More PP Injury Replacements
A few items to note, now that we are roughly at the quarter-pole in this latest NHL regular season.
In Tampa Bay, with All-Star center Steven Stamkos out with a broken leg, the Lightning are using Valtteri Filppula in his spot centering the top power play line. In the six games since Stamkos' injury, Filppula has been averaging almost four minutes on the PP, and three of his four points over that stretch (3G, 1A) have come with the man advantage. He's currently lining up alongside Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell on the top unit, along with second-year player Tyler Johnson. Johnson has been quite effective at even strength lately, with a goal and three assists over his last four games, but he hasn't registered a PP point in almost a month.
In Denver, with Matt Duchene out with an oblique injury, Avs coach Patrick Roy has shuffled his power play lines, promoting John Mitchell to the top line alongside P.A. Parenteau, Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon. In the three games since Duchene went down, Mitchell has four points - two goals and two assists - with one of those goals coming on the PP. The problem with counting on any of the Avs for PP production is, Coach Roy rolls his two lines fairly evenly, so even the top guys like Parenteau, MacKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog are only averaging roughly 2:30 minutes per game. Also of note, following his demotion to AHL Lake Erie, defenseman Tyson Barrie is currently back with the big club, and seeing regular minutes on the team's second PP unit.
In Los Angeles, 21-year-old Tyler Toffoli was recalled from AHL Manchester earlier this month, shortly after Jeff Carter went down with a broken foot. In the 10 games since his recall, Toffoli has been excellent, producing four goals and four assists. Only two of those points have come with the man advantage, but he's seeing plenty of opportunity on the Kings' second unit, averaging roughly two minutes per game alongside Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown.
In Calgary, blueliner Kris Russell is currently the Flames' main PP defenseman with Mark Giordano out with a broken ankle. Russell is currently seeing 3:50 per game with the man advantage, almost double the amount of PP ice time he was getting last season (2:11 per game). Furthermore, he's on a bit of a tear of late, with a goal and three assists in his last six games, with two of those points (1G, 1A) coming on the PP. Overall, Russell is slowly turning himself into a very decent fantasy blue line option, with 12 points on the season - ranking him ahead of more recognizable names such as Shea Weber (11 pts), Tobias Enstrom (9 pts) and Dion Phaneuf (9 pts).
In Carolina, Jeff Skinner's return from an upper-body injury couldn't have come at a better time, as he has been inserted onto the top PP line in place of Alexander Semin, who went down Nov. 16 with a concussion. In fact, the Canes' top PP line has undergone a major overhaul recently, with Jiri Tlusty also having been jettisoned in favor of rookie Elias Lindholm. Lindholm's presence in the Canes' lineup was greatly anticipated this season after he was selected fifth overall in this year's draft, however from a fantasy perspective he's been less than reliable, having been plagued by an assortment of injuries this far, as well as a stint at AHL Charlotte which caused him to miss seven games. We'll need to start seeing him play more consistent minutes before we can start recommending him, however keep in mind this is a kid who scored 30 points in 48 games in the SEL last season, so the talent is there.
In Columbus, the loss of Marian Gaborik (sprained knee) has left a big hole for the Blue Jackets to fill. For the time being, that hole is being filled by Nick Foligno, who is currently playing on the Jackets' top PP line alongside Ryan Johansen and R.J. Umberger. Over the last six games since Gaborik's injury, Foligno's PP ice time has gone from almost nothing to 2:44 per game on average. On Nov. 20 against the Flames, Foligno played a season-high 20:59, including 3:26 with the extra attacker. He only has a single PP assist to his name thus far, but with Gaborik expected to be out until late December, Foligno should continue to see opportunities to produce.
In Sunrise, 30-year old Scottie Upshall is having somewhat of a career resurgence, with 10 points in his last 12 games for the Panthers, including a pair of PP assists. Until Oct. 27, Upshall was not seeing any real PP time at all, but was then promoted to the second unit alongside Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes. Furthermore it's interesting to note that in the Panthers' most recent game (Nov. 22 against Calgary), the line of Upshall, Barkov and Boyes was used as the first PP unit, ahead of the line consisting of Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Fleischmann and Nick Bjugstad. For his part, Upshall played a season-high 21:57 during that game, including 4:16 on the power play. At this point, Upshall makes for a decent waiver-wire acquisition in deeper formats. Grab him for his ability to produce at even strength, and whatever he chips in on the PP will be gravy.