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NHL.com Fantasy Mailbag: 10/1/11 Edition

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 12:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

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NHL.com Fantasy Mailbag: 10/1/11 Edition
NHL.com's Pete Jensen answers your questions on fantasy hockey.
All season long, NHL.com’s weekly Fantasy Mailbag will feature the best fantasy hockey-related questions from you, the fans.

Locked into a toss-up in deciding which player to add or drop? Looking for insight on a trade proposal? Look no further than this interactive forum every Saturday during the season for comprehensive analysis on moves that can make or break your fantasy squad.

NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has your inquiries covered all season long. The most compelling questions posed each week will be answered in an effort to provide you with the best chance to succeed in your particular league.

Submit your best questions for the NHL.com Fantasy Mailbag by contacting PJensen@NHL.com.



Richard (Budweis, Czech Republic):

I'm in a keeper league and just drafted Tyler Seguin. Though I don't doubt Tyler's abilities on the ice, I am a little worried he'll be stuck on the depth chart behind players like David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron unless he switches to wing. Even then, he might see only second-line duty in Boston for who knows how many seasons and might not being able to reach his full potential (which I think is close to Steven Stamkos'). What's Tyler's true keeper value?


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Seguin, at 19 years old, is a blossoming talent on the League’s most complete team. He obviously experienced the pinnacle of team success last spring in being a part of Boston’s Stanley Cup run, but he also went through individual ups and downs all year that should enable him to come back even stronger in 2011-12. Last year, he registered only three multi-point showings in 74 regular season games played, yet exploded for six points (3G, 3A) in the first two postseason games of his career in the second round against Tampa Bay. That’s evidence of legitimate progress.

He is projected by NHL.com’s Matt Cubeta to be one of the league’s top sleeper picks, playing on the wing alongside Patrice Bergeron and fellow youngster Brad Marchand on Boston’s second line in 2011-12. But when you may look at the Bruins’ array of more experienced forwards (Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, etc.), it’s understandable to wonder how Seguin can emerge as a star on such a deep roster.

The bottom line, though, is that the Bruins invested the No. 2 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft in Seguin and will do everything in their power to develop him into a Stamkos-type player. Because of the surplus of talent in Boston these days, it may take a bit more time to see Seguin pay dividends for your team as a keeper. However, one thing is for sure: Claude Julien -- as he proved last postseason – has enough confidence in Seguin to utilize him in big spots. After he totaled 22 regular-season points (11G, 11A) in only 12:12 of ice time per contest, you can expect that Seguin’s role will expand and he should account for 20-plus goals this season.

While those numbers may not seem keeper-worthy in the short term, be patient -- Seguin will likely be an invaluable asset for your team moving forward.



Mitchell (Kelowna, B.C.):

I was just wondering what you think of this trade offer I received. I would be trading away Johan Franzen and acquiring Jeff Skinner. Fantasy Hockey-wise, which player do you think would benefit my team more?


This trade has great potential and it would be in your best interest to make it happen. Skinner, coming off a tremendous rookie season en route to Calder Trophy recognition, will be at the forefront of Carolina’s offensive initiative all year long. He proved his durability as a rookie last year, playing in all 82 games and racking up 63 points (31G, 32A). His role with the Hurricanes will only grow as he gets more comfortable on the ice.

Jeff Skinner
Center - CAR
GOALS: 31 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 63
SOG: 215 | +/-: 3
Skinner, 19, is so far ahead of the game for his age and is already developing into an offensive catalyst for Carolina -- alongside All-Star forward Eric Staal. In this comparison, Skinner had the slight edge in power-play production based on last season, compiling 18 PP points -- one more than Franzen. While Franzen did put forth better totals than Skinner in shots (248 to 215) and PIMs (58 to 46), the difference in age between these two forwards is the key factor in making this trade.

The better option in this comparison is the 19-year-old Skinner, simply because Franzen (28G, 27A in 2010-11) has not been fully healthy over the past few seasons. While Franzen, 31, should have a strong season again as part of Detroit’s talented corps of forwards, Skinner is younger and equally as prolific a scorer -- with a higher fantasy ceiling moving forward.



Gerry (Halifax, N.S.):

I’m in a keeper league and have to keep two players out of the following: Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Kesler, Zach Parise and Mike Green. I’m leaning towards Backstrom and Parise, because Kesler’s injury scares me a bit and Parise should be motivated to get the big contract he wants. Thoughts?

Out of those four players, your best bets are Parise and Backstrom. Washington’s Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin line is fully recharged entering 2011-12. Backstrom, 23, is so young and talented, and he also sports a 101-point campaign in 2009-10. As far as Parise, he is finally healthy and ready to go after his lingering knee injury sidelined him for most of last season.
Parise is a brilliant goal-scorer, and as you mentioned, with him being signed to a one-year deal back in July, expect him to be motivated to mirror his memorable 45-goal, 94-point season in 2008-09.

While securing an offensive blueliner of Green’s caliber could work out for you, there is too much of a risk involved compared to your other choices. Green proved to be injury-prone a year ago, playing in only 49 games and putting forth a single-digit goal total (8). Same goes for Kesler – a prolific two-way forward who earned Selke Trophy recognition last season who is still recovering from hip surgery in August. In his prime at 27, Kesler is an instrumental offensive piece for the Vancouver Canucks’ second line (career-high 41 goals in ’10-11), but there is some uncertainty in the cards, as he will likely miss time to start the season.



