Brooks Laich scored 23 goals and 53 points for the Capitals this season. (Getty Images)
In the last two columns, we covered players who will fly under the radar in your office playoff pool thanks to injuries, as well as some potential playoff busts. It’s now time to get to the goods – the dark horses. That is, those players who were not among the regular season scoring leaders, but could make a splash over the next few weeks.
Anton Babchuk, Carolina – The Hurricanes rearguard ended the year with 22 points in 24 games. He has always had the potential to be a power play specialist and is now flourishing under coach Paul Maurice.
Ryan Callahan, N.Y. Rangers – Since the Rangers made more room for him at the trade deadline by dealing away extra bodies, Callahan has tallied 16 points in 18 games.
Christian Ehrhoff, San Jose – The 26-year-old rearguard had eight points in his final 10 contests and frequently logs 24-plus minutes for the Sharks.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia – This highly skilled rookie will be a star and probably sooner than you think. He ended the season with 14 points in his last 16 games and has seen a lot of time on a line with Daniel Briere.
Matt Hunwick, Boston – For the second time this season, Andrew Ference is shelved with an injury and, for the second time this season, Hunwick is posting points in his absence. The 23-year-old rearguard has eight points in his past 11 games, although he could be scratched again when Ference returns. But that won’t be for a while.
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit – He didn’t quite crack the top-100 scorers (he was tied, but had fewer goals), but his 34 points in the final 42 games was a real eye opener.
Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh – Kunitz has 18 points in 20 games as a Penguin and he’s on Sidney Crosby’s line to stay. He was barely a top-100 scorer this season, but he should be a high pick in your post-season draft.
Andrew Ladd, Chicago – With 41 points in his past 60 games, the promising Ladd has finally come into his own. He is really clicking with the red-hot Martin Havlat.
Brooks Laich, Washington – For the second straight year, Laich finished the campaign strong as he posted 12 points in his last eight games and 20 in his last 21. Last spring, he carried that into the playoffs and he’ll do the same this time around.
Milan Lucic, Boston – The hulking forward plays a style of hockey that generally produces results when things are at their toughest. Like the NHL post-season, for example.
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis – Smart, hard-working rookie is finding his NHL stride. He finished the year with 14 points in the last 15 games.
Antoine Vermette, Columbus – If you think rookie goalie phenom Steve Mason can steal enough games against the mighty Red Wings to win the series, Vermette would be a smart under-the-radar pick in the final round of your draft. He has 13 points in 17 games since joining Columbus.
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 throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.