Western Conference – Playoff Teams (Central Division)

by Doran Libin on April 11, 2016
  • The Wild West
  • Western Conference – Playoff Teams (Central Division)

Preview Time! Gearing up for playoff pools, we take a look at the key players of the Central Division…

 

(Pacific Division here)

(Atlantic Division here)

 

The Central will be the focus of the second part of the playoff preview, and was though to be the group of death in this year’s playoffs. That honour actually goes to the Pacific Division as the division features a stumbling dynasty, an annual choker and the easiest out in the West. This division should not be shown the same reverence it was early in the season as with Nashville moving to the Pacific for the playoffs the road through the Central just got considerably easier.

 

 

Chicago Blackhawks

 

Forwards

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

P. Kane

1.01

0.98

A. Anisimov

0.48

0.44

A. Panarin

0.96

N/A

A. Ladd

0.61

0.28

J. Toews

0.87

0.87

M. Hossa

0.88

0.74

A Desjardins

0.17

0.17

M. Kruger

0.27

0.19

T. Fleischmann

0.51

0.26

D. Weise

0.26

0.29

T. Teravainen

0.38

0.56

B. Bickell

0.35

.52

R. Panik

0.26

0

D. Rasmussen

0.20

N/A

B. Mashinter

0.08

N/A

A. Shaw

0.43

0.48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is hard to do anything but believe in the Blackhawks given their track record over the last six years. That being said they have stumbled down the stretch in a manner they never have before. At even strength the Hawks take fewer shots, drive play less and score less than they have since 2010. They score so little at even strength this year that they average just over two goals per 60 minutes at even strength, where they were actually outscored this season, and as a result are extremely reliant on their power play, and specifically Patrick Kane for their offense. This also reflects a new struggle to get production from their bottom six forwards despite being as deep as they ever have been. If a depth forward steps up look for Shaw, Teravainen or Fleischmann to be the forward that does so. Shaw and Teravainen are good depth options because one of the two will get power play time with the Toews unit. Teravainaen also has a history, although limited, of stepping up in the playoffs

 

As for the top of the Hawks lineup any concerns about Panarin hitting the rookie wall should have been put aside with his massive final weekend. He and Kane will be relied upon to drive the Hawks offense as Toews, Hossa and Ladd will drive the opposition’s best nuts as is usually the case. The Toews line has struggled most of the season and the addition of Ladd did nothing to change that. Hossa has had an especially painful season and his mid-season mini rebound was very short lived. With he and Anisimov both battling injuries, and both at risk of missing game one if not more, that makes Fleischmann and Teravainen even better options as they will be the first options to step up when there is an opening in the top six.

 

 

Defense

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

N. Hjalmarsson

0.23

0.23

D. Keith

0.55

0.65

B. Seabrook

0.43

0.51

T. Van Riemsdyk

0.15

0

C. Ehrhoff

0.43

0.47

E. Gustafsson

0.34

N/A

M. Rozsival

0.33

0.25

V. Svedberg

0.15

0

 

With the departure of Johnny Oduya for division rival Dallas Duncan Keith is more important than ever for the Hawks. He will no doubt be asked to step up his minutes as he did last season once he can return for game two. Keith along with Seabrook are featured on the first power play unit and both have a higher points per game average in the playoffs than in the regular season, likely due to the added minutes they are asked to play. Both are very good options in the playoffs, as Seabrook, despite his defensive struggles this year, had his best offensive year of his career. For a sleeper pick look to Erik Gustafsson as he is the only other Hawk defenseman to routinely get power play time but he should only be considered as a late round gamble.

 

 

Dallas Stars

 

Forwards

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

Ja. Benn

0.88

0.83

T. Seguin

0.83

0.44

P. Eaves

0.35

0.19

M. Janmark

0.40

N/A

J. Spezza

0.96

0.93

V. Nichushkin

0.39

0.33

P. Sharp

0.71

0.63

C. Eakin

0.45

0.83

A. Roussel

0.35

0.50

A. Hemsky

0.69

0.57

V. Fiddler

0.31

0.38

C. Sceviour

0.36

0.50

T. Moen

0.18

0.25

R. Faksa

0.25

0.27

C. McKenzie

0.13

N/A

 

Tyler Seguin was one of only seven players to rack up 50 or more points this season and average more than a point per game. He has been in absence due to a partially torn achilles but could be back for the start of the playoffs. While this no doubt help the Stars, their power play and Jamie Benn, it will bump some players down the lineup. His return will be toughest on Cody Eakin as it will bump back down to the third line, but Easkin will still be a strong depth option. A spot on the top line will as always be coveted but do not fear drafting Patrick Sharp even if he line sup alongside Eakin and Roussel. As long as he is on the top power play unit he will remain a strong scoring threat of which his 24 power play points this season are ample evidence. Antoine Roussel looks to be the type of player who can thrive in the playoffs. His style of game is built for the playoffs as he managed three points in six games in his only playoff despite playing only 13 minutes per game. In limited experience both he and Eakin have stepped up their production in the playoffs ad do not be surprised to see them do so again. With Dallas having by far the easiest first round matchup in the West at least a second round is a good bet.

