My article from The Hockey News today
With playoff pool drafts taking place over the next seven days, it’s time to put together your strategy and draft lists. As always, you should limit the amount of teams you load up on (three for smaller pools, five for the bigger ones) and then hope for a couple of bounces.
Ideally, you’ll have eight or nine teams you’ll focus on with that first pick and then take the best player available. Once you have your core two or three guys, you build your roster around the teams that they play on. In the later rounds, you start seeking out the dark horses. These are the players who could give you fifth-round value in the 10th round. Here are some names to keep in mind.
Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks
No real reason to draft Bickell, other than the fact he plays for the Cup champs and was an absolute stud last year. Bickell had 17 points in the post-season (23 games). He doesn’t even have those numbers in the 2013-14 regular season! The Hawks will look to use his size on the power play and on Patrick Kane’s line. Maybe it won’t have the same kind of magic. It certainly didn’t when they tried it back in October. But then again, maybe it will.
Derick Brassard, New York Rangers
Two reasons to like Brassard. One, he had 12 points in 12 playoff contests a year ago. And two, he has 37 points in his past 59 games. So although he has 44 points, his pace after the slow start indicates a number closer to 51. His low point total will keep him off many draft lists, but if you already have a couple of Rangers on your team, definitely target this guy.
Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild
The 22-year-old is ending the season on a hot streak (10 points in his past 10 games). He also plays clutch hockey, notching two assists in last year’s first round series when the rest of his team wasn’t doing much of anything. In the QMJHL he had 34 points in 17 playoff games for Saint John in 2012.
Daniel Briere, Montreal Canadiens
The feisty, smaller players with talent always seem to find that extra gear when it matters most, which is why I think Brendan Gallagher is the heir apparent to Daniel Briere. But for now, Briere is still kicking around, so you have to go with him. Despite Briere’s paltry 25 points this season, there’s no denying what he does in the playoffs year after year. He had just 49 points for the Flyers back in 2011-12, but then had 13 in 11 playoff games. In the 2010 post-season, he hit the 30-point mark to lead the league.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Letang represents a risk in fantasy hockey because of his heart condition and recent stroke. He also has just 19 points this season, which is low for him when he plays 34 games. But he’s healthy now and has 21 points in his past 21 post-season contests.
Patrick Maroon, Anaheim Ducks
I like Maroon here because of what I saw from Bryan Bickell in the last post-season and Dustin Penner the year prior to that. These are big men thrust into big roles on the top lines and with the grind of playoff hockey they really flourished. The Ducks have had a revolving door in that winger spot with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and Maroon has had some success there. It’s hard to imagine he won’t get another look there.
Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings
Richards has two points in his past 16 games and sits at 41 on the campaign. He had a similarly poor season in 2011-12 (44 points) and went on to post 15 in 20 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup. Last year his regular season points-per-game average was 0.67, but he kicked that up a notch to 0.80 in the playoffs. The guy is money.
Carl Soderberg, Boston Bruins
Most casual fans haven’t heard of Soderberg who, at 28, is finishing up his first full NHL season. But he was dominant in Sweden and he’s getting the hang of the NHL life after starting the year with 14 points in 29 games. He has 31 in his past 41 now and his ice time is increasing.
Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers
The 36-year-old vet is having an OK season, but that primarily stems from a pretty strong second half. He had five points in six games when the Islanders got into the playoffs last year. Power play quarterbacks often see a jump in production in the post-season.
Tommy Wingels, San Jose Sharks
Although the 25-year-old Wingels has slowed down in the second half, he is still enjoying a breakout season. He produces pretty good numbers when on a scoring line and still does OK when everyone is healthy and he’s relegated to the third line. A crash-and-banger who plays playoff-style hockey anyway, this could be his coming out party.
Dobber has a playoff draft list available that can be customized to fit your needs. Get it here.