Capped: Analyzing Playoff Breakouts
A note before we get into the players, click on some of the names below in the article and check out the new Frozen Tools player profiles. They are extremely sleek and have everything you need for your fantasy pools. Props to Eric Daoust for all the hard work he has put into these.
Wow do I ever love playoff overtime. This Nashville vs. Winnipeg series especially deserves to go seven games with each game going at least past the first overtime. Such great hockey.
All contract info from Cap Friendly.
Jake DeBrusk – Boston Bruins
Current Cap Hit: $863,333 (RFA as of July 2020)
Jake DeBrusk has been Boston’s fourth-best forward this post-season. And that is no slight. The top line has been lights-out, and with the focus squarely on them, DeBrusk has found the room to shine through 10 playoff games. He has managed eight points (six goals) and amassed 28 hits. Boston likely doesn’t have any of the wingers set on the second line for next season, especially with Rick Nash expected to test free-agency. DeBrusk may even have the inside track at this point, and with that kind of deployment, would be in line to keep these big numbers going right through into 2019 and beyond.
Alex Tuch – Vegas Golden Knights
Current Cap Hit: $925,000 (RFA as of July 2019)
The Vegas Golden Knights paid three top picks to acquire Tomas Tatar at the deadline, and he has sat in the press box for the majority of the playoffs. This is in-part due to the emergence of Tuch as an effective presence at both ends of the ice. In some of the games I have watched, there have been shifts were he seems to be one of the most dominant players on the ice. He uses his six-foot-four frame to his full advantage, protecting pucks, winning battles in the corners, and angling players off through the neutral zone.
Vegas had him fall into their laps from the draft lottery, and with new contracts due for a few of the wingers ahead of Tuch in the pecking order, it is unlikely he gets shuffled back out of the top-six. As a result, his scoring should be here to stay. He has notched five points in seven playoff games thus far and finished off the regular season with six points in his last seven matches. His 37 points from this season will be his floor going into next year. Don’t get caught waiting for the fourth-year breakout here, it likely won’t take that long.
Jake Guentzel – Pittsburgh Penguins
Current Cap Hit: $734,167 (RFA as of July 2019)
I was planning on covering Guentzel here, but it seems that Rick beat me to it with this week’s Cage Match. He took most of the words right out of my mouth, but I will reiterate a thing or two here. The young Pittsburgh winger was expected to break out last year after a successful post-season run in 2017. Fast-forward another year and we are seeing another hugely successful post-season run. Maybe Guentzel becomes one of those players who turns it up a notch when the calendar flips to Arpil. Either way, I agree with Rick, that without the power-play production in the regular season, these numbers won’t translate as well as fantasy owners are hoping. Especially with Guentzel only having one more year to go before a big pay-day, now seems to be the best time to sell.
Austin Watson – Nashville Predators
Current Cap Hit: $1,100,000 (UFA as of July 2020)
The 26-year-old depth winger for the Predators had a very memorable series against the Colorado Avalanche. He was not held off the scoresheet, marking at least one point in all six games. His luck has turned a little against Winnipeg, notching a single point in the first three games of the series. All told, eight points in nine games from a fourth-line player averaging 14 minutes per-game is very impressive (and his time on ice is inflated by a few overtime games too).
So where has this scoring touch been in the regular season? He was a point-per-game player in the OHL, but his best season in the NHL was this year, and in 76 games he failed to reach 20 points. He has developed into more of a hard-nosed depth player and gotten away from the scoring line assignments he had in junior. Some players just don’t pan out as scorers at the next level, and while everyone in the NHL was once the best scorer on their team when they were younger, not all of them can score a point per game. Watson will continue to be more valuable in hits leagues, where you don’t want to have to rely on his offence. Jumping up into the top-six forwards is not likely whether he stays in Nashville or not. Chalk this up to a small sample size with some good bounces.
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That caps off another Thursday.
If you want to talk hockey, salary caps, or anything even remotely related, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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