Post-Holiday PP Lineup Shuffling
With a multitude of regular PP players currently on the shelf due to injury, here's a look at how some teams have adjusted their lineups to fill the gaps. As far as fantasy hockey goes, this creates opportunities for owners whose players are now seeing more PP time than they were before.
In San Jose, with Logan Couture on the shelf until early February after undergoing surgery on his hand last week, the Sharks have switched their first PP unit from a 4-forward-1-defenseman combination to a 3-and-2 setup. Blueliner Jason Demers has now stepped in to join Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle on the top line, and he has responded with a pair of PP helpers in each of his last two games. Overall, Demers has been on a real tear since just before Christmas, with nine points in 10 games (four coming on the PP). The added PP minutes he will be seeing are even more of an incentive to pick him up in your league if he's not owned already.
In Minnesota, with two of their top PP guys - Zach Parise (foot) and Mikko Koivu (ankle) - both on the shelf, the Wild have had to scramble to cobble together anything even remotely resembling a No. 1 line. So far, the only replacements coach Mike Yeo has been able to come up with are Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, a pair of fresh-faced 21-year-olds who join Jason Pominville, Dany Heatley and Ryan Suter on the top unit. To their credit, the kids have not performed badly; Granlund has six points (two coming on the PP) in nine games since returning from a concussion in late December, while Coyle, who has played in every game since Nov. 5, has 12 points on the season, including a PP goal and assist. Outside of very deep formats, both guys have more value in keeper leagues at this point, but they could be worth a short term addition to your squad while they are currently filling larger roles.
In St. Louis, the Blues were already enjoying a stellar season before their leading scorer and breakout candidate of the year - Alexander Steen - went down with a concussion Dec. 21. However, the Blues have enormous depth at the forward position, and showcased this when they promoted Jaden Schwartz to fill Steen's spot on the first line. Schwartz has gone on an absolute tear since then, with a goal and an assist the night of Steen's injury, plus five goals and two assists in the next six games. While only two of these points have come on the power play, Schwartz continues to see duty on the team's first unit alongside David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, giving him significant fantasy value in most formats.
In Columbus, the Blue Jackets have been without star right-winger Marian Gaborik since mid-November when he went down with yet another injury - this time a sprained knee. Okay, that's not entirely true. Gaborik did return Dec. 21 against the Flyers and played all of two minutes, 45 seconds before suffering a broken collarbone. (The noise you heard around that time was not one of the many frost quakes emanating from the icy winter vortex that hit southern Ontario last month, but the collective groan from fantasy owners everywhere who actually thought Gaborik could stay healthy for any length of time this year.) Anyway, I digress. Until recently, the Jackets had been plugging Cam Atkinson into Gaborik's spot on the first PP unit, but as of Jan. 2, that spot has since been occupied by Nathan Horton, who has returned to the lineup for the first time this year following offseason shoulder surgery. Horton has two points in four games since his return, including a PP goal scored in his first game back. He is averaging roughly 17 minutes per game at the moment, including 2:10 on the power play, where he lines up alongside Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray.
Finally, in Colorado, the Avs lost P.A. Parenteau on Dec. 29 when he suffered an MCL sprain during a game against the Jets. Huge blow for the Avs, as Parenteau scored at nearly a point-per-game clip during his first season in Denver last year, and had racked up 24 points in 38 games so far this year. Prior to his injury, he was playing on a PP line with Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog, however coach Patrick Roy has since reshuffled his lines, moving Nathan MacKinnon over from Matt Duchene's line. In response, MacKinnon has since showed incredible chemistry with Stastny and Landeskog, scoring four PP goals and an assist during the four games since Parenteau went down. As far as Duchene's line is concerned, Jamie McGinn has since been plugged into MacKinnon's spot on the wing, with Ryan O'Reilly manning the right side. The move has taken McGinn's total ice time from 13-15 minutes per night to the 16-18 minute range, and he has four goals and an assist during his last six games, including his first PP goal of the year.