While power-play scoring really elevates a player’s fantasy profile, there is something to be said for getting the points at even strength. The points, of course, count the same (minus the bonus), but it also provides an excellent baseline for a potential increase in fantasy production if the player can get more power-play opportunities or the player’s team can improve its power-play performance.
With that in mind, who is getting it done chiefly at even strength? And is there a chance they can start adding more on the advantage?
Kyle Connor, W, Winnipeg Jets (17 of 22 points at even strength): The Jets offense is not where it should be on paper — especially on an individual fantasy level. Only Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois have managed better than 2.0 fantasy points per game among the forwards. Part of the problem has to be set at the feet of the power play, where the Jets have converted on 18.9% of chances. That’s not a bad rate, but it doesn’t compare to last season’s 23.0% with the same personnel. The point I want to argue is that if Connor is a top-30 fantasy player while the power play isn’t at its full potential, he could be a top-15 player if it is.
Alex Killorn, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (16 of 17 points at even strength): While there is an argument to be made that Killorn should do more scoring with Nikita Kucherov and now Brayden Point on the shelf, the opposite may be true. Killorn often plays the role as the fourth forward on the Bolts’ power play, even when everyone is healthy. In a little more than a month or so, the Lightning will have Kucherov and Point back, with Killorn in position to start adding even more scoring to his repertoire when the power play is at full tilt.
Jaden Schwartz, W, Seattle Kraken (14 of 16 points at even strength): The Kraken power play looks pretty average, maybe even below average when looking at the whole season. Sure enough, they sit 21st in the league for conversion percentage. But if we only look at the past three weeks, there’s a gem of a statistic here: The Kraken have the best power play in the league since Nov. 5. Their seven goals on 10 opportunities is a conversion of 33.3%, edging out the Oilers 32.3% for top spot. Schwartz is at the center of everything offensive from the Kraken, so expect a burst if this trend holds.
Jake Guentzel, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (13 of 16 points at even strength): I would consider it great news that Guentzel has managed to hold firm at 2.4 fantasy points per game while missing his power-play production. Sidney Crosby is back now and Evgeni Malkin‘s return is on the distant horizon. Guentzel’s power-play production is going to pick up from the current doldrums. The Penguins do not have the 30th ranked power play in the league on paper, but that’s where they sit right now with just 12.1% conversion. Buy low on Guentzel.
Fantasy Forecaster: Nov. 29 to Dec. 5
Only one team has the shortchanged two-game schedule on tap, and it’s the struggling Dallas Stars. You can probably park them on the bench for alternative starting options.
Among the four-game teams — Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning — the Sharks and Flames are the healthiest and set to dominate. That’s where you should start looking for fringe players to receive a one-week stint on your team.
Calgary Flames: While the Capitals’ trio of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson have more goals, the Flames top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm have an argument to be declared the league’s best line to date. The Caps top line has played 214 minutes at 5-on-5, firing 92 shots, scoring 16 goals and allowing eight against. The Flames’ leaders have played 232 minutes, taken 140 shots, scored 14 goals and only allowed one against. It’s not like there is a thin edge of the wedge to get your hands on one of them if they aren’t already on your team, but perhaps the trade market exists for some managers with Gaudreau, especially if they have memories of being let down in the previous two seasons.
As for the week, the Flames take on the Penguins, then visit the Kings, Ducks and Golden Knights. It’s definitely a week in which you start Rasmus Andersson as the power-play quarterback, despite his borderline 1.6 fantasy points per game. It also puts Mikael Backlund in play. And, of course, keep rolling Andrew Mangiapane while he’s hot.
Calgary break the 2-2 draw by scoring three unanswered goals in the final period to beat Chicago 5-2.
Anaheim Ducks: Take note that Adam Henrique is banged up, but that shouldn’t stop you from rolling Troy Terry and Ryan Getzlaf. Terry and Getzlaf played more minutes together before they were given Henrique as a linemate than they have with him. The scoring was still there (they just got scored on a lot more than with Henrique as a balancing presence). Terry, Getzlaf and someone other than Henrique played 126 minutes at 5-on-5, scoring six goals while allowing nine. Terry, Getzlaf and Henrique have played 115 minutes, scoring five goals while allowing two. Sonny Milano is filling in for Henrique on the line, but it shouldn’t matter to your plans.
Rickard Rakell has two points in two games back from injury. He has also been collecting points this season, independently of the Terry line. He’s also getting power-play chances.
Arizona Coyotes: Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel have settled in as a pair and quietly picked up the pace a little bit — arguably enough for a fantasy hockey roster. In total, the pair has played 47 minutes together at 5-on-5, scoring six goals and allowing only one. That’s not just Coyotes-good, that’s genuinely a great rate of production. Three of those six goals have been with Travis Boyd as the line’s third member. Seven of Keller’s 13 points this season have come in the past four games.
Valeri Nichushkin, W, Colorado Avalanche: Even if Nathan MacKinnon makes his way back to the lineup next week, J.T. Compher is out for longer — and it’s Compher that Nichushkin is skating in place of on the second line. He has six points in six games in this expanded role.
Pavel Francouz, G, Colorado Avalanche: Now being ruled out on a game-by-game basis, Francouz looks close to a return. Darcy Kuemper has been fine as the Avs goaltender, but that’s where there is some wiggle room: He’s been fine. Not “great” or “outstanding,” but “fine.” If Francouz can pick up where he left off in the 2019-20 season, there is a decent split of games to be earned here.
Evgeni Malkin, F, Pittsburgh Penguins: We could still be a month away, but probably not more than that now that rumblings have started about Malkin making a return to the Pens lineup. Now is the time to check if you play in one of the 20% of leagues in which he remains available.
Sean Durzi, D, Los Angeles Kings: After giving Kale Clague first crack at the power play with little to show for it, Durzi was called up from the AHL to be the team’s quarterback. The 23-year-old had two power-play points in his NHL debut, so it’s safe to say he’s getting a longer look while Drew Doughty remains sidelined.
Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach and Patrick Kane have put up goals comparable to lines that have twice as many minutes at 5-on-5 this season. Keep a close eye on Dach potentially putting up a fantasy relevant pace.
Matthew Boldy is expected to make his season debut in the AHL after getting hurt in the preseason with the Minnesota Wild. For a team struggling to find a scoring-line arrangement that can be consistently successful, it’s certainly worth noting that their top prospect is in action and just a phone call away. Of course, it’s likely we’d have to see an injury for some room to be made, as the team is already struggling to find a way to not have Victor Rask in the press box (even though he might have the best chemistry with Kirill Kaprizov).