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The Man Advantage: Upward Trends

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

This week, we look at a handful of players who are seeing more power-play time than they are used to -- and delivering the goods. These are guys whose average PP minutes in the last two weeks are significantly higher than their season averages -- in some cases they could be filling a gap due to a teammate getting injured or demoted -- and who are responding with a surge in PP scoring. In other words, players who have some scoring upside now, and who might still be available as a late-season waiver-wire pickup in your fantasy league. Go see if you can pick up any of these guys for cheap.

Charlie Coyle, RW, MIN:
Coyle has been one of those steady-Eddie performers the last couple years, with 35 and 30 points, respectively, last season and the season before. Now, however, he's managed to get himself to the 30-point plateau after just 57 games, so he has a really good shot at posting the first 40-plus point season of his young career. He's even managed to secure himself a spot on the first PP unit recently, where he's taken over from Thomas Vanek, who has been bumped to the second line. The switch has also resulted in a demotion for Jason Zucker who hasn't seen any meaningful PP time since early December. Coyle is now skating with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, and averaging 4:15 in PP time over his past seven games, well above his season average of just 1:19. And he's rattled off a PP goal and an assist over that span. In fact, his overall scoring is up in the past month or so -- eight points in his last 11 games, including seven goals -- so the PP scoring is really just the tip of the iceberg. He makes for a good pickup in medium to deeper formats, considering he's available in about 90 percent of all Yahoo leagues.

Robby Fabbri, LW, STL:
Fabbri was the Blues' top pick in the 2014 draft and came into this season as the team's top prospect, so expectations were understandably high coming out of training camp. Thus far, with 25 points in 54 games, it's safe to say Fabbri has not disappointed. What's more, he's been putting up very respectable numbers while averaging less than 13 minutes per game playing on the third line. And he's been a particularly strong contributor on the man-advantage lately, with two goals and three assists in his last six games. Not surprisingly, his average PP minutes have seen a jump - about two minutes per game of late, compared to his season average of about 1:22. For now, coach Ken Hitchcock is content to let Fabbri skate on the Blues' second PP line with Jori Lehtera and Troy Brouwer, saying that Fabbri's ‘quick stick' is part of his recent success. "When you're a smart player and you've got a quick stick, you're always going to have the right angles," Hitchcock said. "[Fabbri]'s definitely got that. He's able to change his angle, find open people, pass pucks through people. That's why, for me, he's always going to be a point-producing player because when you have that quick of stick and that type of vision, you're always going to be a threat to score."

Reid Boucher, RW, NJD:
Until recently, Boucher was spending a large chunk of the season playing for AHL Albany, where he was doing quite well, with 29 points in 32 games for the River Rats. However, the rookie was recalled in mid-January thanks to injuries to veterans Michael Cammalleri (hand), Patrik Elias (knee) and Jiri Tlusty (wrist). In 13 games since his recall, he has six points (3G, 3A), including a goal and two helpers on the power play. He's averaging just under two minutes per game over that stretch, including a whopping 5:01 on Feb. 16 versus the Flyers. On Feb. 9 against the Oilers, Boucher practically won the game single-handedly after assisting on Adam Henrique's PP goal in the first period, then notching his own PP marker in the third that stood up as the game-winner. After the game, coach John Hynes said of Boucher, "We have confidence in him there [on the power play]. If he continues to play the right way, with his talent he's going to continue to put himself in scoring positions and produce offense."

Mathew Dumba, D, MIN:
Dumba went into the All-Star break about as stone-cold as you can get. He laid nothing but goose eggs in January, with zero points in 13 games, and he had just 11 points in 36 games prior to that. However, he has since come out of the break smoking hot, with eight points in nine games, with six of those coming on the power play (3G, 3A). As you might have guessed, his PP minutes have gone up the past two weeks, to an average of roughly 4.5 minutes per game, well above his season average of 1:54. And while the start of Dumba's hot streak doesn't exactly coincide with the recent coaching change that saw Mike Yeo dismissed in favour of John Torchettii on Feb. 13, the Wild are 3-0 under their new bench boss, and Dumba was a key contributor in their latest win on Feb. 18, notching a PP goal and adding an even-strength assist. It's worth noting that Torchetti is familiar with several of the players on the Wild's roster, including Dumba, from back when he was head coach of Minnesota's AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild. So there's a comfort level with the players and their new coach that has obviously made the transition somewhat easier for the team. For now, the 21-year-old Dumba continues to skate as the sole blue liner on the Wild's second power play unit, along with a forward line of Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Thomas Vanek.

Nick Leddy, D, NYI:
Leddy is another guy who was frustrating the heck out of fantasy owners at the start of the season, but has now turned things around in a big way. Coming off his career-high 37 points from last year, Leddy started this season with just nine points -- all assists -- in his first 35 games. The turning point came at the end of December when Leddy registered three more assists to close out 2015, then scored his first goal of the season Jan. 2 against the Penguins, and hasn't looked back since. In 19 games since then, he's rattled off 15 points, including three goals and five helpers with the man advantage. To be fair, Leddy has been a pretty big part of the Isles' power play all season, especially in the absence of Johnny Boychuk who just recently returned after missing about a month with a shoulder injury. However, Boychuk's return hasn't meant any reduction in PP time for Leddy, who has been averaging roughly 3:47 over the past two weeks, about a minute higher than his season average. And this includes a whopping 6:13 on Feb. 19 against the Devils. At the moment, Leddy is playing the first PP unit for the Isles, a line that includes John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Anders Lee.