Nathan Horton has three game-winning goals this post-season. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Besides the Sedins (once they finally flipped the “awesome” switch), Martin St-Louis, David Krejci and Ryan Kesler, there are some players who have really surprised with their playoff performance and have far exceeded expectations. The five aforementioned players already had near point-per-game expectations heading into the dance so their production, while impressive in some cases, inspiring in others, is just fulfilling our already-lofty expectations. Here are the Top 10 ‘other’ skaters and what they are hinting to fantasy hockey owners.
The 34-year-old managed just 50 points this season and seemed to have lost a step. That total was his worst during a healthy season since 2004. His 16 points in 18 playoff games, though, tell us he’s not done yet. Look for him to improve on the 50 points next year.
Historically, Kelly has always stepped up his production in the post-season. He has 24 points in his past 44 playoff games, or a 0.55 points-per-game average. His best NHL season for this stat was 0.46 in 2006-07. Still signed for another year, his increased role with Boston will help him finally crack the 40-point mark. And on a team like that, his plus/minus should go through the roof, too.
The fact we didn’t expect a point per game out of Lecavalier tells us just how far he has fallen. His points per game over the past three seasons read 0.87, 0.85 and 0.83 in that declining order. So 19 points in 18 post-season games is a pleasant surprise and a statement that if he can play a healthy season, he can get back above 80 points.
The industrious Ward has been a steady 30- to 35-point player in his young NHL career. The 13 points in 12 playoff games he posted this season was nearly half of what he posted all season (29 points in 80 games). He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and if he changes addresses it’s bound to be for a team with more of a free-wheeling style of play.
Concussion problems and four consecutive seasons of point-per-game averages at no more than 0.71 had our minds made up: Bergeron was a 50- to 59-point player. But perhaps we spoke to soon. At the most difficult time of year to produce points, Bergeron has 15 in 16 games (0.94). He was a 70-point player before the big concussion so perhaps he can get back up to that point barring another concussion.
At one point in his career, I thought Bergenheim would be a 65-point player. That was back in 2006 when he finished strong for the Islanders after the team traded away Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha at the deadline. However, Bergenheim’s contract demands were too high so he played the following year in Sweden and Russia. He never got that scoring-line opportunity again and is now a 25-point player. But nine goals in 16 playoff games certainly makes the statement he can still contribute. I wouldn’t be shocked to see 20 goals and 45 points next campaign in a third-line role and part-time second-line role.
Everyone’s favorite whipping boy during the season and the most talked about Canuck in trade rumors has silenced the critics. One injury after another in three of the past four seasons had us writing him off for any significant contributions. But after the holidays, Bieksa had 15 points in 34 games with a plus-26 rating. Add that to his playoff numbers and it becomes: 52 games, 24 points and a plus-36. He’ll be a free agent in the summer and that makes him intriguing in fantasy circles for next season.
With nearly 400 penalty minutes over the past two seasons to go with his 78 points, Downie is already a pretty valuable fantasy asset. He notched 14 points in 17 playoff games (but just two in seven against Boston), sending us the message that he is more than just a PIM guy. If healthy, he could top 60 points.
I always love the players who perform despite the lack of ice time. Exhibit A right here. Purcell was 16th on Tampa in ice time (13:42), but posted 17 points in 18 games. That’s actually less than his regular season ice time (14:02) when he managed 51 points. Give this man 15 minutes a game and he should top 60. He’s still not respected enough in fantasy circles, which makes him an excellent dark horse.
Just when I write him off and think he’s never going to see his 80-point potential, he puts up this kind of performance. Make no mistake, though, I was one of the last holdovers on this opinion. After six seasons of never topping 62 points, fantasy owners had pretty much made their decision on Horton. And after seeing a disappointing 53 points out of him on a talented Boston team this year, I was finally inclined to agree with them. But 17 points in 18 playoff games with all of these clutch goals leaves me to wonder if we spoke to soon. Just celebrating his 26th birthday Sunday, Horton is entering his prime now and I think he’s in for career highs next campaign.
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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