Eastern Edge: Power-play value for Gustafsson, McAvoy, and Caufield

Brennan Des

2021-06-08

In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll discuss playoff power plays and their influence on fantasy value. In particular, we'll focus on David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy in Boston, as well as Cole Caufield and Erik Gustafsson in Montreal. I apologize for the Habs-centered discussion in recent weeks. Next week I promise to give Carolina, Tampa Bay, and the New York Islanders the attention they deserve.

Boston Bruins

Although he managed a point-per-game pace, the 2021 regular season was relatively underwhelming for David Pastrnak. He scored 20 goals in 48 games, which translates to 34 goals in your typical 82-game season. That pales in comparison to the 56 goals he paced for last year, and the 47-goal pace he posted a year before that. It's worth noting that Pastrnak had hip surgery in September of 2020, which probably disturbed his normal offseason training routine. The recovery process ate into the start of this season and Pastrnak didn't make his debut until January 30th – two weeks after the Bruins played their first game. He was already playing catch-up due to the delayed start, but the condensed schedule probably made it even harder for him to perform at full capacity this year.

Pastrnak's underwhelming goal total also seems to be a result of his reduced productivity with the man advantage. Last season, he led the league with 20 power-play goals through 70 appearances (0.29PPG/game). This year, he posted just six power-play goals through 48 outings (0.13PPG/game). This reduction may be explained – at least in part – by the state of flux caused by Torey Krug's departure. Krug was a prominent piece of Boston's top power-play unit last year, leading the Bruins with 26 assists on the man advantage. Without Krug's playmaking abilities at their disposal, the Bruins had to test out different players on the top unit, including Nick Ritchie, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy. Ritchie couldn't sustain his early success with the man advantage, Grzelcyk was frequently injured, and McAvoy wasn't utilized all that often because he already played so many important defensive minutes. Although the Bruins were still relatively successful with the power play this season, they didn't look like they were firing on all cylinders as they did in previous years.

Fast forward to the playoffs and all those regular season storylines are nothing more than a distant memory. Through 10 playoff games, David Pastrnak has seven goals – three of which were scored with the man advantage. Boston's power-play has been excellent during the 2021 postseason, capitalizing on 10 of its 30 opportunities. The catalyst for this success with the man advantage? A new-look top unit which features