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The Man Advantage: King of the Hill

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Hello gentle readers, and welcome back to another FULL season of fantasy hockey power play analysis not like the lockout-shortened version we had last year (fun as it was). As you all know, this column takes a look at the ever-changing NHL power play landscape, and attempts to shed light on any trends that will help you as fantasy owners. This could be in the form of identifying players who should be receiving PP time but aren't, or finding those up-and-coming young studs who are off the radar. Basically, anything that can help you tweak your fantasy lineup so as to outperform your competition.

As in past years, 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 you like, however these projected rankings are really just a gut feel, based on a number of factors, including each team's ranking from last year, and whether they made any significant roster moves over 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. At a minimum, this should give you a feel for how each team's first PP unit is shaping up to start the season. Accurate forecasts are always tough to come up with, but this year I'm calling for Detroit, Chicago and Boston to have the most-improved PP attacks this year, while Calgary should see the sharpest dropoff in production.

Now, discuss among yourselves and enjoy the season.

(LY)PP%RkTY RkTeamProjected 1st PP Unit (new faces in bold)Comment
24.721PITCrosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, LetangWe've said it before, but a full season with Crosby on board makes this a nasty, dangerous squad.
21.632PHILecavalier, Giroux, Hartnell, Streit, TimonenAddition of Lecavalier more than makes up for loss of Briere. Streit will bolster back end.
26.813WSHOvechkin, Backstrom, Brouwer, Erat, GreenSomeone will need to step up and replace Ribeiro, who led the league last year with 21 PP assists.
20.754MTLPacioretty, Plekanec, Gionta, Subban, MarkovIt all starts and ends with Subban & Markov - best PP blue line tandem in the NHL.
18.4155DETZetterberg, Datsyuk, Alfredsson, Franzen, KronwallLook for Alfredsson to blend in nicely with this Swede-heavy lineup.
19.5126STLStewart, Steen, Berglund, Pietrangelo, ShattenkirkTons of depth here, with a possible second line of Oshie, Roy, Backes, Tarasenko, Bouwmeester.
20.177SJSThornton, Marleau, Couture, Pavelski, BoyleSame observation as last year..."if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
21.548ANAPerry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Fowler, BeaucheminLosing Ryan and Souray will hurt. Silfverberg will also be given a look, possibly to sub for the aging Selanne.
20.189EDMEberle, Hall, Yakupov, Perron, SchultzWill start the season without their top two centers in Gagner and RNH, but plenty of additional talent.
19.91010LAKKopitar, Carter, Richards, Doughty, MuzzinDustin Brown (hamstring) questionable for start of season, but still a very deep and skilled squad otherwise.
16.71911CHISharp, Toews, Kane, Keith, LeddyKane and Keith were the only bright spots last year. They will get more help this time around.
20.4612FLAFleischmann, Huberdeau, Versteeg, Campbell, KulikovBoyes (12 PP assists last season) would be a major boost, if he signs.
15.92013OTTRyan, Spezza, Michalek, Karlsson, CorvoLoss of Gonchar will hurt, but Ryan is a huge addition up front. If Spezza can stay healthy, watch out.
18.71414TORKessel, Kadri, Lupul, Phaneuf, GardinerPlenty of spare parts to fashion a decent 2nd line, including JVR, Bozak, Clarkson, Raymond.
17.91615MINParise, Koivu, Pominville, Heatley, SuterExpect a slight improvement thanks to a full season with Pominville.
171816DALBenn, Seguin, Whitney, Gonchar, GoligoskiMiddle of the pack squad should improve with the addition of Gonchar on the back end plus Seguin up front.
191317TBLPurcell, Stamkos, St. Louis, Hedman, CarleLoaded up front, weak on the back end. Need a proven PP quarterback to make jump to elite squad.
14.82618BOSLucic, Bergeron, Krejci, Chara, HamiltonNow with Iginla and Eriksson in the fold, lots of extra parts to move around if things don't click right away. Expect improvement.
15.82219VAND Sedin, H Sedin, Kesler, Burrows, EdlerLook for Sedins to rebound after a dismal season last year. But overall this squad lacks depth.
15.92120NJDElias, Zajac, Jagr, Henrique, ZidlickyHard to replace a guy like Kovalchuk, but additions of Jagr, Ryder and Clowe provide more depth and balance.
14.62721CARSemin, E. Staal, Tlusty, Skinner, FaulkLoss of Pitkanen on the back end will be felt. Time for young guys like Faulk and Ryan Murphy to step up.
152422COLLandeskog, Stastny, Duchene, Parenteau, BarrieExcellent young talent. Once all the pieces start coming together, look out. MacKinnon will factor in before seasons end.
15.72323NYRNash, Stepan, Callahan, Richards, Del ZottoStill trying to find guys who can find chemistry with Richards. Gaborik wasn't the answer, and so far Nash isn't either.
19.91124NYIMoulson, Tavares, Okposo, Visnovsky, MacDonaldBig holes with the loss of Boyes and Streit. Tavares can't do it all.
17.11725NSHHornqvist, Cullen, Wilson, Weber, JosiCullen is a proven PP performer who will help, but this is still a defense-first squad.
14.82526PHXRibeiro, Hanzal, Vrbata, Yandle, Ekman-LarssonEven with Ribeiro, hard to see where the offense is going to come from. Yandle and OEK solid on the blue line.
20927CGYCammalleri, Glencross, Hudler, Giordano, WidemanWelcome to the post-Iginla era. Losses of Tanguay and Bouwmeester will also be felt.
13.83028WPGLadd, Little, Kane, Byfuglien, EnstromSame old same old in Winnipeg. Aside from Big Buff on the blueline, not much else going on.
14.22829CBJUmberger, Dubinsky, Gaborik, Wisniewski, JohnsonInteresting to see if Gaborik and Dubinsky can re-invigorate this team. The pieces are all there, but questions remain.
14.12930BUFEnnis, Hodgson, Vanek, Myers, EhrhoffGone are the days when Buffalo was a true offensive force. Ehrhoff is not a true QB for the back end.