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Frozen Fantasy: Don’t Overlook Veterans

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

For the first time ever, more than half of the league's players are younger than 27. It's a young league – cripes, some of them don't shave more than once a week.

Don't be blinded by shiny young things.

Yes, the NHL is a young league. Just look at the reliance on entry-level players to carry teams to success. The model of building a Cup winner while your best players are in their first three years is becoming the rule, not the exception. It's not a guarantee for success, but still a blueprint that's hard to escape.

Thank you, Gary Bettman and your salary cap. But I digress.

Fantasy owners can get blinded by youth. We're all victim to it at one point or another. And as you can see from this week's list (below), I've included a number of ruddy-cheeked babes.

But I've also tossed in a few 24-and-older guys. Guys who get overlooked because there's a so-called touch of tarnish on their games.

Rub off that tarnish and you'll often find chrome.

Every fantasy team needs solid, steady performers – those are the guys who bring balance to your squad, so you CAN take risks with those shiny, young and inconsistent young things.

I'm not saying all of these guys will stay polished like chrome. But veteran top-six forwards with talent should NEVER be overlooked.

Now, let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Andrew Cogliano, LW, Anaheim (2 percent Yahoo owned) - Cogs is perpetually overlooked, in large part because of his zip code. But his opening game was one for the ages. He scored one and set up two while filling in for an injured Ryan Getzlaf on the top line. Sure, it won't last. But smart owners will stash him – he could give the Quackers an intriguing option to spread out their offensive talent.

Jake DeBrusk, LW, Boston (2 percent) - DeBrusk's NHL debut brought tears to the eyes of his dad, former NHL enforcer Louie, and a huge sigh of relief to Boston brass. DeBrusk was part of the B's trio of first rounders in 2015 that were immediately scorned. The kid wobbled afterward – it's a tough thing to hear that you're apparently crap. But DeBrusk impressed coach Bruce Cassidy this preseason and he's now on the second line with playmaker David Krejci and uber-dude David Pastrnak. And he's impressing them – Jake is at his best competing and battling in the corners to spring the puck. And that's a huge help to two guys who play more of a finesse game. Stash him. He will be in the top-five rookies by season's end if he sticks on this line.

Martin Frk, RW, Detroit (2 percent) - That smell from the mitten state isn't about to go away – the Red Wings are going to continue to stink up the joint for a couple more seasons. But there will still be some decent performances from guys on that team. And Frk could be one of them. He's on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, and that trio has speed and skill to burn. Frk has already seen power-play time and had a two-point opening night. Sure, his plus-minus will likely be nauseous at times. But that can be balanced out with the right combination of players on your roster. Take a look.

Ryan Hartman, LW, Chicago (7 percent) - This guy had a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming Wednesday night – a goal and four helpers? Against the defending Cup champs? Hartman can't possible replicate that this season or maybe even in his entire career. But he does have a spot on the Hawks' second line with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz, who was flagged last week by keen-eyed reader Couch46. I do think the Hawks will struggle at times this season, but right now, I'm loading up.

Travis Konecny, LW/C, Philadelphia (7 percent) - Konecny is on the third line right now, but he's still hopping the boards on the Flyers' power play. Philly's top nine aren't as deep as say, the Leafs. But on paper, the Broadstreet Nine look like they're going to give opponents fits. Like a lot of young players, Konecny needs to improve on his side of the puck. That was why he was picking splinters out of his glutes a few games last year. But Konecny has the talent to be a top-six winger if his zone starts are protected. A hot start is a distinct possibility. I'm watching. You should, too.

Kevin Labanc, LW/RW, San Jose (23 percent) - Stud youngster? Check. Top-line gig? Yup. Linemates with Jumbo Joe AND Little Joe? Priceless. So, go get him. At any price. I tried, but got scooped in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League by Yahoo's own Scott Pianowski. Devil.

Brandon Montour, D, Anaheim (3 percent) - Injuries on the Ducks blue line have given this offensive talent a chance to log 20-plus minutes a night. A hot start is in the offing, but be ready to re-evaluate when the team is back to full strength. Montour will still be valuable in a second power-play unit role, but you might get more in trade. Especially to that owner that's easily distracted by shiny things.

Mathieu Perreault, LW/C, Winnipeg (13 percent) - The Jets looked awful Wednesday night, but there were a few, albeit tiny bright spots. Perrault was one. He logged time with the first and second lines, and the top power-play unit, and even notched a goal. And remarkably, Perrault was only minus-1 in that 7-2 beat-down. The Jets are better than they showed on Wednesday and Perrault – when healthy – is a solid top-six producer. The team's bad start, especially on the power play, could mean he's available in your league. His role plus his talent mean Perrault should be rostered in medium and deep formats. There's nowhere to go but up.

Jason Pominville, RW, Buffalo (13 percent) - Pominville is a top-line winger who plays beside stud scorer Jack Eichel and also gets power-play time. He notched both Buffalo goals against Montreal on Thursday night. Do you need any other information?

Vladimir Sobotka, LW, St. Louis (8 percent) - A 30 year old who lucks into a first-line gig? Uh-huh. Latent talent? Yes, that's what his scouting report has always said. Riding shotgun with Vladimir Tarasenko? MONEY IN THE BANK. Well, at least for now. Sobotka had two helpers in his first game. Add him or forever zip your trap.

Jordan Weal, LW/C, Philadelphia (2 percent) - Weal can wheel. And Weal can score. So, why isn't Weal owned more? No clue, other than to say that's a big mistake. The Flyers are powering up and Weal is on the second line with Nolan Patrick. He notched a power-play marker on opening night and will quietly deliver multi-categorical goodness for smart fantasy owners, especially those in deeper formats.

Back to veterans.

The Yahoo! Friends and Family League is back and it's filled with veteran fantasy experts. There are 11 teams; only one (Daskalakis) completed its picks on autodraft (he didn't become an owner until after the draft, so he's already trying to wheel and deal to fix some of the gaps he inherited).

Smart, smart move. I have huge respect for that, even if I don't accept his offers.

We did focus on young guys, but we also made sure we stocked our squads with established veterans. Sure, some of the older guys like Joe Thornton went late. And one of the Sedins was drafted, but has already been dropped. But nobody blew early or even mid-round picks on too many shiny, untested baubles.

Our draft might give you some insight into how we think. Our settings are bit different than regular Yahoo! formats – we roll three of each of the forwards and an additional rover forward, plus five defenders, two goalies and five bench spots.

Let me know what you think of my team.

Before I go, I'm going to pump the tires of my offseason hockey project again. The InsideHockey.com Fantasy Guide 2017-18 is a great tool to add more info to your arsenal as you head into the season. Check it out.

Until next week.