Eastern Conference – Playoff Teams (Atlantic Division)

by Eric Daoust on April 5, 2016
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Conference – Playoff Teams (Atlantic Division)
Aleksander Barkov - 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 …

 

 

(Related – Pacific Division Playoff Teams)

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 four potential playoff teams from the Atlantic Division with player outlooks for playoff pools or keeper leagues (or both).

In playoff pools, the drafts usually unfold in a 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 you make within those clubs are equally important, especially in the later rounds.

In keeper leagues, the impact of the NHL playoffs is completely indirect. People can be very emotional and overreact to sudden changes in player performance. In fantasy hockey, that means there will be opportunities to buy low and sell high. While playoff performances could be a sign of things to come, the regular season is what really matters in most keeper leagues and many of the odd production changes will ultimately amount to nothing.

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 a 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 more risky.

 

Florida

 

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Aaron Ekblad

0.43

N/A

N/A

Aleksander Barkov

0.89

N/A

N/A

Brian Campbell

0.40

0.44

0.04

Jaromir Jagr

0.83

0.99

0.16

Jiri Hudler

0.62

0.53

-0.09

Jonathan Huberdeau

0.78

N/A

N/A

Jussi Jokinen

0.75

0.58

-0.17

Nick Bjugstad

0.49

N/A

N/A

Reilly Smith

0.60

0.42

-0.18

Teddy Purcell

0.53

0.82

0.29

Vincent Trocheck

0.70

N/A

N/A

 

Obviously, the Panthers are a very young hockey team with many of their fantasy-relevant players about to make their NHL playoff debuts. Be careful about investing heavily in this team, as there could be some growing pains despite their veteran acquisitions at the trade deadline. With that said, the keeper-league values of their core players could change quickly depending on how things play out. A quick exit could leave sour tastes in the mouths of owners, especially with Ekblad who has not been as potent offensively as he was in his rookie year. However, if they prove to be ready their younger players with big upsides could see their trade values soar, most notably Barkov, who is on the brink of superstardom.

While Ekblad will likely be drafted fairly early, Campbell could be had a bit later and should provide similar value. The 36-year-old leads the Panthers in ice time and has a track record providing solid secondary numbers in postseason play.

One player to watch is Teddy Purcell who had 17 points in 18 games with Tampa Bay in 2011 while averaging less than 14 minutes per game. Throughout his career he has been able to produce despite not logging heavy minutes including this year – six points in 11 games with Florida. Take a chance on him in the late rounds.

 

Tampa Bay

 

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Alex Killorn

0.51

0.67

0.16

Jason Garrison

0.16

0.32

0.16

Jonathan Drouin

0.42

0.00

-0.42

Jonathan Marchessault

0.40

0.00

-0.40

Nikita Kucherov

0.86

0.82

-0.04

Nikita Nesterov

0.17

0.35

0.18

Ondrej Palat

0.64

0.66

0.02

Ryan Callahan

0.36

0.36

0.00

Tyler Johnson

0.57

0.83

0.26

Valtteri Filppula

0.39

0.53

0.14

Victor Hedman

0.60

0.48

-0.12

Vladislav Namestnikov

0.42

0.08

-0.34

 

Recent injuries to Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman have really changed the outlook for the Lightning. Obviously, injuries lead to opportunities, and in this case, look for Filppula, who is having a disappointed campaign, to bounce back in the coming weeks in a scoring-line role. On the blueline, both Garrison and Nesterov have a history of producing in the postseason. One of them could surprise with a strong postseason in Stralman’s absence.

Also, look for Johnson to step up his play once again after last year’s great playoff showing. The 25-year-old center has had a disastrous campaign with some injuries getting in the way, and he might fly under the radar in playoff drafts. He is now the Bolts’ top center and will be leaned on heavily.

Another good value pick is Killorn who has been a 40-point forward throughout his NHL career but was much better last year. He should be available a bit later in the draft after the likes of Johnson, Kucherov and Palat are selected.

