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Pick up Kovalchuk on the cheap

Ilya Kovalchuk has only 18 points through 32 games this season. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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Ilya Kovalchuk has only 18 points through 32 games this season. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

The Christmas break is here and the haves are now separated from the have-nots. Which section are you in? Let’s get to the letters!

Hey Dobber! I really enjoy your fantasy pool look and your fantasy mail bag! I'm in a one-year fantasy league with five other guys. I currently have a really big logjam at center. I have: Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Staal and Henrik Zetterberg - Zetterberg isn't eligible to play wing. I've sent out trades for productive wingers, but nobody's accepting. What should I do?
Julian, Toronto


Thanks Julian! Tough break about Zetterberg’s eligibility. In a league with so few teams, you’re bound to look very strong at center – that’s the strongest fantasy position. With Staal and Backstrom being the most stable in terms of injuries, I would hang onto them. But shop the other three and whomever your adversary has the most interest in, pursue the deal. Instead of trying to land an elite winger, just settle on upgrading your No. 7 and No. 8 wingers. Put your wingers in order of value and identify the ones who fall in the two spots I note above. Then settle for any two wingers from your adversary who are above those two in value.

Hey Dobber, I'm in an eight-team head-to-head one-year league and had this trade proposed to me today: Jordan Eberle and Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth and David Booth. It seems like a no-brainer, but Booth is heating up and I don't know if Eberle can continue his current production. Any help would be appreciated.
Pat, London, Ont.


Hey Pat, just because of the uncertainty between the pipes in Washington I would do that deal for the goaltending alone. Get a stable No. 1 in Halak, because the Washington No. 1 goalie yo-yo will continue all year long. Not to mention that I still consider Booth a high-risk player in terms of injury.

I am currently playing in a 12-team league and need more goal scoring because every week I continue to be destroyed in that category. Are there any fantasy sleepers out there ready to erupt in the goal scoring category? Another thing, would it be wise to add Nik Antropov at this point? Note that the league also counts plus-minus and Antropov is a minus-10.
Tom, Buffalo, N.Y.


If Logan Couture is unavailable, then perhaps Nikolai Kulemin or James van Riemsdyk are available. Tomas Fleischmann is another good one. All four of the above have had very strong Decembers in terms of goals, as well as some other categories. As for Antropov – he’s plus-6 in his past 17 games so if you’re worried about that category, don’t be.

Keeper League, points-only, plus PP and SH. Jonathan Toews, Dany Heatley or Henrik Zetterberg?
Jay, Southern Ontario


Heatley. Toews doesn’t have his upside and Zetterberg isn’t as stable health-wise.

Hey Dobber! Any report on when Jordan Staal should be back? Should I pick him right away when he returns or wait until he gets going? I'm in a one-year H2H league and I already have Mark Streit on my only IR spot.
Thomas, Cookshire-Eaton


Hey Thomas! Staal is already a week late in returning from his broken hand. I would suspect that we’ll see him in early January. Yes, I do think picking him up right away is the move to make. He’ll need to get his timing back, but his skill level is such that it shouldn’t take too long. The Pens have him penciled in on a line with Evgeni Malkin; the same Malkin who is white-hot right now.

Hi, I have been offered either Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla or Vincent Lecavalier for Sergei Bobrovsky. My league is a deep 16-team keeper league. My team has solid goaltending, but my offense has not been spectacular. Will any of these offensive players turn it around enough for me to consider trading a potential future stud in Bobrovsky? Thanks.
Robert, Toronto


I would jump on the Kovalchuk offer, Robert. I am assuming your “solid goaltending” means that you have two other capable netminders. If so, then to add a star to your lineup for a No. 3 goalie on your depth chart is a real coup. Keep in mind that although Bobrovsky looks like a stud, he hasn’t been around for very long. Roman Cechmanek looked like a stud, too. Kovalchuk is a young 90-point player who is having the worst season of his career. Take advantage of the trends and scoop him up for cheap. You may not see dividends this season, but by next year you’ll thank me.

Hey Dobber, What's going wrong for Jason Spezza? Think he'll get out of this tailspin sooner or later?
Dave, Surrey, B.C.


Oh man, if I only had the answer to that one. Maybe he and Kovalchuk eat at the same diner and drink the same water? With six points in his past 20 games, Spezza’s value has plummeted. Like Kovalchuk, though, he is in a “buy low” situation. If you are in a keeper league, now is the time to make a play. I wouldn’t count on more than 40 points from Spezza going forward this year, but his future potential remains very high.

Merry Christmas poolies! May Santa fill your stocking with more Dustin Byfugliens and fewer Kovalchuks!

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear every other Wednesday during the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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