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Fantasy Hockey: Addressing your early season needs

Dobber Hockey
Puck Daddy

Dobber checks in every Monday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

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It's always interesting to see the massive jumps (and drops) in the standings on a daily basis in that first half-month of the roto-league season. It's when things are settled down towards the end of October that you can truly identify what needs to be addressed. In the meantime, you're just trying to grab the best assets you can off the wire and lose the Senators Hurricanes dogs. These are the assets that will help you address your needs later on.

Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick...

P.A. Parenteau, New York Islanders (4-1-6-7, plus-5, 4 PIM, 7 SOG) — With Nino Niederreiter pegged for a top six spot and Brian Rolston joining the squad, it looked as though Parenteau's ice time (read: production) would take a beating. With El Nino on the shelf (groin), Parenteau is showing why he deserves to remain in the mix. Those numbers are so good that when Niederreiter returns he may find that his plum first-line spot has been filled.

John Tavares, New York Islanders (4-5-3-8, plus-4, 6 PIM, 12 SOG) — Before his career is over, he will have been in more than a few "scoring title" conversations. Will the first one be this year? The crystal ball is murky. But I will tell you this much — when he does make that big breakthrough and becomes a Top 5 scorer, you won't get any warning. It won't be a nice, neat little year-over-year upward graph that you can study in September and say "Mmm-hmmm, this is the year he'll get 100 points." Sorry, it doesn't work that way. If it did I would be writing this from a beach in the Bahamas, enjoying semi-retirement.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-5-3-8, plus-7, 2 PIM, 11 SOG) —Kessel owners are having a great time right now, not only enjoying the best fantasy numbers in all of hockey, but they look forward to one of the busier schedules of the next week. The Leafs play four times and that includes a tilt against their former beach-ball misser Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2-3-5, plus-6, 4 PIM, 11 SOG) — Kessel's linemate (and while we're at it, don't forget the third member Tyler Bozak — who could even be sitting on the wire right now) is in line for a career season. That's provided he doesn't get hurt, which happens all too frequently with this guy. The last time Lupul topped 50 points (2008-09), cool businessmen were still wearing Bluetooth headsets and walking around the mall pretending to talk to someone important. He'll get that many again if he can hang in there for 65 healthy games.

Sheldon Souray, Dallas Stars (5-1-3-4, plus-4, 15 PIM, 16 SOG) — Look at that beautiful shot total. Hell, look at all the numbers. Fantastic. But three of the last four seasons has seen him miss more than half the games due to injury. The next injury is just a Kelly Kelly dropkick away. Until then, enjoy the incredible fantasy numbers because there is really no non-injury reason for them to stop.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (3-4-0-4, plus-2, 2 PIM, 9 SOG) — It looks like the big question has been answered: will the Oilers send RNH to junior after nine games? Not unless they are in the habit of demoting their leading scorer. It would take a monumental collapse over the next three weeks for him to lose his spot. If you gambled on him in the middle late rounds of your draft — congrats.

Duds...

Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens (4-0-1-1, minus-3, 6 PIM, 12 SOG) — Montreal's leader in ice time (by a wide margin), it's only a matter of time before things start to role. He'll get 50 points this year, mark it!

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Iginla (4-1-0-1, minus-3, 6 PIM, 8 SOG) — If you were counting on Iginla for huge points to start, then you didn't get the memo. Iginla loves getting the bulk of his points in the second half. He is usually a 65- or 70-point player in the first half and a 90-point guy in the latter portion. The back injury he's recovering from can't be helping either.

Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets (3-0-0-0, minus-4, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) — Rest easy, friend - there are better times ahead. Oh, wait, is this the Little blurb? My mistake. Yeah, you're screwed. The plus/minus will continue to drop faster than RIM stock, he was never much of a penalty minute asset and the best  you can expect in terms of points is something in the low 50's. My neighbor's dog could bark a better suggestion for your No. 4 center slot than Little at this point.

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Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-1-1, minus-5, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) — At one point, Ruutu was a potential 70-point, 90-PIM player. But injuries have taken their toll. His game has calmed down and the results have been fewer points and penalty minutes both. That's the price of staying healthy. Ruutu is now a steady 55-point player who will keep his plus/minus at least close to even, so there are better times ahead. In fact, he makes a good "buy low" player to acquire.

Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa Senators (5-0-2-2, minus-3, 0 PIM, 5 shots) — If you didn't see the writing on the wall last year, you're either a Sens fan or a member of the Gonchar family. This nine-time 50-plus point defenseman was at one point a top fantasy own. Now he just hurts your team.

Tomas Kaberle, Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-1-1, minus-5, 0 PIM, 12 SOG) — Kaberle's 50-point days are behind him and I wonder if he will even get to 45 again, even with the big contract. The Hurricanes have several budding PP quarterbacks on the way and Kaberle may find himself in a secondary role as early as Christmas.

The Wire...

Defensemen who are surprising us early on are abundant. It's such a hard position to fill in fantasy hockey, particularly those leagues that require six of them. So these bones will be picked clean pretty quickly...

Tim Gleason, Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-3-3, plus-7, 5 PIM, 3 SOG) — While you can count on Gleason for 80 penalty minutes, this nice plus/minus rating is a pleasant surprise. Especially on a team that has a superstar (Eric Staal) sitting at minus-8. For the short term, he'll help you in the other categories.

Jakub Kindl, Detroit Red Wings (4-0-2-2, plus-6, 4 PIM, 6 SOG) — In and out of the lineup last season, the 24-year-old has been moving up the depth chart this time around, seeing his season high in ice time (15:47) last game. Detroit is a safe plus/minus team and so Kindl will at least help you there, even if the offense doesn't last.

Carl Gunnarsson, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-2-2, plus-3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) — The underrated rearguard is logging 22 minutes a game and getting in some secondary PP time. To me, he's a dark horse for 35 points.

Luke Adam, Buffalo Sabres (4-3-3-6, plus-2, 0 PIM, 10 SOG) — The lone forward in this section, but Adam has to be mentioned. Last year's AHL rookie of the year is, though it's early yet, the leading NHL rookie scorer this year. The torrid pace won't continue, but he should be a worthwhile fantasy own for most, if not all, of this season.

Keepers...

What to think of these youngsters in your keeper league...

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (4-0-1-1, plus-2, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) — I don't see the Flyers burning a year of Couturier's rights even though he has proven that he can play in this league. Not with Brayden Schenn making a mockery of the AHL (six points in three games so far) and a deep Flyers' roster that can succeed with or without Couturier. Don't count on the numbers this season, but expect Calder talk a year from now.

Maxime MacEnauer, Anaheim Ducks (4-1-1-2, plus-2, 2 PIM, 4 SOG) — The Ducks aren't scoring a whole lot, yet MacEnauer is doing alright. But that's not his calling card. He's more of a hustler and an energy guy, and is not worth owning in any keeper format.

Zac Dalpe, Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-0-0, plus-1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG) — Now out "week-to-week" with a lower body injury, Dalpe is officially "for the future". My Calder pick prior to the season, Dalpe saw little to no ice time on the struggling 'Canes and now it looks as though it will be November before we see his first point of the season. He's a potential second liner and I'm sure he'll show why at some point in the second half.

If you need more guidance with your fantasy squad, take a look at Hockey Pool Geek from Dobber's Sports Network. And while you're at it, follow his fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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