Every year it comes down to this. Round 10 of a 12-round draft and you either take Matt Bradley of the Capitals, Jeff Tambellini of the Canucks, or Mike Cammalleri of the Habs. Why are you even considering this question?
When the mindset of loading up on one team is taken to extremes, some opt for a fourth-line guy on a Cup favorite who might end up with four points in 22 games over a star player on a second-rate team who will get at least four points in the first round alone.
Depending on how deep the draft is, I focus on three to five teams and refuse to take 30-point players. So the last three rounds of the draft I grab the three best players on a non-favorite team. Last year, that strategy nearly won me the pool, as I nabbed Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez. As you know, the Habs upset two teams, so my final three picks made a difference.
Here’s the beauty of the strategy: you don’t care which team it is (for the most part). You’ve already built your roster around two or three of the favorites. One non-favorite is as good as another. Don’t kid yourself, at least two so-called non-favorites are going to win their first round this year.
In the final three rounds of a draft, I look at which teams are still untouched and take the BPA (best player available). Once I have the BPA, I’m locked in. The final two rounds I take the next two BPA’s on that same team. As far as non-favorites go, the only team I don’t feel comfortable with is the Rangers. I just don’t like their chances against a Washington team that spent its entire season re-vamping its strategy for post-season play and finally got it going by the second half.
Every other team is fair game. Phoenix over Detroit? Sure. Nashville surprising Anaheim? Not a laughable notion in the least.
Here are the three best players to look at from each of the underdogs - New York, Buffalo, Montreal, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Nashville. I think people are torn on the Pittsburgh/Tampa and Chicago/Vancouver series, so I won’t label any of them a non-favorite as they will have players picked early.
1. Thomas Vanek: Top scorer with 73 points, an easy call.
2. Drew Stafford: Second-best in points-per-game (0.84).
3. Derek Roy: Take him last. He is Buffalo’s best player, but because he has missed much of the season and is still sidelined, he’ll still be available to you in the draft. He reportedly won’t return before Round 2, but he’s a warrior and may make it back for the later games of Round 1.
4. Tyler Ennis: This is a bonus pick, in case you don’t feel comfortable with Roy. Ennis was fabulous for the Sabres last year in the post-season.
1. Dustin Brown: Top healthy scorer
2. Justin Williams: Normally I would take him over Brown, but because Williams is currently injured, he’ll slip. However, word is he will be back for Game 1.
3. Drew Doughty: Give me Doughty over Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner. Defensemen on the power play often see a small jump in production and I’ll also take Doughty over fellow rearguard Jack Johnson.
1. Tomas Plekanec: Top scorer.
2. Mike Cammalleri: Second-top scorer in PPG and their most skilled player.
3. P.K. Subban: I’d take him over Brian Gionta and James Wisniewski, but any of those three are about even with the other. Subban was great in the 2010 post-season and he’s a clutch player. He also has eight points in his past 11 games (same as Wisniewski).
1. Sergei Kostitsyn: Top scorer and produced at the rate of a 65-point player in the final 60 games.
2. David Legwand: Easily their best player last year in the playoffs.
3. Shea Weber: Top defenseman. But any of Weber, Mike Fisher, Martin Erat or Patric Hornqvist would be fine.
1. Marian Gaborik: Easily their best and most talented player, despite this year’s numbers. That being said, had Ryan Callahan not broken his ankle I would be going with him first instead.
2. Brandon Dubinsky: Top scorer.
3. Derek Stepan: He may have the best hockey sense on the team. Destined to be a star.
1. Shane Doan: Top scorer, captain and clutch player
2. Keith Yandle: An elite puck-moving defenseman could really surprise with how well he does.
3. Ray Whitney: The next obvious choice as he was the No. 3 scorer on the team by a wide margin.
Have a last-minute playoff question? My mailbag is up Wednesday. Fire away here.
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 Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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