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Tying up loose ends

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Not a lot of playoff questions, yet, as poolies are still trying to tweak their teams either for next year in a keeper league or for the final few days of rotisserie leagues. So let’s tackle some letters!

If I'm in a keeper league and have too many good players for the keeper spots available how should I decide? I have Evgeni Nabokov, Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Daniel Briere and Thomas Vanek available for three keeper spots.

Stephen, Niagara Falls, Ont.

Well, Stephen, first you take the goaltender, unless he is a very bad one. Then you take the best player on your team. After that, you try and fill the most difficult position – so either a left wing or defenseman. In your case, that means Nabokov, Iginla and Vanek.

Hey Dobber, I am getting ready for my playoff pool and am wondering about your thoughts on potential dark horse teams and sleeper picks. Which teams in the West might upset the big teams? In the East, it seems that Boston and New Jersey are the front-runners, but it seems any team has a chance to go far like Philly did last year. What teams would you say are most likely to come out of the East and who might be some of the sleeper picks from those teams?

Joseph, Gormley, Ont.

Besides Detroit and San Jose, I really like Calgary’s chances. If I were to pick a team to really pull an upset, though, I would choose a Cinderella story in Columbus. In the East, I like New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh the best, although the Penguins are on a collision course with the Devils in the first round. As far as sleeper picks go, I would first look to some injured players who are under the radar. Other players to consider include Andrew Ebbett (ANA), Jamie Lundmark (CGY), Niklas Kronwall (DET), Owen Nolan (MIN), Alex Burrows (VAN), Milan Lucic (BOS), Paul Martin (NJ), Ryan Callahan (NYR), Claude Giroux (PHI), Kris Letang (PIT) and Brooks Laich (WSH).

Hey the insight. I’m in a 20-team keeper league where we have to keep five players by position. This is my list so far: C - Eric Staal, LW - Nikita Filatov (don't have any other LW worth it), RW - Michael Ryder, D - Kevin Bieksa, G - Henrik Lundqvist. The next three are free of position. Out of the following, whom would you keep? Paul Stastny, Michael Frolik, Travis Zajac, Blake Wheeler or Justin Williams. I am leaning towards Stastny and Zajac, but just can't decide between Frolik and Wheeler.

Adam, Toronto

I think you have it right, Adam. And I would take Frolik over Wheeler. The upside isn’t even close. If Wheeler is a right winger, you may want to take him over Ryder, who will forever be capped at about 60 points. Wheeler has no such cap and could beat Ryder in points as early as next campaign.

I am trying to decide on my keepers. I get three to keep, one of whom is a goalie. The league uses positions rather than generic forwards. We are changing our league format to H2H with normal scoring, plus/minus, PIMs, hits and blocked shots. I am trying to decide between Mike Richards, Patrick Marleau, Pavel Datsyuk, Thomas Vanek and David Backes. I think I am going to keep Richards because of SHG, PIMs and hits. The other is a little less clear cut: Datsyuk has assists, Vanek has goal potential and Marleau overlaps a lot with Richards. That leaves Backes. What do you feel about his potential?

Branden, Westbrook, Maine

Backes is a multi-category stud who should be good for 60 points and 150 PIMs every year. He may even become a Brenden Morrow type. Still, he’s not there yet and I think you have to go with the superstar in Datsyuk, without question. He not only brings assists, but plus/minus as well. Plus his 32 goals, nothing to sneeze at, is a career high.

Dobber, thanks again for all the advice this past year. My question is in regards to your keeper league rankings. Are you able to add either an additional column or list to show each player’s ranking in a salary cap keeper league? It's easy to find roto rankings and you have the keeper-league rankings, but I have not found anything that has a keeper-league ranking vs. salary. For our drafts, we usually use a projected point total divided by cap number to get the players point per million dollar value, but it doesn't take into consideration the length of contract, age or injury concerns. Hopefully you can help us out. Thanks in advance.

Joel, Surrey, B.C.

Hi Joel, I wish I could help you out in that respect, but to adjust the rankings based on salary cap hit and break it down further in terms of length of contract would require an entirely different list. Constructing that list would also mean leagues that do not look at cap hit, but total salary, would be excluded. My “points only” format, unfortunately, excludes a lot of leagues – from salary cap to many forms of rotisserie.

With hundreds of different formats out there – and I do mean hundreds, as I have personally seen many different sets of league rules – it is impossible to please them all, so the best I can do is satisfy the lowest common denominator. In the end, the most important stat all poolies want to see is the points, as in the amount of points a player will get this season and in the future. I also take into account playoff value, but I kept that variable small so that the list remains relevant even if your league does not count the post-season. Leagues with different rules and scoring systems need to take the rankings with a grain of salt, factor in exactly what is being measured and apply it to their own league accordingly.

Hey Dobber, I was wondering what your thoughts are on James Sheppard. He's had a pretty awful season. I know Minnesota players usually take a while, but come on, 20 points again? Should I be patient with this guy or cut my losses and grab a guy like Francois Bouchard instead?

Ari, Montreal

The best suggestion I have for you Ari is to look at Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s career stats and put them side-by-side with Sheppard’s. That’s the sort of progression you can expect, as the two have similar upsides, were brought into the league as teenagers and the coaching style remains the same. I could have saved you the heartache and told you this about Sheppard two summers ago. He’ll get there, you’ll just have to wait a couple of years. Certainly don’t take Francois Bouchard (Pierre-Marc’s brother, interestingly enough). You’ll be waiting a very long time on that guy and he is no guarantee either.

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 important to know. This will help me advise 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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