The best fantasy hockey managers are always paying attention to the league. There are regular season implications that the decisions made in the playoffs have. Yes, the former vs the latter may sometimes look like completely different sports, but there are insights we can pull that will help us for the 2021 fantasy hockey season. You must think beyond performance alone. A “playoff performer” does not help us in the regular season. Here are six rising fantasy stocks from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as we look ahead to next seasons’ drafts.
Fantasy Stocks Impacted by Stanley Cup Playoffs
Rising Fantasy Stocks: Goaltenders
After winning his first four games in the NHL, the 20-year-old rookie was thrust into postseason action in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He jumped over 10-million dollar starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and pending UFA Chris Driedger. When Joel Quenneville started Spencer Knight, the decision meant two things. First, despite a great season where he posted a 2.07 GAA and a .927 SV%, Driedger is unlikely to return to the Florida Panthers. Second, the organization has more faith in Knight than Bobrovsky. Actions speak volumes. Knight started in both do-or-die games that the Panthers faced in the playoffs. He won Game 5 and lost Game 6, but the result isn’t important here. What you need to know going into next season’s fantasy drafts is that Knight should begin the year in the NHL. Will he be the starter? Probably not, at least to begin the season. However, what we’ve seen from Bobrovsky in a Florida uniform is enough evidence to feel confident that Spencer Knight will see plenty of action.
The Carolina Hurricanes deployed a goaltending trio for most of the season. Although Petr Mrazek missed a large portion of it due to injury, Alex Nedeljkovic led the way with 23 starts while posting incredible numbers in the process. He led the league in both GAA (1.90) and SV% (.932) among goalies who had at least 17 starts, earning him a finalist for the Calder Trophy. The playoffs told a bigger story. Despite all three goalies at full health, Nedeljkovic started in nine of their 11 games, including their only elimination game. His play was spotty at times, but Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour showed us that he trusts Nedeljkovic. With both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer set to become UFA’s, he will be their number one guy. The Canes may bring in an experienced goaltender to insulate Nedeljkovic, but the net will be his until he loses it.
Rising Fantasy Stocks: Defencemen
It’s tough to draw any positives from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ postseason after losing to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games. But there is actually one – Rasmus Sandin. Sandin led Toronto defensemen in powerplay time on ice per game and scored one of only three powerplay goals his team got by Carey Price in the series. It seems that the Maple Leafs have decided that they need a more offensive d-man quarterbacking the powerplay and Sandin may be that guy over Morgan Rielly to start next season.
McAvoy put up 12 points in 11 postseason games, tying for second in team scoring with Brad Marchand. What’s most important though are his powerplay points. He led the Boston Bruins with eight, proving that given the opportunity, he can produce with the man-advantage. It’s time for the Bruins to move Matt Grzelcyk to the side and give McAvoy what he deserves – a full season on the top powerplay unit.
Rising Fantasy Stocks: Forwards
The playoffs have proved that Cole Caufield is ready for the big stage. The 20-year-old had four goals and five points in his first 10 regular season games. He followed that up this postseason with four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 20 games. Given how different the style of play is in the playoffs, his impact was even more impressive. It’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t translate this experience over the last two and a half months into a solid rookie season. Fantasy Hockey Bros polled their audience on Instagram (@fantasyhockeybros) on whether Caufield would have higher or lower than 29.5 goals. Roughly 57% said higher, believing he would score 30 or more. Either way, a 25 goal, 25 assist campaign from Caufield would be an amazing rookie season.
Brayden Point is definitely the most established player on this list and will likely be ranked highest among the six heading into next season’s fantasy rankings. Why is he here then? Simple. The playoffs have showed us that he’s better than the 48 points in 56 games that he had this season and the 64 points in 66 games that he had last season. Sure, Point elevates his game in the playoffs. 14 goals in each of these Stanley Cup Playoff runs is incredible. But what else is incredible is what he’s capable of with a healthy Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov around him – specifically on the powerplay. The last time both Stamkos and Kucherov played the full season was in 2018/2019. Point led the team that year with 20 powerplay goals. He also saw career highs with 41 goals, 51 assists and 92 points. A full season with exposure to Stamkos and Kucherov should bring Point back up beyond 85 points.