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Saku Koivu shows there is pool value in the right NHL veterans

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Conversely, it's the loss of desire and talent squandered that makes a player like Jeremy Roenick a pool pariah. When not scratched or in the Coyotes doghouse, the deserter in the desert doesn't seem motivated to do anything except complain.

Drop him in all pools, no matter how deep.

But let's stick to the positive, and Koivu, a valuable pool commodity and an inspiration to all. The Canadiens captain, recovering from a serious eye injury, was probably under-valued in most fantasy leagues this year.

But astute poolies know Koivu is no quitter. He came back before - from cancer no less - and obviously packs more desire into his game that most players.

Leading the Habs in scoring with 35 points in 35 games, Koivu is the primary reason that Montreal is doing so well and why so many Canadiens - Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder, Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov - are now great plays in hockey pools.

Bill Guerin is another veteran digging deep this year, rising up after a sub-par performance last season that suggested he couldn't handle the pace of the new NHL.

Guerin now plays with the sad-sack St. Louis Blues so it probably went unnoticed that his overtime winner Saturday was his 13th goal of this campaign, matching his total from the previous year.

That desire won't wane so Guerin could be of decent service to poolies needing goals and penalty minutes.

The same goes for Gary Roberts. He scored twice as the Panthers beat his former team in Toronto last week. Roberts has 26 points to date and, most significantly, is healthy this year. Like Guerin, he'll help in PIM as well as scoring categories.

And while not totally desirable from a pool perspective, there's no questioning the desire of Owen Nolan to give it his all on the ice. He has points in five straight games for the Coyotes and is certainly worth monitoring.

Injury Update

What a tough week for Ontario's teams.

Jason Spezza (knee) will be out of the Senators lineup for six weeks, a bad blow for his pool owners. Look for Mike Fisher to secure Spezza's coveted position on Dany Heatley's line.

Down the road in Toronto, it was worse news for Mike Peca. He's likely gone for the year after breaking his leg and tearing up his knee. And Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder) will be out two or three weeks, the timing unfortunate in that it follows a five-point performance against the Rangers.

Latch onto goaltender Fredrik Norrena of the Blue Jackets if he's available. Pascal Leclaire returned from a knee injury suffered last Friday but suffered a hamstring injury and will be lost indefinitely.

Waiver Watch

It was a minor trade but the deal that sent the Islanders' Mike York to the Flyers in exchange for Randy Robitaille could offer poolies some production possibilities. Peter Forsberg is still hurting and it appears York will find a new home on the top unit in Philadelphia, a development worth following, for sure.

Two players given up for dead in fantasy hockey have been resurrected in the last week or so. Marco Sturm of the Bruins scored only five goals in his first 25 games, but had that many again in his past four games. With an increase in power-play time, Sturm is now worth owning in most leagues.

Ryan Craig is the other talent finally returning to form. He missed three weeks with injury but is now on the Lightning's first power-play unit.

Definitely someone to keep an eye on.


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


Some suggestions on players to add or avoid in your hockey pool this week:

Who's Hot

1. LW Andrew Brunette, Avalanche. Nine points in six games includes first hat trick.

2. D Duncan Keith, Blackhawks. No goals but 10 assists and plus-11 in December.

3. RW Jason Pominville, Sabres. Streaky winger is on again for the time being.

4. C Zach Parise, Devils. Four goals, four assists, four games - awesome, for sure.

5. G Manny Legace, Blues. Impressive three straight wins and four goals against.

Who's Not

1. RW Marek Svatos, Avalanche. The sophomore jinx has him in a serious choke-hold.

2. RW Guillaume Latendresse, Canadiens. Moment in the sun ends with Higgins' return.

3. G Dan Cloutier, Kings. Terrible year gets worse with three losses and a 5.70 GAA.

4. D Bryan McCabe, Leafs. No points and minus-four in another up-and-down week.

5. RW Nikolai Zherdev, Blue Jackets. The talent is there but the results are MIA.



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