Fantasy Pool Look: Five stars to watch

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Much like companies in the stock market, the fantasy value of players can often go up and down dramatically within a couple of months. That is why poolies treasure the steady and consistent players who never get hurt and rarely hit a slump.

In 2009-10, Daniel Briere, Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev, Pavel Datsyuk and Marc Savard have taken a hit in their value. These are some big names, so let’s analyze things more carefully.

Briere

The 32-year-old has a 95-point season under his belt, but that was when he was unquestionably the top center in Buffalo. In Philadelphia, he has Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to contend with and that has actually pushed him to the wing for most games these days. Injuries have slowed him down and his numbers since coming to Philadelphia reflect that – he has 137 points in 161 games for the Flyers, but posted 153 in 129 games over his final two seasons with the Sabres.

Briere still has a couple of 85-plus point seasons in him, but only if the Flyers can somehow move his big contract to another team. Otherwise, competing for power play time the way he is, Briere’s ceiling is in the high-70s.

Spezza

The 26-year-old’s value has taken a beating due to the perception in Fantasyland that his production was closely tied to Dany Heatley’s. Spezza managed just 19 points in 30 games before going down with a knee injury earlier this season. However, it says here Spezza’s fortunes are not intrinsically tied to Heatley. It took some growing pains, but Spezza has finally adjusted his game. No longer able to rely on a 50-goal sniper patrolling his wing, he has learned to take more shots himself. The result has seen him tally 14 points in 11 games since returning from his injury; 10 of those points have been goals.

With 19 games left, expect another 10 to 12 goals and 25 points, giving him 58 on the campaign. Next year he’ll be a 90-point player again.

Kovalev

The Sens signed Kovalev last July with hopes he could help compensate for some of the goals that would inevitably go out the door when Heatley was dealt. That hasn’t happened and Kovalev is tracking to finish with around 65 points for the second consecutive year. So has Kovalev, who turns 37 on Feb. 24, seen 80 points for the last time? That’s what we thought three years ago, but then he went and ripped off 84 points. He’s a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma.

Given his age, it seems unlikely Kovalev will get there again. On the other hand, he has 25 points in his past 22 games and has a lot more room on the ice now that Spezza is rolling. Look for him to finish with 65 this year and top 70 next season, as he goes for that last big contract.

Datsyuk

The 31-year-old followed up back-to-back 87-point campaigns with back-to-back 97-point campaigns. He is the epitome of that “steady and consistent” player mentioned in the first paragraph of this article. Until now, that is. The Red Wings have been hammered with injuries and the resulting lack of depth has had a huge impact on Datsyuk’s numbers. He’s on pace for just 66 points, which would be his lowest total since 2003.

The Wings are healthy now and Datsyuk has 12 points in his past 10 games. Look for 25 down the stretch as he salvages a 74-point campaign. In the future, he will see 90 again – probably more than once, too.

Savard

For five straight seasons, Savard has had a points-per-game average between 1.05 and 1.18. His current average is 0.84. As a team, the Bruins have stumbled. Savard himself has had to battle through a couple of injuries – a broken foot and a sprained knee. Now healthy, he has six points in five games and seems to be turning a corner. The thinking is Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is on the hunt for a skilled winger to play with Savard. That, combined with stronger play by the Bruins, will see Savard rally for 24 points in the final 22 games.

Still only 32, he has a couple of 85-point seasons ahead.

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 throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com

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