We are only six days into the NHL season, and while it is way too early to overreact, we can already have a look at power-play time on ice and see if there are any trends that start to emerge.
Of course, much can change. A coach could be trying something for three games, and by next weekend, things could shift completely. For those with weekly add-ons though, it could be worth the risk to pick up players who are getting unexpected minutes with the man advantage and see if they can stick it out for a while. On the flip side, it’s a good time to see if there are any players to start expressing a little concern about.
Below are 10 players whose PP ice time has been a surprise — both positive and negative — so far this year.
10. Adrian Kempe
I wrote this before last night’s game, hence why Kempe is ranked so low. However, in game one, he made quite the impression in L.A., skating on the top power-play unit with Ilya Kovalchuk, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. At even strength, Kempe is skating on the third line with the likes of Trevor Lewis, Nate Thompson and Kyle Clifford. While Kempe doesn’t normally have much value in fantasy, if he can stay — and produce — on that first power-play unit, he could be worth a pickup in deep leagues.
9. Tyson Jost
Jost’s average power-play ice time has gone up each year (and last season, it went up every quarter), but now he’s found himself on that coveted number one power play. He spent part of last season there, so this shouldn’t have come as too much a surprise, but you never know what coaches will do. Last year, Jost wasn’t even a power-play option at the start of the season. He should be able to top the 22 points he had last year if he can stay on that top unit.
8. Sam Bennett
Bennett’s power-play ice time is noticeable simply because he’s not getting any. The last few years, he’s at least been on the second unit and averaged anywhere from 1:14 to 1:58 per game. This year, he’s averaged only four seconds per game. He’s never been a power-play producer, but this is a further indication that he’s in the doghouse in Calgary (his overall ice time is down from 14:24 last year to 7:54 this year).
7. Nick Leddy
During the summer months, Ryan Pulock was a sexy pick to have a breakout season, with many hoping that he was going to get more power-play time in New York. However, that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Instead, Leddy has been on the ice for about 65 per cent of the Islanders’ man-advantage minutes. Leddy is still a must-own in points-only pools, especially with that usage.
There was a debate in the offseason over who was going to man the Flyers top power-play unit. Would it be Wayne Simmonds, who lost the job last year while battling seemingly every injury known to man? Newly-signed James Van Riemsdyk? Travis Konecny, who had the job at the end of last season? Or even Nolan Patrick, the heir to Simmonds’ power-play style? In the end, it was Simmonds reclaiming his spot, pushing the other three to the second unit.
5. Evander Kane
Keep in mind that Kane’s role could quickly change with Joe Thornton going on the IR for at least a week, but so far, Kane has found himself on the second power-play unit. Probably not ideal for a guy two games into a contract will pay him $7 million a year for seven years. It is important to note that last year, he was on the top power play with the Sharks after he was traded from Buffalo, but that was with Thornton out for the year and no Erik Karlsson. With No. 65 forcing the Sharks to go with three forwards, two defensemen for the top power play, that explains why Kane is the odd man out.
4. Jason Spezza
New Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery said this summer that he planned to rotate Spezza onto the top power-play unit throughout the season. That should have alerted fantasy owners that Spezza might have been worth a fantasy pickup. He’s started the season on the top unit (but still on the third line at even strength) and picked up two power-play assists in two games to start the season. The Dallas PP is clicking early, so that increase the odds of Spezza staying in that spot.
3. Milan Lucic
It’s only been one game, but Lucic playing with Connor McDavid with the man advantage should be big news. It should also put a small dent into Ty Rattie projections, at least for a while. McDavid played 4:17 with the man advantage on Saturday. Lucic was on the ice for 3:13 of that time, while Rattie was at 52 seconds. Lucic scored a power-play goal in that game, so he should stay there for a while as long as he is producing.
Many had Hamilton pegged to be the Canes top power-play option after he was traded from Calgary this summer, but it hasn’t turned out that way. While Hamilton has slowly been getting more power-play time, he’s still on the second power-play unit and is averaging a total of 1:28 in three games. Justin Faulk, on the other hand, has twice the power-play minutes at 2:54 per game, but the two remain tied in man-advantage points with two.
1. Tyler Bozak
The Blues power play was anemic last season (the second-worst in the league) so it should be no surprise the team is going with a brand-new top power-play unit. In fact, three of the five people on the top group were brought in during the summer (Bozak, Ryan O’Reilly and Pat Maroon). Bozak might be the biggest surprise, playing almost 66 per cent of the Blues power play time so far (almost five minutes a game).
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