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Fantasy: Playoff X-factor for each team in 2018

Grubauer starting for Capitals; Henrique, Hertl look to build on playoff success

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor has identified a potential X-factor from each Stanley Cup Playoff team to help round out your postseason roster or provide value in DFS contests.


MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Rankings for 2018 playoff pools | 2017-18 awards 10 playoff sleeper candidates


Adam Henrique, ANA: The Anaheim Ducks center returns to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012, when he had 13 points (five goals, eight assists), including two overtime goals, in 24 games with the New Jersey Devils. Now on the third line, Henrique will play a crucial depth-scoring role with linemates Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie.

Rick Nash, BOS: The Boston Bruins wing missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a concussion. His return will add a scoring threat to the second line and to an already dangerous power-play unit with forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and defenseman Torey Krug. Nash has 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 77 playoff games.

Video: CHI@BOS: Nash caps off nice passing play with PPG

Thomas Vanek, CBJ: The Columbus Blue Jackets wing has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 19 games since he was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 26. He has 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists), including 10 power-play goals in 63 career playoff games.

Nikita Zadorov, COL: The Colorado Avalanche defenseman had career highs in goals (seven), assists (13) and shots on goal (94) in 77 games. Zadorov will be relied on heavily to fill the void of defenseman Erik Johnson, who is expected to miss at least six weeks with a fractured patella.

Dion Phaneuf, LAK: The Los Angeles Kings defenseman will see an increased role if Jake Muzzin (upper body) is unable to play in Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Since he was acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 13, Phaneuf has seven power-play points in 26 games. He has 10 power-play points in 51 playoff games.

Nino Niederreiter, MIN: The Minnesota Wild right wing is expected to skate on the top line with center Eric Staal and left wing Jason Zucker in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets. Niederreiter has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 34 career playoff games.

Video: NSH@MIN: Niederreiter nets rebound on the doorstep

Sami Vatanen, NJD: The defenseman brings 40 games of playoff experience and has emerged as a top-pair defenseman for the Devils who can play on either of their power-play units. Vatanen has produced at a pace of at least .50 points per game in three of his four playoff appearances with the Ducks, his former team.

Kevin Fiala, NSH: The Nashville Predators wing had two goals and 12 shots on goal in five games before sustaining a fractured femur in the 2017 Playoffs. He had career highs in goals (23) and assists (25) in 80 games playing mostly on the second line with Kyle Turris and Craig Smith.

Derick Brassard, PIT: The Pittsburgh Penguins center has an impressive postseason career with 55 points (22 goals, 33 assists), including 17 power-play points in 78 playoff games with the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. Brassard will look to create matchup problems for the opposition playing on the third line with Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary.

Valtteri Filppula, PHI: The Philadelphia Flyers center plays at a point per game pace of .52 in the postseason compared to .40 in the regular season. He will have a pivotal role centering the third line with fantasy-relevant forwards Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny.

Tomas Hertl, SJS: The San Jose Sharks forward quietly tied his regular season career high in points with 46. He has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 33 career playoff games and has sneaky upside on the second line with Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker.

Video: SJS@CHI: Hertl strips the puck and scores a beauty

Ondrej Palat, TBL: The Tampa Bay Lightning left wing missed 26 regular-season games with a lower-body injury. Since returning to the lineup March 20, Palat has recaptured his spot on the second line with forwards Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson. Palat is a proven playoff performer with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 46 games.

Patrick Marleau, TOR: The Toronto Maple Leafs left wing brings 177 career playoff games of experience to their second line of Mitch Marner and Nazem Kadri, who have combined for a total of 19 career postseason games.

Shea Theodore, VGK: The Golden Knights defenseman had nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 38 shots on goal in the final 10 games of the regular season. He will look to build off a strong performance of eight points (two goals, six assists) in 14 games for the Anaheim Ducks during the 2017 Playoffs.

Video: VGK@VAN: Theodore buries game-winning shootout goal

Paul Stastny, WPG: The Winnipeg Jets center has formed chemistry on the second line with elite wings Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers since he was acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26. Stastny brings playoff experience and production to the Jets with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 55 games.

Philipp Grubauer, WSH: The Washington Capitals goaltender is expected to make his second career postseason start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Grubauer ranks second in the League behind Antti Raanta with a .931 save percentage since Jan. 1 (minimum 20 games).

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