Pools call for ag­o­niz­ing ros­ter choices and THN is here to help

The Hockey News – Ultimate Pool Guide - - Opening Faceoff - BY MATT LARKIN

FAN­TASY HOCKEY IS A SE­RIES OF CROSS­ROADS. PICK­ING be­tween two high-upside rook­ies or weigh­ing which vet­eran to keep can make or break your sea­son. There’s no shame in ask­ing for help, es­pe­cially when you don’t have to tell any of your ri­val GMs. As the reign­ing reg­u­lar sea­son champ of the THN o ce pool, I can at least pre­tend I’m qual­i­fied enough to help. I took ques­tions via Twit­ter and an­swered as many as pos­si­ble here.

DANIEL HERREJON (@DanHer­re­jon):

Is Ben Bishop a true No. 1 goalie or was last sea­son a fluke?


Bishop is the real deal. He’s blessed with tremen­dous size, he was a stand­out in his col­lege days and Tampa has con­fi­dence in him. Steve Yz­er­man traded Cory Conacher for him while Conacher was hav­ing a great year. That said, Bishop needs to keep up the good work and stay healthy. Tampa has An­drey Vasilevskiy, one of the sport’s elite goalie prospects, wait­ing in the wings, not to men­tion Kristers Gudlevskis.

MATTHEW SKIP­PER (@mt­skls00):

Should I in­vest in Teuvo Ter­a­vainen?


That de­pends. If you’re in a keeper league, ab­so­lutely. In THN Fu­ture Watch 2014, Ter­a­vainen rates as the No. 3 prospect in the game. He possesses skills com­pa­ra­ble to Patrick Kane and he lit up the world ju­niors for Fin­land. In a re-draft league, how­ever, be care­ful not to reach. He’s a great late-round flier, but he needs some fill­ing out to do, so he could start 2014-15 in the Amer­i­can League. Train­ing camp will be huge for him.

MIKE LACKEY (@mo­bi­lope):

Who is a goalie no one is talk­ing about that can be grabbed late in a draft, mak­ing ev­ery­one wish they had him in the end?


John Gibson would’ve been my pick, but the playo s shed enough light on him that he prob­a­bly won’t be a bar­gain. I’ll go Jake Allen. His pedigree is al­most as strong as Gibson’s, and Allen should play at least half of St. Louis’ games, shar­ing time with Brian El­liott. He’s a near lock to rack up wins and post a low goals-against aver­age on a top de­fen­sive club.


Who should I sell high? Kyle Ok­poso, Max Pa­cioretty or Gus­tav Nyquist?


I don’t dis­like any of these fan­tasy op­tions, but Ok­poso is the one I’d sell high. Pa­cioretty isn’t even in the con­ver­sa­tion, as he’s scored at a 30-goal pace or bet­ter three straight years. Ok­poso took six full sea­sons to reach his po­ten­tial, whereas Nyquist ex­ploded into star­dom in his first full-time NHL duty. Ok­poso’s 2013-14 sea­son looks more like an out­lier.

JPRESS (@92Pen­sA­gain):

I’m in Year 2 of a sixyear keeper pool. Should I keep Je Carter or Je Skin­ner?


Carter is the safe choice, but Skin- ner’s ceil­ing is higher. If your team is loaded with stars al­ready and you aren’t depend­ing on one of these two to carry you, go with Skin­ner. He’s a two-time 30-goal man and he’s still only 22. If you need re­li­able pro­duc­tion, keep Carter, as Skin­ner has proven brit­tle in his short ca­reer, miss­ing 35 games in his past three sea­sons and bat­tling con­cus­sion prob­lems.

DANIELE (@Dan2192):

With­out Martin St-Louis, how will Steven Stamkos hold up as a firstround pick? Can he still score 50 goals?


‘Stam­mer’ will be just fine. He’s one of the game’s elite tal­ents, and the de­cline in St-Louis’ pro­duc­tion once he joined the Rangers tells you Stamkos made him bet­ter, not the other way around. Stamkos scored 11 goals in 20 games af­ter the St-Louis trade, a 45-goal pace, and that was af­ter re­turn­ing from a bro­ken leg. A healthy Stamkos eas­ily pots 50. He’s a top-three over­all pick.


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