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Older players proving to be smart pool picks so far this NHL season

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Older players proving to be smart pool picks so far this NHL season

The Canadian Press
By:

The focus of fantasy hockey this season, as in the past couple of years, has been on the young and the quick, those wunderkinds who rip and roar up the ice and dominate the highlight reels.How surprisingly refreshing then to see some old boys stealing their thunder.Rod Brind'Amour of the Hurricanes is one such veteran who seems to be improving with age. The 37-year-old centre is well on his way to proving that last year's 82-point campaign was no fluke.A hat trick Saturday gives him six goals and 12 assists after only a dozen games, good for second place in the points parade this season.Bill Guerin, 37 next month, turned the same trick last week and set an NHL record in the process. The Dallas winger has now recorded three-goal games with six different big league clubs. Guerin's production is always up and down but he's particularly useless in pools where penalty minutes are rewarded.Like Brind'Amour, venerable veteran Joe Sakic of the Avalanche is a must-start in all pools. Sakic also had a three-goal game earlier this month and now has points in five straight games.With 13 on the season, Burnaby Joe is on the usual point-per-game pace that has made him a perennial pool favourite for 18 years.Waiver WatchAnother old vet having a great year is Mats Sundin of the Maple Leafs. With 18 points, the 36-year-old captain was tied for second with Brind'Amour in league scoring heading into Monday's games and is on pace this season to break the 100-point barrier, something he hasn't done since 1992.Have poolies noticed how many of Sundin's countrymen from Sweden are also having banner seasons?After Sunday, there were four Swedes in the top 12 scoring, with Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings leading the way with nine goals and 12 assists.Another just hidden from view and perhaps available in some pools is Zetterberg's linemate Tomas Holmstrom, who has picked up points in 10 of his team's first 11 games.Poolies not adverse to a little risk might want to put Swedish superstar Peter Forsberg on their radar. Word is the free agent is working towards a return to the NHL, with Colorado, Detroit and Nashville listed as possible destinations.He could also consider playing with countryman Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa or the Sedin twins and Markus Naslund on the Canucks.Injury UpdateJohan Franzen, a young Swedish winger who some tabbed as a breakout candidate this season, is returning from a knee injury next week. Since he's likely going to get first or second line duties on the high-flying Red Wings, Franzen is definitely worth watching.In the meantime, poolies will be busy scrambling to find substitute defencemen for their depleted rosters. It was a tough week for NHL rearguards as Joni Pitkanen (knee), Dmitri Kalinin (knee), Bryan Berard (groin) and Karel Rachunek (groin) all went on the IR. And a groin injury also has Bryan McCabe of the Leafs listed as day-to-day.If he's available, Chris Campoli of the Islanders is a terrific replacement. Flyers defenceman Randy Jones would also be a good choice, although he's been suspended two games for his hit from behind to Boston's Patrice Bergeron over the weekend.-Greg Dennis can be reached at theCanadianpress.pool(at)hotmail.com.-Some players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:Who's Hot1. D Adrian Aucoin, Flames. Impressive plus-8 rating and five points in six games.2. RW Chris Clark, Capitals. Two goals and two assists in two games on top line.3. RW Jere Lehtinen, Stars. Quietly consistent producer scores three goals and five points.4. G Chris Osgood, Red Wings. Undefeated and, umm, dominating since Hasek's injury.C Matt Cullen, Hurricanes. One of many hot 'Canes, he has six assists in four games.Who's Not1. C Scott Gomez, Rangers. Ballyhooed signing with the Blueshirts a big bust so far.2. D Francois Beauchemin, Ducks. So much for filling Scott Niedermayer's scoring role.3. C Michal Handzus, Kings. Two points on the season shoots down high expectations.4. C Doug Weight, Blues. No goals and just two assists from a veteran showing his age.5. RW Maxim Afinogenov, Sabres. Inconsistency, not injuries, slowing him down now.

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Older players proving to be smart pool picks so far this NHL season