NHL Power Plays – 3/17/17

It is a short four game slate on Friday night with one small quirk: all four road teams are playing on back-to-back nights. Pay close attention to news sources as injury and lineup news will be sparse, and likely to come late in the afternoon.

Center

Derek Stepan (New York Rangers) – $12,500

The assumption was that once Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau returned to the lineup for Florida, the team would improve. The reality is that since their return, which was about six weeks ago now, the Panthers are sub-50 percent in driving the play at five-on-five, and giving up more shot attempts per minute than teams like Detroit and Colorado. With Florida playing a back-to-back on the road, this is a prime position for the Rangers offence to find the back of the net. Stepan’s line has been their best all year, which makes him a target.

Nick Bonino (Pittsburgh) – $8,100

On a short slate, and in this matchup, there will be very high ownership for all the top-end options on the Penguins. The curious thing about Bonino this year is that his on-ice shooting percentage, or the rate at which his team scores with him on the ice, is 5.9 percent. No other Penguins forward is below 7.3 percent, and his three-year average before this season was 8.4 percent. It’s safe to say he’s been a bit unlucky, and a prime matchup like this could help to turn that luck around. For those looking to get a low-owned Pittsburgh skater, Bonino should be considered.

Winger

Michael Frolik (Calgary) – $10,700

When looking for a skater to use in cash games, one of the more important considerations should always be shot volume. It helps build a floor, and higher-volume shooters tend to score more often. Going back two months, Frolik is averaging over a minute more ice time per game (17:41) than he had been earlier in the season (16:30). That has helped boost his shots per game, as he’s now averaging 2.61 over those previous eight or so weeks. The cherry on top here is that the Flames are hosting Dallas tonight, a team that has consistently ranked in the bottom-5 of the NHL in shot attempts allowed per minute all year. With a forward who is shooting more often at home facing a team that gives up a lot of shots, Frolik is a solid mid-range option for cash contests.

Phil Kessel (Pittsburgh) – $13,500

The last time New Jersey was in Pittsburgh was just before Christmas, and in that contest, Sidney Crosby was matched up against Taylor Hall for over 50 percent of his shifts, and nearly half of his ice time (including special teams where they wouldn’t overlap much, if at all). That trend should continue for Friday night’s game, and that is important to note when picking Penguins skaters. When Hall and his line mates are on the ice, the Devils drive 57.1 percent of the adjusted shot attempts, which is exceptional. When any other line is on the ice, that number plummets to 46.1 percent. This game is a great matchup for Kessel, who should see a lot of depth matchups.

Patrick Eaves (Anaheim) – $11,500

It is a small sample with just eight games, but Eaves has been averaging roughly the same shots per game with Anaheim (2.63) as he was with Dallas (2.61) before the trade. He is also skating one what could be considered the team’s top scoring line, with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. He is also alongside Getzlaf on the power play, averaging well over two minutes a game with the man advantage. That is important for this matchup, as Anaheim is hosting Buffalo, arguably the worst penalty-killing team in the league.

Defense

John Klingberg (Dallas) – $9,500

Stars skaters are not going to be heavily targeted tonight, and it is a tough even-strength matchup going into Calgary. One weakness the Flames do have is their propensity for giving power plays to the opposition. In fact, they give up the third-most per game of any team in the league, which has translated to the sixth-most power-play goals against despite being at least a mid-pack penalty-killing team. This is a good spot to use Klingberg as a one-off option in tournaments hoping the Stars can cash in on their man-advantage opportunities.

Michael Matheson (Florida) – $7,000

It seems like whenever Florida plays on a Friday, Matheson is written up in this column. The reason is simple: the price hasn’t adjusted for what he can produce. He is still averaging about 3.75 shots-plus-blocked shots per game, which is a very high number for someone with his cost. He is also now receiving a couple extra minutes per game in ice time with the injury to Aaron Ekblad, and that only bring that floor up even more. For a bargain defenceman, Matheson is the choice.

Team Goaltending

Anaheim Ducks – $16,900

Despite the hesitance to rely on Jonathan Bernier, the likely starter, Buffalo is one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, and are playing their second game in as many nights. The four home goalies are all within $1,000 of each other for tonight’s slate, and all four teams are facing teams playing on back-to-back nights. Ryan Kesler’s line should be able to shutdown the top offensive options for the Sabres, making the Ducks goaltending an option.