2010 Playoff Payoff

by Scott Cullen, TSN.ca

Playoff hockey is less than a week away, which means it's time to start looking ahead and making plans to win your playoff pool.

Unless your pool has quirky rules or is of unusual size, there is no need to try and re-invent the wheel when developing a drafting strategy -- just try to pick players from the four teams you think will reach the Conference Finals; that will give them enough games to make a significant statistical contribution.

Ovechkin, Green and Backstrom, Photo: Canadian Press

While this year's playoff race seems a little more open than in previous years, there will naturally be a tendency for players from top teams like Washington, Chicago and last year's finalists, Detroit and Pittsburgh, to get snapped up quickly.

That means finding value in the next tier of teams after committing to a couple of favourites. Perhaps a team like the Canucks, Devils or the perrenially underachieving Sharks can provide better value once the players from elite teams have been selected.

When it comes to picking players, there are a few simple guidelines.

First off, be aware of injuries. Teams are notorious for being vague or even downright dishonest regarding injuries 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 postseason with injuries.

Right now, the list of injured players that might be considered playoff pool worthy includes Marc Savard, Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht, Brian Campbell, Peter Mueller, Patric Hornqvist, Filip Kuba, Jeff Carter, Chris Kunitz, Christian Ehrhoff and Brendan Morrison.

The cardinal rule: Don't pick players that face each other in the first round. There's no point in limiting your potential number of games played right out of the gate.

Don't ignore the 6, 7, 8 seeds. Generally, it's better to get the first or second scoring option on a lower seed, particularly one with a decent shot at an upset, than to start reaching for third-liners on a top-seeded team. For example, in last year's playoffs, the Anaheim Ducks pulled off an upset and Ryan Getzlaf scored 18 points (fifth in the entire playoffs) in just two rounds.

Don't be afraid to double-up on line combinations, so that you can score multiple points on single goals. If you like Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg, perhaps you can snag linemate Valtteri Filppula a few rounds later to maximize the impact on Detroit's goals.

Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook and Brower, photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Also, don't be afraid to make a sleeper pick late in the draft. It's hard to predict from where the next Max Talbot or Ruslan Fedotenko will emerge, but I'll take a shot with some deep sleeper picks on each team's list. If you happen to hit a home run with your last pick, it could provide a real boost.

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 since the beginning of January, basically the second half of the season (under the '2010' heading). If the point totals are higher, maybe it's a young player who is just starting to peak, or a veteran whose playing situation changed due to trade. In either case, it's usually preferable to get a player who is more productive now, as opposed to one that fattened up his scoring totals in October and November.

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 the others because the playoffs are tighter checking games that involve the best teams. By no means should previous playoff production eliminate a player from consideration, but if a player has made a career of under-performing in the postseason, maybe you'd like to let someone else take that risk or wait an extra round or two before pulling the trigger.

Power plays rule the postseason so make sure your roster is chock full of players who get time with the man advantage. Power play defencemen, in particular, have more value in the postseason so don't let these players slip by you in the middle-to-later rounds of the draft. 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, though that seems to change with every game and every injury report, so consider it as a rough guide if need be.

Finally, check out the Fantasy Hockey Report playoff editions, which will include players to target and avoid heading into the postseason.

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

Here is TSN.ca's 2010 NHL Playoff Payoff:
(Stats through games of 4/6/10)

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Alexander Ovechkin 1.51 1.47 1.43 36 Expectations off-the-charts for Caps leader.
Nicklas Backstrom 1.23 1.30 1.00 37 22-year-old rising star keeps improving.
Alexander Semin 1.13 1.20 1.05 27 Elite talent can create his own offence.
Mike Green 1.01 1.06 .76 35 Seeking redemption after '09 playoff debacle.
Brooks Laich .76 .81 .62 21 Hard worker a presence on the power play.
Mike Knuble .76 .83 .46 13 Strong in front of the net and in the corners.
Tomas Fleischmann .75 .69 .25 20 Breakout season for complementary scorer.
Eric Fehr .57 .53 .07 6 Tends to score when given real opportunity.
Jason Chimera .43 .42 .50 1 Grinder effective since coming in trade.
Eric Belanger .52 .51 .20 9 One goal since trade from Minnesota.
Brendan Morrison .58 .53 .53 8 Late-season injury makes him a question mark.
Projected Lines:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Fleischmann-Semin
Chimera-Belanger-Fehr
Laing-Steckel-Bradley
Deep Sleeper: Joe Corvo

