Frozen Tools Forensics: Looking for unlikely playoff heroes

Chris Kane

2021-05-14

Back when I wrote the Wild West column, I started a series based on Rick Roos and his research on unlikely playoff heroes. He looked at players who were performing better in the playoffs than in their previous regular season. He then attempted to figure out if it was predictive of future performance. I went the other way to look at if there was anything in the season data that we could use to predict which players might be poised to be this year's unlikely playoff hero. That way we could grab them ahead of time for our playoff pools. In most pools managers tend to go deep on a couple of teams and finding the diamond in the rough can certainly boost your potential. I have continued that tradition over the years and have used it to highlight some quality playoff potential.


The end result is a list of players to keep an eye on similar to what Tom has done with his Top 10 Playoff Surprises article so definitely check that out too. Oh and grab Dobber's Playoff Tool as well. It is a very helpful resource when planning your playoff draft.

This week: Unlikely 2021 Playoff Heroes

The below paragraph is an excerpt from that original article and basically sums up what all of the playoff heros had in common.

" An unlikely playoff hero should have played 60+ games in the regular season. The player should be averaging between .4 and .7 points per game, should be shooting around two shots a game, with a least a shoot percentage of 9%, be getting somewhere between 1:00 and 2:15 minutes on the power play, and skating between 13:00 and 17:00 minutes of total time on ice. The data points can fluctuate slightly depending on situation, and players might miss one point by a little, but this is the general target. Perhaps the single most important factor though is that they play for a team that is likely to get about 17 games during the playoffs."

The idea is that an unlikely hero is a player that is already doing something with the opportunity they are being given but has room for growth. That growth could be either in deployment (power play time, or total time on ice), or in favorable spikes of luck (team/personal shooting percentage, IPP etc.). A player who is already spiking a high shooting percentage or getting massive deployment isn't likely to see a sudden, unanticipated increase in value. The most important factor though is that the player plays for a team that at least reaches the conference finals.

First, a note on process. We will start by running the big board report for season long numbers and then filter by the criteria laid out above. We obviously won't have players who have played 60+ games so we will be adjusting that metric down to 40 games played. I typically set the filters just outside the parameters to catch those who are right on the edge too. That will be our starting list.

Without further ado here are our filtered 14 candidates sorted by current points per game.

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