This week, we look at existing and prospective power-play performers on all 31 NHL teams who are rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, and whether they sport genuine fantasy potential or not.
Anaheim Ducks: In the eight games since bouncing out of the infirmary with a healed shoulder, defenseman Hampus Lindholm (rostered in 23.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues) has collected two goals and two assists, including two helpers with the man advantage. Anchoring the Ducks’ top power play, the 23-year-old leads his squad in overall ice time (23:46), busting through the half-hour mark on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings. As long as fellow blueliner Cam Fowler continues to recuperate from a knee injury (his earliest projected return would be the first week of December), such a prominent role is Lindholm’s to lose.
Arizona Coyotes: While Clayton Keller is justifiably attracting the meat of attention for his early-season eruption of 11 goals and six assists, the 19-year-old isn’t the only Coyotes rookie carving out a role for himself in his first full season. Alongside linemate Christian Dvorak, 20-year-old Christian Fischer (rostered in 0.5 percent of ESPN.com leagues) is quietly solidifying his own position with the club as a top-six winger and special teams’ asset. Averaging 1:41 with the man advantage, Fischer already has two power-play goals on the season, a number sure to increase as he gains valuable experience. By no means a must-add in re-draft leagues right now, Fischer, along with Dvorak, has the wherewithal to serve as an enduring dynasty asset.
Boston Bruins: Rookie Danton Heinen (2.5 percent) is presently filling in on a second scoring line and top power play for the banged-up Bruins, with forwards Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes and Ryan Spooner out hurt. Ripping off eight points in four AHL games this fall, the 22-year-old was recalled from the minors for the second time on Oct. 26. Averaging 2:19 with the extra skater, he has seven points in 10 games, including two with the man advantage and one short-handed goal. At minimum, Heinen presents as a tempting daily fantasy dark-horse while Marchand, Krejci and Co. recover on the sidelines.
Buffalo Sabres: Off to a sluggish start with just one goal and three helpers, Kyle Okposo (44.3 percent) hollers buy low. Following the lockout year, Okposo has averaged 0.83 points per game (and 0.69 PPG this past season, his first with the Sabres). Despite this unproductive start, the physical winger remains a fixture on Buffalo’s No. 1 power play. Only forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel are averaging more time with the man advantage. If possible, snag Okposo before he emerges from this unsavory and uncharacteristic slump.
Calgary Flames: Veteran Kris Versteeg (4.1 percent) has always been a bit of a fantasy puzzler. Prone to produce in fits and bursts, the feisty forward has also often wiled away in a depth role, if not up in the press box. In his current Calgary digs, the 31-year-old is playing the point on the No. 1 power play, while otherwise seeing minimal minutes on the fourth line. In fact, nearly a third of Versteeg’s total ice time is spent with the extra skater. No wonder he’s notched three of his five total points with the man advantage. Still, until he rises the ranks at even strength or tears off on one of his random scoring sprees, the well-traveled winger has little value in conventional leagues.
Carolina Hurricanes: The four power-play points collected by Justin Williams (26.4 percent) strike as all the more impressive considering the Hurricanes have only six goals altogether with the man advantage. The veteran winger also leads the team with 11 total points in 13 games. One the league’s streakier players, the 36-year-old brings a lot to the fantasy table when he is hot.
Chicago Blackhawks: Don’t look now, but defenseman Cody Franson (2.0 percent) has fallen into favor with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Following a rough adjustment period with his newest club, Franson has apparently come out the other side as a top-four defenseman and power-play anchor, at least for now. Often revered for his rocket of a right-handed shot, the bounced-around blueliner has contributed sporadically throughout his up-and-down NHL career. Roster the towering 30-year-old as an injury plug or DFS asset while he remains in Quenneville’s good books.
Colorado Avalanche: Following the merciful conclusion to Matt Duchene‘s painfully drawn-out send off, we can get a better sense of who’s to fill the gaping hole in the middle up front. Forward Alexander Kerfoot (1.8 percent) appears first in line, but if the 23-year-old Harvard grad blows his shot with the Avalanche’s top power play and as the No. 2 center behind Nathan MacKinnon, fellow rookie Tyson Jost (lower-body injury) should sub right in when healthy. Keep an eye on the situation.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Currently serving on the secondary unit with Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson, winger Oliver Bjorkstrand (7.5 percent) is responsible for two of his club’s (admittedly measly) five power-play goals on the year. As long as the 22-year-old keeps his feet moving, he won’t lack quality ice time, even while skating on a third line with center Brandon Dubinsky. One of the more productive Columbus forwards of late, Bjorkstrand has five goals and two assists in his past nine games.
Dallas Stars: Young forward Devin Shore (1.2 percent) is making the most of his precious power-play opportunities: Five of the sophomore’s seven assists have counted with the extra skater. Averaging 2:21 minutes a game with the man advantage, the 2012 second-round draft selection is also earning the chance to compete on a scoring line with center Tyler Seguin. At minimum, dynasty owners are advised to mark Shore on their respective watch lists. Flying slightly under radar, the 23-year-old collected 13 goals and 20 helpers in his 2016-17 rookie campaign.
