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Fantasy Pool Look: Sundin hits stride

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

More than a few fantasy owners were panicking over this guy, particularly those who took him in the summer and sat on him for more than three months. The reliable Mats Sundin was no longer reliable.

In two of my leagues, each team has a $100 budget to bid weekly on waiver-wire players for the entire season. You bid (blindly) what you feel you need to get the player. Bids are usually for $1, unless a player gets hot or called up. For example, Kyle Quincey (Los Angeles), Rich Peverley (Atlanta) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim) all saw winning bids in the $4 to $12 range. In my one league, Sundin went for $52. That’s right – more than half of this owner’s free agent budget was gone before the season started (Sundin was unavailable in the draft – long story).

Imagine the panic this owner felt when Sundin finally signed with Vancouver in December and played for them in January – only to post three points in nine games.

There are two reasons for that slow start. One, Sundin was, for all intents and purposes, going through his own personal training camp. He didn’t have the luxury of six exhibition games and three weeks of scrimmaging, so his “camp” was held during the season.

You see this all the time with players who miss training camp. This year, Nashville’s Steve Sullivan had three points in 12 games before finding his form with five in his past six. Kings forward Patrick O’Sullivan had seven in his first 16 after he missed camp. New Jersey’s Brendan Shanahan (five in 12) is still trying to get his timing back.

The other reason is chemistry. The Canucks tried Sundin on a line with Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond. That didn’t work. Taylor Pyatt was inserted. Then Alexandre Burrows. All to little avail. This is not something you can rule out after a shift or two. These combos needed to be tried for a couple of games. So it was 10 games before the magic was found – with Pavol Demitra and Ryan Kesler.

It’s a weird combination to be sure, as all three are centermen, but it has worked. Sundin has nine points, Demitra 10 and Kesler 11 in the past eight contests. The Canucks finally have an effective second wave of attack behind the Sedin twins and it is just in time for the stretch run.

Poolies have the Sundin of old back…and that owner – he of the $52 waiver bid – can now rest easy…

After starting the season off slowly, Carolina’s Sergei Samsonov and Ottawa’s Antoine Vermette have fallen back into line. For Samsonov, after five points in his first 21 games, he has posted 31 in 39 including 10 in his past seven. Vermette kicked things off with five in his first 30. That’s a huge drop off from a player who has improved his production each year of his career and is in his fifth NHL season. He has 21 in his past 27 and seven in his past five. Each player’s pace is now in that 60-65 range (ignoring the first chunk of games), which is where it should be. There is no reason to believe they can’t keep this going in 2009-10, yet you can pick them up in the off-season for a song…

Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: With Daniel Briere hoping to be back in the Philadelphia lineup in a few days, the party may be over for Claude Giroux owners. At least for this year. Giroux has eight points in his past 11 games, but his regular strength and power play ice time will be cut when Briere returns. He remains a high-end prospect ready to explode as early as next year…

Farm Report: Keeper owners were jumping off the Jiri Tlusty wagon faster than Briere can injure his abdominal area, but they may have jumped too soon. During his nine-game point streak in the American League, the Leafs’ prospect had a five-goal game and a four-assist game. In all, he has 20 points in that span. He will be with the big club to stay next year and you can expect 45 points. His upside is in the high-70s.

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 throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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