Eastern Conference – Playoff Teams (Metro Division)

by Eric Daoust on April 12, 2016
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Conference – Playoff Teams (Metro Division)
Justin Williams - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

A look at the fantasy prospects of the Atlantic Division teams in the playoffs to help you prepare for drafts and pools …

 

Even with most of the year’s hockey pools coming to a close this week, the beginning of the NHL playoffs is a very important time in fantasy hockey. Player values change all the time, and the postseason is no different in that regard. This week, we will look at the five playoff teams from the Metropolitan Division with player outlook in playoff pools.

In playoff pools, the drafts usually unfold in similar fashion. People will try to get a hold of multiple players from teams they believe will survive at least a couple rounds. As we are going to see, many players produce similarly during the regular season and playoffs which makes player valuation much easier. However, there are always outliers that cannot be ignored. While focusing on the right teams is essential, the choices that you make within those clubs are equally important, especially in the later rounds.

Note: in the tables below the “Reg Pts/G” indicates points per game counting this year only and “Playoff Pts/G” includes career playoff numbers. In many playoff drafts your opponents will be drafting from team stat lists including just this year but if we look deeper (career playoff production) there are players that will stand out as great value picks while others should be considered high-risk.

 

Washington

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Evgeny Kuznetsov

0.94

0.50

-0.44

Nicklas Backstrom

0.93

0.72

-0.21

Alexander Ovechkin

0.90

0.97

0.07

John Carlson

0.70

0.37

-0.33

T.J. Oshie

0.64

0.30

-0.34

Justin Williams

0.63

0.68

0.05

Marcus Johansson

0.62

0.34

-0.28

Andre Burakovsky

0.48

0.27

-0.21

Matt Niskanen

0.39

0.32

-0.07

Dmitry Orlov

0.35

N/A

N/A

 

The league-leading Capitals are heavy favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year which means their players will fly off the board quickly. Ovechkin will likely be the first Caps’ skater picked based on name value, and the playoff data confirms he is the right pick. Backstrom has been a mostly underwhelming playoff performer over his career which means you should pass on him unless you’re all-in with the Capials and are willing to risk an early pick on him. Kuznetsov’s career postseason points-per-game is deceiving because he played a lesser role in his first appearance in 2013-14. He should be about on-par with Backstrom in terms of value.

Beyond those three there are a lot of players who will have to overcome their past playoff histories if the team is going to finally make a deep playoff run. Williams is obviously must-own, but he is highly unlikely to fly under the radar on draft day given he has a Conn Smythe trophy under his belt.

Carlson, Oshie and Johansson have not been very good playoff performers to date. Of this group, look for Carlson to be the one to take a step forward as the team’s top defenseman in all situation. Meanwhile Oshie’s postseason failures happened in St. Louis, so there is a chance he could thrive in his new environment.

 

Pittsburgh

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Sidney Crosby

1.06

1.18

0.12

Evgeni Malkin

1.02

1.10

0.08

Kris Letang

0.94

0.57

-0.37

Phil Kessel

0.72

0.95

0.23

Patric Hornqvist

0.62

0.38

-0.24

Chris Kunitz

0.50

0.59

0.09

Carl Hagelin

0.49

0.36

-0.13

Nick Bonino

0.46

0.50

0.04

Matt Cullen

0.39

0.55

0.16

Trevor Daley

0.34

0.20

-0.14

Olli Maatta

0.28

0.31

0.03

 

The Penguins’ injuries in goal make this team a risky investment, but they are definitely trending in the right direction. Crosby is currently playing at an MVP level, while there are rumblings Malkin could be back soon. Letang has also been outstanding but is a more risky selection due to his less impressive postseason numbers and his durability which has been alarming at times.

A great value pick would be Kessel who has been good each year he has played playoff hockey and will likely not be picked immediately due to his underwhelming regular season. He is also carrying a lot of momentum as he finished the year with 39 points in his last 46 games, a 70-point pace.

Be careful drafting guys like Hornqvist, Hagelin and Daley due to their poor career playoff numbers. Let someone else reach for them based on their regular season numbers. Instead, you might do better selecting the likes of Kunitz, Bonino or Cullen in a late round.

