In last week’s column, we looked at 10 players that would be good to trade for in keeper pools.
Those 10 players are having underachieving seasons. One common theme between the skaters, and even those that didn’t make my list, is the fact that their power-play numbers are awful. That got me thinking about the flip side and which players have posted surprising numbers with the man advantage.
One caveat to take consideration is that the power-play numbers for the listed players are all relative. A player with 12 power-play points may not seem that impressive, but maybe going into the season he wasn’t expected to get any. That’s why that player would be on this list.
10. Torey Krug
Let’s all take a second to reflect on how great, and underrated, Krug has been this season. His 28 power-play points is already a career high (and second-highest amongst defensemen). That number is even more impressive when you consider he missed the first three weeks of the campaign with an ankle injury. He’s on a 70-point pace in an 82-game season, and his 46 points are the 10th-highest among defensemen.
We’ve been here before with Chiasson — in 2013-14, he had 14 power-play points with the Dallas Stars — but sometimes it just has to do with opportunity. Getting some power-play time (and playing with elite players) can do wonders for some guys. Chiasson isn’t owned in many leagues as he doesn’t contribute much in any fantasy category, but any fantasy general manager that does roster him has to be pleased with the six power-play goals and 12 power-play points.
8. Neal Pionk
Pionk is lower on the list because he hasn’t been a power-play force since the start of December. However, he was excellent at the beginning of the season. Up until Nov. 21, when he was the Rangers top power-play defenseman with the Rangers, Pionk had 11 power-play points. Since then, he’s had only two. Despite that, and a few healthy scratches, he still leads the Rangers’ defense corps in both goals and assists with the man advantage.
Even though we knew Tkachuk was going to be a superstar, he’s progressing at a much faster rate than many of us anticipated. He’s almost a point-per-game player despite second-line duties, and being on the top power-play unit is really helping his point total. He has 23 power-play points (already besting his career high from last year) and has a great chance of cracking 30.
I’m part of a points-only pool where we have an auction before out draft. Basically, you can bid on any dropped player with a pick from that year’s draft, but the owner who dropped the player gets that pick. I dropped Giordano, and someone bid the 58th overall pick for him. That was a great steal, as Giordano has been phenomenal this year. Part of Giordano’s amazing season has been his power-play production, where he has 21 points, the second highest of his career. His numbers with the man advantage usually fluctuate somewhat, but last year, he had only 10 power-play points even while getting top minutes with the man advantage.
5. Mike Hoffman
Every summer, I list 10 players that could hit 70 points for the first time. I had Hoffman on my list for several years, but he was never able to reach that mark. I decided to give up on him this year with the whole issue going on with the Sens and rumours he was going to be dressing on the Panthers’ third line. Now he’s on pace for 72 points, a large part thanks to his power-play production. His 29 man-advantage points are already a career high and put him in the top 10 in the league.
4. Keith Yandle
Yandle is one of those players who is overlooked somewhat because of his age. He’s 32 years old, but he also has 32 power-play points, which is a career high and leads all defensemen. It’s also the third highest when accounting for forwards as well. Anyone who tells you they were expecting this is lying, considering the NHL’s leading iron man has put up 36 power play points the previous two seasons combined. However, if he were 24 years old, fantasy GMs would be scrambling to try to acquire the Panthers defenseman.
3. Dylan Strome
There are lots of lessons to be learned from this year’s Dylan Strome situation: Don’t give up on a third-overall draft pick just a couple of years after he was selected, and don’t trade him for lesser value if he isn’t succeeding right away. As mentioned with Chiasson, sometimes it’s just a matter of opportunity. It took a trade to Chicago to get him top-six minutes and regular power-play time. His six power-play goals and 15 power-play points may be on the low end of some of the others on this list, but he’s completely outperforming expectations.
It’s probably no coincidence that three of the top five power-play point producers are on the Lightning, but it is surprising that Point is fifth with 31 power-play points. A year ago, Point was on the second power-play unit and had 11 points with the man advantage. J.T. Miller had come over from the Rangers, was on the top power-play unit and had five power-play goals and a power-play assist in 19 games. So obviously Point got switched onto the top unit this year and exploded, just like we all predicted.
How far has Gustafsson come in the last couple of years? Just look at his numbers broken down:
- 2017-18 season: 1:25 power-play minutes per game, three power-play points
- This year up to Nov. 27: 1:57 PP minutes per game, one power-play point
- Since Nov. 27: 3:34 PP per game, 16 power-play points (not including Sunday night’s game).
Gustafsson wasn’t expected to be the team’s number one defenseman, and it seemed like they tried everyone else out first. Duncan Keith hasn’t been a power-play option for a couple of years. Brent Seabrook was tried, but except for a couple of seasons, has never been a power-play guy. Even Henri Jokiharju was given the opportunity, but he wasn’t able to produce either. Not only has Gustafsson taken advantage, but he’s also become the Hawks top defenseman overall, with 38 points in his last 38 games.
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