NHL Power Plays 1/13/17

Friday night is a seven-game slate in the NHL, which is a change from what has been the norm for most of this season. Keep in mind that three of the teams playing tonight, the Rangers, Toronto, and Arizona, are coming off their league-mandated bye weeks, and none of them have played a game since Saturday.

Note: All prices are for Fantasy Draft.

Center

Jared McCann (Florida) – $6,400

Injuries have been a problem for the Panthers all season, and the recent wave forced a call-up of McCann by Florida last week. Over his last two games, he has been moved to the top line alongside Vincent Trocheck and Jaromir Jagr. Incidentally, of his 21 games played, those two games have resulted in his highest ice time totals, averaging over 17 minutes in those contests after not cracking 15 minutes in any other game this year.

Hosting the Islanders tonight is a prime match-up for Florida, as the team from Brooklyn gives up 10.2 adjusted scoring chances every 60 minutes at five-on-five, per Corsica, which is second-worst in the league. McCann is a good way to save a lot of cap space while using a player in a prime situation.

Mitch Marner (Toronto) – $12,100

The last home game for the Rangers was against Buffalo a little over a week ago. In that game, Derek Stepan matched up an even 50 percent of his shifts against the then-top line for the Sabres. The assumption tonight is that Stepan’s line will match up against either of Auston Matthews’s line, or Nazem Kadri’s line. This is important because with Stepan’s line not on the ice this year, again per Corsica, the Rangers give up over 10 scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five. That is horrific.

Marner has proven himself to be a supremely-skilled player in the first half being on pace for over 60 points as a rookie, and his line should get some easy matchups tonight. For those that don’t want to pay up for Auston Matthews, settling for Marner should be the target.

Winger

Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg) – $12,500

The lineup for the Jets was scrambled a bit in their last game, a 7-4 loss to Montréal. This was done because the team had been trailing all game; the coach was looking for a spark. I suspect they’ll go back to their original lineup combination which included Blake Wheeler on the second line with Mathieu Perreault and Bryan Little.

Winnipeg’s opponent, Arizona, is probably the worst team in the league. Defensively, they give up 9.1 adjusted scoring chances per 60 minutes when Oliver Ekman-Larsson is on the ice. When he’s off the ice, that number grows to 11.8. The Swedish defenseman should skate mostly against Winnipeg’s top line, allowing Wheeler and company to take advantage of great depth matchups.

Michael Frolik (Calgary) – $10,300

There is a good argument that Frolik skates on one of the elite lines in the NHL. Along with Mikael Backlund and rookie Matthew Tkachuk, they lead the league in controlling shot attempts relative to their team as a line, again per Corsica. Frolik himself is on pace for his highest goal and point totals of his career.

Calgary hosts the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, with the Devils coming off a game on Thursday in Edmonton. New Jersey is a middling team with regards to scoring chances allowed, but with their back-up goalie likely starting, and playing their second game in as many nights, their goals allowed should suffer. This is a good night for one of the top lines in hockey to take advantage of a weak opponent who is in a bad situation.

Pavel Buchnevich (NY Rangers) – $7,800

Friday night’s game will mark the first game back for the rookie in two months, having missed time with a back problem. Before his injury, Buchnevich had eight points in 10 games, more than living up to the expectations both fans and his coaches had for him.

Whether Buchnevich slots on the second or third line is kind of irrelevant because the Rangers are a team that spreads out their ice time when healthy, anyway; they have 12 forwards that skate within four minutes of each other at even strength per game. Their opponent for this contest, Toronto, has been allowing over 60 adjusted shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five over the last month, and generally play a high-event game. That should mean good news for the Rangers, including Buchnevich, tonight.

Defense

Justin Faulk (Carolina) – $10,900

The all-star blue liner is averaging a point every two games for the third straight season, not a small feat on a team that has had trouble scoring for a few years now. He is also averaging over three shots on goal per game for the first time in his career.

For Friday’s game, the focus is on the power play. Carolina is hosting Buffalo, and Buffalo allows the most shot attempts, and scoring chances, on the penalty kill in the NHL. Faulk is sixth among defencemen in shots per minute while on the power play so far this season. This is a great matchup for a rearguard who seems to be underpriced.

Seth Jones (Columbus) – $10,100

When combining both shots (71) and blocked shots (65), the 22-year-old defenceman is averaging exactly four combined per game this season. That type of floor is a good thing for a defenceman priced just over $10,000.

Columbus goes into Tampa Bay on Friday night, with the Lightning coming off a game on Thursday. These teams have played each other twice this year, and the Jackets have managed 38 shots in each contest. Given the matchup, and his propensity for both taking and blocking shots, Jones makes a solid cash game option.

Team Goalie

Florida Panthers – $16,100

The assumption is that Roberto Luongo will get the start.

Among the 30 goalies in the NHL with at least 20 starts this season, Roberto Luongo ranks seventh in overall save percentage at .923. That is after a slow start to the season that saw him with a .910 save percentage through October. He’s been one of the better goalies over the last two and a half months, and the matchup tonight against the Islanders, as mentioned earlier in the section on McCann, is a good one for Florida.

*stats from Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, Corsica, and Natural Stattrick