DETROIT RED WINGS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Henrik Zetterberg .96 .97 .89 21 51 points over last two playoffs.
Pavel Datsyuk .90 1.00 .64 25 Turning it on now that Wings are healthy.
Johan Franzen .83 .86 .81 10 Mule has 41 points combined in last two playoffs.
Nicklas Lidstrom .61 .79 .70 19 47 points in last three playoffs.
Brian Rafalski .55 .67 .61 19 Coming on after slow start.
Tomas Holmstrom .65 .92 .53 20 Surging in second half with Franzen, Datsyuk.
Valtteri Filppula .67 .74 .51 8 Patience paying off for Red Wings.
Todd Bertuzzi .54 .49 .48 11 Has yet to score more than 7 pts. in a playoff.
Daniel Cleary .51 .48 .43 7 Checking winger with some offensive upside.
Niklas Kronwall .44 .29 .53 7 Offensive production tailed off this year.
Projected Lines
Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Filppula
Cleary-Draper-Williams
Miller-Helm-Eaves
Deep Sleeper: Darren Helm

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Henrik Sedin 1.34 1.38 .57 27 Ten points in ten games in '09 playoffs.
Daniel Sedin 1.31 1.31 .53 21 Stellar since returning from early-season injury.
Ryan Kesler .93 1.03 .36 26 Outstanding two-way performer.
Alex Burrows .83 1.00 .24 6 Ranks fourth with 60 even+shorthanded points.
Pavol Demitra .58 .58 .64 8 Injury-plagued season, but finishing okay.
Christian Ehrhoff .54 .54 .39 23 Surprised with career-best season.
Mikael Samuelsson .74 .87 .51 14 Career season; has 34 pts. in last 3 playoffs.
Alexander Edler .55 .49 .62 19 Point total has risen every season.
Mason Raymond .64 .56 .30 18 Speedster having a breakout campaign.
Sami Salo .41 .59 .32 13 Blast from the point sure helps PP.
Michael Grabner .58 .60 .00 5 17 pts. in last year's AHL playoffs.
Kevin Bieksa .35 .23 .26 7 Another injury-marred campaign.
Projected Lines:
D. Sedin-H. Sedin-Burrows
Demitra-Kesler-Grabner
Raymond-Wellwood-Samuelsson
Hansen-Rypien-Bernier
Deep Sleeper: Kyle Wellwood

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Sidney Crosby 1.28 1.37 1.29 31 More dangerous with improved goal-scoring.
Evgeni Malkin 1.13 1.13 1.27 27 Won Conn Smythe with 36 points last postseason.
Sergei Gonchar .80 .80 .65 28 As good a power play QB as any in the game.
Jordan Staal .61 .63 .39 5 Tremendous two-way centre; little PP time.
Bill Guerin .56 .41 .50 17 Little value if not with Sid.
Chris Kunitz .64 .55 .51 7 Late injury a concern for Crosby's wingman.
Alexei Ponikarovsky .66 .66 .17 12 Big forward should be able to help in playoffs.
Alex Goligoski .52 .46 .50 15 28 points in 2008 AHL playoffs.
Kris Letang .39 .39 .38 5 Young blueliner developing offensive skills.
Ruslan Fedotenko .39 .43 .40 7 Streaky; had 14 points in last year's Cup run.
Pascal Dupuis .45 .54 .32 0 Getting quality linemates late in the season.
Projected Lines:
Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin
Fedotenko-Malkin-Ponikarovsky
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Dupuis-Rupp-Adams/Talbot
Deep Sleeper: Matt Cooke

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Patrick Kane 1.08 1.03 .88 27 Outstanding season for third-year pro.
Jonathan Toews .89 .82 .76 20 Already one of game's best two-way centres.
Marian Hossa .93 1.00 .78 7 Shocking what little PP production he has.
Patrick Sharp .81 .90 .41 16 Good value complementary scorer.
Duncan Keith .84 .79 .35 16 Norris Trophy candidate; improved production.
Troy Brouwer .51 .58 .12 13 Power forward with increasing role.
Kris Versteeg .51 .44 .71 11 Production down late in the season.
Brent Seabrook .39 .35 .71 6 Needs to play more PP with Campbell out.
David Bolland .42 .39 .71 1 Back surgery cost him more than half the season.
Andrew Ladd .44 .51 .26 1 Checker with limited offensive upside.
Dustin Byfuglien .39 .36 .53 10 Has shifted back to blueline.
Brian Campbell .56 .50 .47 11 Having strong season before Ovechkin hit.
Projected Lines:
Hossa-Toews-Sharp
Brouwer-Bolland-Kane
Ladd-Madden-Versteeg
Eager-Fraser-Kopecky
Deep Sleeper: Niklas Hjalmarsson

