We’ve looked at some dark horse player picks for your Stanley Cup Playoff pool (), and how we’ll have a look at the West.
Eastern Conference Players Are Undervalued in Playoff Pools
When people envision NHL playoff success, they picture the West — home of seven of the past nine Stanley Cup champions. As a result, when poolies are debating between drafting players who likely to produce similar per game playoff scoring, they’ll tend to favor a Western Conference player over his Eastern Conference counterpart.
In doing so, they’re overlooking that in each round teams in both conferences will play roughly the same number of games. Beyond that, although Western Conference teams have hoisted the last four Cups, in two of those seasons more Eastern Conference players were among the top 10 playoff scorers; and in only one season were there more Western Conference teams than Eastern teams in the top 10 for goals per playoff game.
Let your fellow GMs load up on Western Conference players early in your playoff pool draft. Meanwhile, you can gravitate toward (or even sit tight for) Eastern Conference players, who’ll still provide at least comparable production, but could give you better value for your pick.
Here are our dark horses.
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS:
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Stanley Cup Playoffs Fantasy Hockey
Mike Richards – Justin Williams is a playoff beast, but that’s no secret so he’ll be overvalued. Don’t overlook Richards, who has a nearly-as-impressive resume of 87 points in 124 playoff games. Although Richards is now a bottom-six player, between his past exploits and how far the Caps stand to go in the playoffs, he’d make a decent final pick.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Dan Boyle – No one will confuse today’s Boyle with the player who averaged 53 points per season from 2008 through 2012. But even as his scoring has plummeted, he’s remained productive in the playoffs, including half as many points (10) in only 19 playoff contests in 2014-15 as he scored in 65 regular season contests.
Teddy Purcell – Despite playing more then 600 NHL games, Purcell has only tasted playoff action twice. But he’s made the most of his opportunities, with 18 points in 22 games. As a UFA this summer, Purcell will be eager to recapture that same playoff magic and he should have a decent chance to do so on a younger Panthers squad.
Nick Bonino – With media and poolies focusing on Phil Kessel’s scoring resurgence, Bonino’s nearly as solid numbers of late have been largely ignored. Beyond this well-timed scoring outburst, Bonino has posted 10 points in his last 15 playoff games, so he’s also shown he can step up when things matter most.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Valtteri Filppula – Although Filppula didn’t average even a point per every other game in 2015-16, it’s notable that the last two times he posted fewer than 40 points in a regular season he went on to tally a total of 17 points in 23 collective playoff games. In other words, he’s saved his best for the second season before.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Johnny Boychuk – Even before he broke out last season in fantasy, Boychuk had shown flashes of playoff production, with seven or more points in four separate playoff years. That’s unlike teammate Nick Leddy, who has just 12 points in his last 48 playoff contests. The Isles know that for them to succeed Boychuk will have to play a big role, so look for that to happen and for the points to come.
Sean Couturier – Not only is the fact Couturier has produced above a 60-point scoring pace since December still somewhat hidden by his poor early stats and low fantasy profile, but the last time Philadelphia made the playoffs in 2013-14, he posted six points in seven games in a defensive role.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Brad Richards – Last season with Chicago, Richards managed only 37 points in 76 games, but then tallied 14 points in 23 playoff games. With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk both seemingly having lost a step this season, the Red Wings might be willing to let Richards take a larger role. Although Richards’ Conn Smythe winning days are a distant memory, he could produce better for the Wings than poolies might expect.