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Fantasy value gained in 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Leon Draisaitl, Jake Guentzel among players who have altered landscape for next season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

When it comes to a player's fantasy stock, the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be a game changer.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov are prime examples of how playoff value spikes can carry over to the following season. Last postseason, Murray stepped in for an injured Marc-Andre Fleury and won 15 of his 21 playoff games to help Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup. Kucherov was better than a point per game (19 points in 17 games).

[ RELATED: Fantasy top 250 rankings for 2017-18 ]

Murray then won 32 of his 49 games this season and finished among the top 10 fantasy goalies (58th overall) after a Yahoo average draft position of 74.4. Kucherov (ADP: 31.1) scored 85 points in 74 games and finished fourth overall in Yahoo.

The 2017 playoffs have come with plenty of surprises and the fantasy rankings for next season will have serious alterations once it ends. Some players bounced back from regular-season injuries or production dips, and others benefited from lineup changes.

Below are 15 players who warrant earlier fantasy consideration for next season based on postseason trends and Yahoo's performance-based rankings from the regular season. Standard Yahoo leagues count goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal for skaters, and wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts for goalies.

 

Erik Karlsson, D, OTT

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 16; ADP: 16.6

Karlsson, a perennial top-tier defenseman, had 82 points in 82 games in 2015-16, but finished behind Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks (third in Yahoo) and Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets (15th) this season. But Karlsson responded with 18 points, 53 SOG and a plus-13 in 19 playoff games despite playing with a hairline fracture in his ankle. Karlsson's postseason prowess has given him more exposure than ever before and he's re-established himself as the best fantasy defenseman. After being selected on average in the second round, expect Karlsson to be gone in the mid-to-late first round next fall. Burns slowed down as the season went on. Karlsson only got stronger.

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Karlsson buries Ryan's slick dish

 

Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 31; ADP: 159.3

Draisaitl was one of the fantasy steals of the regular season (ADP: 159.3) with 77 points (27 PPP) in 82 games for the Edmonton Oilers playing on a line with NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid (100 points). But Draisaitl managed to take it up a notch in the playoffs, totaling 16 points, a plus-8 rating and six PPP in 13 games, including a five-point outing in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Anaheim Ducks. Only 21, Draisaitl has a chance to build on this success and become a mainstay in the top 15 fantasy realm next season, similar to Kucherov's rise.

 

Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 96; ADP: 49.9

Forsberg, 22, took a slight step back this season (58 points in 82 games) compared to his first two full NHL seasons (63 in 2014-15, 64 in 2015-16), but has responded by leading the Nashville Predators in goals (eight) and points (15) through 18 playoff games. He's tied for fourth League-wide in even-strength points (14) and has outstanding peripherals (60 SOG, plus-15). He barely finished among Yahoo's top 100, but Forsberg likely has a higher ceiling and deserves to be drafted among the top 30-35 overall next season.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Forsberg pads lead with empty-netter

 

Jake Allen, G, STL

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 101; ADP: 42.9

Allen, 14th among goalies based on regular-season performance, underachieved based on his high ADP. That said, he navigated the St. Louis Blues' coaching change from Ken Hitchcock to Mike Yeo on Feb. 1 and was impressive down the stretch, going 11-2-2 with a .942 SV% and two shutouts in his final 15 regular-season games. Then, he had the highest SV% (.935) among goalies with at least 10 postseason games. He was the biggest reason the Blues defeated the Minnesota Wild in five games in the first round despite being outshot 182-134 in the series. After this impressive finish, fantasy owners should consider Allen a top-10 fantasy goalie in a standard format and a top-five goalie in a keeper format.

 

Frederik Andersen, G, TOR

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 131; ADP: 94.2

Andersen and the Toronto Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals all they could handle in the first round with five of the six games going to at least one overtime. Andersen had a .915 SV% in the series. After finishing 19th among goalies in Yahoo, he could jump into the top 10 with how promising the Maple Leafs offense looks. Making the most regular-season starts of his NHL career (66), he had 33 wins, a .918 SV% and four shutouts. Andersen's keeper-league value has spiked after an immediate impact from rookies Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander.

Video: WSH@TOR, Gm6: Andersen shuts down Connolly's drive

 

Jake Guentzel, C/LW, PIT

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 384; ADP: N/A

Guentzel has been the surprise story of the postseason, leading the League with 12 goals and totaling 19 points in 21 games alongside mostly Sidney Crosby. There's a strong chance Guentzel, 22, will remain among the Penguins' top-six forward group for the years to come and his performance this postseason should be enough to surpass teammate Conor Sheary as the Penguins' fourth most-valuable fantasy forward. After scoring two goals in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Guentzel has 52 points in 61 games in the regular season and playoffs combined.

