NHL Power Plays 2/3/17

Friday night is a small five-game slate in the NHL, but there is a lot of star-power among the forwards. With options like Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Connor McDavid, and Anaheim’s top line all playing, it’ll be necessary to save money in some spots.

*Note: Pricing is for Fantasy Draft.

Center

Matt Cullen (Pittsburgh) – $8,500

An injury to Conor Sheary has forced a small shuffle of the Penguins lineup, and with Cullen returning, he has been slotted on the top line with Crosby in Sheary’s stead. Needless to say that this is a prime slotting for any player; Sheary, an undrafted player, had 35 points in 42 games this year. Cullen isn’t an also-ran, either, as he’s managed the same points per 60 minutes at five-on-five since the start of the 2014 season as Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist and New York Islanders’ Anders Lee. It may be a fluid lineup as the game wears on, but if that line can click early, there is a lot of upside for Cullen tonight.

Travis Zajac (New Jersey) – $8,500

Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac have been dominant, or as dominant as can be on poor Devils team, when skating together this year, as New Jersey controls 55.8 percent of shot attempts with those two on the ice. What is important for tonight, however, is that Calgary has taken 24 more minor penalties than any other team in the NHL. The home team owns one of the worst power plays in the league, but the sheer volume of opportunities means the top power-play unit, including Zajac, warrants consideration. For those wanting to avoid paying up for Hall, exposure through Zajac is the course to take.

Winger

Anders Lee (NY Islanders) – $9,900

When Lee has been skating alongside John Tavares and Josh Bailey this year, that trio generated more shot attempts than other prolific scoring lines like the Joe Pavelski line in San Jose, and the Mitch Marner line in Toronto (according to Corsica Hockey). Over the last three years, the winger has scored 2.13 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five when playing with Tavares, which is a very high point rate. Going into Detroit is a good matchup offensively, given Detroit’s problems driving the play, and in net. Like Zajac, Lee is a solid option for exposure to an elite player.

Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit) – $11,400

Detroit does not look like a playoff team, but the upside for tonight with the Wings’ top line is that when the Islanders top line is off the ice, New York gives up over 63 shot attempts per 60 minutes, which is a horrific number defensively. Zetterberg’s line is typically not used against opposing top lines, which means he gets those easier matchups against the depth skaters of the visiting team. The Islanders also allow the sixth-most scoring chances while short-handed, which is a good matchup even for the inept Detroit power play.

Troy Brouwer (Calgary) – $7,800

It has taken some time, but it appears Brouwer is finally slotted where many fantasy owners had hoped he would be this year, on the top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. It isn’t a large sample yet, but the two young stars have helped Calgary control 54.8 percent of the shots when on the ice together this year, and that gives a glimpse to what Brouwer is skating into joining that trio. He also skates on the power-play unit with those two as well. New Jersey drags down the pace of play enough where paying up for Gaudreau or Monahan may not be appealing given the other options on the slate, but Brouwer is an inexpensive way to get a piece of that top trio.

Defense

Noah Hanifin (Carolina) – $6,300

If there is one area where the Oilers struggle, it’s giving up shots on the penalty kill; Edmonton allows the sixth-most shots on goal when down a man. Hanifin is not a big shooter, but facing a team that gives up that many shots bodes well for a defenseman that is so cheap. Aside from the power-play minutes, Hanifin can easily achieve a shot and a blocked shot in this game, which is roughly his average on the season. Given his role on the team’s power play, and the matchup, Hanifin is a very cheap defenseman that can save enough cap space to pay up for the elite options on this night.

Michael Matheson (Florida) – $7,200

Matheson has been earning more ice time has the season has gone on, from 19:36 per game through the first seven weeks of the year, compared to 21:28 since the start of December. In that most recent span, the young defenseman has averaged 2.3 shots per game, and 1.68 blocked shots per game. That is a high floor for a player that is priced where he is. He should not carry much ownership at all, and is a good cheap defense option for Friday night.

Team Goaltender

Pittsburgh – $17,000

The Penguins are an excellent team, but it’s largely because they can drive a lot of offense. In return, they also give up a lot of shots – the fifth-most per 60 minutes, in fact. Given all the viable cheap options on this slate, paying up for the Pittsburgh goaltending is not much of an issue. There is a lot of upside to using Matt Murray, assuming he gets the start, on Friday night.