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Fantasy Pool Look: Unheralded rookies

With all the hype surrounding Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Dion Phaneuf, Thomas Vanek and Marek Svatos, it's important the other rookies in this year's double cohort are not overlooked - especially in keeper leagues.

Here's a look at where the rest of this year's freshmen are heading, both from a career standpoint as well as this season.

Brad Boyes, Boston. With six points in his last five games, this 23-year-old has flourished since the Joe Thornton trade. Should finish the season around the 55- to 60-point mark, and will enjoy a solid future as a 70-point player.

Alex Steen, Toronto. Defensively responsible with some offensive upside. Should finish 2005-06 close to the 50-point mark, and has an upside of 70 points down the road.

Jussi Jokinen, Dallas. Offensive youngster has shown great instincts with the puck. He should garner around 60 points this season and has an upside of 75. However, buyer beware - he is small by NHL standards, and could be a little frail. He may have a few injuries in his career before it's all said and done.

Pavel Vorobiev, Chicago. Notoriously streaky and has some issues with covering his own zone. This may cost him down the road, similar to Mariusz Czerkawski. However, the team is desperate for the offense he brings, so he will be a top-liner for now (the same way Czerkawski was on a weak Islander team in the 1990s). He should enjoy a few 60- to 70-point seasons, until the Blackhawks grow stronger and he is no longer the go-to guy.

Petr Prucha, NY Rangers. The 23-year-old has 13 goals in 26 games. At 160 pounds, his job will never be safe until he proves himself as a top line player. As long as he plays with Jagr, he will be. A 40-point season this year is in the cards, and his long-term potential is 'boom or bust' - he could be a 65- or 70-point player, or he could toil in the minors. A high risk, high return rookie.

Mike Richards, Philadelphia. Don't be fooled by his hot start and the critical acclaim. Richards will be a star because of his leadership, grit, and two-way contributions. He will eventually settle into the 65-75 point range, and his career will pattern that of Rod Brind'Amour in the 1990s in terms of offense. Look for 45 points this season.

Brent Seabrook, Chicago. A defenseman who has matured ahead of projections. Seabrook, 20, will be an upper-tier offensive defenseman in a few years, scoring perhaps as many as 60 or 65 points. This year, however, don't look for more than 45.

Jeff Carter, Philadelphia. His slow start is attributed to a recovery from mononucleosis. He began the season with just one point in his first seven games, leading some poolies to quickly discount his contribution this season. He may only wind up with 20 points in the first half, but I would expect at least 30 in the second. He has a high probability of becoming a big star in the NHL and could see a 100-point season one day. Besides Crosby and Ovechkin, Carter should be the most coveted rookie this season in your keeper league.

Rene Bourque, Chicago. Constantly overachieving and often overlooked. He is overlooked no longer. After just a point in his first six games, he has 14 in his last 21. Bourque will be a solid 50 to 65 point player for the Blackhawks, and could sneak into that range this year. A solid depth player for any fantasy owner's pro team.

Antti Miettinen, Dallas. Projects as a two-way winger with some offensive upside. After beginning the year with three points in 12 games, he has 11 in his last 15. Miettinen may one day see the positive side of 60 points, but will likely score in the 40- to 50-point range through much of his career. He'll be very valuable to his NHL club, but will be depth player on most fantasy squads.

Coming Friday - Part 2 of FPL's two-part look at this year's rookie crop.

Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: Toronto's Eric Lindros missed Monday's game with what is apparently a wrist injury. He was only rested as a precaution. The Leafs don't play until Saturday and the extra rest will do him well.

Fantasy Hockey 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 Friday. Also find the top 250 roto-player rankings at the first of every month (email me for the rankings).

Comments/complaints/compliments - rotohockey@rogers.com

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