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Fantasy Pool Look: Buyer beware - Jiri Hudler

Last season's third-leading scorer in the American League, Detroit's Jiri Hudler, has loads of offensive talent. There is no disputing that. The 22-year-old Czech native has dazzling moves and great vision, setting up or creating his own scoring opportunities. Furthermore, if the Red Wings were to cut the diminutive winger, he would have to clear waivers before he can play in the minors.

The other 29 NHL teams would never let that happen.

Hudler's play has done little to show that he does not belong in the NHL – his preseason numbers were four goals and six points in seven games - so what is the possible downside?

Two words: Mike Babcock. The preeminent example of a hard-working, hustle-every-minute-or-I'll-bench-you kind of coach. Sometimes the younger, fancier forwards have a more difficult time getting quality ice time if their coach is ‘Sutteresque'. If you need an example of this theory at work, look no further than Long Island, where another tough coach (Ted Nolan) sent skilled, highly-touted winger Robert Nilsson back to the AHL for another year.

With the waiver situation, a demotion won't happen to Hudler, but what could conceivably occur is he could play seven or eight minutes per game – rarely in the third period – and he could possibly land in the press box for 10 or 15 games. In such a scenario, the youngster would be lucky to add 15 points to your roster when April rolls around.

Yes, Hudler has the talent to have an impact rookie season - he surely would under 20 other coaches – but with Babcock at the helm a 50-point rookie campaign will be tough, and there is certainly a downside. Truly a high risk/reward option for your pool, so make sure he is a late pick – not an early one…

Ray Whitney is the current replacement for Cory Stillman on the top line in Carolina, and the 34-year-old should begin the season strong with Eric Staal and Erik Cole as his linemates. He would make a great pickup in any pool format and then the perfect dump come November. The old ‘buy low, sell high' theory at its best…

Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: While it looks as though Washington center Dainius Zubrus will be in the lineup to start the season (he had been recovering from off-season knee surgery), do not expect big numbers right away. Missing much of training camp generally means rust and I would not expect more than 10 points in his first 20 games. He will explode at that point, so a good time to acquire him would be several games into the season if and when he stumblesÂ…

Farm Report: Edmonton sent Rob Schremp and Danny Syvret to the AHL and Phoenix did the same to Bill Thomas and goaltender David LeNeveu, while returning Peter Mueller to his junior team in the Western League.


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