Top 3 Sleepers For The Playoffs: Eastern Conference

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. All eyes will be on the big names like Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, Auston Matthews, and players of that ilk. 

But as we all know, there are often some unexpected heroes in the playoffs, those players who lift more than their weight in helping their teams advance. 

With that, let's have a look at three sleepers who might come up big in the Eastern Conference:

Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay Lightning

His first go-round with the Lightning last season wasn't anything earth-shattering, with just seven points in 22 games after coming over from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline. But he did get to experience a deep playoff run—his first time in the postseason. 

Now, after a full year with the Bolts, he's fitting in quite nicely, with his first 30-goal season under his belt. And while the opposition will be focusing on the likes of Braydon Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, Hagel has a chance to continue that breakthrough as a big-time contributor in these playoffs. 

Luke Hughes, New Jersey Devils

The New York Rangers would be well-served in the first round not to forget about this late-season addition by the Devils. Luke Hughes joined his brother Jack on the Devils after another elite offensive season on the blue line with the University of Michigan. 

The Devils' first-round pick from 2021 (4th overall) was the second-leading scorer among defenseman in the NCAA, and immediately contributed two points in his two games with New Jersey to conclude the regular season, averaging over 16:00 of ice-time. 

Don't be surprised if this Hughes steps up as a big-time sleeper for the Devils. 

Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins

While the Florida Panthers will be directing most of their attention on top Bruins' threats like Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk, Taylor Hall has the potential to sneak through the cracks and do some damage for the top-ranked Bruins. 

He's only been back for three games after missing six weeks due to injury, so there's an opportunity there to capitalize on perhaps being under the radar. He should also be plenty motivated in these playoffs not only to make up for lost time, but to re-establish himself after a disappointing season. 

We also had a look at some top sleepers in the Western Conference

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