Teddy Purcell has 49 points in 79 games for Tampa Bay this season. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
The playoffs soon will be upon us and with it many of you will be involved in post-season fantasy hockey drafts. The first few rounds will be relatively easy, with names such as Joe Thornton, Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Zetterberg quickly snapped up.
That said, many people believe it isn’t your top picks, but your selections in the lower rounds that will win you a draft. With that in mind, here are 10 “sleeper” picks for your fantasy pool:
Numbers junkies will look at Pouliot’s performance for the Habs in last season’s playoffs (two assists in 18 games) and won’t pay him much mind. However, he has four game-winning goals this season and is just the type of lesser-light who can step up and shine brightly in the post-season.
Hecht has missed 13 games this season and his goal total is down to 12 this year from 21 last year. He won’t lead the Sabres in playoff point production, but for a late-round gamble, a half-point-per-playoff-game player like him (31 points in 58 career post-season games) isn’t a bad idea at all.
Ward doesn’t wow anyone with his hard-nosed play. And though his 10 goals this season is the lowest total of his three-year NHL career, Ward still had two goals and four points in the Preds’ six-game, first round loss to Chicago last year.
Kennedy is having his best NHL season this year, with 20 goals and 43 points in 78 games. That may be a function of the increased opportunity he’s getting because of injuries to stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but during the Pens’ Cup-winning playoff run two years ago, he chipped in five goals (three of them game-winners) and nine points.
His best days are behind him, yet the 34-year-old Handzus has always been a decent playoff performer with 30 points in 66 career games, including three goals and five points in six first round playoff games for the Kings last season.
The 25-year-old Hansen doesn’t get any power play time on the stacked Canucks, but he still put up nine goals (including two game-winners) this season. Most of Vancouver’s roster will be selected in your draft quickly, but Hansen may slip through the cracks; don’t hesitate to pluck him out of there with a later selection.
Pyatt isn’t on Phoenix’s first power play unit and his 29 points this season have him eighth on the low-scoring Yotes. That said, he’s got 17 goals (fifth-best on the team) and leads the organization in game-winners, with six.
A wonky shoulder has limited Fehr’s regular season to 50 games and his goal total this season is just 10, down from 21 last year. But he had three goals and four points in the first round for Washington last season.
He’s been a full-time NHLer since 2006-07, but White will be playing in his first playoff games this spring. He’s posted just eight assists since being dealt from Carolina, but he still averages close to two minutes of power play time per game.
Like White, Purcell will be seeing his first NHL post-season action. He’s fourth on the Bolts in goals (17) and points (49), so you may have to take him as a fifth or sixth round pick, but at this stage, he’s a safer bet than more familiar names such as Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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