Power Play Point Potential: Atlantic Division Preview

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara
Jun 19 2013 Boston MA USA Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara 33 during the second period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Michael Ivins USA TODAY Sports

The Power Play Point Potential series kicked off already and the basics were outlined. Moving forward it is important to both review last season and forecast ahead for each team and with the Metropolitan Division in the books it is time to turn to the Atlantic Division in this edition of the Power Play Point Potential Review.

In these Power Play Point Potential Reviews, we’ll look at personnel changes primarily and try to project whether the team stands to improve their Power Play production in 2013/14.

Atlantic Division Power Play Point Potential Review

Boston Bruins

Forward Changes: The Bruins are without Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr this year, who all saw substantial Power Play minutes a year ago. That is ok though, because the Bruins were horrible with the Man Advantage in 2013. The additions of Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson should add new life to their Power Play Unit and they will be better in 2014. They could be a lot better too, which means additional production from those who will see Power Play minutes.

Defense Changes: It’ll be more of the same on Defense for the Bruins, with the only exception being a full season of Torey Krug. The pint-sized rearguard provided a spark for the Bruins in the playoffs and you can expect him to have more impact this season. Sophomore Dougie Hamilton should also take another step forward in his development and don’t forget Zdeno Chara‘s lethal point shot is still in the mix.

Conclusion: This was a horrible Power Play team last year. In fact, considering how good they actually were, a case could be made that they were the worst in the entire league. Only the Winnipeg Jets had a lower percentage of their goals scored on the Power Play. Looking ahead to this coming season, it means that all of the Bruins top scorers should be in for small bumps in production. There is just no chance they’ll be as bad this season.

Buffalo Sabres

Forward Changes: There were no off-season personnel changes, but it would be hard to envision the Sabres not giving Mikhail Grigorenko more Power Play time this season. Furthermore, there is an outside shot that Joel Armia could see some time with the Man Advantage. Steve Ott played substantial minutes and I wouldn’t expect that to be the case again this year. Finally, with Jason Pominville gone there is a huge hole that needs to be filled.

Defense Changes: There was a single personnel change in bringing back Henrik Tallinder, but he doesn’t figure to factor into the Power Play mix. Mark Pysyk should see more minutes with the Man Advantage, while Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff will continue to be the main Blue Liners on the power play.

Conclusion: Thomas Vanek is one of the League’s best power play specialists and last season’s Lockout shortened year was the only time he has failed to find the back of the net at least 10 times. If Cody Hodgson can take another step forward in his development he could fill the void that Pominville left, but the Sabres stand to be among the worst Power Play Units again this season.

Detroit Red Wings 

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk
May 29 2013 Chicago IL USA Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk 13 carries the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period in game seven of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center Rob Grabowski USA TODAY Sports

Forward Changes: What an off-season, in are Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, out are Damien BrunnerDaniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula. The Red Wings also brought back Power Play Specialist Mikael Samuelsson. So, with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen still around there are a lot of proven weapons in Hockey Town. Then there are youngsters Tomas Tartar and Gustav Nyquist in the mix too, so some talented players aren’t going to be seeing prime Power Play opportunities. Wait, then there is also Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader. A lot of talent here.

Defense Changes: Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo are both gone, which leaves room for Brendan Smith or Danny Dekeyser to gobble up some left over minutes when Niklas Kronwall is done. Jakub Kindl will be in the mix too, while Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson might see some occasional time. Brendan Smith could be the one to benefit the most if he can gain some additional time with the Man Advantage.

Conclusion: The Red Wings Power Play was good last season and could improve greatly in 2013-14. The trickiest part for fantasy owners is knowing who is going to actually see minutes with the Man Advantage. Tomas Tartar for example, could carve out a niche for himself on the power play and get a major boost statistically, or he may never skate with the top two units all season. Pay attention in training camp and don’t make projection assumptions until the dust settles.

Florida Panthers

Forward Changes: Stephen Weiss is gone and surely, Marcel Goc isn’t going to be eating up Power Play minutes like he did a year ago. So who takes the next step for the Cats? Second Overall pick Aleksander Barkov, or Nick Bjugstad perhaps, or maybe the returns of Kris Versteeg and Scottie Upshall eat up more time. Regardless, there are a lot of questions, but know that Tomas Fleischmann and Jonathan Huberdeau are the two to target.

Defense Changes: None. With Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov set as a solid 1-2 punch and Filip Kuba around to support there isn’t likely much variance. Don’t be fooled into thinking Ed Jovanovski is going to suddenly regain his offensive touch at age 55, sorry that is his jersey number, age 37 I meant.

Conclusion: The Panthers had a strong Power Play last season. They scored at a clip over 20 percent, which only eight other teams did. Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov are excellent defensemen and Tomas Fleischmann is a proven weapon with the Man Advantage. You can expect Jonathan Huberdeau to take another step forward this season and there is an intriguing group of young talent here. The Panthers wont likely be as good as last season with the Man Advantage though, expect slight regression overall as a team.

Montreal Canadiens

Forward Changes: The major addition is obviously Daniel Briere, who brings a proven track record of production to the Habs. Gone are the likes of Erik Cole and Michael Ryder, but with youngsters Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Brandon Gallagher all knocking on the door, they wont be missed. Furthermore, the Canadiens boast veterans like Brian Gionta, Rene Bourque and pint-sized David Desharnais. There is a lot of talent in Habs Land. Finally, don’t let Max Pacioretty slip by you in drafts, with a few extra Power Play points this season he’ll near Point per Game production.

