Penguin hunting

Playoff pool season is upon us, but there are still some keeper league loose ends to tie-up. Let’s get to some letters!

With the hot play of Marc-Andre Fleury and all the injuries to key players on the Senators, how do you see Ottawa faring against the Pens? Of course the Pens have to be the favorite, but if there is any upset in the first round it has to be in this series, doesn’t it? I just can’t shake the feeling that MAF will let in a soft goal or two and never regain his confidence. What’s your take?
Leon, Winnipeg, Man.

I don’t think goaltending would be Pittsburgh’s undoing, Leon. After all, Ottawa is probably in rougher shape at that position.

What scares me from picking a lot of Penguins in my playoff pool is the fact Ottawa has been on the cusp for years. They’re hungry and have experience. Regardless of whether or not Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher play in the series (neither of them will due to injuries), teams like this tend to step up when faced with adversity.

If you pick late in the first round of your pool, and a lot of Pens have already been scooped up, you could do worse than to start grabbing key Ottawa players in the second or third round.

What is most important in a 20-player keeper pool where goals and assists =one point and a win and shutout =two points? We play with 13 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies. Thanks.
Gordon, Quebec City, Que.

I would make sure I had either Roberto Luongo, Carey Price or Martin Brodeur – if it looks like one of them will slip to you in the second round, pick a forward in the first round. Otherwise, you have to take a goalie (after Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, of course – those are always your top three in keeper leagues).

What is more important when predicting a player’s potential playoff points: How well they usually do in the playoffs, or how well they did in the just-completed regular season?
Tom, Vancouver, B.C.

The regular season. A player’s playoff history will indicate if his production will increase or decrease, but his regular season performance will give you a starting point to go from. It’s an inexact science predicting how a player will produce in the playoffs, but this is your best bet.

READ ALSO:  Wake-up call

I may have an opportunity to deal Jack Johnson in my keeper league for a decent young forward and an early pick in this year’s draft (fifth or so). That, of course, depends a lot on how the actually entry draft goes down. Is Jack Johnson worth holding onto in a keeper league that counts defensemen goals, TOI, +/-, assists and PIMs, or should I take a gamble in the 2008 draft? Thank you.
Josh, Edmonton, Alta.

Johnson will pan out, and on an up-and-coming team like the Kings he will be gold.

Imagine Anze Kopitar, Mike Cammalleri and Dustin Brown on the top line, Patrick O’Sullivan, Alexander Frolov and Ted Purcell on the next line, with young prospects Marc-Andre Cliche, Lauri Tukonen, Brian Boyle and Trevor Lewis on the way.

Then, add in Johnson, Thomas Hickey, Peter Harrold and Drew Doughty (their probable pick this summer) on the point.

With Jonathan Bernier between the pipes, this team will be a force in three years. Therein lies your problem – you will be waiting three years for Johnson.

Still, I would hang onto him; defensemen are harder to land in fantasy leagues than forwards.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear on the last Wednesday of every month throughout the playoffs and off-season. The weekly edition will begin again in September. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Enter THN’s Free Playoff Challenge for your chance to win a 2008 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special Motorcycle. Contest closes at the start of the third round.