In fantasy competition where power-play production is rewarded at a premium, those who contribute with the extra skater are all the more precious for checking off two categories, at bare minimum, with one scoring swoop. While there are still months and months of season left, with every team having played at least 10 games, we’re starting to get a small whiff of who’s getting it done with the man-advantage and who isn’t.
Pittsburgh and Colorado won’t stink on the power play forever, but we can probably suss out that Arizona and Seattle will. In that early view, here’s a round-up of eight (mostly) under-radar fantasy assets who deserve more attention than presently afforded for their special teams’ prowess or potential.
Victor Olofsson, RW, Buffalo Sabres (33.1%): If harboring any doubt that the Sabres are much better with a healthy Olofsson in the lineup, have a gander at the club’s perfect losing record since the winger hit the injured shelf. Fortunately, reportedly recovering well from an undisclosed soft tissue injury, the top-line forward is expected back in the coming days. (Coach Don Granato has gone on record saying they’re playing it extra cautious with Olofsson, not wanting to “screw” with the progress he’s made.) This is great news for Buffalo’s power play, which is unsurprisingly superior with the 26-year-old included than not. Olofsson still leads his team’s forward corps with three power-play points, despite sitting out the past four games. Guesstimating he might return for next Tuesday’s tilt with the visiting Penguins, if not sooner, I would add the widely available winger in most fantasy competition well before then. It’s also worth noting that he’s marching at a better-than point/game pace altogether.
Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche (56.0%): Burakovsky appears first in line to replace Nathan MacKinnon on the Avs’ top unit while the No. 1 center sits out approximately three weeks with a lower-body injury. While Colorado’s power play has been indisputably terrible to start the year – only the Coyotes’ and Kraken’s respective units have been worse – history suggests that trend is bound to correct itself. Especially with defenseman Cale Makar expected back from injury as soon as Thursday. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog remain reasonably dangerous, even without MacKinnon. If he sticks in that top role, Burakovsky could be in for a rather fruitful rest of November. He’s already been heating up, with two goals and a pair of assists in his past three games. The top-six winger should be spoken for in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues that reward power-play production.
Cole Sillinger, C, Columbus Blue Jackets (1.8%): Drafted 12th overall just a handful of months ago, the 18-year-old (doesn’t turn 19 until next May) is now subbing in for an injured Patrik Laine on Columbus’ top power play. That’s quite a leap. But Sillinger is holding his own, potting three even-strength goals and an assist in only his past two games. It’s only a matter of time before they start to count with the extra skater. Leading all Blue Jackets forwards in shots on goal (3.2/game), this kid clearly isn’t intimidated by his top-line role alongside veteran Jakub Voracek. Snatch him up in deeper fantasy leagues before other managers get wise. Sillinger lit up the USHL with 24 goals and 22 assists in 31 contests with the Sioux Falls Stampede this past season. Clearly he can score.
Matt Duchene, C/RW, Nashville Predators (39.6%): As discussed in this week’s Waiver Watch, Duchene is back to his old scoring tricks on a line and top power play with Mikael Granlund. Shifted to right wing, the veteran forward has five goals and five assists through eight recent contests, including three points with the man-advantage. Humming along at a 26.3% success rate, Nashville’s power play ranks fourth overall. Duchene also leads his club with 40 shots on the season. He’s once again fully fantasy relevant.
Matt Duchene nets goal vs. Flames
Jason Robertson, LW, Dallas Stars (76.9%): The Stars don’t score much, but when they do, it’s often with the man-advantage. Rocking out at 29.0% success rate, Dallas has nine power-play goals for the year (good!), accounting for a third of their total scoring (not so good!). But this team is too skilled to flounder about five-on-five much longer, including their most dangerous line: Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and Robertson. The latter is already pitching in, with five points in six games, including three with the extra skater. It’s only a matter of time before all three erupt. (Hintz, judging from his play and lack of good fortune, appears particularly bound to explode in massive fashion.) I’m pushing it with calling Robertson an under-radar fantasy asset but he’s still available in nearly a quarter of ESPN.com leagues. That’s too big a number.
Tony DeAngelo, D, Carolina Hurricanes (64.8%): Only the Oilers and Ducks have more power-play goals to date, and Anaheim has played three additional games. Unlike in Edmonton, where defenseman Darnell Nurse often eats into Tyson Barrie’s special teams time with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the top-unit gig in Raleigh belongs to DeAngelo alone. Earning five of his 11 points through 11 contests with the extra skater, the former Ranger has made the most of Dougie Hamilton’s old assignment. Never mind power-play production – DeAngelo should be rostered in any and all conventional scoring fantasy leagues.
Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks (45.3%): As mentioned, only the Oilers have more goals with the man-advantage (15) than Anaheim and Fowler has been in on a good number of the Ducks’ tally (13). Boasting seven power-play points, the 29-year-old is tied with teammate Kevin Shattenkirk and Nashville blueliner Roman Josi in leading NHL defensemen. He’s also averaging near 24 minutes/game, shooting the puck, and blocking shots. All to the tune of 2.2 fantasy points/contest in standard competition. It’s silly that this Top-20 blue-line asset is still available in more than half of ESPN.com leagues. Even if/when the Ducks fall back to earth, Fowler should still put up solid enough fantasy numbers.
Kale Clague, D, Los Angeles Kings (1.5%): “Who?” That was from my spouse – an otherwise invested hockey fan – when Clague’s name was mentioned during a recent Kings broadcast. He’s likely not alone in feeling unfamiliar with the 51st overall draft selection (2016), particularly amongst those living on Eastern Time. But we’re all getting to know Clague a little better, as he fills in for an injured Drew Doughty on L.A.’s No. 1 power play. Called up from the Ontario Reign, the 23-year-old already has four assists in six games, including a pair with the extra skater. As long as he sticks on that unit – and Doughty is forecast out until the new year – Clague is likeable as an under-radar asset in deep leagues. Or in Daily Fantasy competition, when the match-up makes sense. Like against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.