The NHL regular season may be over, but that is no reason to stop being a fantasy addict now! Several excellent websites such as Office Pools, Rinkotology and HockeyDraft.ca offer tailored pools that satisfy the need of the biggest hockey-crazed addicts, so stop biting your nails get your playoff draft on. We currently offer a free playoff pool of our own, so don’t forget to sign up!
In fantasy hockey there are very few short things. But with the Vancouver Canucks capturing the President’s Trophy, Henrik Sedin is a sure bet to produce throughout the postseason. Sedin and 40-goal scorer Marian Gaborik, are basically locks to make it past the first round. As mentioned ad nauseam, it will be either Claude Giroux or Evgeni Malkin/Sidney Crosby emerging as studs during this year’s playoffs. We gave the slight edge to Malkin and Crosby since they are, well, Malkin and Crosby.
The second tier is where things get a bit more interesting. Facing the porous goaltending in Florida, Ilya Kovalchuk should finally show his worth where it matters; he could be the darkhorse of the entire postseason. His countryman, Alex Ovechkin, could similarly dominate and prevent a Boston Bruins repeat. David Backes had a breakthrough season and should be seriously considered to win the Selke Trophy. The Blues are hoping that success extends to the postseason. Daniel Sedin, if healthy, should be able to post around a point-per-game, and at a discounted rate since he finished the regular season concussed. Pavel Datsyuk has all the moves, and more, so he gets a bump based on his reputation. Make no mistake, the Red Wings will still have trouble making it past rival Nashville. James Neal, who broke out with his 40-goal, 80-point season missed the last two games of the regular season but should be able to score with frequency this postseason. Similar to Kovalchuk, you can’t ignore what Zach Parise can do against shoddy starting goalies in Florida. Both Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin know how to score in the playoffs, making them very valuable picks. Finally, now is the time for Ryan Kesler to turn it up into beast mode.
Regardless of the third tier being below the elite, there is still plenty of value to go around. Henrik Zetterberg finished his season with the better line in Detroit, making himself a nice value pick. Brad Richards similarly went to a new level with Marian Gaborik and should be able to replicate that against an average goaltender like Craig Anderson. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both comprise the top line in Chicago but if they want to repeat their success of 2010, they will need to make it past the hottest starting goalie in the league in Mike Smith. Brad Marchand led all Bruins in scoring during the regular season and was the breakout star of last year’s playoffs; you can’t go wrong with the ‘Little Ball of Hate’. Johan Franzen has proven to be an immovable object in front of the opponent’s net; you can bet he just dominates at least one game from the paint. Scott Hartnell, Milan Lucic and Alex Burrows are all similar players in that they play a much more physical game from the top line. However, all of their values take a hit since most playoff pools don’t count PIM. All three should remain productive but they are not elite offensive weapons. By that same token, Patrick Sharp found a way to get by without Jonathan Toews but he takes a bump down while playing with Victor Stalberg and Marcus Kruger.
Our next tier features players who can produce but are less likely to advance into the second round. Jason Spezza regained his status as a top-line center with his 84-point campaign but his Senators will face the tough task of the Eastern Conference’s best team. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture both emerged as the Sharks two best weapons down the round. And while the team currently holds the seventh seed, they boast a similar core to the one that made the Western Conference Finals in consecutive seasons. Anze Kopitar and his long shot Los Angeles Kings face the tough task of taking on the Vancouver Canucks; if anyone can produce on this team, expect it to be the Slovenian superstar. Alexander Radulov remains such a enigma after scoring three goals and seven points in nine games. Can he start dominating the NHL like he did the KHL or is he still in a transition? Joe Thornton is once again looking to drop the ‘choker’ label, which will only disappear if he wins the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, teammate Patrick Marleau will look for the approval of NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick. Mike Richards showed in the past that he can lead the best team in hockey but do the Kings have enough for a deep run? Nicklas Backstrom looks to finally get back his offensive timing after playing the final four games of the season. He could be a very nice value pick. Ryan Callahan didn’t get to help his team in last year’s playoffs, expect him to help take the Rangers to another level.
Radim Vrbata finished his season with 35 goals, scoring five in his last five games. Should the Coyotes steal a round or two, expect him to be the main offensive weapon. David Perron could be the most dangerous weapon in St. Louis after scoring 21 goals in only 57 games. He could score at an elevated pace on the big stage. Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias both know what it takes to win, making each of them intriguing picks for the playoffs. Elias has competition for his place as top center as both Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac could become the team’s top center while Jagr is firmly entrenched on the top line. Stephen Weiss is just pumped to finally make the playoffs; expect him to show the world what he can do. Alexander Semin is as inconsistent as he is talented, he mainly gets a selection here due to his high-end ceiling. Dustin Brown will probably take a hit in value with fringe categories like hits and PIM excluded but the captain is known for showing up in big games. Milan Michalek is finally making the Dany Heatley trade look good, which is a feat in itself. The scoring winger finished the season with 35 goals playing next to Spezza. T.J. Oshie hasn’t become the 60-70 point player we always thought he would be but playing next to David Backes has made him a much more consistent player. Kris Versteeg rounds out our rankings mainly because he’s shown he can win in the postseason in the past– that type of experience remains invaluable at this point of the season.
We hope you enjoyed our latest entry as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all hours of the day until puck drop. You can also follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff