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Fantasy value gained in 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Marner, Point, Tuch among postseason standouts who can alter landscape next season

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

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

Below are 15 players that have seen their fantasy value rise or bounce back as a result of strong production and/or lineup changes in the postseason. Fantasy owners should keep these players fresh on their minds ahead of keeper decisions and early fantasy draft preparation, especially once average draft position data becomes available this summer.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Playoff rankingsTop 250 for 2018-19Cheat sheet

 

NOTE: Any potential unrestricted free agents with strong playoff production (John Carlson, Evander Kane, Paul Stastny) have been excluded from this list.

 

David Pastrnak, RW, BOS

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 21; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 12

When healthy, the Boston Bruins have the most potent line in the NHL with Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. These three forwards are among the top 20 in NHL.com's latest rankings from April 25 after a strong postseason, especially in the seven games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pastrnak had 13 points in the first round (tied for NHL lead), including six points in Game 2. He finished with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists), six power-play points, and 44 shots on goal in 12 playoff games. Fantasy owners already viewed Pastrnak highly after he finished 21st in Yahoo this regular season and 12th two seasons ago, but this playoff catapults the 21-year-old into first-round territory next season.

Video: TBL@BOS, Gm4: Pastrnak shows off hand-eye for PPG

 

Mark Scheifele, C, WPG

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 121; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 33

Scheifele missed 22 games because of upper-body injuries in the regular season, but produced a point per-game (60 points in 60 games). The Winnipeg Jets were the most-valuable team to own players from in fantasy, but Scheifele's year-end rank was low because he missed so much time. However, Scheifele, who had 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 79 games two seasons ago, has reminded fantasy owners he should be drafted among the top 10 centers next season by scoring 18 points (12 goals, six assists) with a plus-6, five PPP and 34 SOG (35.3 percent shooting) in 14 playoff games. On a line with Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor and the first power-play unit with Patrik Laine for years to come, Scheifele should be available in the second round of drafts next season and challenge for the NHL scoring title if he stays healthy.

 

Mitchell Marner, C/RW, TOR

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 71; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 45

The Maple Leafs forward went through some growing pains in the first half of the regular season, even spending time in the bottom six. But Marner scored 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 53 games from Dec. 9 to the end of the regular season, and had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven playoff games. Forwards James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak could become UFAs, but that shouldn't affect Marner's fantasy stock next season. He thrived alongside Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau in the second half and postseason, produced on a line with Tomas Plekanec during Kadri's three-game playoff suspension and could even see time with elite center Auston Matthews. Marner is a candidate to score a point per game next season, so he's worth reaching for inside the top 50 and much higher in keeper leagues.

 

Braden Holtby, G, WSH

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 342; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 50

It seems like ages ago that goaltender Philipp Grubauer started Games 1 and 2 of the first round against the Blue Jackets, and that's because Holtby hasn't flinched since regaining the starting job. After the worst fantasy peripherals of his NHL career (2.99 goals-against average, .907 save percentage, no shutouts in 54 games), Holtby has gone 10-2 with a 2.04 GAA and .927 SV% in 12 playoff starts, including 7-1 with a 1.87 GAA and .927 SV% on the road. This elite play is in line with Holtby's prior fantasy seasons, so his resurgence puts him back in the top-five fantasy goalie discussion -- something few could have envisioned prior to the start of the playoffs. The Washington Capitals have an interesting backup goalie dilemma with Grubauer a potential RFA and top prospect Ilya Samsonov signing an entry-level contract May 4, but it's refreshing for fantasy owners to know Holtby will remain the starter for the foreseeable future after this breakthrough postseason.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Holtby denies Sheahan in OT

 

J.T. Miller, C/LW/RW, TBL

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 136; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 86

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward had 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 19 regular-season games after being acquired from the New York Rangers on Feb. 26 and has been a fixture alongside elite forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos during the playoffs (seven points in 12 games). He has averaged 57 points over the past two seasons, but could be in for a spike to the 65-70 range if he remains in this coveted spot for anything close to 82 games. Miller, who could become a restricted free agent July 1, has risen to 86th in NHL.com's top 250 and could easily see his average draft position approach the top 75 and even higher in hits leagues.

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm3: Neal sets up Miller for PPG

 

Brayden Point, C/RW, TBL

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 74; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 96

The 22-year-old has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his first 12 career Stanley Cup Playoff games and was a huge reason the Lightning made quick work of the Bruins in the second round, winning in five games. Seven of Point's points came against Boston, and it's significant that he had three even-strength goals when Boston's entire forward group combined for five in the series. Ranked 252nd in Yahoo two seasons ago, Point broke into the top 75 this season and should be a fringe top 50 player in most drafts after this impressive postseason.

 

Ryan Johansen, C, NSH

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 89; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 103

Since his 71-point, 202-SOG season for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014-15, Johansen's points-per-game average and shot total have dipped in each of the past three regular seasons. His power-play production also declined this regular season (15 PPP; 23 last season), but he excelled in those situations this postseason with six PPP and 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 13 games overall. He should be available in a similar range to his ADP last season (100.1), and his linemates Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have showed enough consistency to be trusted in fantasy moving forward. Even if the Nashville Predators incorporate forward prospect Eeli Tolvanen into their top six, exposure to another high-end wing could make Johansen, 25, even more appealing, especially in leagues that count faceoff wins and hits.

 

Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW, and Cam Atkinson, RW, CBJ

2017-18 Yahoo ranks: Atkinson: 115; Dubois: 118; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: Atkinson: 95; Dubois: 133

The Blue Jackets had an up-and-down season with a ton of line changes, but they appear to have found a combination with staying power in 19-year-old Dubois centering Artemi Panarin and Atkinson. These three forwards combined for 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in Columbus' six-game loss to the Capitals in the first round. Drafting Panarin (24th in Yahoo) early and then snagging either Dubois or Atkinson in the fringe top-100 range could be a worthwhile strategy next season. Atkinson is a proven goal-scorer with a consistent shot volume who finished 37th in Yahoo two seasons ago.

 

Jake Guentzel, C/LW, PIT

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 176; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 130

The breakout star of the 2017 playoffs took a step back this regular season playing mostly away from Sidney Crosby, but Guentzel returned to that prime spot this postseason and responded with an even better performance. He matched his 2017 playoff point total (21 in 25 games) in 13 fewer games, and is now tied for the most postseason goals (23 in 37 games) of any player over the past three postseasons - despite only playing in two of them. His regular-season rank was underwhelming because of Pittsburgh's even-strength struggles, but don't underestimate his upside if he can either lock down a spot on the top line with Crosby or translate his power-play production (12 PPP in regular season) to the first unit.

 

Tomas Hertl, C/LW/RW, SJS

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 162; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 158

The San Jose Sharks took major strides this postseason after acquiring Kane at the NHL Trade Deadline, and their first-round sweep of the Anaheim Ducks without injured center Joe Thornton was a testament to their much-improved secondary scoring. Hertl played on the second line with Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker and first power-play unit with Couture, Joe Pavelski and defenseman Brent Burns, totaling nine points (six goals, three assists), three PPP and 34 SOG in 10 games. The Sharks have some big decisions this offseason with Hertl potentially becoming an RFA and Kane and Thornton potentially becoming UFAs, but Hertl has risen above his recent injury history and is clearly fantasy-relevant again.

 

Tom Wilson, LW/RW, WSH

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 66; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 161

It's fair to call him a product of playing on a line with elite forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, but Wilson has solidified himself as a fantasy-relevant right wing for years to come. Even after an NHL career-best regular season and productive postseason (nine points in 11 games), the 24-year-old could be underestimated in drafts and is worth reaching for outside the top 100 in leagues that count hits and/or penalty minutes. Time will tell if his fantasy ceiling will reach the heights of elite category cogs of the past decade like Corey Perry and Wayne Simmonds, but consistent top-line placement, further offensive growth and greater discipline could help Wilson deliver value along the lines of Scott Hartnell, David Backes or Milan Lucic during their primes.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm2: Wilson scores 28 seconds into game

 

Justin Schultz, D, PIT

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 298; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 183

Penguins defensemen Kris Letang (96th in Yahoo) and Schultz underachieved in the regular season based on preseason ADP, but each showed renewed offensive production over two playoff rounds. But it's significant that Schultz was more efficient than Letang and played more often on the first power-play unit with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist in the postseason. Schultz had strong fantasy coverage with eight points (one goal, seven assists), two PPP, a plus-5 and 27 SOG in 12 games. Letang, who has missed significant time with injuries in previous seasons, will be a middle-round pick based on name value alone, but Schultz would be a bargain in late rounds if the Penguins rebound from a rare playoff exit. It's easy to forget Schultz finished 59th overall in Yahoo two seasons ago when Letang missed one-half of the season.

 

Nolan Patrick, C, PHI

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 325; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 184

The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft needed some time to adjust to the NHL level with the Philadelphia Flyers. But he finished the regular season strong with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists), six PPP and 62 SOG in the final 25 games before chipping in two points (one goal, one assist), one PPP and 16 SOG with some dynamic moments in six playoff games against the Penguins. He played second-line center down the stretch and was on the first power-play unit with forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Simmonds dealt with multiple injuries this season, but his bounce-back candidacy and Patrick's lineup placement should put the latter on notice as a fantasy sleeper next season.

 

Alex Tuch, RW, VGK

2017-18 Yahoo rank: 223; NHL.com rank for 2018-19: 199

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights continue to defy expectations, and Tuch has been an unheralded depth scorer on their road to the Western Conference Final. He's tied for second on the Golden Knights with four PPP and has seven points and 21 SOG in 12 games. Wings James Neal and David Perron could become UFAs on July 1, so there's a great chance Tuch will be among Vegas' top six next season. He could also carry over his playoff success on the first power-play unit with forwards William Karlsson (potential RFA), Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and defenseman Shea Theodore (RFA).

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm5: Tuch knocks in rebound for PPG

 

Other postseason standouts worth monitoring in fantasy: Timo Meier, LW/RW, SJS (2017-18 Yahoo rank: 173); Jake DeBrusk, LW, BOS (213); Nikita Zadorov, D, COL (271); Cory Schneider, G, NJD (341; offseason hip surgery; could miss training camp); Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, WSH (404); Connor Brown, RW, TOR (415)

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