While Callahan, a former captain, has a good reputation for his leadership qualities, he has actually been a poor postseason player over the years. This is likely due to his very physical style of play causing him to wear down over the year. This year his offensive game has taken a big step back, but considering his historical lack of playoff scoring, he should not even be considered in late rounds of most drafts.

For true wildcards, look to Jonathan Marchessault and Jonathan Drouin. Neither has been a fixture in the lineup this year, but both have had glimpses of success when used. With Stamkos out one of these two could help make up for the loss. This postseason could also play big roles in their keeper-league values, as the next few weeks could decide if Marchessault and/or Drouin start next year in the NHL.

 

Detroit

 

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Brad Richards

0.42

0.74

0.32

Darren Helm

0.34

0.26

-0.08

Dylan Larkin

0.58

N/A

N/A

Gustav Nyquist

0.53

0.23

-0.30

Henrik Zetterberg

0.61

0.90

0.29

Justin Abdelkader

0.52

0.20

-0.32

Mike Green

0.48

0.49

0.01

Niklas Kronwall

0.43

0.44

0.01

Pavel Datsyuk

0.76

0.74

-0.02

Riley Sheahan

0.31

0.25

-0.06

Tomas Tatar

0.58

0.33

-0.25

 

As a whole, the Red Wings offer a very unappealing fantasy-league picture for the postseason. Many of their key players up front have not been very good in the playoffs in recent years. Plus, their two best players (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) are showing serious signs of decline. Should they ultimately qualify for the playoffs this year, the Red Wings will continue to be in tough to score goals.

Between Datsyuk and Zetterberg, in all likelihood, the former will come off the board first after having a much better regular season. However, Zetterberg has been a much better career playoff performer which would make him an excellent value pick who could be had late in drafts considering the Red Wings are not close to being a contender.

Meanwhile, most of the team’s supporting cast with past playoff data, most notably Nyquist, Tatar and Abdelkader, have been quite poor in the postseason. While we should expect them to improve upon their awful numbers, they have to be considered high-risk options until they prove otherwise.

A great dark horse is Brad Richards who has had a great playoff career including a Conn Smythe trophy back in 2004. More importantly, he has been able to maintain his strong play into the late stages of his career, combining for 26 points in 48 playoff games over the last two years.

 

Boston

 

Name

2015-16 Reg Pts/G

Car. Playoff Pts/G

Diff

Brad Marchand

0.78

0.59

-0.19

David Krejci

0.88

0.83

-0.05

David Pastrnak

0.50

N/A

N/A

John-Michael Liles

0.24

0.28

0.04

Lee Stempniak

0.63

0.21

-0.42

Loui Eriksson

0.76

0.41

-0.35

Matt Beleskey

0.48

0.50

0.02

Patrice Bergeron

0.87

0.69

-0.18

Ryan Spooner

0.62

N/A

N/A

Torey Krug

0.53

0.59

0.06

Zdeno Chara

0.48

0.41

-0.07

 

The Bruins have been through several deep playoff runs including a Stanley Cup win in 2011 and could be a major threat in the Atlantic division if they are able to secure a playoff spot. This year, their offense was led by the surprising chemistry between Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. This year their regular-season numbers far exceed their career playoff production. The magic from the season does not always carry into the playoff rounds, though.

The Bruins’ most potent offensive weapon over the years has been Krejci with an impressive 0.83 points per postseason game. While Bergeron is the more popular and recognizable player, it should be Krejci going off the board first for the Bruins in your playoff draft.

Be careful about drafting Eriksson or Stempniak, as both have yet to have a good postseason showing to date. They have been good so far this year and have fit well in this Bruins team, but they have to be considered risky and best left for later rounds.

On the blueline, Chara has more name value, but Krug is a far better point-producer. In fact, Krug has had success while playing a sheltered depth role with limited minutes. Now his average ice time is up to 21:30, which makes him a safer bet to continue producing into the postseason. Meanwhile, Chara has a lot of wear and tear this late in his career and may focus more on the defensive side.

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Follow me on Twitter @DH_EricDaoust.