Top 10 PP TOI Surprises of the Past Month

by Tom Collins on January 13, 2020

 

Even if your league doesn’t count power-play points, you should still be looking at that stat and trying to find players who are getting time with the man advantage.

After all, and this may sound obvious, but these players are in a better position to succeed and pick up points. Below are 10 players who have surprisingly been getting top power-play minutes over the last month or so. Not all of them have been having success with the man advantage, but as long as they are in that slot, they deserve a closer look in your league.

 

10. Kevin Stenlund

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Columbus rookie forward Stenlund, but keep his name in mind over the next few weeks as a just in case. He made his season debut in mid-December, and immediately was getting some secondary man-advantage minutes. However, on Dec. 29, he was put on the top power-play unit, where’s he played six of the next eight games. The Blue Jackets are so banged up that they are trying anyone everywhere.

 

9. Drake Batherson

It’s a very small sample size, but Batherson looks to be doing much better this time around than he did in his first two games of the season. Since being recalled from the AHL at the start of 2020, he has averaged almost three minutes of power-play time in four games and is on the top unit. Now the bad news. Ottawa is the worst power-play team in the league, one of the worst in quite a few years and Anthony Duclair and Thomas Chabot lead the team in power-play points with seven. It’s great that Batherson is there, but it’s going to be tough for him to be picking up those points.

 

8. Jakub Vrana

This is lower down the list because it's only been one game so far, but the Capitals made a significant move to their power-play on the weekend as the Capitals once feared power play has sputtered over the last month. From the start of the season until Nov. 30, Washington had the fifth-best power play.  Since Dec. 1, Washington is 30th. Heading into the weekend, the Capitals swapped Evgeni Kuznetsov off the top line, replacing him with Vrana for a good portion of the game Saturday against the Devils. It's tough to say whether this will stick, but Vrana did score a power-play marker in that game

 

7. Filip Forsberg

Like Washington, Nashville also decided to make a big move with their top power-play unit. A season ago, Nashville had the worst power-play in the league, and one of the worst since the 2005 lockout. This season, they rank 24th, but are still struggling. Going into Sunday’s action, Forsberg was bumped down to the second unit with Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith and Kyle Turris. That is not an ideal situation. Replacing Forsberg on the top line was Calle Jarnkrok, which obviously gives him a big boost. Nashville only had one opportunity in Saturday’s game and didn’t convert, but they did win, so it will be interesting to see how long this experiment lasts.

 

6. Erik Haula

Haula’s stats may not seem as impressive, but you have to remember that he’s missed a good chunk of the season with a knee injury. He started the season on the top unit, but played only two of 21 games between Nov. 5 to Dec. 19. During that time, Carolina had the league’s fourth-best power play mark, so it was kind of surprising that Haula went right back onto that top line when he returned on Dec. 21. It’s not looking like anything will be able to move him out of that spot.  

 

5. Alex Killorn

Since nearly the start of November, Killorn has been a staple on Tampa’s top unit and he has nine power-play points in the 30 games since. That has given him 12 on the season, already a career high. Something to keep in mind is that Tampa isn’t scared to shake up the power-play. A year ago, the team was rocking and the team took J.T. Miller off the top line. Killorn could spend the rest of the season on the top unit, or he could just as quickly get dropped in favour of someone else. Regardless, he’s there’s for now, so if he’s still available in your league (he was available in 29 per cent of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday), then he’s worth a pickup.

 

4. Filip Zadina

Right around the New Year, the Detroit coaching staff had a brilliant idea to start giving Zadina more minutes. Instead of averaging around 12-13 minutes game, he’s up around 15:30 minutes per game going into Sunday’s game (although he played only 12 minutes in that game). They also moved Zadina up to the top power-play unit. Since Dec. 31, Zadina has averaged 4:01 power-play minutes per game, up from 2:10 average in his 15 games before that.

 

3. Marcus Johansson

With both Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson out of the lineup with injuries, the Sabres needed to turn to someone else to line up with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart (the team has been going with three forwards and two defensemen on both units). Enter Johansson to fill that role. In the last 13 Sabres games, Johansson has seen 3:34 per night of power-play time, which is almost all of the man-advantage minutes for the Sabres. He also has three power-play points in that time.

 

2. Tyson Barrie

Since Sheldon Keefe took over as coach of Toronto, he’s flipped the power-play defensemen with the man advantage. Barrie has been the main man since then, averaging 2:27 of power-play time per night compared to 1:15 for Morgan Rielly (going into Sunday’s game). You would think that this would have been a big boon to Barrie, as Toronto ranks first in the league in power-play efficiency since Keefe took over. That hasn’t been the case, as he has just four power-play points in those 23 games. Meanwhile, Rielly has only two.  

 

1. Neal Pionk

The Jets came into the season having lost Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba on the back end, and Josh Morrisey was expected to be the team's number one power-play guy. That happened until mid-November, when he lost the spot. Pionk took over, and don’t count on him losing that spot anymore. Since Nov. 27, he has 12 power-play points, highest among defensemen and only one behind Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. Meanwhile, the Jets have the third-best power play since that date.