Eastern Edge: Playoff performances from teams eliminated in Round 2
In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll reflect on individual playoff performances from teams that were eliminated in Round 2, the Bruins and Flyers. We'll highlight a few strong individual showings, as well as a couple of disappointing performances. If there's anything you'd like to see in future articles, please let me know in the comments below, or shoot me a message on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza!
At the tender age of 34, David Krejci continues to produce offensively. He tallied 12 points in 13 appearances during this year's playoffs and now sits at 115 points in 145 career postseason games. He doesn't quite get the recognition he deserves because the team's superstar trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak have a stronger pull on the media's spotlight. He's been a low-risk/high-reward player in fantasy leagues for some time now, maintaining a 55-point pace at his worst, with a few 70-point showings at his best. So far, he's spent his entire career in Boston, boasting 13 seasons with the Bruins. However, there is some uncertainty about his future with the team, considering he has just one year left on his current contract. It's likely that he finishes that final year in Boston, but he could also be on the trading block if the Bruins opt to surround their core with a younger supporting cast. Krejci could very well be a solid option in fantasy leagues next year, but make sure you're not paying an inflated price to acquire him – his fantasy hockey value may have seen a small boost as a result of this year's strong playoff performance.
The Flyers center attracted a lot of attention last season as he tallied 55 points in 71 games – a 64-point pace. He wasn't able to match that output this year, posting a modest 49-point pace during the 2019-2020 regular season. Fortunately, Hayes was able to rediscover some offensive magic in the playoffs, leading Philly in scoring with 13 points in 16 games. He was the only Flyers skater to register a double-digit point total during this year's playoff run. I think his strong offensive play was noticeable on most nights during the postseason, so your fellow fantasy managers probably have him on their radar by now. However, if your league GMs are judging Hayes based on his underwhelming regular season performance and discounting his impressive playoff output, you may be able snag a 60-point player in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
A Disappointing Lack of Points
The 23-year-old forward has just three seasons of NHL experience under his belt, but he's already featured in 49 playoff games. His rookie performance remains the most impressive, as he tallied eight points in 12 games during the 2018 playoffs. He followed that up with 11 points in 24 games during Boston's run to the Cup Final last year. However, he had a disappointing showing this year with four points in 13 postseason games. To be fair, all four of those points were goals, which are more difficult to tally than assists. Had he chipped in a few more assists, his postseason performance wouldn't even be a cause for concern. The thing is, most of us expect linear progression from young players. We tend to believe that young players should gradually improve as they develop physically and gain some experience at the NHL level. Most of us are pretty forgiving with the ups and downs of player development – we recognize that a good rookie season may be followed up by a sophomore slump. But overall, it's instinctive to expect young players with pedigree to show linear progression. Jake DeBrusk's development hasn't exactly been a case of linear progression. He put up an impressive 50-point pace in his rookie campaign – a point-pace which he matched in his sophomore season when he tallied 27 goals and 15 assists in 68 games. But as many of us expected him to take another step forward this season, he fell short of expectations, registering a 44-point pace.
At this point in his career, DeBrusk has already shown numerous flashes of offensive brilliance. It's clear that he has the talent to be a 60-70-point player in the NHL, it's just a matter of finding consistency. It feels like I've been waiting for DeBrusk to break out for some time now, so I was almost surprised to see that he's only played in the NHL for three years. In any case, I think DeBrusk's best seasons are still ahead of him and I expect he'll achieve that famous fourth-year breakout. It's worth noting that DeBrusk's past production may have been limited by a lack of power-play opportunity. In recent years, Boston's top power-play unit consisted of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Torey Krug. Contract situations could have Krug and Krejci playing elsewhere next season, which would change the team's power-play dynamic and perhaps create an opening for DeBrusk – so keep an eye on that situation as it develops.
The 23-year-old forward broke out with 61 points in 66 games during the 2019-2020 campaign – his fourth season in the NHL. Expectations were high for Konecny in the playoffs after he led his team in scoring during the regular season. Unfortunately, he fell short of the mark as he failed to score a single goal through 16 postseason games, tallying just seven assists during the playoffs. I'm not concerned about Konecny's underwhelming playoff production because scoring struggles plagued the majority of Philly's roster. The team scored 2.38 goals per game during the playoffs after averaging 3.29 goals during the regular season. I think this Philly roster has a lot of offensive talent, but their rhythm was thrown off during the NHL's four-month pause, so I'm reluctant to judge the team's forwards based on this poor showing. If anything, I see this as an opportunity to buy low on Konecny in fantasy leagues if your fellow GMs are panicking because of his playoff struggles. I'm confident that his regular season success was not a fluke and that he'll rediscover his offensive flair next year. For a more detailed look into Konecny's playoff performance, check out Mike's Ramblings from Tuesday morning!
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