 

 

Defense

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

A. Goligoski

0.49

0.67

J. Klingberg

0.70

N/A

J. Oduya

0.23

0.28

J. Demers

0.34

0.23

Jo. Benn

0.23

0.50

K. Russell

0.31

0.50

S. Johns

0.21

N/A

P. Nemeth

0.16

N/A

 

The arrival of Kris Russell at the trade deadline was supposed to shore up the Dallas blue line however a rash of injuries, including to Russell himself, means it is hard to be certain of the role Russell will play. While no single Dallas defense pairing gets especially favourable zone starts Klingberg and Goligoski stand out as generally playing the best teammates. Klingberg and Goligoski are obvious options for playoff success though, whereas Russell is more of a puzzle. Since coming to Dallas he has seen second unit power play time alongside Goligoski and has slotted into each pairing based on the health of the Dallas defense corps. Russell is also interesting because he averaged over a half point per game in last year’s playoffs in similar of not slightly more usage. Once the top pairing in Dallas is gone look to Russell over Oduya or Demers when jonesing for another Dallas D.

 

 

Minnesota Wild

 

Forwards

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

C. Coyle

0.45

0.39

M. Koivu

0.73

0.44

J. Zucker

0.36

0.33

Z. Parise

0.81

0.76

M. Granlund

0.55

0.57

J. Pominville

0.74

0.61

N. Niederreiter

0.39

0.48

E. Haula

0.32

0.53

J. Schroeder

0.25

0

J. Fontaine

0.35

0.27

J. Stoll

0.44

0.28

D. Jones

0.41

0.29

T. Vanek

0.79

0.54

 

 

 

C. Porter

0.15

0.33

 

The Wild stumbled into the playoffs and were bad enough all the season that they were actually in a battle with the Avalanche for the last playoff spot before the Avalanche went into a late season skid of their own. In a conference that looks to be stacked with tough outs Minnesota is by far the easiest. As bas as they have been for most of the season they were able to turn their season around upon the arrival of John Torchetti as Mike Yeo’s replacement. One of the biggest beneficiaries from the arrival of Torchetti in Minnesota has been Erik Haula as he has racked up 23 points in 32 games since the beginning of February. Haula, along with Nino Niederreiter, has formed the basis of a very fast and dangerous checking line with a rotating cast of third wingers that includes Jordan Schroeder, David Jones and others. The only problem with taking a depth player on the Wild is that they likely will not have the run necessary to make much of an impact. Given the likelihood of a short run it is also best to stay away from Thomas Vanek, although staying away from him in the playoffs is probably just a good idea in general.

 

 

Defense

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

R. Suter

0.48

0.34

J. Spurgeon

0.35

0.36

M. Scandella

0.25

0.29

J. Brodin

0.21

0.07

M. Dumba

0.29

0.40

M. Reilly

0.24

N/A

C. Folin

0.15

N/A

N. Prosser

0.13

0

 

The Wild are one of the deepest defensive corps in the league and will only get better as Mathew Dumba and Mike Reilly improve however their potential does little for this playoff run. The viable options on defense for this playoff run are limited despite the depth. Suter is by far the best option after posting his first 50-point season. After a hot start he fell off in the middle but managed to put up 20 points in his final 30 games. He is a fixture on the power play and will play half the game so he will get his share of points especially against a less than stifling Dallas team. Should one like the Wild to go on a deep playoff run Dumba and Spurgeon would make the next best options. Dumba for his power play time and Spurgeon for his high-level even strength production. Furthermore, Spurgeon will play a lot of minutes as Suter’s defense partner of choice, which is never a bad thing for general point production.

 

 

St Louis Blues

 

Forwards

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

A. Steen

0.64

0.45

J. Lehtera

0.51

0.40

V. Tarasenko

0.81

0.85

P. Berglund

0.47

0.45

D. Backes

0.63

0.45

J. Schwartz

0.65

0.39

T. Brouwer

0.48

0.24

P. Stastny

0.82

0.68

R. Fabbri

0.51

N/A

R. Reaves

0.11

0.05

K. Brodziak

0.34

0.30

S. Upshall

0.40

0.38

M. Paajarvi

0.29

N/A

 

 

 

D. Jaskin

0.24

0.17

 

This is St Louis’ best chance to get past the Chicago playoff roadblock, which has often held them back. With the emergence of Robby Fabbri as one of the league’s least heralded 37 point rookies St Louis has three very dangerous lines and depending on the health may even have to sit a forward of the ilk of Dmitrij Jaskin. ‘Very Dangerous’ may be a bit of a stretch for a team that features two 20-goal scorers and two players with more than 50 points. As iffy of a descriptor as it is of the St Louis Blues it is a very apt description of Vladimir Tarasenko, as the 40 goal scorer is almost as good a bet as there is to average a point-per-game during the playoffs. He may also be available later in the draft if Chicago still has its sheen. Stastny and Fabbri may end up being the best Blues options after Tarasenko as the Backes line will take the toughest offensive opposition and the Tarasenko line will face the best defenders leaving the scraps for Stastny and Fabbri. Even more impressive for Fabbri is that unlike a lot of rookies he got better and produced more later in the season. Short of Hitchcock pulling back on reigns there is little drawback to taking Fabbri as he will likely be available later than he should be in the draft.

 

 

Defense

 

Player

Season

P/O

Player

Season

P/O

A. Pietrangelo

0.56

0.46

J. Bouwmeester

0.38

0.11

K. Shattenkirk

0.59

0.63

C. Gunnarsson

0.24

.08

C. Parayko

0.42

N/A

J. Edmundson

0.13

N/A

P. Lindbohm

0.09

N/A

R. Bortuzzo

0.15

0.13

 

There are three options on the Blues in the playoffs and none of them are Jay Bouwmeester. JBo’s days of being relevant in fantasy hockey have well since passed and he is now the fourth defenseman on the team and receives no power play time of which to speak. Kevin Shattenkirk is the crown jewel here and is relied on for power play production even more during the playoffs. It would not be surprising to see his ice time jump as high as 25 minutes per game during the playoffs, making him an even better option. Beyond Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo is the second option if only because he gets so much ice time and that only increases during the playoffs.