Detroit Red Wings: Six games in following a resolved contract standoff with the Red Wings, Andreas Athanasiou (9.1 percent) is fixed on a top power play with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. Frankly, we’d like to see more of this young, speedy trio at even strength, a combo already used by Detroit coach Jeff Blashill. While Larkin and Mantha are largely spoken for in ESPN.com fantasy leagues, Athanasiou is very available. Playing on a one-year deal will only heap on additional incentive for the 23-year-old to break out in his third NHL campaign.
Edmonton Oilers: Interested exclusively in power-play production? Veteran Mark Letestu (2.2 percent) only scores with the extra skater. At least that’s been the case this season. Competing on an Oilers’ No. 1 unit with Connor McDavid, Letestu has three points with the man advantage, averaging 3:21 minutes per game. In fact, only Edmonton’s captain sees more time (3:31) amongst the club’s forwards. Mind you, unless the Oilers’ power play improves significantly — currently ranked 26th at 14.0 percent — or Letestu rises the ranks at even strength, the 32-year-old forward leaves much to be desired in most fantasy leagues.
Florida Panthers: Outside of the Panthers’ top unit of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov, Vincent Trocheck and defenseman Aaron Ekblad, only Nick Bjugstad (2.9 percent) impresses as a marginal fantasy asset, and that’s largely due to his even-strength slot adjacent Trocheck. Still, just a couple of assists on the year with the secondary unit, playing with the likes of Jared McCann and Jamie McGinn, underwhelms altogether. There are more enticing fantasy options than Bjugstad elsewhere.
Los Angeles Kings: Enjoying increased minutes on a unit with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, 21-year-old Adrian Kempe (34.2 percent) won’t be long for potting his first power-play goal of the season. As it is, Kempe is already checking several fantasy boxes with seven goals and four assists (plus-11), while forging potent chemistry with Pearson and Toffoli at even strength. Keeper-league owners, in particular, should be all over the 2014 first-round draft selection across the board.
Montreal Canadiens: A darling in the analytics crowd for his ability to generate scoring chances, Artturi Lehkonen (2.2 percent) remains on the Canadiens’ top power play, despite not contributing a single point from that vantage to date. Fret not, it’ll come. Also, a promising spot on what could evolve into a dynamite scoring line with Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk only adds to the sophomore’s appeal. Fantasy owners with a particular lean to invest in well-rounded talent are advised to give Lehkonen an extra long look.
Minnesota Wild: Sitting second to Eric Staal in overall scoring, Jason Zucker (21.8 percent) outright leads the Wild with three power-play goals. Minnesota’s best offensive player in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 25-year-old winger can anticipate an even larger share of special teams’ minutes moving forward. As it stands, a top-line and secondary powerplay-play unit role alongside Staal isn’t too shabby either. Displaying a knack for putting the puck in the net these past three seasons, a 30-goal breakout campaign from Zucker isn’t yet out of the question.
Nashville Predators: Forward Craig Smith (1.9 percent) has three goals in his past six games, including two with the man advantage. And now the veteran winger is poised to benefit from playing with center Kyle Turris at even strength and on the power play. If you’re ever to jump back on Smith’s fantasy bandwagon, there’s no time like the present. This is advice for owners in deeper leagues only, though.
New Jersey Devils: Mired in a slump at present, Adam Henrique (45.6 percent) remains a viable fantasy commodity in most leagues. Not only does Henrique lead all New Jersey forwards in average ice-time, but the versatile skater is still centering a top power play with Taylor Hall. The former 30-goal scorer will snap out of it soon enough, so consider targeting him as a buy-low candidate in the meanwhile.
New York Islanders: Rolling off of Tuesday’s edition of Line Changes, we continue to champion the early fireworks from Mathew Barzal (35.7 percent). Competing at even strength with Jordan Eberle and on a No. 1 power play with John Tavares, the 20-year-old rookie is on a tear with three points and 11 assists in 10 games, including four power-play points in his past four contests. Only Tavares and Anders Lee are averaging more ice time among forwards with the man advantage.
New York Rangers: Boosted to the Rangers’ No. 1 line and power play, Pavel Buchnevich (35.4 percent) has six goals and four assists in his past eight contests, including four with the man advantage. Only top scorer Mika Zibanejad has contributed more with the extra skater in 2017-18, with 10 points in contrast to Buchnevich’s seven. In just his second NHL year, the 22-year-old former KHL pro is earning the chance to make a real impact within New York’s offense.
Ottawa Senators: As long as he sticks on the Senators’ No. 1 power play, Alex Burrows (1.1 percent) remains an enticing dark-horse asset in daily fantasy competition, especially with trade import Matt Duchene now projected to join that unit. Prone to run hot or cold, Burrows has scored in each of his past two contests, including once with the extra skater.
