Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2011 Fantasy Playoff Sleepers

brad marchand bruins rat
The playoffs start on Wednesday and everyone’s looking for the next Fernando Pisani that is going to come out of nowhere and win them their fantasy pool. The playoffs are much different from regular season pools. No one on this list will necessarily go near the bottom of your draft; it all depends on which teams your pool as a collective are favouring. In a regular season pool you wouldn’t see Alex Burrows go even near the second round, but he’s likely to go that early in a playoff pool because the Canucks are heavy favourites.

With that disclaimer out-of-the-way I’m going to list a player from each team that could count as a sleeper. Of course, players from heavy favourites will go earlier and some of the best players from underdogs might hang around forever, so the definition of sleeper differs for each team.

Anaheim Ducks

Saku Koivu

Koivu scored 45 points this season and will play beside Teemu Selanne. He has 48 points in 54 career playoff games, which is almost .90 PPG. If the Ducks make a run they will need to receive secondary scoring behind Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan and Koivu will be part of that.

Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand

The rookie is playing in between Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on the second line and scored a career high 21 goals this season, while sporting an impressive +25 rating. He scored 91 points over 113 games in the AHL, plus 15 in 16 playoff games.

San Jose Sharks

Devin Setoguchi

Seto is the forgotten man amongst Sharks forwards. He finished eighth on the team in points (seventh among forwards), but has fit in well with Joe Thornton, scoring 22 goals and 41 points. He started the season slow but increased his production as the year progressed.

Washington Capitals

John Carlson

The rookie defenceman has developed into the Capitals number 1 defenceman with Mike Green’s absence. The injury to Dennis Wideman also gives Carlson an opportunity to play on the power-play. Carlson scored 37 points this season and scored 6 points in 7 playoff games last season.

Vancouver Canucks

Alex Edler

The young Swede had 33 points in 51 games this season, which put him on pace for career highs in goals and points, but a back injury curtailed his season. He’s nearing return from a back injury, so he might be around a little later than some of the other Canuck defencemen.

Detroit Red Wings

Jiri Hudler

Hudler is only a few years removed from brushing with 60 points. He left the Wings to play in Moscow last season, but returned to a somewhat disappointing 37 point campaign. However, he started playing better in the second half of the season and has scored 28 points in 51 career playoff games.

Nashville Predators

Shea Weber

The Ducks were the team no one wanted to face this post-season and the Preds have the unenviable task of playing them. No one on the Preds broke 50 points this season, so there isn't much value here. Weber has a cannon from the point and will be the focal point of the Predators power-play. If the Predators go anywhere it will be on the backs of Weber and Pekke Rinne.

Montreal Canadiens

James Wisniewski

The defenceman with the bomb from the point turned into a terror on the Montreal blueline after being poached from the Islanders. The Wiz scored 30 points in 43 games with the Habs and will be a key contributor on a Montreal power-play that will certainly get some opportunities against the physical Bruins.

Chicago Blackhawks

Dave Bolland

Considering the Hawks are against the powerhouse Canucks in the opening round it’s likely you will be able to select one of their better players later in the draft. However, if you’re from Chicago or everyone you’re playing with thinks the Canucks are overrated than here’s a sleeper:  Dave Bolland. He’s coming back from a concussion, so there is certainly an injury risk, but the gritty centre was on pace for career highs in goals and points before taking a shot to the head. He’s scored 28 points in 39 playoff games the last two seasons.

Philadelphia Flyers

Kris Versteeg

The former Hawk and Leaf did not provide the expected offense after arriving before the trade deadline – registering only 11 points in 27 games – but he scored 14 points in 22 games last post-season, including a couple big game winning goals. He’s playing with Jeff Carter and JVR, so the opportunity is there.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Alex Kovalev

Pittsburgh’s value lies in Sidney Crosby, so if you’re taking players from the Pens you should have confidence that Crosby will be back by the second round. The Pens can probably survive the first round without Crosby, but won’t go further. So, if you’re loading up on Pens try Kovalev late in the draft. He scored 7 points in 20 games with the Pens after a deadline deal, which isn’t great, but he has 98 career playoff points in 116 games. There might be something left in the tank.

Phoenix Coyotes

Keith Yandle

Yandle certainly isn’t a true sleeper. He’s the Coyotes best player and a potential Norris Trophy candidate. However, the Coyotes aren’t getting much respect and Yandle will be around by mid-draft, if not later. He scored 59 points this season and has increased his points total in every year in the league. He scored 5 in 7 games last playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres

Drew Stafford

The Flyers are looking susceptible to a first round upset, so taking some Sabres is a good idea. Drew Stafford had a breakout season, scoring 31 goals in only 62 games. Stafford plays on the second line with rookie Tyler Ennis and Brad Boyes, who scored 14 points in 21 games after a trade with the Blues.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Simon Gagne

Gagne was absolutely brutal to start the season, but caught fire down the stretch, scoring 18 points in his final 13 games to finish the season with 40 in 63 games. Gagne is riding shotgun to Steven Stamkos, so the points are there for the taking.

Los Angeles Kings

Dustin Brown

The Kings are a team to avoid this post-season. Their leading scoring, Anze Kopitar, is out with a fractured ankle and their other top scorers faded down the stretch (Ryan Smyth had two goals in his last 30 games). They play the red-hot Sharks and seem like easy fodder. If you choose to ignore this warning you might as well pick Dustin Brown. He ended the season with 9 points in 9 games and just missed 30 goals and 60 points on the season.

New York Rangers

Vaclav Prospal

Another team to avoid. It’s highly unlikely that the Capitals lose to an eighth seed for the second year in a row, so the Rangers don’t look to provide much value. Prospal didn’t start the season until February 3rd, but scored 23 goals in 29 games after.

Check out for a more detailed breakdown of each team.


Anonymous said...

Chicago have a chance?

Matt Horner said...

People seem to think they are going to be throttled, but they still have a ton of good players. I think Vancouver's depth will be the difference.

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