 

Rickard Rakell, C/LW, ANA

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 128; ADP: 170.5

Rakell, 24, became a fantasy commodity this season by leading the Ducks in regular-season goals (33), but his low assist (18) and shot (177 SOG) totals limited his category coverage. The playoffs were a different story though, with Rakell having 13 points (seven goals, six assists), a plus-13 and 48 SOG in 15 games. In order for Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg (110th in Yahoo) to take a step forward fantasy-wise, each needs to play on the Ducks' first power-play unit. With such usage, these forwards could be steals if available outside the top 100.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Rakell cranks a slapper past Rinne

 

Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 162; ADP: 169.9

Klefbom, 23, had five points in 12 playoff games, including the game-tying goal in Game 5 of the first round against the Sharks. It's worth noting Klefbom sustained an upper-body injury in the second round against the Anaheim Ducks, a potential reason for his lesser production in that series. He has a chance to expand on his strong point (38), PPP (16) and SOG (201) totals next season, offering coveted exposure to McDavid and Draisaitl on the power play. Klefbom has higher fantasy upside in the years to come and is worth targeting as a top 20 defensemen moving forward.

 

Brady Skjei, D, NYR

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 197; ADP: N/A

Skjei finished 35th among defensemen in Yahoo, totaling 39 points (five goals, 34 assists), with 32 coming at even strength (T-8th among defensemen). He had a strong rating (plus-11), but has a ways to go in SOG (127) and PPP (seven) before joining the elite at his position. That said, he was one of the New York Rangers' most valuable players in the postseason with four goals (third among defensemen) in 12 playoff games. He averaged 19:14 per game, compared to 17:27 in the regular season, and also saw a spike in power-play minutes (2:02 per game in playoffs; 1:23 in regular season). After proving he deserves more usage in all situations, Skjei could join the top 20 defensemen as early as next season.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm2: Skjei pots wrister through a screen

 

Ryan Ellis, D, NSH

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 167; ADP: 167.9

This has been a huge postseason for Predators defensemen, and Ellis has gained the most among the group that includes Roman Josi, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm. After finishing 29th at his position in Yahoo, Ellis has excelled in his spot alongside Josi in the playoffs. He has 12 points, a plus-3 and 45 SOG in 18 postseason games after NHL career-highs in goals (16, T-5th among 'D'), points (38) and PPP (11) in the regular season. He's tied with Josi for the lead among defenseman in playoff goals (five), and has proven he can produce at a high level regardless of whether Josi and Subban are healthy.

 

Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, NYR

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 248; ADP: 166.8

Zibanejad's strong start to the regular season was derailed by injury; he was limited to 56 games because of a broken fibula, scoring 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) and 11 PPP. But his playoff performance bodes well for his fantasy value next season; he led the Rangers with nine points in 12 game, and averaged nearly three SOG per game (34). He has breakout potential with a chance to be their No. 1 center and a first power-play fixture, and could easily finish among the top 100 fantasy assets if healthy.

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Zibanejad breaks in, roofs wrister

 

Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, WSH

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 298; ADP: 177.9

Burakovsky struggled in the playoffs until he was bumped up to the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. The 22-year-old then had back-to-back multipoint outings in Games 5 and 6 against the Penguins, totaling three goals, one assist and seven SOG in the span. Changes are inevitable for the Washington Capitals after another second-round playoff exit, and forwards Oshie and Justin Williams could become unrestricted free agents July 1. If Burakovsky ultimately gets a full-time, top-six role with more power-play minutes, he could live up to long-awaited fantasy sleeper potential.

 

Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 400; ADP: 132.1

Ryan completely lost fantasy relevance in the regular season, totaling 25 points in 62 games with five PPP and 111 SOG. But he turned out to be the most resurgent player of the postseason, scoring 15 points (six goals, nine assists) with five PPP and 42 SOG in 19 games, including three game-winning goals and three overtime points. He was one of the biggest reasons the Ottawa Senators got to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and his impressive postseason gives him some bounce-back appeal as a late-round flier.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Ryan sweeps in one-timer for PPG

 

Shea Theodore, D, ANA

2016-17 Yahoo rank: 615; ADP: N/A

Theodore, 21, had nine points in 34 NHL regular-season games and also played for San Diego of the American Hockey League. He had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 26 AHL regular-season games and stepped up when Cam Fowler missed the first round of the playoffs because of a leg injury. Theodore broke out for eight points in 14 playoff games, with seven over his first seven games. He also scored two PPP and played frequently on Anaheim's first unit. With Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen likely to miss the start of next season because of shoulder injuries, and potential roster moves coming before the NHL Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights on June 21, Theodore could be here to stay as a fantasy-relevant defenseman.

 

Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS

2016-17 Yahoo rank & ADP: N/A

McAvoy, 19, made his NHL debut in the postseason after the Boston Bruins lost defensemen Torey Krug (lower body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) to injuries late in the regular season. McAvoy had three assists in six games, two on the power play, and averaged 26:11 per game (2:54 on PP). Considering McAvoy's lack of previous NHL experience, he exceeded all expectations and proved he is one of the Bruins' building blocks for the years to come. It's fair to expect him to contend for the Calder Trophy next season.

 

Other playoff standouts to watch in fantasy: Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C, OTT; 264), Artturi Lehkonen (LW, MTL; 362), Marc-Andre Fleury (G, PIT; 379), Morgan Rielly (D, TOR; 410), Kevin Fiala (LW/RW, NSH; 497), Colton Sissons (C, NSH; 587), Brandon Montour (D, ANA; 594)

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