2014 NHL Playoff Payoff

by Scott Cullen, TSN.ca

Playoff hockey begins Wednesday and this year's Playoff Payoff once again has the numbers and information to help you win your playoff pool.

When it comes to playoff pools, the basic strategy is simple: pick players from the four teams you think will reach the Conference Finals; that will give the players selected ample opportunity to score enough points for your squad. It's very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to win without having a solid presence among the final four teams because no matter how many points get accumulated in early rounds, if your team runs out of active bodies before the Conference Finals, it's going to be extremely challenging to hold the lead.

Krejci and Iginla Photo: The Canadian Press

Naturally, the focus will be on top seeds and there is nothing wrong with loading up on players from Boston and Chicago if you can get quality players. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that there is not a huge difference in quality between the rest of the playoff teams, so there's likely going to be plenty of value to be found on lower-seeded teams.

That doesn't mean ignoring the blue chip players -- top players on the favourite teams are the most valuable -- but it does suggest that once you have laid the groundwork with players from higher-seeded teams, then there ought to be an opportunity to secure value on lower seeds.

There will come a time, at some point in your draft, that you have to decide whether you would rather have the best player on a low seed or a lesser player on a top seed and the answer will probably come by looking at the players you've already selected.


If you can take the best player off a lower seed, and it won't contradict any of your early picks, then it's likely a good move. If you don't have representation on a highly-seeded team already, it's generally not worth it to start investing in lower-tier players.

So, Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg might offer value when you're picking Bruins, but if they are the best available Bruins by the time you pick, you're likely fighting an uphill battle to beat out teams that have David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla etc. As an aside, it makes lots of sense to target Bruins because they have a more definitive edge over their Eastern Conference competition, compared to the West where, for example, legitimate Cup contenders Los Angeles and San Jose meet in Round One, and one of them has to lose.

It could make more sense, instead, to go for Zach Parise or Mikko Koivu, top players on a lower seed that offer bigger marginal returns if they pull off at least one series upset.


Just as with the real teams involved, injuries are always a factor in fantasy sports, so it's imperative to stay on top of the playing status of top players heading into the postseason, both for the potential line combinations and having some idea who might be filling in if a significant player remains sidelined.

NHL teams are notorious for being vague or even dishonest regarding injuries at the best of times, let alone at this point in the season, but you may want to avoid, or at least decrease the value of, guys who are already going into the playoffs with injuries.

As the playoffs start, there are a number of high profile players that aren't expected to be ready. That list includes: Matt Duchene, Nathan Horton, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Granlund, Alex Galchenyuk, Chris Kreider, Evgeni Malkin, and Vladimir Tarasenko. Add into that mix, stars that at least have questionable health status after late-season injuries. Jonathan Toews, Drew Doughty, Ryan McDonagh, Martin Hanzal, T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Ben Bishop have all missed time late in the year and at least some could miss at least some first-round games.


Consider doubling-up on line combinations, when the value is right. If you set your sights on Joe Thornton early, you'll get all the more enjoyment out of Brent Burns a round or two later. Over the short season of an NHL playoff tournament, a hot line can go a long way and if you happen to pick the right one, that can tilt the results of your pool.

Sedins and Burrows, photo: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images


Don't be afraid to make a sleeper pick late in the draft. The small sample size of playoffs lends itself to unexpected results, like Bryan Bickell scoring 17 points last year, Bryce Salvador scoring 14 points in 24 games in 2012 (he had nine points in 82 regular season games), Joel Ward scoring 13 points in 12 games in 2011, Ville Leino tallying 21 points in 19 games in 2010 or many others, from Ruslan Fedotenko to R.J. Umberger to Fernando Pisani, generally unheralded players who have all had double-digit goal totals in a single playoff year. Late in your draft, roll the dice on an unheralded player that might have a decent opportunity.


Given these basic plans, the following team lists will provide information to help organize your drafting priorities. Each player listed has their points per game listed and that's a general value to start with.

Then, look at what the player has done in the later portion of this season. Usually, I break down splits after the All-Star break but, for this year, a look at the pre and post-Olympic splits can reveal some changing roles.

If the point totals are higher, maybe it's a young player who is taking on more responsibility, or a veteran whose playing situation changed due to trade. Gustav Nyquist, for example, could be held in higher esteem than the standard player that hasn't even scored 50 points. Nyquist was the league's most dangerous scorer from about mid-January through to the end of the season.

