Top Power Play Value Picks
Hello all you hockey poolies out there, and thanks for tuning in to another edition of The Man Advantage, where we take a look at the ever-changing NHL power-play landscape and try to make some sense of it all from a fantasy perspective. This week, we take a look at a handful of players who started out the season seeing second-line power-play duty (or were expected to), yet who have since been promoted to the top line and are posting very respectable PP point totals. In those fantasy leagues where the top guns like Crosby and Ovechkin are all taken, these "lesser name" guys are all producing at a decent clip, and most of them may still even be available on your league's waiver wire.
Ryan McDonagh, D, NY Rangers: McDonagh is currently seeing first-line PP duty with the Blueshirts, averaging 3:27 per game over the past two weeks. He has a pair of PP points (1G, 1A) over that span, playing with Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. In McDonagh's first seven games, he did not see any meaningful PP time at all, however he has slowly emerged as the Rangers' top offensive defenseman, pushing Michael Del Zotto down to the second PP unit. He makes for an excellent value pick in just about any format right now, and given that he's only been picked in 38% of all Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, he's widely available.
Marcus Johansson, LW, Washington: Anyone who rides shotgun on a line with Alexander Ovechkin is always worth a look, in fantasy terms. At the start of the season, Johansson was seeing barely over a minute per game in PP time playing on the second unit, but has since been promoted to the top unit along with Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer and Mike Green. Over the last two weeks, Johansson has four man-advantage points, tallying a goal and three helpers. His average ice time on the season is just 2:52, but don't be fooled - that includes the second-line minutes he was seeing back in October. Over the past two weeks, his PP time is a robust 4:09 per game. He's currently only owned in 27% of all Yahoo! leagues, so go see if he's available in yours.
Jay Bouwmeester, D, St. Louis: When Bouwmeester was traded from Calgary to St. Louis back in April, he was thought to be joining a team already well-stocked in offensive defensemen such as Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Hence, most poolies figured he would be counted on as more of a stay-at-home type who would see few, if any, minutes on the power play. However, after roughly five weeks, Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester sit roughly even in terms of PP points (six, five and five, respectively), as well as PP minutes (3:03, 2:59 and 2:42). It looks like coach Ken Hitchcock is splitting the load fairly evenly between the three players, and that's good news for fantasy owners who are looking for an upgrade at defense, as Bouwmeester is still widely available in about one-third of all Yahoo! Leagues.
Ryan Ellis, D, Nashville: There is an interesting shift currently taking place on the Predators' blue line, and it will be interesting to see how permanent it is. During the Preds' last game - a 5-0 loss to Winnipeg - coach Barry Trotz was reportedly so displeased with the play of rookie Seth Jones during the first period that he removed him from the first defensive pairing with Shea Weber and replaced him with Mattias Ekholm. What does this have to do with Ellis, you ask? If you look at the game stats, another move Trotz made was making Ellis and Roman Josi the top power-play defensive pair for the remainder of the game, with both guys seeing almost five minutes of PP time each, compared to just 2:17 each for Weber and Jones. Now, it's highly doubtful that a guy like Weber will see second-line duty on a regular basis going forward, but it could be Ellis, who had a pair of PP assists the game before, who starts playing alongside him going forward. Don't forget, Ellis had an outstanding junior career in the OHL (314 points over 226 games), but just hasn't been able to put it all together at the NHL level yet. Keep a close eye on the Preds' blue line pairings over the next few games to see which guy makes the cut.
Martin Hanzal, C, Phoenix: After serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Edmonton's Jeff Petry, Hanzal has returned to the lineup with three assists in four games, including two on the power play. During his career, Hanzal has never scored more than 11 PP points in a single season, however with four points in 16 games this year, he's well on his way to setting a new personal record. He continues to skate on the Coyotes' top PP line along with Mike Ribeiro, Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle, averaging roughly 3:30 minutes of PP time per game. He makes for a great early-season waiver-wire acquisition, and given that he's only owned in about 29% of all Yahoo! Leagues, he should be easy to find.
Clarke MacArthur, LW, Ottawa: MacArthur started out the season skating on the Sens' second PP line, but more recently has been moved to the first line alongside Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson. He is averaging almost three minutes per game over the past two weeks, compared to the 1:30-2:00 he was seeing at the start of the season. Offensively, MacArthur has been delivering the goods over his past six games, contributing seven points, including a goal and an assist with the man advantage. MacArthur is not an elite player by any stretch of the imagination, but he's surrounded by them, and sometimes that can yield the same results for second- and third-line players like him. Furthermore, he's only owned in 15% of all Yahoo! Leagues, so he should be an easy pickup in moderately deep formats. Go see if you can land him.