2019-20 Fantasy Hockey: Top 10 power-play units
Evan Berofsky previews the NHL's top 10 power-play units heading into the 2019-20 campaign.
A significant percentage of NHL goals are scored on the man advantage, which is why power-play points are such a crucial category in Fantasy hockey.
You'll probably be familiar with the top NHL man-advantage units based on recent performance, but other underachievers are set to improve thanks to offseason additions. Let's take a look at who qualifies for the Top 10:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (2018/19 ranking: 1)
It's hard to argue with the defending Presidents' Trophy winners sitting atop of this list. Just look at Tampa Bay's forwards, starting with three of the NHL's top-six power-play producers from 2018-19 in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. The Bolts may have traded J.T. Miller, but the trio of Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat can provide sufficient supplementary stats. Victor Hedman leads the way on defense, but don't sleep on Mikhail Sergachev. They can also rely on a veteran like Ryan McDonagh to stabilize the second unit and fill in the stat sheet, while new signee Kevin Shattenkirk represents a low-cost, high-reward option if he can chip in a few points.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (2018/19 ranking: 8)
Like Tampa, Toronto possesses a loaded cast of talent up front. No one enjoys playing against John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner (assuming he re-signs). William Nylander will be out to prove he can rediscover his full-season form in 2019-20, while Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen will be keen to build upon last year's numbers. The Leafs also bolstered their cause with Alex Kerfoot, who came from Colorado with Tyson Barrie and his 25 power-play points. Morgan Rielly also finally produced top-tier totals last season. Based on previous results, Jake Muzzin can also chip in if required.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (2018/19 ranking: 5)
Even though Phil Kessel has departed to Arizona, the Pens should stay solid while up a man – and the pecking order obviously starts with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist will complement the two superstars on the first unit. Alex Galchenyuk, who came back in the Kessel deal, is no slouch when it comes to his offensive abilities. Nick Bjugstad and Dominik Simon round out Pittsburgh's man-advantage candidates at forward. Kris Letang continues to be a dominant force when available, and to a lesser extent, the same goes for Justin Schultz. Barring injury or a major slump for the top two, Marcus Pettersson won't make much of a Fantasy impression on the man advantage this season.
4. Colorado Avalanche (2018/19 ranking: 7)
Any side that can boast the trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog should be considered among the league's best. The youth, represented by J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost, will be hungry to perform, and new recruits Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky won't be shy to lend a hand. Colorado won't have Tyson Barrie in 2019-20, but the D will survive. Samuel Girard has already displayed some skill, and blue-chip hotshots Cale Makar and 2019 fourth-overall selection Bowen Byram appear ready to contribute.
5. Winnipeg Jets (2018/19 ranking: 4)
A disappointing early playoff exit will spur the Jets to improve, and they should be able to do so with the same strong forward contingent in 2019-20. Blake Wheeler led the club with 33 power-play points, but Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor all went for at least 18. Nikolaj Ehlers succumbed to injury, but he's set to make a full recovery, and his attacking skills cannot be underestimated. Winnipeg may have lost Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, but Dustin Byfuglien represents one of the league's premier pointmen. Josh Morrissey also took a significant step up last year, and should log more man-advantage minutes this season.
6. Boston Bruins (2018/19 ranking: 3)
Boston was close to taking another title last season, but the power play can't be blamed for coming one step short. A sizable chunk of their offense hinges on the "Big Three" of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, but a few others can be counted on to provide assistance. David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk notched double-digit man-advantage figures last year, while Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen have already proven their worth with fewer minutes. Torey Krug represents the lead defenseman, but Charlie McAvoy is quickly catching up, and Matt Grzelcyk has looked solid in an expanding role.
7. San Jose Sharks (2018/19 ranking: 6)
The Sharks waved goodbye to their top non-D power-play performer in Joe Pavelski this offseason, but there's still plenty of juice left. Logan Couture, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl should make for a formidable first unit, and I bet you didn't know that Kevin Labanc racked up 20 power-play points last year. Evander Kane knows how to find the net, and the return of Joe Thornton seems inevitable. Possessing a deadly defender duo like Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson sure helps to hide some of San Jose's back-end issues. After those two, there's a steep dropoff to Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and then nobody else worthy of consideration.
8. NY Rangers (2018/19 ranking: 17)
By winning the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes and the right to draft Kaapo Kakko, the Rangers promise significant improvement in 2019-20. In addition to those gifted forwards, there's also the upward-trending Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider (although the latter is rumored to become a cap casualty). Ryan Strome discovered new life in New York last season, but he'll face stiff special-teams competition from the younger Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil this year. Based on his massive contract, Jacob Trouba should automatically be installed as the #1 defender. Anthony DeAngelo also showed short spurts of attacking acumen last season, and ex-Harvard standout Adam Fox should get his shot on the NHL stage.
9. St. Louis Blues (2018/19 ranking: 10)
The Blues earned their first Stanley Cup last year based on great team play and outstanding goaltending, but a lot needs to be said about their significantly improved man-advantage unit as well. Most of the credit has to go to Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly, who brought in his prior power-play experience to solidify St. Louis' effort. There will be no arguments regarding Vladimir Tarasenko's awesome display, Brayden Schenn's talent, or Jaden Schwartz's sizzling postseason run, either. David Perron may slip this season, but that shouldn't concern the Blues, as veteran Tyler Bozak and future star Robert Thomas should find their form. Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko work hard at both ends, but Vince Dunn will need to work on his defensive game in order to receive more special-teams responsibility this campaign.
10. New Jersey Devils (2018/19 ranking: 21)
The Devils will try to emulate the Blues' strategy of bolstering their offense with summer supplements, although things may not click right away. Bringing in elite blueliner P.K. Subban, first-overall pick Jack Hughes, Russian super scorer Nikita Gusev and net-front agitator Wayne Simmonds is bound to boost New Jersey's cause, but Taylor Hall's return to health may prove to be the Devils' biggest gain. Don't forget to include talented youngster Nico Hischier with savvy veterans Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. Toss in rising D-man Will Butcher while working Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson into the mix, too.
(Next in line: Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights)
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