The third rate included for each player is their NHL career playoff scoring average. In the vast majority of situations, that number will be lower than players' career averages because the playoffs are tighter checking games that involve the best teams. Even some great players have lower career scoring averages in the playoffs because they didn't contribute much early in their career and they've since emerged as elite postseason perfomers.

Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are among the high-profile players that didn't produce early in the playoffs, but have had many productive postseasons since then.

By no means should previous playoff production eliminate a player from consideration -- because sometimes a player is labeled as unproven in the postseason, until suddenly he is -- but if a player has made a career of under-performing in the playoffs, the safe play could be to let someone else take that risk or wait an extra round or two before wading into those waters.

Power plays rule the postseason so make sure your roster is loaded with players who get time with the man advantage. No one in the Top 20 of last year's playoff scoring had zero power play points. Boston's Milan Lucic along with Chicago's Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell each had one power play point.

Power play defencemen, in particular, have more value in the playoffs so don't let these players slip by you in the middle-to-later rounds of the draft. Kris Letang, Zdeno Chara, Slava Voynov, Duncan Keith and Paul Martin all hit double figures in scoring in last year's playoffs, all with at least four points on the power play. Power play point totals are included as a general guide for which players are most likely to get those man advantage opportunities.

Teams are listed in my personal order of priority.

Finally, as the postseason approaches and match-ups are set, check out the Fantasy Hockey Update playoff editions, and my blog which will have my playoff picks for more information as you prepare to win your playoff pool.

Here is TSN.ca's 2014 NHL Playoff Payoff:
(Stats through games of 4/9/14)


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
David Krejci 0.85 0.76 0.90 18 Top playoff scorer twice in past three years.
Patrice Bergeron 0.77 1.05 0.69 11 Terrific finish to the regular season.
Milan Lucic 0.74 0.77 0.64 12 Was dominant force in last year's playoffs.
Jarome Iginla 0.80 0.95 0.88 14 Scored 30 goals for 12th time this season.
Brad Marchand 0.62 0.55 0.63 0 Highest scorer with zero PP points.
Zdeno Chara 0.51 0.59 0.42 15 Net-front presence on the power play too.
Carl Soderberg 0.66 0.76 0.00 14 Really emerging as valuable contributor.
Loui Eriksson 0.60 0.71 0.41 9 Two-way player thriving on third line.
Torey Krug 0.50 0.32 0.40 18 Rookie burst onto scene in last year's playoffs.
Reilly Smith 0.63 0.36   14 Impressive in first year with Bruins.
Dougie Hamilton 0.41 0.55 0.43 6 Second-year D has offensive potential.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Dougie Hamilton


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Patrick Kane 1.00 0.60 0.96 25 Nearing return from lower-body injury.
Jonathan Toews 0.89 0.82 0.85 15 Shoulder injury March 30.
Patrick Sharp 0.98 1.00 0.64 25 Career-high 78 points.
Duncan Keith 0.77 0.65 0.58 21 Second-best offensive season of his career
Marian Hossa 0.84 0.60 0.74 13 Top active playoff scorer to qualify this year.
Brent Seabrook 0.51 0.35 0.42 9 Forms top tandem alongside Keith.
Andrew Shaw 0.47 0.55 0.35 9 Gritty forward a surprising offensive contributor.
Kris Versteeg 0.46 0.40 0.65 8 14 points in 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Brandon Saad 0.59 0.31 0.28 9 Role reduced in second half.
Bryan Bickell 0.25 0.29 0.63 0 Had 17 points in last year's Stanley Cup run.
Nick Leddy 0.39 0.40 0.14 10 Has potential, but role was cut back last year.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Jeremy Morin


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Joe Pavelski 0.96 1.10 0.68 30 Career year for versatile forward.
Joe Thornton 0.93 0.86 0.78 19 44 points in 49 games over past four playoffs.
Patrick Marleau 0.84 0.81 0.69 23 57 goals tops active players in '14 playoffs.
Logan Couture 0.78 0.75 0.67 13 14 points in last 14 playoff games.
Brent Burns 0.69 0.76 0.33 10 With his size/skill, can be a real handful.
Dan Boyle 0.45 0.52 0.66 17 Minutes down, but still plays PP.
Tommy Wingels 0.51 0.38 0.19 5 Valuable complementary piece for Sharks.
Jason Demers 0.47 0.45 0.25 9 Career-best offensive production.
Tomas Hertl 0.71 3 Skilled rookie missed nearly four months.
Martin Havlat 0.39 0.44 0.70 2 Could still contribute in a supporting role
Matt Nieto 0.36 0.45 4 Rookie gets regular top nine ice time.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: James Sheppard


