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Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby an easy choice for top spot in pool picks

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Top 25 Pool Picks

1. Sidney Crosby, C, Penguins - Not much doubt about this top pick in every pool.

2. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals - Nylander's passing skills give him a shot at 60 goals.

3. Jason Spezza, C, Senators - It's arrived: the year Spezza finally tops the century mark.

4. Joe Thornton, C, Sharks - The gritty and skilled forward is a lock for 100 points.

5. Vincent Lecavalier, C, Lightning - He's skilled, confident and a leader. Who knew?

6. Marian Hossa, RW, Thrashers - Consistently impressive yet somehow underrated.

7. Pavel Datsyuk, C, Red Wings - He takes his rightful place among the game's elite.

8. Dany Heatley, RW, Senators - Fifty goals is pretty much a given for this top gunner.

9. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins - Blessed with and surrounded by incredible talent.

10. Jarome Iginla, RW, Flames - He'll take a serious shot at the Rocket Richard Trophy.

11. Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Thrashers - Mighty Russian returns to form after an off year.

12. Martin St. Louis, RW, Lightning - Monster talent in a tiny package is scary good.

13. Jaromir Jagr, RW, Rangers - Breaking in newcomers will make stats dip slightly.

14. Michael Nylander, C, Capitals - Game plan is simple: feed the puck to Ovechkin.

15. Michael Cammalleri, C, Kings - The main man on a vastly improved L.A. offence.

16. Olli Jokinen, C, Panthers - Any doubting his prowess now after a 91-point season?

17. Joe Sakic, C, Avalanche - Showing no signs of slowing down in his 19th season.

18. Alex Tanguay, LW, Flames - Should top a career-best 81 points with Iggy healthy.

19. Daniel Briere, C, Flyers - He's explosive but his new team's not quite as powerful.

20. Mats Sundin, C, Maple Leafs - A gunner on his wing and a captain returns to form.

21. Daniel Sedin, Canucks - The scoring twin gets his brother's play-making attention.

22. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins - Expect point-per-game production from this rising star.

23. Marian Gaborik, RW, Wild - He and Demitra will turn goaltenders inside out.

24. Henrik Zetterberg, LW, Red Wings - Cross your fingers and hope he breaks out.

25. Martin Havlat, LW, Blackhawks - Injury risk is big but pool potential is enormous.

Top 10 Goaltenders

1. Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames

2. Roberto Luongo, Canucks

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins

4. Martin Brodeur, Devils

5. Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks

6. Tomas Vokoun, Panthers

7. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ducks

8. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

9. Ryan Miller, Sabres

10. Chris Mason, Predators

Top 10 Defencemen

1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings

2. Tomas Kaberle, Maple Leafs

3. Lubomir Visnovsky, Kings

4. Sergei Gonchar, Penguins

5. Brian Rafalski, Red Wings

6. Chris Pronger, Ducks

7. Ryan Whitney, Penguins

8. Shea Weber, Predators

9. Sheldon Souray, Oilers

10. Brian Campbell, Sabres

Going Up: 10 Players to Watch

1. Mikko Koivu, C, Wild

2. Brad Boyes, C, Blues

3. Tim Connolly, C, Sabres

4. Alexander Radulov, RW, Predators

5. Petr Sykora, RW, Penguins

6. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Ducks

7. Johan Franzen, C, Red Wings

8. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals

9. Matthew Lombardi, C, Flames

10. Viktor Kozlov, C, Capitals

Going Down: 10 Players to Avoid

1. Todd Bertuzzi, RW, Ducks

2. Robert Lang, C, Blackhawks

3. Milan Hejduk, RW, Avalanche

4. Andrew Raycroft, G, Maple Leafs

5. Jeremy Roenick, C, Sharks

6. Rick Nash, LW, Blue Jackets

7. Mike Modano, C, Stars

8. Sami Salo, D, Canucks

9. Kristian Huselius, LW, Flames

10. Owen Nolan, RW, Coyotes

Fantasy Philosophy

1. Do Your Homework. Have a cheat sheet of your top 100 or more picks. Know which teams are most improved, who's playing on what lines and what the power plays will look like.

2. Create A Game Plan. Trust your instincts and stick to your pre-draft strategy. Target certain stars and go after them. Determine when to take your goaltenders and defencemen.

3. Avoid Injury Risks. Injuries happen, but stay away from the risky picks. You can't whine about injuries killing your pool team if you draft guys like Martin Havlat and Ed Jovanovski.

4. Rope a Rising Star. Circle the dozen or so players with breakout potential and haul a couple in with shrewd latter-round picks. Those sleepers with great upside can put you over the top.

5. Enjoy Yourself. Hey, it's only a pool. There will be winners; there will be losers. But on draft day everyone is tied for first, so laugh and poke fun at your opponents - while you still can.

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