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Dany Heatley 1.00 .90 1.03 30 Has to shoulder scoring load with Thornton, Marleau.
Joe Thornton 1.13 .89 .70 29 Is this the year he clears playoff hurdle?
Patrick Marleau 1.01 1.03 .67 25 A career year with free agency looming.
Dan Boyle .78 .79 .51 29 Consistent force since arriving in San Jose.
Joe Pavelski .75 .72 .44 13 Improving young player is a streaky scorer.
Rob Blake .44 .50 .54 8 40-year-old playing better late in the season.
Ryane Clowe .70 .72 .55 15 His toughness makes him crucial contributor.
Logan Couture .35 .50 N/A 1 Top prospect getting a chance to prove he's ready.
Devin Setoguchi .50 .49 .33 10 Regressed in his third season.
Manny Malhotra .46 .64 .11 8 Career-highs in goals and plus-minus.
Projected Lines
Marleau-Thornton-Heatley
Couture-Pavelski-Clowe
Nichol-Malhotra-Setoguchi
McGinn-Mitchell-Ortmeyer
Deep Sleeper: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Zach Parise .99 1.15 .75 25 Devils' best player will face tough checking.
Patrik Elias .82 .80 .85 10 PP numbers lowest of his career.
Ilya Kovalchuk 1.11 .98 .50 25 Seeking big contract, it's time to shine.
Travis Zajac .80 .85 .43 20 Quietly productive, well-rounded player.
Jamie Langenbrunner .77 .72 .64 18 A solid producer on either scoring line.
Paul Martin .37 .50 .43 2 Missed five months with arm injury.
Brian Rolston .45 .33 .43 11 Faded badly down the stretch.
David Clarkson .53 .44 .13 6 Tough winger with improved scoring touch.
Dainius Zubrus .52 .64 .38 3 Could be a sleeper with right linemates.
Andy Greene .46 .30 .25 14 Diminishing returns with Martin back.
Projected Lines:
Parise-Zajac-Zubrus
Kovalchuk-Elias-Langenbrunner
Rolston-Niedermayer-Clarkson
McAmmond-Pelley-Letourneau-Leblond
Deep Sleeper: Rob Niedermayer

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Anze Kopitar 1.00 1.05 N/A 37 Best season so far for fourth-year pro.
Drew Doughty .72 .79 N/A 31 Challenging for Norris Trophy in second season.
Ryan Smyth .80 .71 .64 23 Veteran a nice complement on Kopitar's wing.
Dustin Brown .66 .63 N/A 16 Gritty winger has three straight 20-goal seasons.
Alexander Frolov .65 .63 N/A 13 Lowest-scoring season since lockout.
Jarret Stoll .64 .54 .42 21 Two-way player who mans point on power play.
Wayne Simmonds .53 .45 N/A 0 Impact player at both ends of the ice.
Justin Williams .61 .31 .57 7 Oft-injured; has 2 goals in last 3 (and 22) games.
Jack Johnson .44 .49 N/A 13 Starting to make an impact offensively.
Michal Handzus .52 .55 .42 10 Veteran checker can score a little too.
Randy Jones .47 .33 .14 8 A decent puck-moving option when needed.
Projected Lines:
Smyth-Kopitar-Williams
Frolov-Stoll-Brown
Modin-Handzus-Simmonds
Richardson-Halpern-Ivanans
Deep Sleeper: Brad Richardson