Jake (San Jose, Calif.):

I'm stuck when it comes to goalies. I have Roberto Luongo, Cam Ward, and Evgeni Nabokov on my roster, but I need an alternate goalie -- just in case Nabby ends up not being so stellar for the Islanders. My pickings are slim, so should I get a backup goalie like Cory Schneider or a guy like Mike Smith, since it's likely that he will play more games than Jason LaBarbera in Phoenix.

In general, is it better to have a backup goalie from a good team or a starting goalie from a not-so-good team?

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 13-6-1
GAA: 2.90 | SVP: 0.899
Each strategy can breed success on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, Smith has a chance to distinguish himself as the No. 1 goalie in Phoenix. If he seizes this opportunity, it could be key for his development moving forward this season. Smith went 13-6-1 last season for Tampa Bay and put up stellar numbers in the three postseason games he played. It would be smart to pick up Smith and monitor his performance -- as well as the Coyotes’ success -- as the season goes along.

If worse comes to worst and Smith doesn’t work out in the desert, there are probably some reliable backups available in your league (Schneider, Tuukka Rask, J.S. Giguere, Martin Biron, Jhonas Enroth, etc.) who can provide high-caliber goaltending in smaller doses. If you can pick up a starter, especially one that is experiencing a change in scenery like Smith, it would be more beneficial to go that route initially because starting goaltenders are in the lineup more often and, thus, will get you more frequent production and chances at wins than a backup.



Trent (Cambridge, Ont.):

Just have a question regarding goalies for my live draft this weekend. I'm in a ‘Keeper League’ and my keepers are Alex Ovechkin, Corey Perry, Drew Doughty, Matt Duchene and Jonas Hiller. I need another top goaltender and the top goalies left for the pickings are: Tim Thomas, Carey Price and Cam Ward. I will be selecting a goalie with my first pick. In what order would you suggest I go after these guys?

Since you plan on picking a goaltender in the first round of your upcoming draft, it would be wise to narrow your choices down to Price and Thomas -- right off the bat. Ward would likely be available in one of the ensuing rounds of your draft and could be a steal in that case, being that he has a Stanley Cup under his belt and is one of the league's finest workhorse goaltenders. With the addition of Tomas Kaberle in Carolina, the defense in front of Ward is much improved. Last season, the 'Canes missed the playoffs, but Ward led the NHL in games played (74), finished tied for third with 37 wins and tied for seventh with a .923 save percentage. However, if you’re looking for top-tier production in all phases, Ward certainly lacked a strong GAA.

To answer your question, I would rank your options: 1. Price, 2. Thomas, 3. Ward. Price is only 24 and coming off a breakout season in 2010-11. While the Eastern Conference is very deep, the Canadiens are a young team built from the back end out. If Price falls to you in the first round, it would be smart to grab him -- based on your need of a top-tier goalie. As far as Thomas, there's a bit of a risk when you look at his situation. There's no underestimating what he accomplished last season (Stanley Cup, Vezina, Conn Smythe), but moving forward, he has one of the best backups in the League in Tuukka Rask (24 with a 2.25 career GAA) waiting in the wings. Thomas led the league in GAA and save percentage last season, but if he doesn't play up to that level, he could lose some time in net to Rask. Thomas’ age (37) may also be a concern.

Your best option is to put a value on games played and ensure that you get a guy who will play often and put up great numbers across the board. Price is the main man in Montreal's crease. He tied for first in the League with 38 wins last season, played in 15 more regular-season games than Tim Thomas, and also produced a strong GAA (2.35) and save percentage (.923). Price’s potential is greater moving forward than that of Thomas, who is more likely to see his exceptional numbers drop at least a bit as the B's go through the rigors of defending their title.



Simon (Edmonton):

For my hockey pool, should I gamble on Sidney Crosby, who might miss time this season, or Jaromir Jagr, who has been out of the NHL for a while but could be a great sleeper? My gut says I should gamble on Jagr.

Even if Crosby misses some time this season, there’s a good chance his production will be at least equal to that of Jagr -- considering the Philadelphia winger has spent the last three seasons in the KHL and will need time to adjust. As evidenced by this preseason though, where Jagr has accumulated four goals and six points in three games, this 39-year-old looks like he still has the touch that helped him win five scoring titles in his younger days.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 32 | ASST: 34 | PTS: 66
SOG: 161 | +/-: 20
However, the reality is that Jagr is a risk because he will need to re-acclimate himself to NHL speed and competition. While Jagr looks to be a glaring sleeper pick, make sure to not select him too early in your upcoming fantasy draft, due to the risk that his age could catch up to him and prevent him from being a productive force for your team over the course of an 82-game season.

While Crosby’s ongoing recovery from post-concussion syndrome means there's no certainty as to his return date, there’s no question that he is still worthy of a first-round pick in your upcoming draft. Crosby is only 24 and reeled off 100-plus point seasons in four of his first five years at the NHL level. It would be wise to take into account his totals through 41 games last year as well, when Crosby was running away with the scoring title (32G, 34A) before suffering a season-ending head injury in January.



To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.

NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
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Positional rankings: C | LW | RW | D | G
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TOP 275 OVERALL FANTASY RANKS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. Ryan Getzlaf

COMPLETE RANKINGS BY CUBETA, JENSEN & SITKOFF