Defense Changes: There doesn’t project to be many changes on the point for Montreal. P.K. Subban emerged as a top tier point producer from the Blue Line in 2013 and contributed significantly to one of the leagues top Power Plays. Andrei Markov resurrected his career last season, but once P.K. Subban came back Markov’s production dipped. 8 of Markov’s 23 Power Play points came in Subban’s six game absence, so draft accordingly. If Nathan Beaulieu can stick and earn time with the Man Advantage, he’ll be a player to keep an eye on.

Conclusion: This unit lacks top end talent beyond P.K. Subban and potentially Max Pacioretty, but don’t underestimate the unit in its entirety. They were good last season and have only improved heading into the fall. There is no reason Montreal cannot continue to be one of the top Power Plays in the league and therefore, there is a lot of additional value for the players who land on the top unit. Monitor their Power Play in Training Camp and if Brandon Gallagher lands on the top unit, for example, don’t be afraid to bump him up your rankings accordingly.

Ottawa Senators 

Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza
Apr 21 2012 New York NY USA Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza 19 celebrates after scoring a goal during the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Ottawa won 2 0 Anthony Gruppuso USA TODAY Sports

Forward Changes: There are huge changes in Ottawa, firstly, a healthy Jason Spezza makes a huge difference and then there is the departure of Daniel Alfredsson. In is Bobby Ryan, who stands to be the best winger the team has had since Dany Heatley left in 2009. Milan Michalek missed time in 2013 and the team also added undersized Cory Conacher at the Trade Deadline last year. The Senators had a poor Power Play in 2013, but that will change and you can expect this unit to be solid this year.

Defense Changes: Spezza’s injury hurt, but Erik Karlsson‘s might have had more impact on the team’s less than stellar Power Play performance in 2013. This season, he’ll be back and expect a return to greatness for him and a boost for all those who play on the first unit with him. Sergei Gonchar is gone, so there are a lot of PP minutes available and whoever gets them stands to gain substantial value. Joe Corvo and Patrick Wiercioch stand to be the most suited on the current roster.

Conclusion: A full season of Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson could bump up the Senators power play percentage up as much as eight points and everyone on the top unit stands to benefit. Kyle Turris could lead the second unit and that might actually help his power play numbers against weaker penalty killers. Joe Corvo could be a sneaky late target if he gets onto the first power play unit and Mike Zibanejad shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Changes: Gone are Vincent Lecavalier, Benoit Pouliot and Cory Conacher and in are Valtteri Flippula and 1st Rounder Jonathan Drouin, which you can almost call a draw. Ryan Malone cannot stay healthy, but always remains a solid PP contributor because of his willingness to battle it out in front of the net. Expect Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos to remain the go-to guys on the first unit and whoever joins them gains tremendous value. Those 3 scored a third of their points with the Man Advantage last season.

Defense Changes: There wont be any changes in Tampa. Matthew Carle, Victor Hedman and Sami Salo all return. At some point, Hedman is going to be the Quarterback of the Bolts’ Power Play, but that might not be quite yet. Regardless, he is the guy you’ll want to target. The upside for both, Carle and Salo, is directly correlated to how much Man Advantage time they’ll receive and who cracks the top unit.

Conclusion: The 2nd PP unit doesn’t boast much appeal, but that first unit stands to be among the best in the NHL, if not the best. Jonathan Drouin could easily lead all Rookies in scoring riding shotgun along with the top unit, or the often injured Ryan Malone could bounce-back in a big way. Lost in the shuffle could be Brett Connolly, but if he gets enough PP time he’ll be a great late round target, especially if the Bolts try to balance their top 2 lines a bit.

Toronto Maple Leafs 

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel
May 13 2013 Boston MA USA Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel 81 reacts after scoring a goal during the third period in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden Bob DeChiara USA TODAY Sports

Forward Changes: Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur have new homes, while the Leafs brought in David Clarkson. Clarkson is set to bring his gritty game to the 2nd unit and cause havoc in front of the net of opposing goaltenders. Otherwise you can expect Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk on the top unit, with Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul joining Clarkson on the 2nd. Clarkson’s addition should improve the 2nd unit a great deal, as the Leafs really struggled finding secondary scoring on the Power Play in 2013.

Defense Changes: Unless there is a trade, or the Leafs don’t sign Cody Franson, everything should stay the same for the Leafs. Jake Gardiner will get more minutes and playing time this season, but beyond the chance, Morgan Rielly plays himself onto the roster expect more of the same. Dion Phaneuf notched 13 of his 19 assists with the Man Advantage and Cody Franson was arguably the Leafs best player on the Power Play – Period. Carl Gunnarsson and John Michael Liles will see some time, unless both Gardiner and Rielly make the club.

Conclusion: Mikhail Grabovski didn’t score a single Power Play goal and Clarke MacArthur only notched two in 2013. So, a healthy season for Joffrey Lupul, though far from a guarantee, and David Clarkson’s addition should enable the Leafs to easily improve their Power Play production. Furthermore, Jake Gardiner’s inclusion on one of the units should go a long way too. Last season they was significant disparity between the top two units, but this season the Leafs boast two excellent and potent units. Expect improvement from Nazem Kadri with the Man Advantage.

The Atlantic Division boasted two of the worst Power Play units in the league in the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, but both stand to improve significantly this season. Then you have the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose top Power Play Unit is among the best in the NHL, while Montreal and Florida were also both excellent Power Plays a year ago. Look for Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and P.K. Subban to continue to dominate with the Man Advantage again this season. Then there are Detroit and Toronto who both improved over the summer too. There could be a lot of high scoring divisional games within the Atlantic.

author avatar
Neil Parker
Neil Parker wears the C for The Fake Hockey, in addition to contributing to The Fake Baseball and The Fake Football in more of a Timmy Try Hard role. You can also find my work at davidgonos.com, here on XN Sports and have just been fortunate to launch Fantasy Sport Locker Room. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');