Given that I fired off some playoff dark horses in the Western Conference last Thursday, I would be remiss if I didn’t follow up with a group from the East.
Once you have your draft list (there’s an excellent one right here you can customize, or use my picks), you need some late-round dark horses. I’ll help you out there, too. My teams to beat in the East are Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh. But for the sake of argument, I’ll add the Rangers and the defending Cup champion Bruins to the list as well. So I’ll remove the seven or eight best points players on each of those teams and the three or four best points players from each of the other five teams. What I’m left with are a group of players destined for seven or eight points at the most. But a couple of them will shock the hockey world with a stunning 13- or 14-point performance. Owning a player like that wins pools.
Here are your best bets in the East:
Sean Bergenheim, Florida
Bergenheim is pretty steady when it comes to production, hovering around a 0.37 points-per-game average in each of his past four seasons. But he’s a streaky player who gets his points in bunches. And let’s not forget last year in the playoffs when he scored nine goals in 16 games for Tampa Bay.
Brian Boyle, New York
After a breakout 2010-11 season in which he scored 21 goals, Boyle slipped to 11 this campaign. He was also shutout over five post-season games last year. Now for the good news: He has five goals in his past nine games and his 6-foot-7, 244-pound frame is custom made for the playoffs.
Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh
Yeah, I said it. The notorious pest posted his fewest penalty minutes (44) in 12 years, his highest point total (38) since 2003 and set a career high in goals (19). He finished the season with 18 points in his last 25 games and has been lining up with Sidney Crosby. I suppose a time machine that takes Cooke back 25 years and plops him on Wayne Gretzky’s line would be an upgrade to his current situation, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Marcel Goc, Florida
Although he’s just ninth on the team with 27 points, Goc’s points per game average ranks seventh on the squad. And when you take out his first 17 games (two points) he has 25 points in his past 40 games. That’s a 51-point pace, which would put him fifth in team scoring.
Mike Green, Washington
In some office pools, Green may be snapped up early due to the prestige his name brings and the fact he’s a two-time 73-plus-point player. But in other pools, people will look at his name far down the scoring list and they won’t be impressed with his seven points. If you already have a couple of Washington players, Green makes a great late-round pick.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, New Jersey
While his 33 points are ‘ho-hum,’ he did get 18 of them in the 33 games that he’s been with the Devils. He is often given a spot on the second line and has found a home in New Jersey.
Benoit Pouliot, Boston
With 30 points in his past 58 games, Pouliot’s season totals can be deceiving. The trio of Pouliot, Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly makes up one of the hottest third lines in the league.
Matt Read, Philadelphia
Read sees loads of ice time because he’s an “all situations” player. Despite being a rookie, he’s trusted on the power play and on the penalty kill – and those players end up posting the lion’s share of points.
Brian Rolston, Boston
The 39-year-old Rolston was often a healthy scratch for the Islanders and even upon arriving in Boston he was being used sparingly. However, injuries hit the B’s and Rolston suddenly found himself on a line (as I noted above) that really clicked. He’s posted 14 points in his past 12 contests, so clearly there is still gas left in the tank.
Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia
There were major expectations for Schenn and he ranked high on my Calder ballots heading into the season. He was outplayed in training camp by fellow rookies Read and Sean Couturier and subsequently got off to a slow start. But if Daniel Briere is out for long, the capable Schenn could surprise. He has six points in his past seven games.
Kyle Turris, Ottawa
Although the youngster is ninth in team scoring due to a late contract signing, his points-per-game average of 0.59 as a Senator ranks him fifth. He frequently lines up with Daniel Alfredsson – not bad company at all.
Good luck at the draft!
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.