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Back in the saddle

Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick is healthy and poised to take another run at the Vezina this season.  (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick is healthy and poised to take another run at the Vezina this season. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

It's good to be back, gang. I'll get back into the routine of a mailbag every second week, beginning next week. But I wanted to celebrate the return of fantasy hockey with an extra mailbag. Keep the questions coming. So, for the first time in nearly a year, I get to say - "Let’s get to some letters!"

Which goalies will come out with the most wins and shutouts?
Bryan, Wikwemikong, Ont.


Short and sweet, Bryan - I like it! With Jonathan Quick cleared to play, he's first on my list. However, that back injury does carry a risk. So if you want to play it safe, you can't go wrong with Henrik Lundqvist, whose stats will be almost as good as Quick's – or maybe even better. Pekka Rinne is the third member of the "Big 3," but he may take a small hit with the loss of Ryan Suter.

The biggest riser over the summer was Boston youngster Tuukka Rask, who assumes the starting job with Tim Thomas taking the season off. Another big riser is Carolina's Cam Ward. The Hurricanes added Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal, so you have to think those acquisitions will help lead to more wins. Those goalies are in my Top 5. If you are in leagues that choose goaltenders by team then your best bet by far is St. Louis. But since starts will be split between Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, their individual value takes a hit.

Hey Dobber, Head to Head, deep keeper league (8 per team, 10 team league). Categories are G,A,+/-,PIM,PPP,SHP,FW,W,GAA,S% Current keepers are Jason Spezza, Rick Nash, Marian Hossa, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shea Weber, Jonathan Quick, Tuukka Rask. I'm having trouble deciding on my final keeper. Which of the following players do you think has the most upside/the best chance to return to past levels of production following down years/an opportunity to improve numbers following a career season? Matt Duchene, Chris Stewart (keeper from last season), Mike Green (keeper from last season), Cody Hodgson, Valtteri Filppula, Michael Ryder. Thanks for your time.
Ross, Vancouver


Hey Ross, at a glance I like Duchene and Green. So let's look at those two closer and come to a decision.
You currently have four forwards, two goalies and a defenseman as your keepers so right off the bat I'm leaning towards Green. But I have a bias against injury-prone players - you're only driving yourself nuts if you draft them. Duchene was hurt last year as well, but at this point it could be a one-off.  

Duchene tallied 67 points as a sophomore in 2010-11 and now he has a capable linemate in P-A Parenteau. In a shortened season Duchene could get as many as 50 points, easily. Green has missed 83 games over the past two years, but prior to that he had seasons of 76 and 73 points - almost unheard of these days from defensemen not named Erik. Potentially, Green could get 50 points as well and that's like having an extra forward on your fantasy squad. Indications are that the Caps have identified what was wrong with Green and it has finally been corrected through surgery. The added recovery period thanks to the lockout can only help. And a 48-game season means fewer games for him to get hurt in. As far as results go, I like Green more.

But think about this from a “value” standpoint. Fantasy owners don't like Green anymore. He's yesterday's news. What have you done for me lately? So Green will likely fall lower in the draft than Duchene. I think you have to keep Duchene because you can pick Green back up again in the draft with a lower pick than he deserves.

Would you trade Jason Spezza, Cam Ward and a No. 1 pick for Marian Gaborik, Ilya Bryzgalov and No. 4 pick. This is a keeper league. I have a middle-to-top of league team.
Colin, Woodville


No way. Ward is miles ahead of Bryzgalov in…uh, stability. He'll get more starts and more wins, as well as put up much better numbers. And I always look at the goaltending aspect of any move I make because it's the most important spot on my roster. But for what it's worth, I also prefer Spezza over Gaborik and I prefer picking first to picking fourth.

Hey Dobber, obviously have already read the guide or I would just consult that. Still can't make a decision. Stacked at center, I have Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mikael Granlund and Travis Zajac. Really weak at LW with Taylor Hall, Zach Parise, Wojtek Wolski in a start 3 LW league: G, A, PPP, SHP, GWG, +/-, BLK, HITS, weekly H2H.

I have the opportunity to trade Zajac for Alex Tanguay. With the news that Silfverberg will play first line Ottawa (He is LW in our league), would you make the trade for Tanguay or drop Wolski for Silfverberg, or both? Granlund also has LW eligibility. Thanks!
Ryan, Calgary


Ryan - do it now! All of it. Do the waiver transaction. Silfverberg for Wolski is a great upgrade and Granlund moving from C to LW should solve your problems. Yes, two of them are unproven, but they'll do fine. And do the Zajac for Tanguay swap because the stats you lose will be relatively minor and Tanguay makes great insurance in case one of your two rookies doesn't pan out. Furthermore, center is the easiest position to fill via the wire. So if one of your remaining four gets hurt you can fill the spot quickly (or just slot Granlund back over).

Are players who had surgery in the off-season e.g. Marian Gaborik, or other players who had season-ending concussions etc. e.g. Hossa, worth considering due to having more time off than originally expected?
Jeff, Carleton Place, Ont.

Absolutely. The added rest helps these guys and the shortened season lowers the risk because there are fewer games for them to get hurt in. The lockout was just what the doctor ordered for players like Gaborik, Hossa, Derek Roy, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, etc.

Hey Dobber, I have a wealth at center in Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jeff Carter and Jonathan Huberdeau, plus I just drafted Mark Scheifele as well. It's a keeper league H2H. I need to move one, I'm dangling Jeff Carter. Do you agree?
Jason, West Milford


Hey Jason, yes that is the guy I would be looking to move. However, his value is rather low. So I would just kick some tires and see if anyone would overpay for the unproven Huberdeau. Then I would package them both for a better center. Sometimes adding a coveted asset to the package gives even better return than trading them individually.

Hey Darryl! Glad to have the season saved, and even though I'm furious at both sides I will forgive them for returning my beloved fantasy league to me (which I won last year and am eager to repeat.) I'm in a salary cap keeper league, and I'll be keeping Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Evgeni Malkin. Of course, doing so will leave me with peanuts to spend on the rest of my roster, so I'm looking for under-the-radar cheapies that might carry me through to a repeat, hoping that the rest of the folks in the pool don't read this... Three players on my radar are:

(i) C: Cody Hodgson (BUF - maybe a first-liner?);
(ii) W: Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA - talented winger with big keeper value); and
(iii) D: Jared Spurgeon (MIN - paired with Suter on what should be a big-scoring team).

What are your thoughts? Do you think those guys can put up points in a shortened season? And any other names that you can pass along who you think might do better will be much appreciated!
Andrew, Oakville, Ont.


Hey Andrew. Hodgson and Spurgeon are both injury prone, but the price is right for you so go for it. All three could pay nice dividends and, if healthy, I'm sure they will. Other potential cheap steals:

Cam Atkinson, Columbus
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit (expensive now, but you'll find he exceeds expectations enough to make it worthwhile)
Damien Brunner, Detroit
Silfverberg, Ottawa

And watch who gets on the Tampa Bay Lightning between Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. One of these three will surprise.

As a supplement to your THN Fantasy Guide, my own guide over at DobberHockey has projections adjusted for a shortened season. I also have a mobile draft app for Android and iPhone.

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. Also note that the mailbag is up every two weeks, so keep that in mind when sending in your question.

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

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