PHOENIX COYOTES

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Shane Doan .67 .73 .38 16 Fewer than 20 goals for first time since 1998-99.
Wojtek Wolski .79 .66 .60 20 Move to Phoenix worked out well.
Matthew Lombardi .68 .73 .30 16 Speedster having best offensive season.
Lee Stempniak .60 .69 N/A 16 A new player since arriving in Phoenix.
Keith Yandle .49 .56 N/A 16 Underrated, but very good young defenceman.
Ed Jovanovski .53 .38 .48 14 Playing more of a defensive role.
Radim Vrbata .54 .53 .00 14 Skilled winger fits well with Coyotes.
Robert Lang .45 .41 .52 12 Just working his way back from injury.
Martin Hanzal .42 .38 N/A 6 Strong two-way player, limited offensively.
Projected Lines:
Wolski-Lombardi-Doan
Prucha-Hanzal-Vrbata
Pyatt-Lang-Stempniak
Korpikoski-Fiddler-Nokelainen
Deep Sleeper: Adrian Aucoin/Derek Morris

BUFFALO SABRES

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Derek Roy .83 .85 .65 24 Performing well late in the season.
Jason Pominville .78 .88 .59 20 33 points in last 33 games.
Tyler Myers .59 .65 N/A 16 Dominant rookie blueliner keeps improving.
Tim Connolly .89 1.06 .83 27 Surging before late-season injury.
Thomas Vanek .70 .71 .46 17 Terrible season for underachieving scorer.
Tyler Ennis 1.14 1.17 N/A 2 65 points in 69 AHL games this year.
Jochen Hecht .53 .68 .53 3 Bounceback season for reliable two-way vet.
Raffi Torres .51 .56 .50 10 11 points with Oilers in '06 playoffs.
Drew Stafford .48 .42 .40 11 Still waiting for offensive breakthrough.
Projected Lines:
Vanek-Roy-Stafford
Hecht-Connolly-Pominville
Grier-Ennis-Gaustad
Torres-Kennedy-Ellis
Deep Sleeper: Paul Gaustad

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Scott Gomez .74 .78 .71 18 49 points in last 46 playoff games.
Tomas Plekanec .88 .65 .62 24 Tremendous season; heading to free agency.
Andrei Markov .70 .54 .34 15 The straw that stirs the Habs' drink.
Mike Cammalleri .79 .65 .50 15 Has struggled since returning from injury.
Brian Gionta .73 .70 .60 15 Most goals since 2005-06.
Andrei Kostitsyn .58 .47 .56 9 Underachiever has talent to make a difference.
Benoit Pouliot .53 .66 .00 6 Surprisingly productive since trade.
Marc-Andre Bergeron .55 .45 .25 22 Power play specialist has been rather productive.
Projected Lines
Cammalleri-Plekanec-A. Kostitsyn
Pouliot-Gomez-Gionta
S. Kostitsyn-Moore-Moen
Pyatt-Lapierre-Darche
Deep Sleeper: Dominic Moore

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Jason Arnott .72 .78 .64 18 Fewest goals since 1997-98 for big shooter.
Martin Erat .68 .63 .40 14 As streaky as they come.
Shea Weber .54 .54 .60 20 Bruising D-man with killer shot from the point.
Patric Hornqvist .65 .77 N/A 12 Breakout scorer hurt late in the season.
Steve Sullivan .63 .67 .38 12 Finishing strong; has stayed healthy.
Ryan Suter .45 .41 .27 17 Steady No. 2 defenceman.
J.P. Dumont .61 .47 .69 12 Declining offensive role for veteran winger.
Colin Wilson .45 .54 N/A 3 Rookie playing more prominent role lately.
Joel Ward .49 .43 N/A 4 Hustle player who chips in offensively.
David Legwand .48 .33 .32 6 One goal since January 2.
Projected Lines:
Erat-Arnott-Wilson
Hornqvist-Goc-Sullivan
Dumont-Legwand-Ward
Tootoo-O'Reilly-Smithson
Deep Sleeper: Marcel Goc

OTTAWA SENATORS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Daniel Alfredsson 1.01 1.23 .79 29 Finishing season with a flourish.
Jason Spezza .95 1.29 .98 22 Dominant after return from midseason injury.
Mike Fisher .68 .57 .33 12 Slowed down after terrific start.
Alex Kovalev .64 .71 .84 14 Brilliant talent, but MIA since Olympics.
Erik Karlsson .43 .56 N/A 9 Skilled rookie really coming on late.
Milan Michalek .53 .52 .41 12 Can he come back from knee injury?
Matt Cullen .59 .64 .49 11 Struggled after trade from Carolina.
Peter Regin .38 .42 N/A 5 Rookie plays a mature, two-way game.
Chris Kelly .41 .37 .23 0 Checker has 15 goals on the season.
Nick Foligno .42 .38 .25 5 One goal in last 27 games.
Projected Lines:
Regin-Spezza-Alfredsson
Foligno-Fisher-Kovalev
Michalek-Cullen-Neil
Ruutu-Kelly-Winchester
Deep Sleeper: Chris Neil