 

NY Rangers

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Mats Zuccarello

0.75

0.51

-0.24

Derek Stepan

0.74

0.51

-0.23

Derick Brassard

0.73

0.74

0.01

Rick Nash

0.60

0.53

-0.07

Keith Yandle

0.57

0.65

0.08

Chris Kreider

0.54

0.52

-0.02

J.T. Miller

0.52

0.43

-0.09

Eric Staal

0.47

1.00

0.53

Kevin Klein

0.38

0.25

-0.13

Dan Boyle

0.32

0.63

0.31

 

Looking at the historical numbers, Brassard and Yandle stand out the most. Brassard has been outstanding most years and should be the first Rangers’ skater off the board. Yandle has not been a great fit in New York, as he produced just 47 points this year after notching 11 points in 21 playoff games last year. Look for last year’s postseason trend to continue this year.

The trio of Zuccarello, Stepan and Nash are likely to be overvalued considering what they have given back in playoff pools to date. There is reason for optimism with Zuccarello who achieved a career-high 61 points this year, and for Stepan who ended the year with 15 points in 10 games. However, Nash’s outlook is much bleaker at this point, as the big winger has not been good at all since returning from a knee injury. His average ice time is also the lowest it has been since he was a rookie in Columbus.

With that said, there are some nice value picks to be had later, including Staal who has had a disastrous year but will be looking for a strong showing to boost his free-agent value this summer. Also, Boyle has been a great career playoff performer, and despite his advanced age, managed 10 points in 19 games last year.

 

NY Islanders

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

John Tavares

0.90

0.85

-0.05

Kyle Okposo

0.81

0.54

-0.27

Frans Nielsen

0.64

0.31

-0.33

Brock Nelson

0.49

0.29

-0.20

Nick Leddy

0.49

0.25

0.01

Mikhail Grabovski

0.43

0.20

-0.23

Josh Bailey

0.40

0.62

0.22

Ryan Strome

0.39

0.57

0.18

Casey Cizikas

0.36

0.38

0.02

Johnny Boychuk

0.36

0.34

-0.02

Marek Zidlicky

0.30

0.34

0.04

 

Most of the Islanders’ roster has very limited playoff experience, so it is difficult to put too much stock into historical numbers. With that said, Okposo and Nielsen should be considered riskier picks given their stock as high-level regular-season scorers versus their lack of postseason success.

It should be noted, Leddy’s numbers are deceiving because he played very limited minutes during his deep playoff runs in Chicago. Last year with the Islanders, he had five points in seven games and is heading into this year’s postseason following a career-high 40 points.

If you are investing into this team and need some late-round gambles try Bailey or Strome. Both have had disappointing campaigns but have enjoyed success in playoff action. The injury to Anders Lee is going to make it easier for these two to maintain favorable spots in the lineup.

 

Philadelphia

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Claude Giroux

0.86

1.07

0.21

Jakub Voracek

0.75

0.68

-0.07

Wayne Simmonds

0.74

0.57

-0.17

Brayden Schenn

0.74

0.67

-0.07

Shayne Gostisbehere

0.72

N/A

N/A

Sean Couturier

0.62

0.22

-0.40

Michael Raffl

0.38

0.14

-0.24

Mark Streit

0.37

0.48

0.11

Matt Read

0.33

0.44

0.11

 

The Flyers are in a difficult spot facing the Capitals in the opening round, but from a fantasy perspective, there is a lot to like here. Obviously, Giroux has been an elite-level producer in the postseason with a career average of over a point a game.

Beyond their captain, Voracek and Schenn have also been strong postseason performers and could be had late in your draft. Simmonds’ style of play might actually have him favored by poolies, but the numbers show otherwise. He should definitely be picked after the former two are off the board. Couturier is also a risky pick despite coming off the best year of his career. He has just four points in 18 playoff games, including none in seven games in 2013-14 while logging close to 20 minutes per contest.

On the blueline, Gostisbehere will obviously lead the charge, but the Flyers have other intriguing options on the back end. Streit’s decline this year has lowered his stock and will leave him on the board longer and could make a decent acquisition if you need a depth option. 

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