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Fantasy: Kessel on pace for 62 goals; why Dallas Stars are duds

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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Nearing the quarter pole we have Phil Kessel on pace for 62 goals and 112 points. Joffrey Lupul, Jason Pominville and Kris Versteeg are Top 10 scorers. And Tyler Seguin needs one point to tie last season's mark of 22.

This Bizarro-NHL is precisely why we love fantasy hockey. This unpredictability. Remember that bozo who drafted Kessel too high in September? Oh how you laughed. The same guy drafted Versteeg in one of the final rounds and you thought nothing of it. But lucky bastard or genius, he's kicking your ass right now.

As usual, let's take a look at a snippet from Frozen Pool, where you'll find the white-hot Versteeg making an appearance — yes, the guy is only getting better.

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YHY

Attribute that to chemistry with linemates Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.

Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (3-2-3-5, plus-3, 2 PIM, 11 SOG) — It's amazing how quickly opinions shift in the fantasy-hockey world. Datsyuk is money in the bank and yet after a bit of a slow start some owners were actually panicking. There aren't too many players who could start out pointless in 15 games and still have my full confidence that he ends up close to a point-per-game in the end, but Datsyuk is one of them.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (8-4-7-11, plus-11, 6 PIM, 21 SOG) — Marchand is earning himself a reputation as a gentleman and a scholar multi-category stud. He's currently on pace for 68 points, 159 PIM and a plus-54 rating. The latter two numbers are a little inflated, but impressive nonetheless.

Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators (10-2-8-10, plus-12, 12 PIM, 26 SOG) — Suter is really coming into his own. And, granted this is a contract year, he is also at the age (27 in January) when many defensemen take that surprisingly huge step forward.

"Sell High" pick of the week: Lupul. What's more surprising — 25 points in 21 games … or playing 21 games? As a graduate of the Rick DiPietro School of Longevity, it's only a matter of time with this guy.

Duds

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

Andrew MacDonald, New York Islanders (17-0-1-1, minus-5, 8 PIM, 19 SOG) — Last season's 27 points in 60 games were seen as a step towards becoming a decent 40-point defenseman. But Mark Streit's return to the lineup after missing all of 2010-11 should have been seen as MacDonald becoming fantasy irrelevant.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars (0-2-0, 4.03 GAA, 0.892 SP) — Alex Goligoski may not have been lighting up the scoresheet, but if you include the game in which he was knocked out of the first period with a broken thumb, the Stars have lost five in a row. Granted, most of them were against good teams, but it's clear that Goligoski's injury was a huge blow and the wins could be tough until he returns.

Michael Ryder, Dallas Stars (5-0-0-0, minus-3, 2 PIM, 9 SOG) — I could probably go all the way through the Dallas lineup, with the common theme: "the last five games". Respect for Goligoski should be on the rise.

"Buy Low" pick of the week: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Normally an untouchable, I would be pursuing this guy hard in leagues of any format. Hands up if you believe that he will end up with 62 points and a plus/minus that makes Ilya Kovalchuk look like Pavel Datsyuk. If a window of opportunity to acquire him ever exists, that window would be now.

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The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Eric Fehr, Winnipeg Jets (1-0-0-0, even, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) — Pick him up and plunk him on your bench. In about two weeks you're going to want him active. When healthy, all that holds him back is ice time. He'll find more of that in Winnipeg than he did with the Capitals. He'll need a few games to get the timing back, but seeing how he managed three shots with just seven minutes of ice time it's looking pretty good.

Paul Byron, Calgary Flames (3-2-0-2, plus-4, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) — A preseason dark horse of mine, Byron didn't end up making the team. But now he's in the NHL and so far has provided the energy and offense that the Flames sorely lacked. He'll get to showcase himself as long as Brendan Morrison and David Moss remain sidelined. Not worth having active — but worth plucking off the wire and sitting him for two weeks just to see how he does.

Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild (4-1-2-3, plus-1, 2 PIM, 7 SOG) — Spurgeon made the jump to the NHL surprisingly fast considering he can look Nate Gerbe in the eye his small stature. But his play down the stretch last season combined with the team moving out Brent Burns made him a solid dark horse for this campaign. It hasn't happened yet, but things have been turning around of late for both Spurgeon and the Wild.

Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota Wild (5-2-2-4, plus-2, 14 PIM, 16 SOG) — If your league counts hits, then Clutterbuck is obviously a must-own. If it doesn't, then he's a depth player. But he's hot right now and his moustache ice time seems to be increasing. A positive sign that this trend will continue for a few games yet.

Yannick Weber, Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1-2, plus-2, 4 PIM, 8 shots) — Five of his seven points this year have come on the power play. And while for this year — his first full NHL season — I don't see him reaching the 30-point mark, that doesn't mean that he won't get you 20-plus PP points. At this point in the game, addressing one need via the wire may be all you can do.

Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings (4-1-1-2, plus-1, 4 PIM, 9 SOG) — If you look through Abdelkader's year-over-year numbers, you will note that his shots per game and his PIM per game has been increasing slowly and steadily. Health permitting, I think he's safe for 70 PIM and 150 shots this season, with a solid plus/minus.

Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1-3-4, plus-3, 0 PIM, 12 SOG) — Given his 14 points on the season, he is probably owned in your league. But if he is not, and you've been holding off because of his track record for missing the 40-point mark year after year, then the return of Sidney Crosby tonight should convince you. The two will be linemates, along with Chris Kunitz.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you're at it, follow Dobber's fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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