Today we look to unearth a few fantasy hockey sleepers
Teams often generate a huge percent of their offense on the man advantage. Teams like Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia generated over 25% of their goals on the power play last year. While some other teams don’t generate near that level of offense on the man advantage, teams in the NHL average a fraction above 45 power play goals a season and with many leagues counting Power Play Points (PPP), having time on the first power play can be a huge asset to a player’s fantasy value. However, lots of these players go underrated and there are many players with low own percentages that can be a bench player and can help win the stat for the week, or generate some extra points depending on your settings.
Note: All Own Percentage stats are from Yahoo and each player selected plays on the first Power Play unit as of October 12th, 2017. Power Play units can change throughout the year so always keep an eye out.
Elias Lindholm: C,RW (CAR) – 18% Own Percentage
Elias Lindholm continues to be one of the league’s most underrated players solely because of the team he plays for. Not only does Lindholm take some faceoff draws as a dual eligible RW and gets a good amount of hits but also plays on the Hurricanes first power play unit and first even-strength line with Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho. Last year, Lindholm also generated 11 points on the power play with 2 goals and 9 assists. While he only got 45 points in 72 games last year (extrapolated to a 51 point full season), Lindholm is still only 22 and has quite the high ceiling for a former 5th overall pick in 2013. In a deep FW league, Lindholm is a must own.
Vladislav Namestnikov: C,LW (TBL) – 34% Own Percentage
Vladislav Namestnikov is not only looking to be one of the best low owned power-play producers this year but is being put in every situation to succeed. Namestnikov is being trusted on the first line LW with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov as well as the first line power play this year, and he’s produced nicely to start the season with 4 points in 4 games. Namestnikov can also be trusted to get hits and faceoff wins as he has already got 13 hits in only 4 games. Last year, Namestnikov only generated 28 points in 74 games last season with 6 of them coming on the power play (3 goals, 3 assists). Like Lindholm, Namestnikov is still young at 24 years old and with the ice-time he is being given this season, one could expect lots of versatility from him this season.
Pavel Zacha: C,LW (NJD) – 13% Own Percentage
The plan for Pavel Zacha is to have him be a #1 center, if not a #2 behind Nico Hischier and this season is going to be a very good one to prove whether he is worthy of that title. This season, Zacha is centering the first even-strength line between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri as well as centering the first line power play. While Zacha only scored 20 points in 70 games last season, the majority of his points actually came on the man advantage, registering 5 goals and 8 assists. With Zacha playing the majority of his time at center this year, one could also expect a large amount of faceoff wins this year (even though his faceoff percentage is relatively low at a career 40.5%) and could also be very useful as he is eligible to be played at LW. At 20 years of age, the sky’s the limit on a young Devils team.
Clayton Keller: C,LW (ARI) – 31% Own Percentage
Clayton Keller is arguably the best candidate for rookie of the year as he’s not only on the first line RW beside Max Domi and Derek Stepan but is also on the first line power play. Fantasy wise, he’s been playing RW all season long and could be gifted a C/LW/RW eligibility by Yahoo anytime in the near future. Keller has already proved his presence in the NHL by collecting 4 points in 4 games thus far. While scoring and shots are the only fantasy stat Keller brings to the table, his position versatility can be very useful as a bench player and could easily hit 60+ points provided he plays a full season.
Will Butcher: D (NJD) – 31% Own Percentage
This list would be useless if only forwards made the cut. Will Butcher makes this list complete. As previously mentioned with Pavel Zacha, the Devils are clearly in a rebuilding state and any young player who performs will be given the ice time. This is the case with Butcher. Already to start the season, Butcher has amassed 5 assists in 3 games with 3 of those assists coming on the power play while only being given an average of 14:56 minutes of ice time per game. Butcher continues to remain on the third line defensive pairing with Dalton Prout, however, don’t be surprised to see him move up in the depth chart with time. Butcher has also amassed 3 blocks so far in the season and with his very limited ice time, a 100 block season is definitely not out of the question. While his production is not bound to continue at this rate, his production could help him move up in the lineup ultimately resulting in more consistent production down the stretch.