NHL Power Plays – 12/16/16

It is a seven-game slate in the NHL, which means an abundance of options that we are not used to on Friday nights. This column will explore options for both cash games and tournaments at both ends of the pricing spectrum.

Note: All pricing is for Fantasy Draft.

Center

Sam Gagner (CBJ) – $10,600

Columbus is going into Calgary tonight, and it is an excellent matchup for the Blue Jackets power play. The Flames’ penalty kill itself isn’t terrible as they give up just the 11th-most scoring chances while short-handed. Their problem is that they can’t stay out of the box – Calgary spends the most time per game short-handed in the league, and they give up nearly an extra half power play per game (3.69) compared to the league average (3.22). Columbus doesn’t draw many penalties, but Calgary should remedy that. The 27-year-old is slotted nicely on that top power-play unit.

Gagner’s price has risen recently, given that he was just $8,900 last week on FantasyDraft in this column. He is a solid option tonight in tournaments, but I would fade him in cash games due to a lack of total ice time.

Nathan MacKinnon (COL) – $13,600

Colorado is hosting the Florida Panthers tonight, and Florida is playing their second game in as many nights on the road. A tired team going into Denver should be a good situation for the Avalanche, even if they are at the bottom of the league this year.

MacKinnon’s issues with scoring is the same reason that makes him an appealing cash game play. That sounds odd, but allow me to expound on that. He shoots from everywhere, as evidenced by his 30.93 shot distance at five-on-five, per Corsica Hockey. (Shot distances, as always, should be taken with a grain of salt). Ideally, goal scorers would like to get closer to the net; Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, and Johnny Gaudreau are all under 25 feet. That is what leads to a low shooting percentage for MacKinnon, but it gives him a reasonable floor because of the shot volume.

The Avalanche forward is a game-breaker, and he can net a couple goals on any given night due to his shot volume. That makes him the perfect tournament option.

Derek Ryan (CAR) – $7,200

The 30-year-old second-year player has six points in his last three games, but it’s not the hot streak that is noteworthy here. What is noteworthy is that he’s skating on the top offensive line for the Hurricanes alongside Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner. That also includes power-play time with that top duo as well.

Coming to town tonight is Washington, and to be sure, that is a difficult matchup for Carolina. The Capitals are one of four teams to allow less than 50 adjusted shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five, and allow the third-fewest shot attempts while on the penalty kill. That is why I would avoid using the high-priced forwards like Rask or Skinner tonight, opting to get exposure to them through a cheaper line mate.

Winger

Kyle Okposo (BUF) – $12,500

The Sabres had new lines for their last game, moving Kyle Okposo alongside Jack Eichel, and moving Sam Reinhart up with Ryan O’Reilly. That may be good news for Okposo’s fantasy prospects, as now he won’t be used in a shutdown role. Avoiding a shutdown role for Friday night’s game is important with the Islanders in town, which means avoiding the John Tavares line.

Alex Radulov (MTL) – $12,800

What looks to be a tough matchup on paper for the Canadiens is kind of misleading. Yes, the Sharks are one of the top teams in the league overall. However, per Corsica Hockey, when Joe Thornton is off the ice for the Sharks, the team gives up 9.67 adjusted scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five. For a reference on that number, as a team, the Vancouver Canucks are giving up 9.57 scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five.

One thing Michel Therrien does well is match up his lines. In Montreal’s last game, a home contest against Boston, the Radulov line was matched against the Patrice Bergeron line for Boston just four times. Sometimes Boston cut a shift short to get the Bergeron line out, but Therrien actively tried to get that matchup just four times all game. That means for Friday night’s game, Radulov’s line should not see much of the Thornton line for San Jose, and that puts them in a good situation to produce.

Defense

Trevor Daley (PIT) – $7,700

The news out of Pittsburgh isn’t good for Kris Letang, as the team expects him to miss at least two weeks with an injury. With the Christmas break ahead, it’s about as good a time as any to get injured, but that is a big piece that this team will be without.

Before the injury even occurred, Daley had been playing the top power-play unit for the Penguins. He should see even more five-on-five ice time now with Letang injured, and should continue to run the top man advantage quintet.

There is a reasonable floor to work with as Daley can put up about three shots-plus-blocked-shots per game. With the additional ice time, that floor should only rise.

Nick Leddy (NYI) – $9,000

The Islanders being awful this year means that Leddy’s season has been a bit overlooked. He is going to push for 40 points again, which would make it back-to-back seasons. He is also averaging a career-high 1.86 shots per game, and with the Islanders giving up so many shots, he should shatter his career-high blocked shots mark of 90.

New York being on a back-to-back hurts here tonight, but they do get the Sabres for their matchup. One weakness Buffalo has is their penalty kill, as they give up the most shot attempts while short-handed in the NHL. There is a reason they’ve killed off under 75 percent of their penalties this season.

As a whole, the situation for the Islanders isn’t very good tonight. The power play is certainly an area that can strike given the poor Sabres penalty kill, however, which makes Leddy a fine tournament target.

Team Goalie

Buffalo – $15,700

The assumption made here is that Robin Lehner will be starting for Buffalo.

It’s still just a small sample, but in Lehner’s 41 starts as a Sabre, he has posted a .922 save percentage. That is a solid mark for most any goalie, but one playing behind the Sabres defense like they one they had in 2015-16, well it’s impressive.

Buffalo is hosting the Islanders, a team near the bottom of the NHL, and on a back-to-back. Lehner is a solid option for cash games.