Western Conference: Sneaky Playoff Pool Value Picks

by chriskane on April 9, 2018
  • The Wild West
  • Western Conference: Sneaky Playoff Pool Value Picks

Chris Kane makes his DobberHockey Wild West debut…

With the regular season wrapping up this weekend our thoughts of course turn to the playoffs. Many of us, who were less fortunate in our individual leagues (hats off to my opponent for the league title, you had a great team) are looking for a little fantasy redemption come playoff time. Playoff leagues are a bit of a different animal, as while top tier players can still be useful, often times those second tier players who go further in the playoffs and get more games end up being more valuable. We all know who the major players are on each team going into the season, but I wanted to outline a few players that I have my eye on in the Western Conference.


(Note: Vegas, San Jose, Winnipeg, Minnesota, LA, and Nashville stats do not include the final game – a combination of it being a less important game for many of them, and a function of when I had time to write. My apologies for leaving off the last game of the season for your favorite team.)


Vegas: I like many, have to admit to being pretty skeptical of what would happen in Vegas this year. They certainly managed to prove their doubters wrong again and again. We all know that if Vegas continues to succeed it is likely going to be a combination of those who have done it all year (looking at you William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith). The guy I am watching though is Shea Theodore. He has had a bit of an inconsistent season, and it took a while to really find his footing in Vegas. Since March 20 though he has managed 2-7-9 in 9 games, but the thing I am liking even more is the 34 shots (3.78 per game) and the 61% of the power play time over that stretch. The last three games have been even better, averaging over four minutes a game and 73% of the team’s total power play time over that stretch.


San Jose:  This one is slightly more obvious as his was one of the biggest names moved at the trade deadline, and he has made a splash with several multi-goal games. In case you have stopped paying attention recently I think it is worth comparing Evander Kane’s Buffalo stats immediately prior to the move and his San Jose stats.


















San Jose









What a difference usage makes. More than half of that increase in time on ice is on the power play, and clicking with Pavelski certainly doesn’t hurt either. A giant increase in shots, keeps his shooting percentage over this time period pretty reasonable. He doesn’t have much experience in the playoffs, but if San Jose makes it past the first round, I want Kane on my team. Joonas Donskoi has recently returned to the Kane/Pavelski line so watch out for him as well.


Winnipeg: Who to choose on Winnipeg? Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine? Yes, you want those guys, but the guy I am watching right now is Kyle Connor. Like Theodore, the rookie has had ups and downs this year, but I am fully prepared to jump on the upswing heading into the playoffs. He is getting time on the first line with Scheifele and Wheeler, and PP2 time with Little and Ehlers. His recent stat line is looking great with 7-8-15 over his last 12 games with 38 shots to go along with it. Essentially all of the points are coming even strength, and his overall playing time could be better, so keep an eye on that. With Winnipeg firing on all cylinders and hopefully for a few rounds, I am certainly interested in grabbing Connor.


Minnesota: Injuries have a chance to derail Minnesota this playoff season. Having had Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon out has left defensive core pretty thin and the pressure falls to Matt Dumba to pick up the slack. Over his last 10 games Dumba has been up to the task, tallying three goals and seven assists for 10 points. He has also totaled 31 shots over that span, getting top unit power play deployment. Spurgeon is reportedly close to returning which is certainly good news for Minnesota and hopefully won’t negatively impact Dumba too much.


Los Angeles: Just in case you forgot about him because he was injured for a good chunk of this year, Jeff Carter is still here doing his thing – shooting and scoring goals. He has 9-3-12 over his last 12 games with 39 shots. He is also getting top power play time, as is Brown, whose resurgent year appears to be kicking back into gear. He has 8-8-16 and 42 shots, though admittedly 7 shots and 4 goals came in one game against a rather defenseless Minnesota. These guys are obviously a bit more well known, but make sure they aren’t slipping by if you see the Kings getting out of the first round.


Nashville: I am keeping an eye on Craig Smith in Nashville. Given they wrapped up the President’s Trophy earlier on this week, their lines have been a little off as they have rested players. Through all of that Smith is getting prime deployment on the top power play. If there is a chance that Smith can keep that into the playoffs, count me interested. He has had some cold spells but is running with 4-2-6 and 15 shots over his last 5 games. Watch those practice lines, but if there is a chance to grab a top power play forward on the Preds a little later in your playoff pool, I would seriously consider jumping on it.


Anaheim: Anaheim had a strong run into the playoffs, willing their last 5 in a row. Even with that though they seem to have been scoring more by committee, with guys like Getzlaf and Rakell, doing fine, but nothing amazing. The guy I am watching here is Adam Henrique. He has been getting top power play time, and is on a 4 game point streak, with 2-3-5 during the streak . The one downside here is that he has only managed 9 shots during that span, though 7 game in the final two games.


Colorado: A big emotional win over the Blues for their last game clinched the Avs their playoff spot. This is exactly what the NHL is hoping for, consequential games at the end of the season. With Semyon Varlamov and Erik Johnson out it is hard to know what is going to happen on defense and outside of Nathan MacKinnon there isn’t a lot of offense coming out of Colorado right now. With his three point night last night Gabriel Landeskog has five points in his last five games (1-4-5) and 17 shots. He also recorded 10 hits last night if that is of interest in your pool. 



West Coast Roundup


Others have already penned fitting words, so I won’t repeat their work here, but hats off to the Sedin’s for a truly remarkable career.


Can we talk for a second about Antti Raanta? Since Feb 15, he has only lost 3 times. Over his last 10  he is 8-2-0, with a GAA of 1.38 and a SV% of .956. Did he help someone win your league? He sure beat me in mine.


Since both Johnson and Varlamov have been out out the Avs have let in 13 goals in their last 4 games (3.25 GA per game). They are going to need to tighten up a bit to have a shot at getting out of the first round.


Thanks for reading, I’ve got some upcoming ideas for the summer columns, but if you have anything in particular you are interested in, leave some thoughts in the comments.