If you are getting ready for your playoff fantasy draft there are some obvious strategies to remember, such as draft players from the teams you think will go to the finals. Once you hit the later rounds of the draft you may want to look at potential rookies or prospects that are under the radar and could have a breakout performance in the playoffs and be a great value pick.
Remember in 2010 P.K. Subban played the entire season in the AHL before being called up for the final two regular season games and playoffs. Subban had two points in those two games and another eight in 14 playoff games. With this example in mind, here are some prospects to keep in mind for your playoff draft.
Anaheim Ducks, Brandon Montour – Defence
Montour is an offensive defenceman who posted huge numbers I the AHL and has been seeing some NHL time this year in the regular season playing in 27 games. His defensive game has been the concern and in the playoffs that may make him a black ace given the Ducks depth on defence, but if he plays, it will be to drive offence from the back end. With the injury to Cam Fowler, look for Montour to try to replace his offence.
Shea Theodore is another Ducks defenceman to consider. He has less offensive upside but is a better all-around defenceman and may play more games.
Boston Bruins, Charlie McAvoy – Defence
We spoke about McAvoy on the latest podcast and he signed his ELC yesterday. The Bruins have some injuries on the back end with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo both hurt. Krug, the Bruins best offensive defenceman could miss the entire series, opening the door for McAvoy to step in and establish himself as a NHL regular. The next Bruins franchise defenceman will be McAvoy and his era begins as soon as now.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson also signed his ELC recently and played his first NHL game and will be with the team for the playoffs. JFK posted 14 goals and 33 points in 39 games as Alternate Captain of the powerhouse Boston University.
Calgary Flames, Curtis Lazar – C/RW
The former first round pick of the Ottawa Senators has had a hard time cracking a NHL roster on a regular basis to date, but he had two points in the final two regular season games for the Flames. He was the Captain of a Gold Medal winning Team Canada at the World Juniors so he has experience playing in big game situations.
Chicago Blackhawks, John Hayden – Right Wing
Another player discussed on the podcast was Hayden, he signed his ELC after serving all four years of his NCAA career with Yale. The Hawks third round pick in 2013 had a career year as a senior with 34 points and 62 PIM’s before joining the Hawks. As a 22-year-old at 6-3 and 223 pounds he is both mentally and physically mature already and played the final 12 regular season games with the Hawks, mainly on a line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik. If he can stick on Toews wing he could see significant ice time.
The Hawks have a number of other young players who all had looks during the regular season who could see some action such as Vincent Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte, and Gustav Forsling.
Edmonton Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi – Right Wing
The Oilers finally show restraint and allow a early first round pick to develop in the AHL before forcing him into the NHL roster too soon. Puljujarvi posted an impressive 27 points in the AHL and managed to see 28 games of NHL action as well with eight points in total. With the Bakersfield Condors struggling to make the playoffs we could see Puljujarvi in the Oilers lineup for the postseason and make his case to be a regular next season.
The Oilers also signed a college free agent in Joe Gambardella who scored 52 points in 41 games for UMass-Lowell as a senior. He has three games in the AHL and has two points. He could be a candidate for the Oilers black aces.
Minnesota Wild, Joel Eriksson Ek – Center
After briefly starting the year in the NHL, the Wild loaned him back to his SHL club for the year. He returned after the conclusion of the Farjestad season and scored in his first game against the Sens. While he has been playing mainly fourth line duties, he has the offensive upside to move up the roster if an injury presents its self.
The Wild also signed their 2016 first round pick Luke Kunin who as Captain of the University of Wisconsin scored 38 points in 35 games, was the Captain of Team USA at the World Junior and lead them to Gold with two goals and four points. He has been assigned to Iowa in the AHL and in his first nine pro games has seven points. Iowa will miss the playoffs and Kunin could make his NHL debut in the playoffs.
Nashville Predators, Vladislav Kamenev – Left Wing
Kamenev made his NHL debut this year playing two games for the Preds in January. It’s unlikely he returns because Milwaukee is in a playoff position, but if there is an injury and the preds need some offensive help they may turn to Kamenev who scored 49 points in 67 games for the Admirals this year.
Nashville also signed their 2015 sixth round pick Tyler Moy after he concluded his NCAA career with Harvard with a stellar 45 point season including a beanpot championship and a deep playoff run. Moy has been assigned to the AHL to help bolster the Admirals.
New York Rangers, Ryan Graves – Defence
The Rangers AHL team Hartford will not be making the playoffs so look for their top players to practice with the Rangers during the playoffs. Graves was an AHL All-Star and should be the first player they turn to if there is an injury.
Up front the same goes for Nicklas Jensen who has rediscovered his game in the Rangers system after being acquired from Vancouver. Jensen posted 52 points for Hartford and was called up for seven games with the Rangers
Ottawa Senators, Colin White – Center/RW
White finally signed his ATO after a starring contest with the Sens and reported to the AHL. After posting three points in his first three pro games in Binghamton he was called up to the big club and was used sparingly in his first game but his minutes almost tripled in his secong game playing over 20 minutes.
Nick Paul was recalled for one game after playing in 24 games for the Sens last season. The Sens AHL team will miss the playoffs so expect Paul to be one of the first players called up and to practice with the team.
Don’t look for top prospect Thomas Chabot as he is poised for a deep playoff run in the QMJHL.
St. Louis Blues, Vladimir Sobotka – Center
He’s back from the KHL and in his first game he scored a goal. Sobotka will be a depth player but if the Blues can go for a long playoff run he should be able to contribute some points.
Jake Walman signed after his junior season of NCAA hockey with Providence Walman turned pro and has been playing in the AHL with Chicago, in his first four pro games he has two goals. He is their top defense prospect and has very good offensive upside. Walman is an underrated prospect in my opinion and could very well squeak into the roster and make an impact.
Tage Thompson is another player to keep an eye on, but more for next season than for these playoffs.
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