Fantasy Hockey: In Search Of Power Play Production
Of all the categories used in standard Fantasy leagues, contributors of power-play points tend to be the most difficult to find on the waiver wire. Out of the 56 skaters who have registered at least seven power-play points this season, only four are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. For comparison, you can find any of the top six leaders in penalty minutes league wide readily available and owned in 35 percent or fewer leagues. Even a highly sought after category such as goals is easier to improve via the free agent pool than power-play points. This respective rarity makes it imperative for an owner in need of power-play results to acquire any talent who has exhibited success on the man advantage as soon as possible.
Power-play performance also has the ability to positively affect a number of other scoring categories. A point scored on the power play essentially counts as double, as your team is awarded a goal or an assist as well as a power-play point. Power-play goals are especially fruitful, as the requisite shot on goal becomes a third category which is improved during a single play. When you combine the multi-category functionality along with the difficulty to procure on the open market, the power-play point is exposed as perhaps the most valuable standard Fantasy category.
[caption id="attachment_86181" align="alignright" width="394"] Derick Brassard has embraced a new role in New York which is benefiting Fantasy owners. Photo Credit: Victoria Geisz[/caption]
Fortunately, there are several available skaters who have the ability to improve your team’s performance on the power play, yet have gone unnoticed by the general public. Whether due to a recent promotion to their team’s power play, a merit based increase in time on ice during the man advantage, or consistent yet unremarkable production throughout the season, the following six players should be targeted for immediate help in the power-play point department.
Justin Williams RW, Los Angeles Kings (Ownership – 39 percent): Last season’s NHL post-season MVP got off to a slow start this year, but is beginning to heat up with eight points in his last 10 games. The early season struggles exhibited by Williams and many of his teammates can be attributed to three straight shortened off-seasons caused by consecutive trips to the Western Conference finals. His five power-play points on the season may not seem like a lot, but they are good for the team lead and four of them have come in his last eight games. Williams also leads his team in shots on goal with 66, which should begin to translate to more goals, as his shooting percentage of 7.6 percent is well below his career average of 9.2 percent. Grab Williams if he is available in your league for help both on the power play and at even strength.
Marek Zidlicky D, New Jersey Devils (Ownership – 34 percent): Among the Top-15 defensemen in power-play points, only Zidlicky and Columbus Blue Jackets defender Jack Johnson are owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues. Zidlicky’s seven power-play points on the season place him ahead of several defensemen who were likely drafted in the first five rounds of your draft such as Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and P.K. Subban. Zidlicky’s current rate of production has him on pace for 23 power-play points, which would be his highest total since the 2009-10 season with the Minnesota Wild. In addition to his success on the power play, Zidlicky is also second on the Devils with 20 penalty minutes. Someone who can take penalties and also score when opponents take them is worthy of an immediate addition to your roster.
Derick Brassard C, New York Rangers (Ownership – 29 percent): With Brad Richards being relieved of his duties in the offseason, and Derek Stepan missing the first month of the season with a fractured fibula, the Rangers had a major void at the center ice position to start the season. Derick Brassard has answered the challenge in a major way, with a team leading eight power-play points. Those eight points are the most by any skater who is owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues. On pace to shatter last season’s career high of 18 power-play points, Brassard’s position on the Rangers’ top line surrounded by elite talent should enable him to continue this rate of production throughout the year. Brassard has seen results off of the power play as well, with his 12 even strength points trailing only teammates and proven fantasy commodities LW Rick Nash and RW Martin St. Louis. Acquiring Brassard has the potential to be a long term solution for any owner in need of roster depth.
Antoine Vermette C/LW, Arizona Coyotes (Ownership – 24 percent): After a successful 45 point campaign last year, Vermette has taken advantage of a move up his team’s depth chart this season. The 13-year NHL veteran is excelling in his new role as Arizona’s top line center, scoring .65 points per game compared to his .52 career average. The results are especially evident on the power play, where Vermette’s seven points are second on the team, behind only offensive savant D Keith Yandle. While he doesn’t excel in any statistical category, Vermette’s steady production across the board makes him a valuable asset. As a 32-year-old unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Vermette has the ability to squeeze out one more lucrative contract out of his NHL career. This added motivation will keep his effort at a high level, which will in turn maximize the impact he can make on the ice for the Coyotes and Fantasy owners.
Riley Sheahan C, Detroit Red Wings (Ownership – four percent): With the Red Wings loading their top line with proven veteran producers, Sheahan has found a home as the team’s second line center between young, skilled forwards Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. The former first round draft pick is beginning to tap into his potential with seven points in his last nine games, four of which have come via the power play. Already matching his power-play point total from last season, Sheahan will see his numbers continue to rise playing next to “magic man” Pavel Datsyuk on the team’s second power-play unit. Sheahan’s emergence as an offensive threat on the Red Wings makes him a great alternative if the red hot Tatar has already been picked up in your league.
Nathan Gerbe C/LW, Carolina Hurricanes (Ownership – two percent): One of the few bright spots in the bleak Fantasy landscape in Carolina, Gerbe’s recent success on the power play and propensity to fire shots in bunches make him an intriguing target. With four of his five power-play points this season coming in the last 10 games, Gerbe has benefitted from the chemistry on a second unit that also features American Olympian Justin Faulk, and young Swedish forwards Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask. While Lindholm and Rask are likely available in your league, Gerbe is the better choice for managers in need of shots on goal. Gerbe’s 64 shots on goal this season place him third overall on the Hurricanes and ahead of teammate and longtime elite performer C Eric Staal. A shot total that high will lead to increased scoring in the upcoming months, which makes Gerbe a player worth keeping an eye on.
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