With the Stanley Cup Finals over and done with, sadly there won’t be many hockey games to talk about for quite some time. But with everything finally settled, we can take a look at who had some of the best fantasy performances of this year’s playoffs.
Obviously we have to start with the Conn Smythe winner himself, as Alex Ovechkin turned in a playoff performance to remember. He set a new franchise record for most goals in the playoffs and his 15 goals were the most in the NHL. He accumulated 99 shots through just 24 games (4.1 average shots per game) while taking the fourth-most hits in the league.
Even though he didn’t win the Conn Smythe, it’s arguable that Evgeny Kuznetsov had an even better postseason than Alex Ovechkin, tallying the most points in the playoffs by a significant margin. His 32 points were five more than Ovechkin’s and nine more than Backstrom’s third-most 23 points. Usually a notoriously low shooter, Kuznetsov also kicked it up a notch with his shot totals in the playoffs, taking the second-most shots out of all skaters (3.7 average per game). In the regular season, Kuznetsov only averaged 2.4 shots per game.
If there were an award for best defender in the playoffs, John Carlson would probably win it, as he managed to keep up the blistering pace he set during the regular season and turned in a fantastic playoff run. His 20 points were the 10th-most in the playoffs and by far the most by any defender. Only Dustin Byfuglien came relatively close (with 16 points) as the next closest defender after that only scored 12 points. And similar to Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, Carlson killed it with 80 shots on goal throughout the playoffs, once again leading by a large margin out of all defenders.
But enough about the Capitals players, as it makes sense that they had some of the most value considering they won the Stanley Cup and got to play in the most games. There were plenty of other players on the losing teams that put up impressive performances too.
Even though he wasn’t the highest scorer on the Knights (that honor goes to Reilly Smith), Jonathan Marchessault provided the most fantasy value on the roster. Ranked fourth overall by our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool (using an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits), Marchessault dominated with 21 points and 86 shots on goal. While he slowed down a bit against Washington, he was much more physical this postseason, almost doubling his rate of hits per game. The only issue that held Marchessault back was his low power-play point totals, as his six power-play points were some of the lowest by any skater in the top 10 in scoring.
In only 17 games, Dustin Byfuglien’s 16 points gave him the second highest points-per-game rate out of all defenders in the postseason. However, it wasn’t his offensive totals that made him a fantasy goldmine throughout the postseason. Torey Krug, Kris Letang, and John Carlson all put up offensive totals at a pace similar to Byfuglien’s. Instead, it was his excellent peripherals that made him one of the most valuable skaters, even when he didn’t reach the Stanley Cup Finals. His 55 shots were the second most out of all defenders and was the ninth most out of all players in the playoffs. His 60 hits were the seventh most out of all players (third out of all defenders) while his 20 penalty minutes were tied for the fourth most by any defender.
If Filip Forsberg were to have played in as many games as some of the other players, there’s a very good chance he would have ended up providing some of the most fantasy value by any skater. His 16 points in 13 games were some of the highest in the league (10th-highest points-per-game rate) while his peripherals were off the charts. Overall he only recorded the seventh-most shots on net but his 58 shots in only 13 games averages out to almost four and a half shots per game. Patrice Bergeron and Alex Ovechkin were the only other players to average over four shots per game and they just barely managed to reach the cutoff, while Forsberg averaged almost a whole other half a shot. His 23 hits weren’t amazing, but when combined with his six power-play points, Forsberg provided some of the best value when he played and even some of the best value overall despite playing in such few games.
Similar to Forsberg, Torey Krug put up fantastic numbers in a limited amount of games. Like most of the Boston Bruins’ top players, Krug started scoring quickly and often against the Toronto Maple Leafs, tallying five points in his first two games. Ending with 12 points in 11 matches, Krug finished with the third-most points by a defender and ended with the highest points-per-game rate by any defenseman. His seven power-play points were the second most by any defenseman and his 33 shots in 11 games was one of the highest shot rates by any defender. Out of all defenseman who played at least 50 minutes, Krug finished with the second-highest shots/60 in the NHL.
Blake Wheeler isn’t the first player that comes to mind when you think of top playoff performances, but he’s always been a player that flies under the radar. After another dominant regular season, it should be no surprise that he once again put together another stellar run. Through 17 games, Wheeler recorded 21 points, and that was with only three goals. He was relatively unlucky with only a 6.1 shooting percentage (the lowest out of the top 20 scorers) and he still managed to put up the fifth-most points. In addition to his excellent shot numbers and solid hit totals, Wheeler was one of the strongest and most consistent playoff performers this postseason.
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