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The Man Advantage: Random PP Observations

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Random PP Observations

In Nashville, with Shea Weber now out with a concussion, the Preds have recalled minor-league phenom Ryan Ellis to quarterback the team's power play alongside Ryan Suter. Ellis has yet to post a point since being recalled, but he's logging heavy minutes - 5:31 and 3:59, respectively, in the two games he's played thus far. Keep in mind that Ellis put up some impressive numbers last season (his last year of junior), posting 101 points in just 58 games. Furthermore, in his debut game against Detroit earlier this week, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock - who watches Nicklas Lidstrom play on a nightly basis and knows a talented defenseman when he sees one - had this to say about the burgeoning young blueliner: "The kid they brought up is as good as there is in hockey on the power play," Babcock said. "He doesn't have the bomb that Weber has, but he has all those other things - he's very deceptive, he has ice water in his veins."

In Florida, the Panthers received a proverbial lump of coal in their stocking just before Christmas in the form of Stephen Weiss going down with a concussion. Since then, the team has promoted winger Tomas Kopecky to the top PP unit alongside Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. With a 19.6% success ratio, the Panthers are still among the NHL's top 10 teams in terms of PP production, so Kopecky might be worth owning in deeper formats if you have room on your roster.

In Calgary, the Flames are one of the hottest power play teams over the last couple of weeks, running at a 26% clip (12 goals in their last 13 games). This has been due in no small part to the efforts of - wait for it - Olli Jokinen. Yes, the big Finnish centerman who's destroyed many a fantasy owner's expectations over the last few seasons has really turned it on of late, with three PP goals and four helpers over those 13 games. He's currently skating on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross and, much as we hate to say it, has to be considered a must-start in all formats right now.

Since being traded from Anaheim to New Jersey earlier this month, Kurtis Foster has gone from being a spare part with the Ducks to PP quarterback with the Devils. In the seven games he's played since arriving in Newark, Foster has averaged four minutes per night on the PP, and he's racked up three assists alongside Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. Don't forget, it wasn't too long ago that Foster posted career PP numbers - 26 points with Tampa Bay back in 2009-10, so he certainly has the skill set to post big numbers once he's in the right situation (like now).

In Phoenix, sophomore blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson has quietly been bumped from the Coyotes' second PP unit to the first. Over his last six games, he's seeing roughly 2:33 per game, well above his season average of 1:42. Furthermore, he's got two assists to show for it. Phoenix is currently fourth-last in the NHL in PP efficiency (13.2%), but part of the problem is they draw the fewest penalties - to date, the Coyotes have seen just 114 PP opportunities (3.1 per game), compared to league-leading Philadelphia at 162 man-advantage situations (4.6 per game). Either way, Ekman-Larsson should continue to get his opportunities, considering Keith Yandle is the only other offensively-gifted defenseman the team has.

In Winnipeg, if Tobias Enstrom has fallen off your fantasy radar this year, no one could really blame you considering he missed 20 games (Nov. 3 - Dec. 15) with a broken collarbone. However, the kid is back and producing regularly. In five games since his return, he has three assists - all on the power play. He's currently playing alongside Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov and Blake Wheeler on the Jets' top PP unit, so get him back in your fantasy rotation ASAP if you've been holding off.