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Sidney Crosby 1.30 1.19 1.28 38 League's top scorer, depleted supporting cast.
Evgeni Malkin 1.20 1.08 1.17 30 Injuries becoming a regular issue.
James Neal 1.02 0.65 0.72 26 Finds scoring more difficult without Malkin.
Chris Kunitz 0.87 0.63 0.59 21 Career-high in points for 34-year-old.
Kris Letang 0.54 1.00 0.59 11 Returning from stroke; terrible luck this year.
Paul Martin 0.41 0.75 0.45 9 Injury-marred season for veteran puck-mover.
Jussi Jokinen 0.70 0.62 0.51 20 Reliable second-line scorer.
Beau Bennett 0.32 0.43 0.17 5 Second-year winger injured most of the year.
Matt Niskanen 0.56 0.50 0.21 15 Career year for pending UFA.
Lee Stempniak 0.46 0.50 0.18 4 Limited playoff experience.
Brandon Sutter 0.33 0.32 0.20 5 Asked to handle more with Malkin hurt.
Olli Maatta 0.38 0.32   3 Solid rookie forced into bigger role.
Projected Lines
Deep Sleeper: Brian Gibbons


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Anze Kopitar 0.83 0.90 0.77 23 Held to nine points in 18 playoff games last year.
Jeff Carter 0.71 0.62 0.55 14 26 points over last two postseasons.
Marian Gaborik 0.67 0.67 0.65 7 Adds speed to Kings' attack.
Dustin Brown 0.34 0.53 0.62 4 A little better lately, but trouble scoring this year.
Justin Williams 0.50 0.52 0.60 7 Scoring way down from previous seasons.
Drew Doughty 0.47 0.37 0.64 16 Can be dominant, but scoring comes and goes.
Mike Richards 0.51 0.24 0.79 12 Offensive production has dried up.
Slava Voynov 0.40 0.48 0.42 13 Impressed with 13 playoff points last year.
Tyler Toffoli 0.48 0.48 0.50 4 Rookie winger contributes in limited ice time.
Alec Martinez 0.37 0.75 0.18 8 Big scoring surge late in the season.
Dwight King 0.40 0.44 0.34 1 Big-bodied winger hurt late in the season.
Projected Lines
Deep Sleeper: Tanner Pearson


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Ryan Getzlaf 1.14 1.00 0.86 23

Reached second round once since '07 Cup.

Corey Perry 1.03 1.10 0.74 18 League's second-leading goal scorer.
Nick Bonino 0.63 0.37 0.36 20 Breakout season with big power play role.
Mathieu Perreault 0.63 0.75 0.36 9 Career-best season with more ice time.
Cam Fowler 0.53 0.63 0.54 15 Strong year; just returned from injury.
Patrick Maroon 0.47 0.70   4 Power forward emerging over past month.
Teemu Selanne 0.43 0.44 0.69 8 Legend picked up his game for Olympics.
Andrew Cogliano 0.51 0.50 0.14 0 Even-strength scoring threat.
Matt Beleskey 0.43 0.44 0.31 4 Playing with Getzlaf and Perry recently.
Kyle Palmieri 0.45 0.53 0.63 0 Produces in limited minutes.
Jakob Silfverberg 0.46 0.44 0.33 1 Injuries hampered production this season.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Jakob Silfverberg


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Alexander Steen 0.92 0.74 0.37 16 Career year for excellent two-way forward.
David Backes 0.77 0.68 0.53 16 Bounce back year for strong two-way pivot.
Jaden Schwartz 0.71 0.59 0.17 10 Breakout season for skilled young forward.
T.J. Oshie 0.77 0.67 0.26 15 Quality season, has struggled in playoffs.
Alex Pietrangelo 0.65 0.45 0.50 18 One of game's best all-around defencemen.
Kevin Shattenkirk 0.56 0.36 0.27 25 Smart; an asset on the power play.
Vladimir Sobotka 0.53 0.50 0.26 6 Checking forward climbed the depth chart.
Patrik Berglund 0.42 0.36 0.47 4 Down year in roller-coaster career.
Derek Roy 0.51 0.06 0.58 16 Has been reduced to spare part lately.
Jay Bouwmeester 0.47 0.23 0.17 11 Thin playoff file for player of his experience.
Vladimir Tarasenko 0.67 0.90 0.00 7 Sidelined with broken hand.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Derek Roy


