The million-dollar question a lot of fantasy hockey players are asking is: in average-depth single-year hockey leagues, do you pick up or hold on to Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, and/or Peter Forsberg? I don't have any insider information, so maybe our better connected readers and writers can help me out, but here's what I think:
Starting with Selanne, I think the answer is clearly that you let him go. He's not under contract with any team, wouldn't go to a team other than the Ducks anyway, and if Niedermayer decides he should want to return, there simply isn't room for Selanne under the cap (unless he plays for the minimum). On top of all that, at 37 he's the least likely of the three to get the "fire" back -- something he was accused at times of not having enough of anyway.
As for Forsberg, personally, I think the odds are good that he signs somewhere in the second half of the season to make a run for the cup. It's probably good for him anyway, as he hasn't been able to put in more than 60 games since his 75-game campaign in 2002-03. Unless your league has a deep bench, however, you probably shouldn't keep Forsberg around. There are probably plenty of contributing centers available in your league, and even if Forsberg is signed by a contender, he'll likely go to a team with a good chance already at the Cup, meaning that there'd be a good chance of him stepping in on a supplementary line rather than one exhibiting good chemistry already. Reportedly, countryman Daniel Alfredsson has been lobbying hard for him to sign with Ottawa (the Sens have a good amount of room under the cap), and if Forsberg were to sign there, he probably wouldn't displace Jason Spezza on Dany Heatley's line (though an Eaves/Foligno, Forsberg, and Alfredsson combination would be very good). Still, if Forsberg returns he's likely to pull a Roger Clemens and wait for a while to ensure he's in a good situation, so if you can't wait that long, give him the boot.
Niedermayer provides the toughest decision. Defensive scoring goes for a premium in almost all leagues, and Niedermayer was the best last season. On top of that, he's only 34, and the Ducks have a pretty good team. If they continue to make a strong run, it's not hard to envision Niedermayer coming back, especially to try and bring home another cup with his brother Rob. In shallower leagues though, with Niedermayer unable to occupy an IR spot, what do you do? I think if there are defensemen on your waiver wire capable of putting up a 35-to-40-point season, you have to consider cutting him. Whatever his decision is, he's not letting on to the media, so who knows if he would come back early in the season or later (or not at all). But his fantasy value, so much higher than the average defenseman, makes it so hard to cut ties with him. I say hold on to him until the end of October. If there's no further indication as to his plans by then (and if the 1-1-1 Ducks continue to flounder a bit in the absence of Mathieu Schneider, the media pressure to get a definitive update should grow), then you might want to consider cutting ties. But with the potential reward so high, hold on to Niedermayer for now.
Posted by Bret Cohen at 10/3/2007 7:55:00 PM