said above regarding Zajac and Zajac’s lines will be shuffled too – however, they will always involve one of the two superstars, which is a unique situation.)

I am in a keeper league and have the third overall pick this year, besides Hall and Seguin is there anyone you think may have an impact this year or next from the draft, my pool is weekly head-to-head points.
Johny Relaxo, Mount Albert, Ont.


It looks as though Jeff Skinner (Carolina) and Nino Niederreiter (N.Y. Islanders) will make their respective clubs. As far as immediate offense goes, I don’t expect either to top 50 points as rookies, but they may come close.

I'm in an eight-man snake-style pool, with the seventh pick. Now, assuming each person before me took a forward and I grabbed Steven Stamkos, who is the better choice with my next pick (10th overall): Martin St-Louis, Joe Thornton, or Ilya Kovalchuk? My heart says St-Louis because Tampa will have no trouble finding goals...my head says Thornton is always good for close to 100 points, but at the same time Kovalchuk could potentially hit 100 as well with the new offensive philosophy in N.J. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.
Nick, Toronto


I still can’t get my head around the Devils turning offensive. I understand they are doing just that, but after so many years it is hard to trust it. I would take Thornton, because he has had at least 86 points in each of the past five years. I am assuming, of course, you don’t differentiate centers from wingers. Because if you do, then of course you would take Kovalchuk even over Stamkos. As for St-Louis, at 35, I have to think he’ll start to slip into that 85- to 90-point range.

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 other Wednesday during the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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