Fantasy preview: MacArthur, Eller among prime targets
Ottawa Senators left winger Clarke MacArthur celebrates his goal in the first period against the Washington Capitals at the Canadian Tire Centre on April 4, 2015. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)
It’s Stanley Cup time, and that means fantasy hockey fans are busy re-calibrating to predict which players are going to go the deepest in the playoffs and be the most productive.
For readers new to this space, we regard playoff hockey pools as a complete crapshoot, totally dependent on how many games a specific team plays before it is eliminated, or wins it all. How valuable is Sidney Crosby in a Stanley Cup pool when, the way his Pittsburgh Penguins finished the regular season, he could be out in four or five games?
So, once again, we’re going to leave the round-by-round team forecasts to the other experts and concentrate on one player who might surprise from each of the 16 teams.
Clarke MacArthur, OTT: While Kyle Turris and Mark Stone are going to be the popular choices here, the third member of the line likely will be no slouch, either, after ending the regular season on a seven-game point streak. He also played pretty well in his only previous Stanley Cup appearance in 2013 with the Leafs.
Lars Eller, MON: Turned in a great playoffs last year with a 5-8-13 line in 17 games after just 26 points during the regular season. This year, he enters the post-season having managed one more point over the schedule. Can lightning strike twice?
Martin St. Louis, NYR: He’s not really a sleeper, but he is Marty St. Louis, capable of anything, and you shouldn’t second-guess yourself for considering him in the first round. He’s had better than a point a game in the playoffs in four of his six appearances.
David Perron, PIT: Regardless what you think of the Pens’ chances, someone is going to believe in them and take Crosby with their top pick, and Evgeni Malkin won’t be far behind. But if you want to play it safer, Perron is not a bad idea as he’s now playing with Malkin and Chris Kunitz.
Nikolay Kulemin, NYI: Tough picking an Isle because, beyond John Tavares, there was no standout down the home stretch and no one has any significant playoff track record. But the long-time Leaf is now on the left side of JT and Kyle Okposo and the Isles easily could go a few rounds.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, WAS: If you miss out on Alex Ovechkin, his new centre could be a decent consolation prize. He finished strongly and, with just 37 points, will likely be around in the middle rounds.
Ondrej Palat, TB: He was actually Tampa Bay’s top point-producer over the final month of the season with 11, one more than Steven Stamkos. But don’t wait too long.
Gustav Nyquist, DET: Few see the Wings getting past the Bolts, but he might be the best bet for a few points after going 2-2-4 in four games against the Lightning this year. And if Detroit pulls off an upset, even better.
Tomas Fleischmann, ANA: Could be a sneaky late pick after finishing the season as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s left winger. He also has a well-rounded two-way game, decent size and, with 29 playoff games under his belt, enough experience make an impact.
Dustin Byfuglien, WPG: The previous time he was in this tournament, he rolled up 11-5-16 totals in 22 games to help Chicago win the Cup five years ago. His power game is perfectly suited for the playoff grind.
Roman Josi, NAS: Shea Weber, deservedly so, should be the first or second Predator and one of the top defencemen off the board, but it would surprise some to know that his blueline partner, Josi, outpointed him by 10 in the regular season (55-45).
Brandon Saad, CHI: Patrick Kane is the all-too-obvious choice here, so we’ll go with Saad, who followed up his breakout regular season last year with a breakout playoffs, racking up 16 points in 19 games, then improved again this season and could easily do likewise this spring on the top line.
Paul Stastny, STL: Didn’t have the scoring season he did a year ago, but those 10 points in the Avs’ seven-game opening-round loss to the Wild - seven of them coming in the first two games - suggest this guy knows how to ramp things up in the playoffs. Has a career 18 points in 22 Stanley Cup games.
Chris Stewart, MIN: Power forward had 11 points in 20 games after being acquired from Buffalo at the deadline, but the playoffs is why they got him. Has the size, ferocity and skill to thrive when the ice gets choked off and, while still a third-liner, will likely stay on the Wild’s No. 1 power-play unit.
Alexander Edler, VAN: Not many will be looking his way but the veteran tallied 14 of his 31 total points in the final month of the season, the most points picked up by a defenceman during that span.
Kris Russell, CAL: Another D-man, he is far enough down on the team scoring list at 34 points, but those 14 man-advantage points stand out, even more so when you factor in that half of them came from March 5 on. That’s when he took over for injured Mark Giordano on the Flames’ top power-play unit.