Eastern Conference dark horses

It's playoff pool season, folks – especially today, with the regular season officially complete. Last Monday I reviewed some general draft tips and then Thursday I gave you 14 Western Conference dark horses. Today it's time for the East…

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

Bailey had 14 points in his last 20 games and is a big reason for the Isles playoff push. His late-season production gave the Islanders a very good second line (with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen).

Ryane Clowe, New York Rangers

Clowe was stagnating in San Jose, so the move to New York rekindled his inspired play. Eight of his 19 points were picked up in 12 games with the Rangers. He also has a reputation for stepping it up in the post-season.

Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins

It's a tough task trying to dig up a dark horse on Pittsburgh, since this is a team that will have all the players – plus the water boy and equipment manager  – drafted by the second round. But Cooke is a gritty player who comes up big when it matters most. He has 10 points in his past 19 playoff contests.

Raphael Diaz, Montreal Canadiens

After missing 25 games due to a concussion, Diaz finds himself low on the statistics sheet. Since he was pretty much an unknown to begin with – to the casual poolie anyway – he'll still be there in the final rounds of your deep draft.

Matt Frattin, Toronto Maple Leafs

A healthy scratch in seven of the past 11 games, Frattin is obviously a huge risk. But he has huge games when the odds are stacked against him. He didn't make the team this year, but was called up early and scored three points in his first game. Last season he was a big-time player every time he was called up from the Marlies. And speaking of the Marlies, he had 10 goals in 13 playoff games for them last year.

Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens

The rookie was mired in a huge slump throughout March, which is why he finished with “only” 27 points. But down the stretch he was simply awesome – 12 points (and a plus-6 rating) in the final 13 games despite ice time that was held to around 12 minutes per game.

Jack Hillen, Washington Capitals

Who? Oh yeah – that guy. Hillen was a dark horse back in 2008 when he was signed out of college as an undrafted free agent. The offensive defenseman didn't get off to the start we expected at the NHL level and had since bounced to Nashville and now Washington. As a depth rearguard, he continued to putter along. But then the Caps started scoring and Hillen found himself a part of that. He had eight points in his final 10 games.

Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals

While his 22 points aren't that impressive, what if I told you that he got 17 of them in his last 22 games? As soon as Alex Ovechkin turned into a superstar again, Johansson started racking up the points – he was often on the same line. If the Capitals play 15 games in the post-season, you could see Johansson with 14 points.

Rich Peverley, Boston Bruins

Just two points in his last eight games and a fairly miserable season offensively, however, like Frattin, Peverley is a gamer. He spent several years just fighting to stay in the NHL, even going through waivers. He has 17 points in his past 32 playoff games.

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Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa Senators

With 13 points in his past 23 games, Silfverberg is slowly finding his form in his first pro season in North America. Last year he was the MVP of the Swedish Elite League and then, as if that weren't enough, he was the MVP of the playoffs, too.

Carl Soderberg, Boston Bruins

After being on a lot of keeper-league radars for several years, he was dropped off of most of them by 2011. Suddenly, at 27, the high-scoring Swede has decided to come to North America after all. Coach Claude Julien didn't take long to put him in the lineup and give him decent minutes. He's been playing with Jaromir Jagr and has two points in the only five NHL games that he's ever played.

Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh Penguins

Sutter is good for a point every two games, regardless of the time of year. While the scoring lines see their production slow in the post-season as other teams focus on them – Sutter and his merry band of third-liners (including the aforementioned Cooke) will continue to chip in timely points at the same pace.

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators

Zibanejad managed just one point in his final 10 games, but he's had those slumps before. As long as Jason Spezza remains sidelined, Zibanejad should be good for a point every two games. Like Silfverberg, he has a very bright future in Ottawa.

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers

Since I listed these players alphabetically, you were probably thinking that I was done after “Zibanejad.” Nope. Zuccarello has always been extremely talented, but every time he got going at the NHL level, he sustained an injury. The Rangers were unwilling to commit a one-way contract to him last summer, but after the team struggled to score they finally caved and signed him in late March. After managing just two points in eight games while he re-adjusted to the NHL game, Zuccarello has been clicking with Brad Richards – and that has resulted in six points in his past seven.

As a final note, depending on the level of your competition, keep an eye on how far Erik Karlsson slides. If your opponents are reading off of the stats sheets, Karlsson would rank around 400th with his 12 points. But he's a point-per-game player and would represent a steal taken anywhere in the middle rounds.

Good luck! PS – if you need a draft list to help guide you, I sell one over at my site for $8.99. It's highly customizable and an instant download.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

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