The Man Advantage
With roughly two weeks passed since the NHL's Feb. 28 trade deadline, let's take a look at how some of those deals have changed the power play landscape for the teams involved.
Washington Capitals: On paper, the Caps were arguably the most improved team from a PP perspective following the trade deadline, adding Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman to their mix, without giving up any top-six players in return. Since their arrival, both players have joined the team's top PP unit as injury replacements, filling in for Mike Green (concussion) and Nicklas Backstrom (broken thumb). However, Wideman (0G, 0A) and Arnott (1A) have had little impact in the six games they've played, as the Caps have gone just 3-for16 (18.75%) on the PP over that span.
Current 1st PP unit: Ovechkin, Arnott, Semin, Laich, Wideman
Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers' biggest PP acquisition was Blake Wheeler in a deal with Boston (albeit prior to the deadline) that involved Rich Peverley going back the other way. Wheeler is now seeing regular second-line minutes on the PP for the Thrashers since his arrival, averaging about 2.5 minutes per night, which is roughly what Peverley was getting prior to the trade, and more than he was seeing with the Bruins. With four goals and four assists in eight games as a Thrasher, including two PP helpers, Wheeler has been a valuable addition for Atlanta. In addition to Wheeler, the Thrashers also picked up Robbie Schremp off waivers from the Islanders. Schremp has been seeing roughly 10 minutes per night with the Thrashers thus far, but the one goal he did score came on the power play, where he fills in occasionally on the second line. As we all know, Schremp was quite the talent coming up through the junior ranks, but he has yet to prove himself at the NHL level.
Current 1st PP unit: Antropov, Little, Ladd, Byfuglien, Enstrom
Pittsburgh Penguins: With both Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee) on the IR, the Penguins were desperate to add some top-level talent, and in the days prior to the deadline, added James Neal from the Dallas Stars and Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators. Since then, Neal and Kovalev have gone on to log heavy minutes on the Pens' top PP unit, but have contributed little offensively, with both players still waiting to record a single PP point in their new uniforms. In fact, Neal has been held off the scoresheet in seven of eight games since his arrival, while Kovalev scored a non-PP goal in his first game as a Pen, but has been shut out since. Clearly, Crosby and Malkin are the straws that stir the drink in Pittsburgh, and there is remarkably little team chemistry without them in the lineup.
Current 1st PP unit: Neal, Letestu, Kunitz, Kovalev, Letang
Philadelphia Flyers: In another pre-trade deadline deal, the Flyers sent a first- and third-round pick in next year's entry draft to Toronto in exchange for Kris Versteeg. Versteeg's PP duties were minimal in his first few games as a Flyer, but more recently has been seeing between 1-3 minutes per night on the team's top line. Offensively, Versteeg has been quiet since landing in Philly, with just four goals and an assist in 13 games, including one PP goal. However, if he continues to see first-line PP minutes, the points should come.
Current 1st unit: Richards, Versteeg, Hartnell, Leino, Timonen
Los Angeles Kings: In what was perhaps the biggest deadline-day story, the Kings acquired Penner from the Oilers in exchange for a package of one prospect (d-man Colten Teubert) and picks. Since then, Penner has hit the scoresheet in five of six games for the Kings (2G, 3A), but has yet to contribute any PP points despite logging a ton of minutes (3:47) on the team's top unit. However, there's reason for optimism here, as the Kings have managed a PP goal in four of six games since Penner's arrival, so as long as he continues to skate alongside the likes of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty, Penner should figure into the scoring before too long.
Current 1st unit: Kopitar, Williams, Penner, Doughty, Johnson
Boston Bruins: In one of the bigger pre-trade deadline deals this year, the B's dealt prospect Joe Colborne plus draft picks for Kaberle, in an effort to bolster their back end as well as their middling power play, ranked 16th out of 30 teams at the time. However, Kaberle is yet another example of a big-name player who so far has been mostly a bust with his new team – offensively, anyway. In 10 games since his arrival in Boston, Kaberle has just two assists to show for his efforts – one of the PP variety. Furthermore, the Bruins' power play has since slipped to 20th overall in the league, suggesting that the addition of Kaberle has yet to bear any fruit. In the meantime, Kaberle's presence has since resulted in less PP ice time for guys like Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.
Current 1st unit: Krejci, Horton, Lucic, Chara, Kaberle
Carolina Hurricanes: Prior to the trade deadline, the Hurricanes re-acquired Stillman from Florida in exchange for Ryan Carter and a 2011 fifth-round pick. Now in his second tour of duty with the 'Canes, Stillman was immediately inserted on the team's first line alongside Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu, both at even strength and on the power play. Stillman has been one of the few bright lights in Raleigh since his arrival, despite the fact the team has lost five of eight games since then. Stillman himself has scored two goals and four assists over that span, however only one point has come with the man advantage, despite averaging almost four PP minutes per night.
Current 1st unit: Stillman, Staal, Ruutu, Corvo, Pitkanen
Colorado Avalanche: Perhaps one of the most puzzling trade deadline moves this year saw the struggling Avs send two of their biggest PP weapons – Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk – to St. Louis for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement. Since then, the Avs remain mired in the midst of a horrendous losing slump, and the team's lineup is but a shadow of its former self as a result of the trade, plus an assortment of injuries. Through it all, however, Johnson continues to be the Avs' leader in PP ice time, regularly seeing 4-5 minutes per night. In 10 games, Johnson has two goals and three assists including one of each on the PP. Overall, it's been hard to gauge Johnson's impact given the caliber of the supporting cast he now has surrounding him, but it's hard to imagine the impact he has on the Avs' power play will match the effect Stewart and Shattenkirk will have over time in St. Louis.
Current 1st unit: Duchene, Jones, O'Reilly, Porter, Johnson
New York Rangers: The Blueshirts, lacking a true PP defenseman all season, went out and grabbed Bryan McCabe the week of the trade deadline in a deal with the Florida Panthers. With Marc Staal out with a knee injury, McCabe was immediately promoted to the Rangers' PP quarterback role and has responded with two PP helpers in seven games since his arrival. So far, his presence on the Rangers' blue line has been limited, but over tiem, McCabe's hard, low shot from the point should be a boost for the team's PP attack, resulting in more rebound goals and tip-ins. Overall, there's no question McCabe has a better supporting cast to work with now, compared to his time with the Panthers.
Current 1st unit: Gaborik, Prospal, Callahan, Stepan, McCabe
Buffalo Sabres: Brad Boyes has been a real fireplug for the Sabres since arriving from St. Louis at the trade deadline. Boyes has hit the scoresheet in five of eight games over that span, registering four goals and three assists, with two points coming on the power play. At first, the expectation was that he would line up regularly on the Sabres' top PP line, but in fact he has been skating more regularly on the second unit alongside guys like Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad and Mark Mancari. Right now, Boyes seems to be doing most of his best work at even strength, but his nose for the net should eventually lead to more PP minutes on the first unit where he's bound to be more productive.
Current 1st unit: Vanek, Stafford, Connolly, Ennis, Myers