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Out of nowhere

We’re now firmly entrenched in the final quarter of the 2009-10 season: the stretch run. Fantasy deals need to be analyzed and evaluated, with lots on the line. Let’s get to some letters!

Hey Dobber, every year there are some undrafted players who come out of nowhere to make the NHL. Guys like Fabian Brunnstrom, Ville Leino, Teddy Purcell, Tyler Bozak and Matt Gilroy. Do you think Roman Cervenka will be in the NHL next year? How does he rank compared to the guys listed above? Are there any other undrafted players coming to the NHL next year who can have a fantasy impact?

Dan, Moncton, N.B.

It is starting to look that way, Dan. However, these undrafted signees have yet to really make a fantasy impact. All of your examples show promise, but it is looking as though even the mature prospects need two or three years to get rolling. A month ago, every one of those players you listed could have been acquired for a song in fantasy leagues. Today, Purcell and Bozak are looking pretty good and their value has risen accordingly.

What I’m saying is, you could overrate Cervenka and scoop him up too early out of fear a competitor will take him before you. Or you could pick him up as late as possible. If he is taken from under you, chances are you will be able to acquire him in eight or 10 months for a cheap price. He could also be another Janne Pesonen, who scored 82 points in 70 American League games, but no points in seven NHL games with Pittsburgh in 2008-09 before fleeing for the Kontinental League this season. If you are in a keeper league and you don’t mind sitting on a player for three years, then maybe you can overrate Cervenka a little.

Another player to look at is Cory Conacher, who was the focus of an Adam Proteau Screen Shots column in the March 15 edition of THN ( A smaller player, he has tons of skill and hustle – which reminds me of Steve Sullivan.

Hey Dobber, love the Fantasy Mailbag...keep up the good work. I have two questions. Would you trade Brad Richards (or Marian Gaborik) and Mike Green for Steven Stamkos and Duncan Keith? Points only, D-men goals count for two points. Second, who out of these players has the best long-term upside (I have one open spot on my prospect roster) Kirill Petrov, Tomas Tatar, Richard Panik, Tyler Bozak or Cal O'Reilly?

Nelson, Fort St. John, B.C.

In a league where goals for defensemen are worth two, I would never trade Mike Green – I don’t care how well Keith is doing right now or what the package is (unless one of the Big 3 are involved, but that’s another story).

If you’re talking strictly upside, Petrov is your man. However, will he come to North America? His health is also a concern. If you want a safer bet, Tatar is a good one. However, you won’t see fantasy-worthy points out of him for four or five years, so if you want an earlier return I think both Bozak and O’Reilly will flirt with 50 points next season.

Hey Dobber, I'm in a 12-team, points-only keeper league. I'll have to bring my roster down from 27 to 20. I've already decided on four players I'll be dropping, but I need your help deciding who the other three will be. How would you rank the following forwards in terms of upside: Martin Hanzal, Rich Peverley, Guillaume Latendresse, Bryan Little, Kyle Turris, Colin Wilson, Josh Bailey, Valtteri Filppula, Matt Moulson, Drew Stafford and Sergei Kostitsyn. Which three would you drop?

Marc-Andre, Montreal

What a tight group of forwards you list here. The highest upside of this group is Turris, followed by Little and Wilson. Kostitsyn and Bailey would be in the next tier. As for which three I would drop, I would say Moulson, Stafford and Hanzal.

In my keeper league, I have Evgeni Malkin as my franchise player, but I am considering trading him for two first round draft selections next year. Do you think I should do this trade and name Nicklas Backstrom of Washington my new franchise player? Thanks.

Josef, Cambridge, Ont.

I know it’s pretty tempting to downgrade Malkin after seeing his numbers this season, but don’t fall into that trap. As solid a return as two first-rounders is, Malkin is in a different class. Even if Backstrom gets up to 120 points one year, Malkin will exceed even that and he’ll do it more consistently.

Dobber, My keeper league has a salary cap and we can protect 15 players for next year. I have five spots left on my on my depth chart. Got to choose between Bryan Little, Devin Setoguchi, Niclas Bergfors, Nikita Filatov, Dennis Wideman, Carey Price and Antti Niemi (one point goals and assists - two points wins and shootouts). Thanks.

Fred, Montreal

I would drop Wideman and Little. The latter was a tough call, but given how well Bergfors is doing in Atlanta and how Patrick Marleau will likely be gone from San Jose next year (thus opening the door for Setoguchi), I think by process of elimination Little gets cut.

Note regarding the Fantasy Mailbag – it is important to indicate whether or not your league is a keeper league or a one-year league. Also note whether the league is “points only”, “standard roto league”, or if there are any uncommon rules that are important to know. This will help in advising you on the right course of action.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear every Wednesday throughout the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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