That time of year already? Kind of crept up on us, didn’t it? But here we are again in April, with only three days left in the season. Emails have started flying around the office, trying to organize a time and place for your annual playoff draft. Before you scramble around for a good draft list there’s an excellent one right here that you can customize - or you can just use my picks.
Now that you have your draft list, you need some late-round dark horses. I’ll help you out there, too. My teams to beat in the West are Nashville, St. Louis, Vancouver and – even though they will likely end up playing Nashville – Detroit. 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 four 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.
The following are your best bets in the West. Monday I’ll give you the best bets in the East.
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis
His zero career playoff points don’t exactly “wow” you, but Berglund has the combination of size and strength that usually thrives in the playoffs. Since his ice time hasn’t dropped any, it’s safe to assume coach Ken Hitchcock feels the same way.
David Bolland, Chicago
Every season, going back to his junior days with the London Knights, this guy has been clutch. I don’t care if he’s only topped 37 points in a season once. Bolland is money in the playoffs.
Ryane Clowe, San Jose
I suspect he’s been playing much of the season hurt, because normally Clowe is a pretty dominant player. He’s starting to get back into form, though, and his 43-point season will keep him low enough in the rankings to allow you to take him late.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
His 76 points over the past two seasons are pretty pedestrian, but his 11 points in his 12 career playoff games make him a nice sleeper pick.
Gustav Nyquist, Detroit
The rookie has been dynamite in both training camp as well as his cups of coffee during the regular season. He’s made it impossible for the team to send him back to the minors and he’s also seen time on a line with Pavel Datsyuk. When Darren Helm returns, Nyquist may be in the press box, but then again, if he produces at a high enough clip, the Wings will have trouble keeping him out of the lineup.
Patric Hornqvist, Nashville
This is bending my rules a little bit, as Hornqvist is seventh on the team in scoring (therefore among the “seven best”). However, to me he is the second-best pick on the Predators after Alexander Radulov. The two had a lot of success as linemates and I suspect they’ll be back together come playoff time.
Martin Havlat, San Jose
You have to scan way down the list of scoring leaders to find him, thanks to his fluke injury earlier in the campaign. But that’s to your advantage. Havlat has 28 points in his past 26 playoff games.
Zack Kassian, Vancouver
The 21-year-old rookie’s numbers won’t knock you over and his ice time sits around 10 minutes per game. That’s not exactly a recipe for success. But the Canucks picked up this 6-foot-3, 214-pound, skilled prospect as a possible answer to Milan Lucic. He’ll be given every opportunity in the playoffs to step up, though an upper-body injury sustained Wednesday night makes him a risky pick.
Andrew Shaw, Chicago
The late-bloomer really came from out of nowhere this year and he has 11 points in his past nine games. He hustles and he’s persistent – two tools that can’t be taught. And they’ll serve him well in the post-season dance.
Chris Stewart, St. Louis
One of the biggest fantasy busts of 2011-12 has as many goals in 77 games with the Blues this season as he had last year in 26 games with them. Like Berglund, he’s a big body with loads of skill, which will come in handy when the going gets tough next week.
Keith Yandle, Phoenix
Yandle has just one point in his past nine games and his points have been on the decline as the season has worn on. This is partly because of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s expanded role with the team. But Yandle has 10 points in 11 career playoff games and that kind of clutch play can’t be overlooked.
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.