NEW YORK RANGERS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Marian Gaborik 1.14 .91 .76 26 Blueshirts' one true game-breaker.
Vaclav Prospal .78 .71 .57 19 Often underrated yet skilled forward.
Brandon Dubinsky .62 .62 .71 10 Steadily improving young forward.
Olli Jokinen .61 .54 .83 15 Appears to be in steep decline.
Michael Del Zotto .48 .46 N/A 22 Rookie runs the Rangers PP.
Ryan Callahan .49 .51 .33 20 Rangers need hustling winger healthy.
Erik Christensen .40 .54 .17 3 Seeing time on Gaborik's line.
Chris Drury .42 .44 .68 7 Having his worst offensive season.
Sean Avery .45 .50 .58 9 Inconsistent season for injured agitator.
Projected Lines:
Dubinsky-Christensen-Gaborik
Prospal-Jokinen-Callahan
Avery-Drury-Parenteau
Prust-Anisimov-Shelley
Deep Sleeper: Michal Rozsival

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Paul Stastny .99 1.05 .33 25 Over 70 points for third time in four seasons.
Matt Duchene .68 .73 N/A 21 Rookie has been an impact player.
Chris Stewart .86 1.03 N/A 13 Power forward's scoring touch blossomed.
Milan Hejduk .78 .85 .69 17 Can still snipe when healthy.
Peter Mueller .54 .77 N/A 11 Injured; 20 points in 15 games with Avs.
T.J. Galiardi .55 .64 N/A 2 Unheralded rookie has surprised with offence.
John-Michael Liles .52 .54 .30 20 Productive, but in and out of lineup.
Kyle Quincey .37 .26 .00 11 Offensive production has dwindled.
Projected Lines:
Galiardi-Stastny-Stewart
Hejduk-Duchene-Mueller
McLeod-O'Reilly-Yip
Hendricks-Yelle-Stoa
Deep Sleeper: Brandon Yip

BOSTON BRUINS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
David Krejci .64 .77 .72 14 Two-way pivot slipped after breakout season.
Patrice Bergeron .73 .69 .50 8 Leading scorer has zero power play goals.
Marco Sturm .49 .44 .42 10 Bruins' only 20-goal scorer.
Mark Recchi .53 .50 .81 13 42-year-old thrust into prominent role.
Zdeno Chara .54 .46 .32 16 Slumping in second half; poor playoff track record.
Michael Ryder .39 .38 .66 9 Had 13 playoff points in 2009.
Dennis Wideman .37 .36 .59 12 Struggled after breakout 2008-09 season.
Miroslav Satan .37 .37 .60 0 Goal-starved Bruins could try veteran on PP.
Blake Wheeler .46 .43 .00 8 Just seven points in last 26 games.
Milan Lucic .36 .32 .65 1 Nagging ankle injury has limited his effectiveness.
Marc Savard .80 .65 1.06 17 Concussion has sidelined team's top playmaker.
Projected Lines
Sturm-Krejci-Satan
Lucic-Bergeron-Recchi
Wheeler-Sobotka-Ryder
Paille-Begin-Thornton
Deep Sleeper: Matt Hunwick

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Player PPG 2010 Playoffs PPP Notes
Mike Richards .75 .66 .69 31 Production has declined this year.
Jeff Carter .83 .85 .41 21 Late-season injury makes him risky selection.
Chris Pronger .68 .73 .69 26 Veteran remains very productive, especially on PP.
Daniel Briere .70 .63 .90 16 Has history of playoff production.
Simon Gagne .70 .66 .49 19 Disappointing year for veteran scoring winger.
Claude Giroux .59 .51 .83 21 Played well in '09 playoffs.
Scott Hartnell .56 .50 .38 14 Goals haven't come as easily this season.
Kimmo Timonen .49 .46 .37 19 Remains effective PP contributor.
James van Riemsdyk .46 .38 N/A 7 Talented rookie battling for playing time.
Projected Lines:
Gagne-Richards-Giroux
Hartnell-Carter-Briere
Carcillo-Laperriere-Asham
Powe-Betts-Leino
Deep Sleeper: Daniel Carcillo




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