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The Man Advantage: Season-Opening Power Play Rankings

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The Man Advantage
Mark McLarney, RotoWire Hockey Editor

Welcome back to another season as we take a look at the ever-changing world of NHL power play units. I like to kick off each season with a quick look at each team's top line, how they ranked overall last season and how they stack up this year. Feel free to agree or disagree, as my projected rankings are really just a gut feel, based on each team's ranking last year and whether they made any significant additions/subtractions in the offseason. Beginning next article, we will start to look at individual players a little more closely - i.e., who's getting PP time, who isn't, and which guys make for good fantasy selections based on their PP prospects.

For now, check out my projected rankings below. And for what it's worth, last year's predictions didn't go so well in some cases. I called for Calgary and Pittsburgh to be the most improved PP teams in the league, with New Jersey and Toronto seeing the biggest dropoffs. I wasn't far off on the Leafs, who fell 14 spots, but the Devils actually improved, the Flames dropped five spots and the Pens pretty much stayed where they were.

This year, I'll stick my neck out again and say the sharpest declines will be seen by Carolina and Minnesota, with Montreal coming back to earth a little. (Actually, this might be more of a case of other teams getting significantly better while the Habs hold steady.)  On the other end, I'm calling for the most improved PP teams to be the Oilers, Maple Leafs and Canucks.

Now, discuss amongst yourselves and enjoy the season.

Last Year This
PP% Rank Year Team Projected 1st PP Unit  (new faces in bold) Comment
25.2 1 1 WSH Knuble, Backstrom, Semin, Ovechkin, Green Still loaded, and rookie Carlson on the 2nd unit should make them even better.
20.9 6 2 VAN D Sedin, H Sedin, Kesler, Edler, Ehrhoff Went from 17th to 6th in PP efficiency last season. More to come with a full season from Daniel?
21.4 3 3 PHI Briere, Richards, Carter, Timonen, Pronger Impressive depth with Hartnell, Giroux and JVR anchoring second line.
20.8 7 4 LAK Smyth, Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Johnson Scored 10 times in six games versus Canucks in last year's playoffs. Stay tuned for more.
21.0 4 5 SJS Heatley, Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Boyle Ah, the regular season. No need to worry about the Sharks' PP flaming out for another six months.
19.2 9 6 DET Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Rafalski Dropped off slightly last year with all those injuries. Should return to form this season.
21.8 2 7 MTL Gionta, Plekanec, Cammalleri, Spacek, Subban Dreadful at home last season (16.9%) but awesome on the road (28.3%). Go figure.
21.0 5 8 ANA Perry, Koivu, Selanne, Getzlaf, Visnovsky Visnovsky's no Niedermayer, but makes for a decent replacement. Otherwise solid.
19.3 8 9 TBL Stamkos, Lecavailer, St. Louis, Gagne, Hedman Stamkos led the league last year in PPG's with 24. Gagne could wind up being his new setup man.
18.7 11 10 NJD Elias, Arnott, Parise, Kovalchuk, Greene Kovalchuk double shifted last year and still only scored two PPG's in 27 games. Chemistry with newcomer Arnott sorely needed.
17.3 18 11 EDM Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, Foster, Whitney Hemsky's back and healthy, and watching the kids work their magic should be fun. Could be most improved PP in the league this year.
18.6 12 12 DAL Morrow, Ribeiro, Eriksson, Robidas, Richards Will miss Modano's skill and experience on the point, but talented youngsters Benn and Neal primed for a breakout.
17.7 16 13 CHI Kane, Toews, Hossa, Keith, Campbell Cup champs won't have big Byfuglien camped in front of the net this year, but may not need him with so many snipers still onboard.
18.3 13 14 NYR Frolov, Prospal, Gaborik, Rozsival, Del Zotto Gaborik the only real PP scoring threat the Rangers have, thus they are relatively easy to shut down.
19.1 10 15 MIN Brunette, Koivu, Havlat, Zidlicky, Cullen Lots of setup men, but only real sniper is Brunette. However, Cullen a proven point man and should help on the back end.
18.2 14 16 CBJ Huselius, Umberger, Nash, Tyutin, Stralman Intriguing second-line potential with youngsters Filatov and Voracek.
18.1 15 17 COL Hejduk, Stastny, Duchene, Stewart, Liles Mueller's heavy shot from the left side will be missed, but still plenty of depth. Watch David Jones this year.
17.6 17 18 BUF Vanek, Connolly, Roy, Pominville, Myers No real upgrades in the offseason probably means another season of average production. QB duties fully in Myers' hands now.
16.9 21 19 OTT Alfredsson, Spezza, Kovalev, Gonchar, Karlsson For Gonchar, another team, another PP unit to whip into shape. They'll be better but not by much.
16.9 20 20 STL Perron, Backes, Steen, McDonald, Johnson Changing of the guard with graybeards Kariya and Tkachuk gone. The kids should be all right.
17.2 19 21 PIT Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Martin, Goligoski Replacing Gonchar's 24 PPA's will be tough. Expecting big things from Goligoski / Martin / Letang.
16.1 25 22 ATL Antropov, Peverley, Byfuglien, Enstrom, Bogosian Should improve this year. Byfuglien will be a difference-maker and youngsters Bergfors and Kane will get a chance to shine.
16.0 26 23 CGY Bourque, Jokinen, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Giordano Greater depth with Jokinen and Tanguay, but a proven QB still needed. Can't possibly be any worse than last year. (Can they?)
16.6 23 24 BOS Horton, Krejci, Recchi, Bergeron, Chara B's already woeful PP attack now missing Savard, but addition of Horton means new front-of-net presence.
14.0 30 25 TOR Versteeg, Bozak, Kessel, Kaberle, Phaneuf In Phaneuf, Leafs have first legit one-timer from the point since McCabe. Versteeg also a solid upgrade.
16.4 24 26 NSH Hornqvist, Lombardi, Erat, Weber, Suter Biggest weapon is Weber's blast from the point. Forwards should just get him the puck and get out of the way.
14.6 28 27 PHX Whitney, Wolski, Doan, Aucoin, Yandle Aside from Doan, newcomer Whitney the best thing going for Yotes' pop-gun attack. Bryzgalov will still need to carry this team.
16.9 22 28 CAR Ruutu, Staal, Jokinen, Pitkanen, Corvo Departure of Whitney and his 19 pts leaves a very large hole. Staal and Jokinen the only remaining bright lights.
14.2 29 29 FLA Booth, Weiss, Stillman, McCabe, Wideman No real improvement in sight for these bottom-feeders. Loss of Horton is really going to hurt them.
16.0 27 30 NYI Moulson, Tavares, Hunter, Bailey, Wisniewski Losing Okposo and Streit leaves huge holes to fill. Tavares will need to step up big time.