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Fantasy Pool Look: Stumbling out the gate

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A few players have fallen well short of expectations so far. It’s early, but we’ve seen enough out of these guys to make an educated guess as to what’s in store. Here are some key names who need to turn things around in a hurry.

Nik Antropov, Atlanta

Antropov has just one point in seven games, despite coming off a career-high 67 points last season. However, he had off-season hip surgery and it’s still bothering him. I would assume this lingers for another month or two before he slowly turns things around. It may not turn around soon enough to have another 60-point year, though. Steer clear.

Taylor Hall, Edmonton

If you use Steven Stamkos’ rookie year as a comparable, Hall could stumble to just four points in the first 17 games with a minus-8 rating and still salvage a season of 46 points. Frankly, I think Hall will do better than that, despite having just one point in six games to start. Buy low.

Jiri Hudler, Detroit

Two points and minus-6 in seven games is disgusting. Even the most pessimistic Hudler owner expected better. But right now, the Wings are relying on Todd Bertuzzi to lead the offense from the wing. Does anyone really believe that will continue? Bertuzzi hasn’t scored more than 44 points in a season since leaving Vancouver in 2006. At some point, Hudler will wake up and seize the job back. Buy low.

Saku Koivu, Anaheim

The 35-year-old has three points and is minus-4 in nine games. While he’ll get more than his current pace of 27 points, it’s looking as though matching his 52-point total from a year ago is unlikely. Coach Randy Carlyle has Koivu centering the third line instead of the second and that will show in his production. He’ll have his hot streaks, but I think we’re looking at 45 points max – and that’s if he stays healthy, which is another column altogether. Steer clear.

Mike Knuble, Washington

Could the 38-year-old hanger-on finally be winding down? His fantasy career has been built on succeeding on lines with Joe Thornton, Peter Forsberg and now Alex Ovechkin. But two points and minus-3 in eight games hint that his days of being a 50-point player are over. Steer clear.

Kris Versteeg, Toronto

The underrated Versteeg was supposed to show his true colors in Toronto. No longer buried in a Chicago lineup, he was expected to see career highs. I still think that will happen, but he just didn’t click with Phil Kessel, posting only two points and a minus-4 in seven games. Versteeg will do better on the second line with Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski and he’ll still see top power play time. Buy low.

Nikolay Zherdev, Philadelphia

Nothing is being handed to the talented winger; he’ll have to work for every second of power play time he gets. But “Zherdev” and “work” rarely appear in the same sentence. The upside is there, but I doubt we’ll see it this year unless a couple of key injuries strike. Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino have had the odd injury over the past year, so you know it can happen. Still, you can’t run a fantasy team relying on such things and Zherdev’s one point in eight games doesn’t inspire confidence. Steer clear.

Farm Report

With Johnny Boychuk out for four weeks (broken arm), it is possible we’ll see Steven Kampfer get recalled. The 22-year-old rearguard was acquired from Anaheim in March and the Bruins promptly signed him out of college. In 12 career games for American League Providence, he has eight points and currently leads the Baby B’s in scoring. The situation is worth watching.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy 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 Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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