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Derek Stepan 0.70 1.00 0.38 18 Started slowly, finishing strong.
Martin St. Louis 0.85 0.55 1.08 21 Not the smoothest transition to new club.
Rick Nash 0.60 0.52 0.50 7 Production and ice time down this year.
Mats Zuccarello 0.77 0.88 0.54 17 Breakout season for 26-year-old Norwegian.
Brad Richards 0.64 0.43 0.84 19 Staggering to the finish line.
Ryan McDonagh 0.56 0.72 0.22 13 Highly regarded before offensive breakout.
Derick Brassard 0.56 0.48 1.00 18 Complementary scorer a playoff star last year.
Benoit Pouliot 0.45 0.57 0.14 8 One goal in 29 career playoff games.
Carl Hagelin 0.47 0.48 0.31 0 Speed makes him a 5-on-5 threat.
Chris Kreider 0.56 0.50 0.35 12 Recovering from broken hand.
Projected Lines
Fast-Richards-St. Louis
Deep Sleeper: Jesper Fast


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Claude Giroux 1.03 1.20 1.10 34 Started slow, but great after first month.
Jakub Voracek 0.72 0.85 0.73 20 Winger with size/skill, complements Giroux.
Wayne Simmonds 0.72 0.75 0.52 23 Career-best point total for feisty winger.
Scott Hartnell 0.67 0.65 0.52 20 Rebounded with seventh 20-goal season.
Brayden Schenn 0.52 0.45 0.82 9 Played well in only previous playoff (2012).
Mark Streit 0.49 0.50 0.50 14 36-year-old played 18 NHL playoff games.
Matt Read 0.54 0.65 0.45 2 Versatile forward plays big minutes.
Sean Couturier 0.47 0.45 0.36 3 Already established rep as shutdown centre.
Vincent Lecavalier 0.56 0.70 0.83 13 Tough season, but better late in the year.
Kimmo Timonen 0.44 0.78 0.43 19 39-year-old finishing season strong.
Steve Downie 0.34 0.18 0.65 6 14 points in 2011 playoffs for Tampa Bay.
Projected Lines
Deep Sleeper: Vincent Lecavalier


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Gabriel Landeskog 0.83 0.81 10 Outstanding all-around winger.
Ryan O'Reilly 0.82 1.05 0.17 22 Move to wing has improved goal scoring.
Paul Stastny 0.85 1.06 0.53 15 Productive vet handles hard minutes for Avs.
Nathan MacKinnon 0.78 0.86 17 Rookie's speed pressures opposing D.
Matt Duchene 0.99 1.25 0.50 17 Knee injury leaves status in doubt.
Erik Johnson 0.49 0.74 14 Finally playing like a No. 1 defenceman.
Tyson Barrie 0.60 0.71   10 Adds offensive dimension to Avs blueline.
Jamie McGinn 0.49 0.62 0.05 9 Physical winger a secondary scoring option.
PA Parenteau 0.62 0.71   3 Ice time down, coming back from injury.
John Mitchell 0.42 0.59 0.06 2 Has contributed offensively when needed.
Nick Holden 0.47 0.60   7 Produced to force his way into lineup.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Maxime Talbot


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Zach Parise 0.85 0.90 0.67 19 Has played more than ever in Minnesota.
Mikko Koivu 0.84 0.95 0.38 17 Overdue for a decent playoff showing.
Jason Pominville 0.71 0.81 0.60 16 Seven-time 20-goal scorer.
Ryan Suter 0.54 0.48 0.30 17 Plays huge minutes on Wild blueline.
Mikael Granlund 0.65 0.76 12 Really coming on before late-season injury.
Charlie Coyle 0.44 0.57 0.40 3 Power forward producing late in the year.
Matt Moulson 0.67 0.73 0.50 19 Gives Wild legitimate scoring depth.
Jared Spurgeon 0.38 0.48 0.00 7 Undersized, but has earned a bigger role.
Nino Niederreiter 0.43 0.25 6 Role has been reduced late in the year.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Nino Niederreiter


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Max Pacioretty 0.85 1.10 0.00 17 Tied for 5th with 87 goals over past 3 years.
Thomas Vanek 0.94 1.00 0.56 18 Raises ceiling of Habs' first line.
P.K. Subban 0.66 0.67 0.62 23 Drives play; has big shot from the point.
David Desharnais 0.68 0.95 0.20 15 Working well with Vanek, Pacioretty.
Tomas Plekanec 0.54 0.50 0.63 10 Two-way player with declining offensive role.
Andrei Markov 0.54 0.60 0.35 21 44 power play points over past two seasons.
Brendan Gallagher 0.52 0.43 0.40 9 Gutsy winger goes to the dirty areas to score.
Brian Gionta 0.49 0.48 0.64 7 21 points in 28 playoff games with Habs.
Daniel Briere 0.37 0.38 1.01 6 Historically great playoff performer.
Alex Galchenyuk 0.48 0.38 0.60 10 Late-season injury a cause for concern.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Daniel Briere


