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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Camps are beginning and fantasy draft leagues of all shapes and sizes - keepers, head-to-head, rotisserie, points-only - are starting up. Back from a summer hiatus, THN’s fantasy mailbag has you covered. Let’s get to the letters!

Hey Dobber, I'm in a 12-man keeper league and found myself with all three Calder finalists. I drafted Jeff Skinner and snagged Logan Couture and Michael Grabner off waivers early. Right now my weakness is goaltending so my question is which of these three should I shop around? Or am I better off hanging on to all of them? Thanks!

Ryan, Waterloo, Ont.

In the summer of 2010 I did an analysis for the THN Ultimate Fantasy Guide regarding rookies. Since the lockout, at the time, rookies 20 years old or younger stood a 33 percent chance of seeing a slip in their numbers. However, rookies 21 years old or older saw the odds pretty much double. Based on that, I would let Grabner go. He’s the oldest of the nominees from last year.

Hey Dobber, in the past I've read you mentioning that straight up you'd take a winger over a center of equal value as a general rule. What's the reasoning for this? What makes centers more replaceable?

Sante, Sarnia, Ont.

In drafting this summer (so far), I’ve found this has not quite been the case as it has been in previous years. Wingers seem to be a little more abundant, be it better positional assignments from the fantasy manager sites or what have you. However, I still believe throughout the season you’ll have a slightly improved chance of plucking a decent center off of the waiver wire than you would a winger. But again, the gap has closed some.

I'm very interested to get your opinion on two players. The first is Drew Stafford. What are your thoughts on his next season and what may be a possible point projection? The second is Claude Giroux. I love this guy, but can he increase his point total from last year?

Stuart, Calgary

It was a nice breakthrough season for each of those players and they’ll build on those this season. However, Stafford carries with him a fairly high chance of missing five or 10 games from injury. In the fantasy guide I’m selling on my website (a perfect complement to THN’s Ultimate Guide!), I have Stafford at 56 points in 69 games. As for Giroux, he’s in a fantastic situation. The ice time has certainly opened up for him and he was even getting a lot last year. But now, instead of having to share some of the ideal situations, he’ll get them all. I have him reaching 80 points.

Hello Mr. Dobb. I was wondering, if it's not too much trouble, if you could do a fantasy review of your, maybe, top five Calder-eligible rookies for those of us in leagues that demand a rookie be selected. I thought it might be neat as rookies going in drafts seem to be a growing trend in the fantasy world. I read Prospect Watch and The Hot List on weekly, but a “creme de la crème” ranking I thought might be helpful. Thanks so much.

Michael, Whitby, Ont.

And the Polite Mailbag Letter Award goes to…

…Michael! I’m always adjusting my picks in the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide throughout training camp. Last year, for example, I had Skinner somewhere around 30th in August, but by the end of camp he was in the Top 10. Here are my six favorites as things stand right now:

1. David Rundblad, Ottawa. Defensemen have a tough time winning it, but of all the rookies he’s the one who most stands out in terms of opportunity and ice time right away. He’s also one of the most talented at his position out of this year’s crop.

2. Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia. On most teams, he would be the favorite. But as a third-line center he may have trouble topping 45 points. And that is usually too low to win the Calder.

3. Adam Larsson, New Jersey. Again, this is about opportunity. However, if camp invitee Anton Stralman makes an impact, it will be at Larsson’s expense on the power play.

4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton. Most experts feel he won’t make the team. I’m not so sure. At this points I’m 51-49 that he sticks and if he does, it won’t be as a checker.

5. Ryan Johansen, Columbus. He’s probably NHL-ready, but the acquisition of Jeff Carter puts a kink in things. If he or Derick Brassard is moved to the wing, they’ll benefit from the added ice time.

6. Zac Dalpe, Carolina. He has a spot to lose on this team and if Skinner plays on the wing, then Dalpe will be the second-line center by Christmas. Extremely underrated in fantasy circles.

A lot to choose from this year and I have an ever-shifting Top 50.

Hi Dobber! I love your insight on young guys coming up. How would you rate the chances of these kids going straight from the draft to the NHL: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Larsson, Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad. Is there any other 2011 draftee who could make the jump? Thanks!

Thomas, Cookshire-Eaton, Que.

Hi Thomas! Here are my gut feelings on those guys and another player. The percentages you see are just off the top of my head. Nothing scientific went into them. I’m just giving it a shot:

1. Landeskog, 90%

2. Larsson, 70%

3. Zibanejad, 55%

4. Nugent-Hopkins, 49%

5. Strome, 40%

6. Huberdeau, 15%

7. Sven Baertschi, 5%

I am about to be starting a keeper league this year. Standard roto. I have played one-year leagues in the past. I was just wondering how your draft strategy should change for a keeper league compared to a one-year league.

Blaine, Rochester, N.Y.

As the draft starts getting down to the 65-point players, start turning your attention to the 50-point youngsters. These guys may get you 15 fewer points this year, but potentially could help you out down the road. At the very end of the draft, instead of filling out your roster with 40-point players you could nab off the wire anytime, start loading up on promising prospects. The strategy basically shifts to a balance between potential and actual, whereas in a one-year format the long-term potential is hardly looked at.

Hey Dobbs, I am in a keeper league and can hang onto two of my three goalies: Fleury, Hiller and Halak. I'm planning to keep Fleury, but I need help with which of the other two to keep.

Dave, Spruce Grove, Alta.

Hey Dave, I will be in the minority with this opinion but I would keep Halak. St. Louis is one team I’m targeting to be one of the strongest franchises in the league within three years.

Dobber, a couple of suggestions regarding the keeper rankings: It would be helpful to note a player's age in the table since these are keeper rankings. Also, I noticed the list only has skaters. What about the goalies? Thanks for doing such a thorough job!

Scott, Montgomery Village, Md.

Hi Scott, I do a goalie ranking over on my website and I expand on that ranking over at, which is a website that tracks starting goaltenders.

Hey Dobbs. My fantasy hockey league consists of the following player categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, shorthanded points and game-winning goals. Based on these categories, who would you select first, Zach Parise or Jonathan Toews?

Bryan, Sarnia, Ont.

I’m sorry, I had trouble focusing after reading “Parise.” Not even close in my books, take the guy who’s seen the happy side of 90 points before.

Note regarding the Fantasy Mailbag – it is important to indicate whether your league is a keeper league or a one-year league. Also note whether the league is “points only” or “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 other Wednesday during the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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