Blackhawks forward Ruutu may be worth picking up in NHL fantasy pools

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The Chicago cops thought they had their man when they picked up a jogger in a sweatsuit and stocking cap last week. But instead of nabbing the man wanted in connection with an armed robbery, they actually took in Blackhawks winger Tuomo Ruutu for questioning.

Ruutu wasn't the bad guy, of course, but snarky poolies will suggest this isn't the first time he has been misidentified. For years, in fact, he's been mistaken as a good player in fantasy hockey leagues.

The 23-year-old Finn was considered a can't-miss prospect when he was drafted in the first round in 2001, but he has really done nothing but disappoint. After showing some promise with 23 goals and 44 points in his rookie season, Ruutu has vexed his pool owners since then with injuries and inconsistency.

Ruutu has been at it again this year, teasing poolies with eight points in October. He returned to form in November with eight straight games without a point. He has also missed time with a knee injury and bout of influenza. So, the bottom line here is to stay away, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not.

Ruutu has always had considerable offensive potential. Knowing that, we were intrigued last week when he started skating between Robert Lang and Martin Havlat, and then sat up and took notice when he scored two goals in his first game on that top unit.

So, consider him worth watching but also consider yourself warned. The police eventually let Ruutu go when they realized they made a mistake. There's a good chance you'll be doing the same.

Injury Update

That opening on the Blackhawks No. 1 line occurred when Jason Williams went down with a groin injury last week, a tough blow to fantasy owners who were enjoying his comeback season.

Williams, with seven goals and 19 points, hasn't been the only surprisingly bright light temporarily dimmed by recent injury.

Radim Vrbata was tops on the Coyotes with nine goals when he too was felled with groin troubles. And it's the groin again that has owners of Alexander Frolov of the Kings playing the usual wait-and-see game. Frolov, Williams and Vrbata are all worth owning in any hockey pool when healthy.

Meanwhile, Sean Avery is by no means the offensive weapon that those players are, but in pools where penalty minutes are rewarded he will definitely be missed. The Rangers' premier pest had surgery last week on his wrist that he hurt in a fight, of course, and will be out for several weeks.

Waiver watch

Zach Parise's fantasy value was expected to rise this season after Scott Gomez left the Devils, and the tear he is on now has him poised to almost double his 47 points from last year.

Parise piled up 13 points in the last six games of November as he and linemates Brian Gionta and Patrik Elias made the newly reformed PEG line one of the NHL's best.

It might be hard to believe that Martin Erat is leading the Predators in scoring. It's even harder to believe that with 24 points he is not owned in all fantasy pools. Get him in there now because he is good and he is hot.

So is Daniel Cleary of the Red Wings. Okay, the jury is still out on the good. But he definitely is hot and is worth owning right now.


Greg Dennis can be reached at theCanadianpress.pool(at)


Some players to watch or watch out for in your hockey fantasy pool

Some players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:

Who's Hot

1. C Shawn Horcoff, Oilers. Recovering from a slow start with four goals and eight points in two weeks.

2. C Tim Connolly, Sabres. Pre-season sleeper runs hot and cold but is turning it up in recent games.

3. G Roberto Luongo, Canucks. Three shutouts in three straight games for league's No. 1 goaltender.

4. D Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings. Young, talented defenceman might be poised to show his true potential.

5. G Martin Brodeur, Devils. The great goalie rebounds from a slow start with five straight wins.

Who's Not

1. C Mike Fisher, Senators. Nine points in first seven November games, nothing in seven games since.

2. G Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames. He's supposed to be carrying the Flames, not bearing blame for their slump.

3. RW Shane Doan, Coyotes. One hockey website describes him as durable, but games played stat does not win pools.

4. LW Andrew Brunette, Avalanche. Two goals and only six points in November skid.

5. D Tomas Kaberle, Maple Leafs. Not scoring of late and went minus-7 in recent two-game stretch.



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