The regular season is over, and most of us were unsuccessful in our quest for a fantasy hockey championship.
But we are just two days away from the NHL playoffs. And with it, a brand-new season for fantasy hockey. We all believe we have a chance to win our playoff pool before the puck drops Wednesday night. It doesn’t matter if we draft eight Leafs with our first nine picks. Everyone has a shot.
Most drafts will be taking place over the next couple of days. While we all know which superstars to take, finding those gems later in the draft is what will win you the pool. You were laughing last year if you took Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin and Robby Fabbri with your last three picks.
Below you’ll find 10 under-the-radar players for this year’s postseason.
10. John Carlson
A true dark-horse sleeper. Carlson has been snake bitten since Kevin Shattenkirk was dealt to the Caps with just five points in 16 games. Carlson lost his spot on the top power play and has only scored one even strength point since the end of February. He’s missed the last few games with a lower body injury. Last year he had 12 points in 12 playoff games so we know he’s done it before. He’s so talented it won’t take much for him to go on a run.
Panik has been a surprise on every level this season. He doubled his previous career high goal total and almost tripled his career high in points. He has eight points in his last 12 games. He’s shown he could hang with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews but could also play on the third line when necessary. That depth is important in the playoffs for NHL teams but makes it tough to predict fantasy success.
8. Colin Wilson
Wilson is a strange player by NHL standards. He struggles in the regular season to get to 40 points, but turns into almost a point-per-game producer in the playoffs. Last year he had 13 points in 14 games and he had five in six the year before that. Nashville will have a tough matchup in the first round against the Blackhawks but if you believe in the Predators, Wilson could be a sneaky late pick.
7. Paul Byron
There will be at least five Habs players taken before Byron in most playoff pools even though Byron was second on the club in goals with 22. Byron won’t get a lot of love but that’s what makes him the perfect sleeper. He’s shown great chemistry with whatever linemates he has. The only negative is that he doesn’t get any power play time.
It took half a season to Klefbom to establish himself as the Oilers power play quarterback, but something seemed to click for him in the second half. The Oilers have a top-five power play and need that to continue to have success in the playoffs. Klefbom stands to benefit greatly from that. He had 10 power play points in the second half of the season versus just four in the first half.
It may be strange to put Brassard on this list considering his postseason success over the years, but I have a feeling he is going to be overlooked quite a bit this year because his previous playoff success came with a different team and the fact he had a poor regular season. Brassard had just 14 goals and 39 points this year. That’s his worst campaign since 2009-10. But he has a career 44 points in 59 playoff games and should be a top-three Sens pick in any playoff pool.
It’s a coincidence that the two players traded for one another last summer are next to each other on this list. Zibanejad had a hot start to the season, got injured and then cooled off upon his return. But he’s been turning it up lately with eight points in his last nine games. He’s also been on the top power play unit for the last few weeks. He’s got it tougher than anyone on this list as the Rangers have a ton of depth but going into the postseason on a hot streak helps a lot.
3. David Krejci
It wasn’t too long ago that people were debating who to take first overall in a playoff pool: Krejci or Sidney Crosby. After all, Krejci had 23 points in 25 games in 2011 and 26 in 22 in 2013. But he could be off the radar somewhat considering he had just four points in 12 playoff games the following year and he hasn’t been back to the postseason since. He was also a little underwhelming this season with 54 points.
Eaves is set for a huge playoff run for numerous reasons. He has shown excellent chemistry with elite players, from Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn in Dallas to Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim. He’s on a hot streak heading into the playoffs with 10 points in his last 11 games, plus he’s been getting some looks on the top power play unit. He doesn’t have a long history of playoff success but did have six points in nine games a year ago.
1. Paul Stastny
You need to have real confidence that the Blues are going to go at least a couple of rounds as Stastny has not been cleared to play. But there are some positive signs. He was week-to-week with a lower body injury but was upgraded to day-to-day a week ago. He was on the top line and the top power play unit before his injury and has proven in the past to have another gear in the playoffs.
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