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The Man Advantage: Power Play Injury Replacements

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Power Play Injury Replacements

Hi folks, and welcome back to another edition of The Man Advantage, where we try and keep you abreast of the latest developments in the ever-changing world of NHL power play squads. This week, we look at those players who are receiving more time on the PP than they usually would, as a result of serving as a replacement for an injured teammate. Remember, in the world of fantasy hockey, knowing that a guy on your squad is receiving extra ice time, especially with the extra attacker, could be enough reason to move him from your bench to your active roster.

Nail Yakupov RW, Ryan Jones LW, Edmonton: On October 19 following a game against Ottawa, Taylor Hall was placed on injured reserved with a knee injury and will be expected to miss four weeks. At the time of the injury, Hall was being deployed regularly on the team's first PP unit along with Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron and Justin Schultz, with a second unit of Mark Arcobello, Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth and Anton Belov. In the games following the Hall injury, Yakupov has since been moved to the first line along with Eberle, RNH, Perron and Schultz, while Ryan Jones has been inserted into Yakupov's spot on the second line. It's interesting to note that, while Yakupov was already seeing a fair amount of PP minutes each game (3:02 on average), it's Jones who could be the real beneficiary here. He was only seeing roughly four minutes of total ice time per game previously, with no PP time, whereas now his minutes have jumped to roughly 13-14 minutes per game with 1-2 minutes on the PP. He's even scored two goals (albeit at even strength) in his last three games, so his fantasy value has definitely taken a tick upwards.

Andrew MacDonald D, NY Islanders: Anyone who follows the Isles knows that when it comes to their power play, they run with a very top-heavy first unit and not much else after that. Right from the start of the season, the main guys have been John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Lubomir Visnovsky. On October 19 against Carolina, Visnovsky left the game during the first period and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Enter MacDonald, who was averaging roughly 25 minutes per night, with only about a minute of that coming on the PP. In three games following Visnovsky's injury, however, his minutes have jumped to about 30 per game with about 4-5 minutes with the extra attacker, and he has tallied a pair of assists (one of them on the PP) over that span. With Visnovsky still out indefinitely, MacDonald could be a good source of fantasy production going forward.

Derrick Brassard C, Chris Kreider LW, NY Rangers: With two of their best forwards currently out with injuries (Rick Nash, concussion; Ryan Callahan, broken thumb), the sad-sack Rangers are second-last in the Eastern Conference with a below-average power play that currently ranks 19th out of 30 teams with a 16.7% success rate. However, the silver lining for fantasy owners is that a couple of players are benefiting from the Nash and Callahan injuries with extra ice time on the power play. At the start of the season, the Rangers' first PP unit tended to consist of Nash and Callahan along with Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto. Now, however, Derrick Brassard is seeing regular duty on the first line and has contributed pair of PP helpers along with an extra-strength goal so far this month. Meanwhile, Chris Kreider has been recalled from AHL Hartford and is now not only skating on the first PP unit, but is also skating on the first line at even strength with Richards and Stepan. In his first game out, Kreider saw 19 minutes of ice time with 2:31 coming on the power play, and registered an even-strength assist.

Chris Kunitz LW, Pittsburgh: When James Neal, who was third among Pittsburgh forwards in PP ice time per game last season (3:59 per game), didn't make it through his first game this season after suffering an upper-body injury Oct 3 against New Jersey, coach Dan Bylsma began experimenting with different players in Neal's spot on the first PP unit along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. At first, Jussi Jokinen got a look, but before long it was Kunitz, who usually skates on the Pens' second line. Since then, Kunitz has seen his total ice time increase from 16-17 minutes per night with 2-3 minutes on the PP, to over 21 minutes per night with 4-5 on the PP, with over seven minutes in two of his last three games alone. Kunitz currently sits fourth in PP scoring for the Pens with a goal and two helpers and represents a prime source of PP point production going forward.

Seth Jones D, Nashville: Normally one would not expect a 19-year-old rookie defenseman to land on his team's top blue line pairing alongside a stud player like Shea Weber, but that is exactly the situation Jones now finds himself in. When fellow blueliner Roman Josi went down with a concussion Oct 4 against Colorado, coach Barry Trotz wasted little time in giving Jones a look in Josi's spot with Weber, and he's never looked back. "We really got a special player in Seth Jones," Trotz said following the Preds' recent 2-1 win over Montreal in which Jones scored the game-winner. "We saw what he can do [tonight]. He played big minutes, scored the winning goal. He's earning his own stripes." Jones is currently averaging 24 minutes of ice time per night with roughly three minutes coming with the man advantage, and has a PP goal plus an assist to show for his efforts.