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Fantasy Mailbag: Assessing Couture's keeper value

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

By Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Fantasy Mailbag: Assessing Couture's keeper value
NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has you covered all season long with the weekly Fantasy Hockey Mailbag. 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

DANIEL FROM TORONTO has been offered a deal where he would receive Matt Duchene, along with Devin Setoguchi, in exchange for Logan Couture and Dustin Brown. Both Duchene and Couture are keepers in his league.

Duchene and Couture (both C/LW eligible) are the long-term centerpieces of this deal, and both warrant keeper status in most leagues. Couture (22 G, 19 A, plus-10, 10 PIM, 12 PPP, 152 SOG) was an All-Star and has had tremendous success on the San Jose Sharks' secondary line this season. He's done nothing but instill more confidence in his owners as of late, with four goals and five assists during his current six-game point streak, including a goal Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Logan Couture
Center - SJS
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 41
SOG: 152 | +/-: 10
Duchene (12 G, 12, minus-8, 6 PIM, 9 PPP, 92 SOG), meanwhile, injured his knee on Dec. 29 against Phoenix and has been stuck on Injured Reserve ever since. His extended absence has been a red flag to his owners, considering he had missed only three games over his first two NHL seasons. With 15 games already lost to injury, Duchene remains a question mark in his ongoing recovery. There's no question that Duchene was productive alongside rookie Gabriel Landeskog when healthy and is certainly a great keeper option, but he wasn't even on pace to sniff his 67-point showing from last season even before the injury. He's struggled to diversify his fantasy game outside of point-production, has been unable to compensate for his negative rating and low hit and PIM totals.

Brown (13 G, 14 A, plus-3, 36 PIM, 10 PPP, 147 SOG) has experienced five separate stretches of four-plus games without a goal this season, but is healthy and a key piece for a contending club in the Los Angeles Kings. Setoguchi, like Duchene, has missed time due to injury this year, and while he possesses goal-scoring ability, he's been dragged down in his team's inconsistency for large chunks of this season. That Brown has been a much more stable fantasy force for L.A., and has dual eligibility -- along with better numbers in every category -- makes him clearly a more valuable asset. Both Duchene, 21, and Couture, 22, are solid power-play producers and integral pieces to the core of their respective teams moving forward, but it's hard to ignore that Couture is fixated on one of the deepest, most talented clubs in the NHL. With viable options around him whether on five-on-five or the man advantage, his keeper value is much higher than that of Duchene at this juncture of their careers. Considering you have Couture and Brown in your grasp at the moment, it should take more than Duchene and Setoguchi to budge in a trade offer.

recently traded Alexander Edler for Scott Hartnell, and is wondering if he got the better end of the swap.

Assuming that you made this trade because you were thin at left wing and deep on the blue line, it would be safe to say you got a viable asset. Hartnell is on pace to shatter his career-high in goals and also eclipse his previous career-best assist total. He has simply taken flight with the Philadelphia Flyers, especially since joining forces with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr on the team's top line. He'll be playing meaningful hockey for the remainder of the regular season, and your fantasy team should benefit from having his services for the stretch run.

Scott Hartnell
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 45
SOG: 137 | +/-: 18
Edler is definitely a steep price to pay in a straight-up trade for Hartnell, but in order to acquire a fantasy game-breaker at your desired position, you'll often need to part ways with an asset. This 25-year-old blueliner has been a machine on the man advantage (T-11th in PPP), and is quietly emerging as one of the top distributors in the League at his position for one of the most formidable teams in the Western Conference. Neither of these players was expected to perform at this level when the season began, so – at the end of the day – you have an exceptional player who should pay dividends in your quest for a league title.

BILLY FROM PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY is in a deep league and is in need of help at the right wing position. His choices of eligible right wings via free agency include Dainius Zubrus, Martin Erat and Maxime Talbot.

Rookie sensation Adam Henrique returned to the lineup Sunday, which is unfortunate for Zubrus (C/RW eligibility) owners as he had a prime opportunity on his hands operating alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. While this move temporarily shifted one of the Devils' most valuable secondary scoring threats to the top line, Zubrus (4 percent) is reaped the benefits of the star power around him with two goals and four assists over his last three contests.

Martin Erat
Right Wing - NSH
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 39
SOG: 70 | +/-: 5
Talbot (5 percent) has C/RW eligibility, and is skating on Philly's secondary line while James van Riemsdyk continues to work his way back from a concussion that has sidelined him since Jan. 12. Talbot is a hard-nosed player who has taken his offensive game to a new level this season while maintaining a respectable PIM output and high hit total. He has slumped as of late with pointless outings in six of his last seven games, but remains a reliable fantasy contributor for any lineup in need of a well-rounded performer.

But while Talbot and Zubrus bring their respective strengths to the table, the most viable option of these three is the RW-eligible Erat (28 percent), who tallied a goal and two assists in Saturday's win over St. Louis for his first three-point showing of the season. With four goals and 12 assists over his last 13 games for the surging Nashville Predators, he is by far the most consistent player of this trio. Playing for a balanced team bodes well for Erat from a fantasy standpoint because his plus-minus usually evens out, while his offensive numbers continue to soar as his offensive game blossoms. With the red-hot Mike Fisher centering his line on the Preds' secondary unit, Erat is in a great position to succeed on a nightly basis. If Erat is still available via free agency, he's your best bet. 

RICH FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONA is in a head-to-head league, and has Nicklas Backstrom listed on Injured Reserve. He is torn on whether to pursue Mike Ribeiro or Mikhail Grabovski as a replacement.

You honestly can't go wrong with either of these scorching second-line centers. Grabovski (18 G, 19 A, plus-6, 14 PIM, 8 PPP, 101 SOG, 30 hits) has the slight edge in point-production over the course of the season, and is on a torrid pace with three goals and seven assists during his current five-game point streak.

Mike Ribeiro
Center - DAL
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 34
SOG: 83 | +/-: 0
But, with that being said, I would make a push for Ribeiro (11 G, 23 A, even, 30 PIM, 9 PPP, 83 SOG, 75 hits), who notched the lone regulation goal on the power play in the Dallas Stars' 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday. He has proven to be a diversified fantasy product, and has showcased a lethal scoring touch with five goals and two helpers in his last six games. With Loui Eriksson by his side and Eric Nystrom replacing the injured Brenden Morrow (IR, upper-body) on this line, Ribeiro's efficient play is in the best interest of your team while Backstrom is out of the lineup.

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