Top 10 Potential Playoff Duds

Tom Collins

2020-08-10

One of the most underrated aspects of the play-in/round robins when it comes to fantasy hockey has to do with postseason hockey pools.

While many pools have already started, there are numerous taking place in the next day or so that will exclude the last week of games. Instead, like a traditional playoff pool, the GMs will draft only from the 16 teams.

This is good thing for many fantasy general managers, as those who are already eliminated by stocking up on Oilers, Penguins and Jets can easily find a new playoff pool to join.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the top 10 potential playoff surprises. Instead of writing the same topic, here are 10 players most likely to be duds.

10. John Klingberg

In keeper leagues, I believe Klingberg is an excellent buy-low option this offseason. He's been productive enough in his career that you can hope the 27-year-old can still produce. Despite battling an injury at the start of the season and a decreased role with the man advantage, he still put up a 45-point pace over 82 games. That said, I'd be looking to shy away from him in the postseason. He missed the round-robin game against Colorado last week. In two games he did play, he had one assist. This team does not have the offense to make any player an attractive playoff draft option (more on that in a bit).

9. Sami Vatanen

One of the things that many people will do for their playoff draft is to look at who was successful in the round robin/play-in series. Vatanen looked impressive in the play-in against the Rangers, finishing with three points in three games. Two of those points came on the power play, where he played 4:09 per game on the Canes' top unit. However, much of that extra ice time was due to Dougie Hamilton missing the games with a broken fibula. Hamilton could be back during the matchup against the Bruins, possibly as early as Game 1. If that happens, say goodbye to Vatanen's power-play time, and production.

8. Mark Giordano

Forget about the fact that Gio scored 76 points a season ago. That was a blip in his career. Instead, try to focus on what really matters. He has only four points in 13 career postseason games, including only one point in four games against Winnipeg during the play-in. He also spent that series on the ice for only 31 per cent of Calgary's power-play minutes. Instead, it's been Erik Gustafsson that has been the main guy with the man advantage for the Flames. Giordano has been getting much more even-strength ice time (four minutes a night more) than Gustafsson and is the team's main defenseman when shorthanded. But if a defenseman isn't getting power-play time, do you really want to draft him in your playoff pool?

7. Marc-Andre Fleury

Last week, I flipped on the Vegas-St. Louis game to see the score was 4-3 for the Blues with five minutes left in the second. My immediate thought was that Fleury must have been in net, which he was. He simply hasn't been very good this season, and there's a good chance Vegas will go with Robin Lehner for the next round. For most postseason pools, you're drafting a team's netminders instead of individual ones, but I've been a part of pools where you draft the actual goalie. So you would need to draft the backup as well. In those pools, it's best to shy away from any netminder that could easily lose his starting job.

6. James van Riemsdyk

JVR is not someone who will blow you away with his production, but he is as steady and consistent as one could hope. His 82-game pace has ranged from 50 to 63 points for the past eight seasons. However, this year may be the first sign of a decline. His 50 point-pace was the lowest of the last eight years, and while he started the season with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, he finished on the third line with the likes of Derek Grant, Tyler Pitlick, Nate Thompson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. He also saw two fewer minutes per game and slightly less power-play time than the previous season. To make matters worse, he's still on the third line in the round robin, saw his ice time decrease even further and was a healthy scratch for the game against Washington last Thursday. 

5. Shayne Gostisbehere

Don't be fooled by Saturday's round robin game, where Ghost picked up two assists. It was his first action of the postseason, and he saw just 15:24 of game time. Although he split power-play time with Ivan Provorov, don't expect that to be a regular occurrence throughout the postseason. We're a long way away from when Ghost was a 65-point player, and if the Flyers need offense or are in a close game in the third period, they'll be looking to Provorov.

4. Max Domi

Last year, Domi led the Habs in points. Although he struggled this season, he was third on the team in both goals and points. Now that the postseason has started, he's stuck on the fourth line, playing with Dale Weise, Jordan Weal and Alex Belzile. The thinking is to spread offense across all four lines, but it's been a tough slog for Domi. His average ice time sits at a lowly 13:11 (which is higher than it should be as the Habs played an overtime period). In four games against Pittsburgh, he had four shots and zero points. While he is on the second power-play unit, it's not enough to make up for the dearth of offense from his fourth-line linemates.

3. Dylan Strome

One of the biggest disappointments for 2019-20, things haven't gotten much better for Strome in the postseason. Instead of playing with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane at even strength, he's been relegated to the third line with Alex Nylander and Drake Caggiula. Worse still, he lost his spot on the top power-play line to rookie Kirby Dach. Strome's overall ice time in the postseason is down to less than 13 minutes per game. He might be worth a late-round gamble if you think Chicago has a good chance of going deep, but you should be dropping him down your draft list.

2. Steven Stamkos

Many people have been focusing on the play-in games and not the round robin, so it's easy to forget that Stamkos hasn't played any postseason games because of a lower-body injury. He has practiced a couple of times, but didn't skate with the team on Friday or Saturday. According to an article in The Athletic, Stamkos may have lost his spot on the top line to Ondrej Palat. When Stamkos does get back to game action, everyone else will have at least three games of round robin plus an exhibition game to get back in the groove, leaving Stamkos to play catchup. Stamkos is also dealing with a core muscle injury, and hasn't played since Feb. 25. I know there will probably be a couple of people in your pool who will load up on Tampa Bay players. Let the other guys draft Stamkos instead.

1. Tyler Seguin

Truthfully, I would stay away from Dallas almost completely. As I mention in the section about Klingberg, they just don't have the offense, so even if they get to the third round, you may end up with the leading point-getter having just a dozen points. If that happens, there will be plenty of players eliminated in the second round that will wind up with more points. For Seguin, this season has been a big disappointment. He failed to score 20 goals for the first time since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13. He had an 82-game point pace of 59. Dallas looked awful in the round robin, with a 1-2 record while scoring only four goals. Seguin had zero points, and missed Sunday's game and was considered day-to-day for the first game of the next round.

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