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Ryan Johansen 0.75 0.64 17 Rapid ascent to No. 1 centre job this season.
James Wisniewski 0.68 0.68 0.28 27 Power play QB has second 50-point season.
Brandon Dubinsky 0.66 0.59 0.55 10 Gritty forward who plays hard minutes.
Nick Foligno 0.56 0.44 0.35 6 Injured late in the year.
Artem Anisimov 0.49 0.62 0.42 6 Set career-high in goals.
Cam Atkinson 0.51 0.37 9 Diminutive scoring winger.
Matt Calvert 0.43 0.41 4 Gradually increasing role for winger.
Boone Jenner 0.37 0.36 5 Rookie adds a physical element.
Jack Johnson 0.39 0.45 1.00 16 Has defensive issues, but can put up points.
Mark Letestu 0.41 0.36 0.18 10 Set career-high for points.
R.J. Umberger 0.46 0.25 0.73 12 Role has been marginalized in second half.
Fedor Tyutin 0.39 0.14 0.32 9 Solid defender who moves the puck well.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Matt Calvert


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Steven Stamkos 1.12 0.88 0.72 12 Lost a lot of time to broken leg.
Ondrej Palat 0.72 1.10   10 Forcing his way into Calder Trophy talk.
Valtteri Filppula 0.77 0.89 0.54 19 Valuable experience in 105 playoff games.
Tyler Johnson 0.61 0.52   10 Impressive rookie handled big minutes.
Victor Hedman 0.74 0.76 0.33 13 Breakout offensive season for 23-year-old.
Ryan Callahan 0.58 0.60 0.41 12 Two-way player who can score a bit.
Teddy Purcell 0.53 0.43 0.94 17 17 points in 18 playoff games in 2011.
Alex Killorn 0.51 0.33   7 Second-year winger with solid two-way game.
Matt Carle 0.39 0.29 0.42 7 Steady, not spectacular, producer at the point.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Nikita Kucherov


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Pavel Datsyuk 0.81 0.33 0.74 12 Injuries show mortality for puck magician.
Gustav Nyquist 0.87 1.09 0.28 9 Second-half surge saved Wings' season.
Johan Franzen 0.77 0.82 0.77 17 Big winger can still score, when healthy.
Niklas Kronwall 0.63 0.59 0.45 25 7th in defence scoring over past two seasons.
Daniel Alfredsson 0.73 0.67 0.83 18 52 points in last 52 playoff games.
David Legwand 0.63 0.50 0.60 19 Solid veteran centre scores enough to help.
Tomas Tatar 0.52 0.59   5 Valuable contributor once given the chance.
Riley Sheahan 0.55 0.50 4 Rookie centre scoring more than expected.
Tomas Jurco 0.41 0.47 2 Skilled rookie can score.
Darren Helm 0.50 0.57 0.25 1 Surprisingly productive when healthy.
Danny DeKeyser 0.36 0.50 0.00 4 Got into a couple playoff games last year.
Justin Abdelkader 0.38 0.20 0.16 3 Gritty forward has career-high in points.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Tomas Jurco


Player PPG Post-Olympic Playoffs PPP Notes
Tyler Seguin 1.06 1.23 0.43 24 Thriving in featured role with Stars.
Jamie Benn 0.96 1.18 18 One of game's best power forwards.
Alex Goligoski 0.52 0.77 0.67 15 Strong season for mobile puck-mover.
Alex Chiasson 0.45 0.48 13 Rookie winger has size, touch around net.
Ray Whitney 0.46 0.56 0.51 15 Notable scoring drop for 41-year-old winger.
Cody Eakin 0.44 0.33 6 Production dipping late in the year.
Valeri Nichushkin 0.44 0.27   3 Man-child full of raw talent.
Ryan Garbutt 0.42 0.50 0 Generates lots of shots in little ice time.
Erik Cole 0.40 0.27 0.33 7 Power forward's production is in decline.
Antoine Roussel 0.37 0.45 Agitator who contributes a little offence too.
Trevor Daley 0.35 0.55 0.07 3 Sudden offensive burst late in the year.
Projected Lines:
Deep Sleeper: Colton Sceviour

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.

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