It is no secret the power play is the most important element of offense in the playoffs. This makes the players on the man advantage the most fantasy-worthy in terms of playoff pools. Defensemen who quarterback the PP actually see their production rise by as much as 40 per cent. Moving them up your draft list a no-brainer. In part two of a two-part piece, FPL will take a look at the Eastern Conference quarterbacks (Click HERE for our look at the West.
This team was looking all season long for a suitable power play quarterback and they finally found one in February with Alexei Zhitnik. After deciding Braydon Coburn was not ready, while Steve McCarthy and Niclas Havelid proved unsuitable, the Thrashers went out and got Zhitnik. If you like Atlanta players for your playoff pool, then Zhitnik should be right up there on your list. He has 14 points in 15 games since joining the team and while that would be a little high in terms of what to expect in the post-season, it won’t be that far off if the team gets out of the first round. He is the only option on Atlanta’s as far as fantasy hockey is concerned.
The Sabres have several options on the point, the best of which is Brian Campbell. That being said, Campbell regressed significantly last post-season, posting just six assists (and no goals) in 18 playoff games. In fact, Henrik Tallinder was the rearguard who stepped up for them, tallying eight points in just 14 contests. Teppo Numminen, Toni Lydman and Dmitri Kalinin can all put up seven or eight points in a prolonged playoff run. Jaroslav Spacek can put up as much as a dozen. My favorite dark horse is rookie Nathan Paetsch. The 24-year-old will have to prove himself in the first round. If he does that, coach Lindy Ruff will use him in more and more situations and you could see him surprise. Paetsch had a run this season of 17 points in 24 games, but that was when Spacek and Lydman were both sidelined with injuries and Paetsch got the ice time he needed.
Seeing as Sheldon Souray is currently tied for the NHL record for power play goals by defensemen, it’s safe to say he will contribute with the man advantage in the playoffs Â– if they make it. Andrei Markov is also having a career season and his production should also go up a little when the second season begins. The only other offensive rearguard that may put up decent numbers is Mark Streit, but he has played a lot as a winger lately and does not really quarterback the power play.
Paul Martin has had a disappointing year this year by fantasy standards, but Brian Rafalski set a new career high. The latter had a fantastic playoff last year, garnering nine points in nine games while the former slipped in production. It’s safe to say Rafalski is one man you can move up your draft list. The rest of the New Jersey rearguards Â– leave them be.
New York Rangers
Paul Mara has just five points in 17 games since joining the Rangers at the deadline, but he has the potential to be a real dark horse. He is the No. 2 man on the blue line when the Rangers are up a man and he will likely be available in the final round of your draft. If you feel New York will go two or even three rounds, Mara would be a steal. Michal Rozsival has been the quarterback, smashing his offensive career high this year. Don’t expect that to change in the post-season.
Wade Redden. Those are the only two words you need to know here. Yes, Tom Preissing is ahead of him in points, but Redden would be a 65-point player if he stayed healthy. Therein lies the risk. Redden has battled a groin injury all season, but c’mon Â– this is the post-season! When Redden has been at full health, he tallied 29 points in 37 games. That was from Christmas until the middle of March. His production will go up in a big way. If the Sens play 20 games, put Redden down for 16-17 points. Preissing, Joe Corvo and Andrej Meszaros can also post a good 12-13 points if given three or four full rounds to get them. Out of those three, I like Preissing the best.
The Pens’ blueliners are a fantasy poolie’s dream. Their role is obvious Â– there will be no surprises. Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney will get all the points while the rest of the rearguards will not. Both Gonchar and Whitney are hovering around 0.7 to 0.8 points per game. Come playoff time, prepare yourself to watch them up that by 20 per cent. Expect 0.9 to a full point per game from each the quarterbacks of one of the best power plays in hockey.
Dan Boyle is one of the most underrated defensemen in fantasy hockey. The reality is, this guy is top five in terms of offense and is a consistent 50-point player. This season he has 63 points. For every 10 playoff games he plays, expect seven or eight points at the very least. Paul Ranger is a nice dark horse. Not only can he be had in the final round of your draft, but last season he stepped it up at the right time with six points in five playoff games. Filip Kuba is another option. He is very streaky, however, so you would have to hope that if you draft him, he will begin a good streakÂ…and not a bad one.
Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle sit 2-3 in Leafs scoring with 56 points apiece. Rookie Ian White is the next rearguard on the list, sitting 15th. The McCabe-Kaberle combination is the only option that should be considered in the post-season, but both already produce in the 0.7 to 0.8 points-per-game range. Do not expect that to increase too much, as these guys already get all the ice time and PP time that they need.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league – check out the latest scoop every Monday and Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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