Fantasy Pool Look: Dark horses to save your butt

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

I’m dead-last in one of my leagues. Or, rather, I was dead-last. Ironically, it is called an “Experts League” and is made up of all the writers for I was so far out of this one-year rotisserie league, most people in my shoes would have quit. But I can’t. To finish in last would mean being relegated to a lower division in next year’s contest and, since I’m ‘Dobber,’ I can’t allow myself the embarrassment. It was time for some Hail Mary moves.

My goaltending was in shambles with Michael Leighton hurt, Pekka Rinne off to a slow start and Antti Niemi having a brutal first six weeks. My team had 35 roto points and first place was hovering around 98. Eleventh place, one spot ahead of me, was sitting with 47. I was way, way out.

I managed to turn Vincent Lecavalier and Ville Leino into Tomas Plekanec and Sergei Bobrovsky on the night Vinny broke his hand (though I didn’t know it at the time - this deal closing when it did was just dumb luck, no other way to put it). This was my first Hail Mary. I hoped that Bobrovsky would get me wins at least until Leighton (who I still own) returns. I hoped that Plekanec would keep pace with Lecavalier, but at the same time score more goals (another category that was hurting). I got lucky on both counts.

Next, I snagged a couple of goaltenders for a cheap waiver price (we have a $100 budget to last us the year). One was Devan Dubnyk and the other was Ondrej Pavelec. We all know about the latter by now…cha-ching. I grabbed a couple of promising, but somewhat long-shot goalies and hoped one would pan out. I would drop the other to clear up some bench room. This worked out nicely, as Pavelec made it clear very quickly that he would work out just fine.

The final move I made was claiming Kevin Shattenkirk. That wasn’t taking a risk, I know. But the amount I bid on him was. I spent a good 20 percent of my remaining budget making sure I landed this blue-chip defenseman.

In three weeks, I’ve inched up to 51.5 roto points, good for 10th spot and just four points out of eighth. First place sits with 93, implying that some of my points gained were at his expense. The moral of the story: never give up. I probably won’t win this league, or even finish in the Top 2, but I have proven that I can put myself in a position where that is at least feasible. You can, too. Here are some dark horses to take chances on. And hey, what’s the worst that can happen? You drop him next week and take another one? These are risks worth taking.

Corey Crawford, Chicago

He’s been winning lately and Marty Turco has not. Crawford has had more years invested in him, whereas Turco has just a bit of salary invested in him. The pendulum is swinging in Chicago as Crawford has won his past five games and a new No. 1 goalie is on the horizon.

Jeff Tambellini, Vancouver

As soon as the Canucks realize they are undefeated when he is in the lineup, they’ll stop scratching him or sending him down. Tambellini may not look like his feet are always moving and he may not be the most defensively responsible player in the league, but he puts points on the board and makes the team more successful. He’ll either flourish or they’ll keep sending him to Manitoba in the American League. Pick him up now and within a week or two you will know which of the two will happen.

Justin Braun, San Jose

Everybody needs defensemen, so why not pick up this Matt Carle clone? Braun is a former college star who has found success in the pros right away. He has four points in four games and is seeing time on the power play. The team has found a Jason Demers replacement who is quite possibly better than Demers.

Greg Mauldin, Colorado

This is just a short-term pickup, as Mauldin has established himself in the AHL as a 55-point player. But he tallied four points against the Wild last week. With the arrival of Tomas Fleischmann, you’ll find out soon enough if Mauldin will keep up his hot run.

Michael Grabner, Islanders

The speedy winger is red hot, tallying five of his nine points in the past five games. His ice time is creeping up to the 14-minute mark as he starts to get noticed. Need goals from a winger? He is your man for the next couple of weeks. He’s already established a pattern of streakiness in his young career. 

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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