Frozen Tools Forensics: Dark Horse Playoff Targets

Grant Campbell


With the playoffs set to begin April 9, there are some fantasy players who could be diamonds in the rough.

Most people will more than likely take Nikita Kucherov with the first pick in points-only playoff pools and rightly so, as he has averaged 1.56 pts/g this season and has been a proven playoff performer in his career with 59 points in 61 games, and there is little reason to believe that Tampa Bay won’t go fairly deep. But who do you take in the 3rd to 12th rounds when most of the top five on each team that you covet have been taken?

To view playoff stats for each player, click on the link to go to Frozen Tools, then change the drop-down from Regular to Playoff.

Lars Eller – Washington

Don’t be swayed by Eller having one point in his past seven games of 2018-2019.  He averages 0.37 pts/g in the regular season over his career, but cue the playoffs and this jumps to 0.55 pts/g in 74 career games. Eller finished off 2017-2018 with only 6 points in his last 20 games, but then had 18 points in 24 games in the playoffs. He is not likely to duplicate that success, but could be worth 8-10 points if Washington goes past the second round.

Ondrej Palat – Tampa Bay

Palat has struggled this year and won’t hit 10 goals or 33 points in the regular season. He is no longer a 60-point player but he can elevate his game in the playoffs. He has 41 points in 62 career playoff games and had 12 points in 17 games in 2017-2018. He plays with Steven Stamkos over 71% of the time at even strength and is still a regular on the PP.

Alex Tuch – Vegas

His first experience in the playoffs was last year, and he played 20 games and had 10 points. He has gone from 0.47 pts/g to 0.72 pts/g from last year to now. He has slowed a little with 19 points in his past 36 games in the second half of 2018-2019, but this follows a similar pattern to his regular season last year. He should be just fine come the playoffs and should do better than his 0.50 pts/g from last year’s playoffs.

William Nylander – Toronto

Nylander’s value could slide in some pools this year, since he was a holdout earlier in the year and has 0.49 pts/g in 2018-2019 compared to the two seasons before that above 0.74 pts/g. He is an intriguing player to have on a team that could go fairly far because of his limited success in past playoffs.

Robert Thomas – St. Louis

St. Louis has surprised almost everyone and made it to the playoffs this year after their horrible start. Thomas is an electric player who runs hot or cold. He might not have NHL playoff pedigree but he did score 32 points in 21 playoff games last year with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL and performed well for Canada at the World Juniors in 2018. He is worth taking a gamble on.

Marcus Sorensen – San Jose

Sorensen has averaged 0.37 pts/g in 78 games this year for 29 points. Before 2018-2019, he had played 51 regular season games and 16 playoff games over his two partial years. He had five goals and two assists in those 16 games, and in deeper playoff pools could be a guy that you pick up in the last few rounds hoping he produces similar numbers this year.

Justin Schultz – Pittsburgh

Schultz is just returning from being injured for most of the season, and he might be a forgotten man when it comes to picking up players on Pittsburgh. He has been excellent in the playoffs for the Penguins with 25 points in 48 games over the past three seasons and more specifically 21 points in 33 games in the past two.

Nick Bonino – Nashville

Like Lars Eller, Bonino is a third line center who elevates his game in the playoffs. He is a career 0.43 pts/g in the regular season, but in the playoffs this jumps to 0.51 pts/g, and who can forget his 18-point performance in 2015-2016 with Pittsburgh?

Roope Hintz – Dallas

With only 21 points in 56 games in his rookie season, this pick might only be for people who believe in Dallas to extend their playoff run past the first round. He has really expanded his game in the 4th quarter this season, with 12 points in his past 18 games. Although he has no NHL playoff experience, he did play 22 games with Texas in the AHL playoffs in 2017-2018 and had 12 points, and in 2016-2017 with HIFK in the Finnish Elite league he had 14 points in 14 games, so he has a history of performing well in the post-season.

Derek Ryan – Calgary

At 32 years of age, Ryan has never played an NHL playoff game. He is an amazing story of perseverance to even get to the NHL, but if you like Calgary, you should give him a shot. After beginning this season with only 12 points in his first 42 games with the Flames, he now has 26 points in his past 38 games. He is going in the right direction as the regular season comes to an end.

Jake Debrusk – Boston

Debrusk made his first appearance in the NHL post-season in 2017-2018 and had six goals and eight points in 12 games. With another year under his belt and scoring 27 goals in the regular season, there should be high hopes for his playoff campaign in 2018-2019. He is coming in hot with eight goals and 12 points in his past 14 games in the 4th quarter of this season. He is now a permanent fixture on the first power play unit and is playing a minute per game more than last season.

We’ve tried to pick dark horses from a few teams that might have a shot to get past the second round of the playoffs this year. These players have either proven playoff success in the past or have shown some indication that they could. Good luck in your pools!

If you would like me to profile a player on your fantasy team please let me know and follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.


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