Philadelphia Flyers: Averaging nearly three minutes per night (2:59) with the extra skater, veteran Valtteri Filppula (13 percent) has three power-play goals and one assist on the season. Still, you have to credit that production to before the 33-year-old fell to the secondary unit, replaced by Sean Couturier on the top option with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Co. Still, Filppula is worth rostering in deeper leagues as the Flyers’ second-line center between Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny at even strength. And keep an eye on Couturier’s health, as Filppula could again move up if injury strikes.
Pittsburgh Penguins: From a Penguins squad riddled with popular fantasy assets, forward Bryan Rust (23.6 percent) alone qualifies as a viable power-play performer who is rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues. However, despite seeing minutes with the secondary unit and after a relatively inspired start to the season, Rust hasn’t registered a point in eight games. Until he busts out of his current slump, the 25-year-old doesn’t merit much fantasy consideration at all.
San Jose Sharks: Defenseman Tim Heed (12.4 percent) has just as many points as Brent Burns — seven, including three with the extra skater in Heed’s case — despite seeing considerably less ice time and playing two fewer games. That is partially why the 26-year-old NHL newbie (former Swedish pro) is now a member of the Sharks’ No. 1 power play, along with the reigning Norris Trophy winner. And unlike Burns, Heed is widely available throughout the ESPN.com fantasy universe.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Sobotka (14.8 percent) should have more than a goose egg to show for his power-play efforts to date. Averaging 1:49 with a secondary unit that also includes forward Paul Stastny and defenseman Colton Parayko isn’t a bum gig. On the upside, Sobotka has scored at even strength in three of his past five games, suggesting tangible success with the man advantage can’t be far off. The 30-year-old second-line winger is worth consideration in deeper leagues.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Emerging as a productive young talent, Yanni Gourde (11.4 percent) is establishing himself as a legitimate scoring threat on the Lightning’s No. 2 scoring line and power play, racking up four goals and five assists in his past eight games. While the top unit with the league’s second-leading power play (28.8 percent) garners the lion’s share of scoring success, Gourde’s group – including Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and rookie standout defenseman Mikhail Sergachev – packs a potent punch. The 25-year-old winger merits serious thought in both re-draft and keeper leagues.
Toronto Maple Leafs: After launching 2017-18 on the fourth line, forward Connor Brown (9.7 percent) fought his way up the Maple Leafs’ depth chart into a more prominent role and stayed there. Four goals and an assist in his past five games ensures the 23-year-old sophomore, who scored 20 goals in his rookie season, isn’t up for demotion anytime soon. Averaging 1:42 on a secondary power play and surrounded by a wealth of scoring talent in Toronto, Brown is all but assured additional points with the man advantage in the not-too-distant future. The Leafs’ power play is humming along at an impressive 24.1 percent.
Vancouver Canucks: Never to be written off entirely in deeper fantasy leagues, Thomas Vanek (11.3) has quietly collected two goals and three assists (plus-three), including two points with the man advantage, in his past six games. His embedded position in front of the opposition’s net on the No. 1 power play promises more of the same from the 33-year-old veteran. While Vanek’s golden scoring years are undoubtedly behind him, he still has some fantasy use, particularly when on one of his inspired rolls.
Vegas Golden Knights: Have a guess at who leads the Golden Knights in power-play points. The answer is defenseman Colin Miller (34.7 percent), the Bruins’ 2012 fifth-round draft selection who, before landing in Vegas, amassed all of 29 points since making his NHL debut in 2015. Now the 25-year-old has nine points in 15 games, including seven while anchoring the power play. Since we’re no longer in the business of questioning the Knights’ unanticipated early success, also give Brad Hunt a fantasy look. Competing alongside Miller with the man advantage, Hunt (11.9 percent) has seven assists in eight games, including five with the extra skater.
Washington Capitals: Oddly enough, Washington’s top unit is responsible for all of the squad’s nine power play goals to date. So, considering the extreme unlikelihood of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie or defenseman John Carlson languishing unclaimed on your waiver wire, we’ll have a look outside the box. Forward Lars Eller (5.4 percent) offers fair potential. The third-line centerman is creating noise, collecting three goals and four assists in six recent games. Plus, he’s making a concerted effort to shoot more often. Considering the Capitals’ power play is only running at a rate of 18 percent effectiveness, the second unit is obviously earning their share of opportunities. It’s only a matter of time before they get going and/or benefit from some bounces.
Winnipeg Jets: Anchoring the Jets’ second power play, Tyler Myers (13.3 percent) has a goal and assist with the extra skater in his most recent three games, and four points in his past five contests altogether. After missing nearly all of 2016-17 with a hip injury, the former Sabre is now in his perceived prime at 27 years of age and appears physically and mentally fit. That’s a refreshing change after several volatile seasons in Buffalo. From ESPN.com’s current shallow pool of enticing blue-line fantasy prospects, Myers offers real promise.