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Pool primer: Anyone remember Jan Caloun? Watch out for flash in the pan rookies

No, probably not. With San Jose back in 1995, Caloun scored goals in each of his first three NHL games, the last rookie to pull that trick before Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin did the same in his impressive big-league debut last week.

The reason nobody remembers him is because Caloun would score only five more goals in a short-lived career of just 24 games.

Poolies know it's not unusual for freshmen to flash and crash almost overnight - think Brandon Bochenski of the Senators last year - and Caloun's an example of why promising rookies often make for disappointing waiver picks.

Not in Malkin's case. He's the real deal, no question, and if for any reason he's yet to be claimed in your pool, do so immediately.

Though his name is practically engraved on the Calder Trophy already, Malkin should expect a couple other rookies look to take a hard shot at that award.

One is Hannu Toivonen, the Bruins goaltender who played 20 games last year and is still eligible this season. He's sharing time with Tim Thomas now, but expect him to win the No. 1 job soon and have a very respectable year.

Another candidate - and, like Toivonen, a must-own in all pools - is Matt Carle of the Sharks. The highly touted defenceman has two goals and six assists early in this first year of what promises to be a long career.

A long shot for the Calder would be Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, who leads all rookies with 11 points after nine games. The 2005 first-round draft pick won't maintain that pace all year but is certainly worth claiming off waivers right now.

Other rookies to watch include Gilbert Brule of Columbus and Boston's Phil Kessel, both of whom scored their first NHL goals on Saturday.

Both should be owned in keeper leagues, absolutely, but that might do poolies little good now. The same applies to Nashville's Alexander Radulov, just called up from the minors, and hot-starters Jordan Staal of the Penguins and Paul Stastny of the Avalanche.

Monitor them in the next couple of weeks, see who their linemates are and make sure none of them evoke the memory of Jan Caloun.

Injury Update

Here's some shocking news: Peter Forsberg is hurt. For the one-thousandth time.

Forsberg (sprained wrist) says the coaching change in Philadelphia will better the team's fortunes. His pool owners can only hope he stays healthy enough to cash in on this forecast.

Good luck with that.

Nagging injuries might leave another pair of NHL stars on the sidelines for a time. Minnesota's Marian Gaborik has a groin injury and Florida's Todd Bertuzzi a wonky back. Reserve them both for now if you can.

Ouch. What a tough week in Chicago and for poolies who own Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus.

The red-hot Havlat (ankle) will miss two weeks or more while Handzus (knee) is gone for the year. The bad news extends to owners of Radim Vrbata, now without his two high-scoring linemates.

Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (broken finger) is also injured and out at least two weeks. Brian Boucher moves between the pipes in his absence and is worth a pickup in most pools.

Waiver Watch

Sergei Fedorov (shoulder) plays his first game of the year this week. If he sticks on the Blue Jackets scoring line with Fredrik Modin and David Vyborny, he will be an excellent addition to any pool team.

Keep an eye out for these up-and-coming young players. Raffi Torres has been promoted to one of the top lines in Edmonton and Tampa Bay winger RW Nikita Alexeev, a first-round pick in 2000, has six points in a five-game point scoring streak.

Also on the Oilers, defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist has three points in six games while playing about 25 minutes a night.


Greg Dennis can be reached at cp.pool(at)


Who's hot and who's not in NHL pools

(CP) - Some suggestions on players to add or avoid in your hockey pool this week:

Who's Hot

1. RW Maxim Afinogenov, Sabres. Must-own winger had three goals, 10 points last week.

2. RW Justin Williams, Hurricanes. Five goals in three games makes up for slow start.

3. D Sheldon Souray, Canadiens. Two two-goal games cover up for poor plus/minus.

4. G Mathieu Garon, Kings. Fifty-nine saves on 61 shots earns backup more starts.

5. LW Lee Stempniak, Blues. Three-goal week hints at bright future for sophomore.

Who's Not

1. D Zdeno Chara, Bruins. No points last week and a minus-6 on the season.

2. LW Kyle Calder, Flyers. On pace for zero goals and zero assists after eight games.

3. G Antero Niittymaki, Flyers. He'd lose his job if Esche wasn't so brutal.

4. D Dan Hamhuis, Predators. Scoreless and disappointing start has poolies concerned.

5. G Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames. A very shaky start but not near a panic move yet.



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