Fantasy Hockey Power Play Point Potential: Central Division Preview

Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews warms up before game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 6, 2013; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane (9) an forward Alexander Burmistrov (8) celebrate a goal by Kane during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at the MTS Centre. Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews

Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews warms up before game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with the Power Play Point Potential Series, it is time to turn to the Central Division. Make sure to check out the Introduction to Power Play Statistics, in addition to the Atlantic Division and Metropolitan Division Previews.

Central Division Power Play Point Potential Review

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward Changes: David Bolland and Viktor Stalberg have moved on and they’ll be replace internally. Look for Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw to get even more opportunities with the Man Advantage and look for their stock to rise, especially Saad’s. Otherwise, there is little change. Michal Handzus, Brandon Pirri and Bryan Bickell will all likely see some Power Play time too. Long shot, deep sleepers Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes may also fit into the puzzle, but Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp are the hogs here.

Defense Changes: None, I don’t see any here. Nick Leddy may begin to eat up more Power Play minutes, but otherwise you’re looking at the exact same defense corps in Chicago.

Conclusion: There is a lot of offensive power in Chicago and whoever ends up grabbing those left over penalty minutes will see a boom in production. Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw were mixed in last season and should continue to help stir the Man Advantage drink for the Blackhawks. It’ll be interesting to see how 22-year-old Nick Leddy plays, because he could be ready to take a major step forward if he gains a little consistency this season. The top six forwards and three defensemen here are all going to produce on the Power Play.

Colorado Avalanche

Forward Changes: There are a couple minor changes in Denver this season, David Jones and Milan Hejduk aren’t with the club and there is no way that John Mitchell will see as much time with the man advantage as he did last season. Instead, expect Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog to eat more minutes and newcomers Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay to also see time on the power play. Steve Downie has proven to be effective on the Power Play, while Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, P.A. Parenteau and Jamie McGinn are all back again. There is a lot of fire power on the Avalanche, but they’ll need to translate that into offensive success.

Defense Changes: Erik Johnson‘s game has to change, or else the already disappointing trade in 2011 may begin to look even worse. But Patrick Roy might be able to get Johnson back to his 30 point ways. It’ll be Tyson Barrie though who leads this young offensive attack from the blue line. He is an under-sized high-risk, high-reward offensive defenseman who skates and moves the puck well, while displaying excellent offensive vision and creativity. Barrie has scored at every level and should be on your fantasy radar. Stefan Elliott might be worth a look, but Johnson and Barrie are the only two to look seriously at in 2013-14.

Conclusion: Gabriel Landeskog hit the sophomore wall last season, but he also dealt with some injuries, expect more from him. Matt Duchene is emerging as a legit offensive powerhouse and P.A. Parenteau is an underrated point producer. Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny are solid options to fill out your fantasy rosters, but don’t reach for them. Steve Downie and Nathan MacKinnon could reward owners in the later rounds and Tyson Barrie could easily eclipse 40 points and could even jump into the ring of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, maybe.

Dallas Stars

Forward Changes: There are more than a few. Jaromir Jagr, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Morrow, Michael Ryder and Derek Roy have all relocated. In are Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Shawn Horcoff. Seguin is set to return to his natural position, up the middle and could finally breakout fully like he did during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run. Loui Eriksson will be missed, but the other four are near afterthoughts and open up opportunities for some intriguing youngsters. This Spring’s first rounder Valeri Nichushkin could break camp and boasts elite offensive upside and Alex Chiasson burst onto the scene last season with six goals in his first seven pro games, both are 6-foot-4 budding power forwards. Veterans Erik Cole and Ray Whitney will round out the power play units, but neither boasts much upside. Jamie Benn could finally post point-per-game numbers this year.

Defense Changes: Philip Larsen saw a few power play minutes, but otherwise the Stars return a similar defensive corps, with the addition of Sergei Gonchar of course. Gonchar was revived a bit last season and is a low-end option, but remember he is 39, so you should reach for him. Alex Goligoski is still a high-end option on the blue line and often comes at a discount, but don’t sleep, he put up a respectable stat line across all categories in 2013. Trevor Daley will never be as good in the fake game and Stephane Robidas doesn’t boast any upside either. Goligoski and Gonchar are your targets.

Conclusion: There could be a perfect storm shaping up for the Stars’ power play units this season. You’ve got a great mix of veteran talent, youth, to compliment budding stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Sergei Gonchar’s presence will help and Ray Whitney’s 550 plus power play Points might be why he is called the Wizard. It’ll be interesting to see where the kids fit in, but both Alex Chiasson and Valeri Nichushkin could become excellent late round upside picks. Alex Goligoski is a guy to target after the top options are flying off the board.

Minnesota Wild

Forward Changes: Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are both gone and Nino Niederreiter is in, however it’ll be interesting to see if the former can eat into power play opportunities with so much other talent up front for the Wild. Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley are proven veterans, while Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle are highly regarded youngsters ready to make a name for themselves this season. Pominville has produced well front the point in the past and Koivu and Parise are high-end offensive producers. The first unit in Minnesota will be far superior to the second though, so take notice if Coyle, for example, cracks that top unit and bump him up your rankings.

Defense Changes: Jonathan Blum and Keith Ballard have joined the Wild’s blue line, but neither stand to figure into their power play plans much, Tom Gilbert is no longer with the team. Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella all return and Clayton Stoner is still in the mix. Regardless of how the power play time is split up, this is shaping up to be an improved defensive group. Suter will obviously see huge minutes in all situations and the praise for Brodin is tremendous. Spurgeon was solid with the man advantage last year and Marco Scandella isn’t exactly a high-end offensive type, so there could be room for Blum or Ballard to grab power play minutes over him. Former first round pick Mathew Dumb will also look to stick with the big club this season.

Conclusion: The top power play unit in Minnesota should be solid and explosive. Although there is a lot of talent, there is also a lot of inexperience. Ryan Suter is among the best blue line options in hockey and Zach Parise is a top option on the wing. Mikko Koivu seems to last longer and longer in drafts by the year, yet has elite play-making ability and a solid offensive resume. Jonas Brodin is going to fast track himself to NHL stardom, but don’t reach for anyone on this defense corps after Suter. Charlie Coyle has a chance to breakout in a big way if he lands with the right players, so monitor that and draft accordingly and Mikael Granlund has nice post hype appeal.

Nashville Predators

Forward Changes: It is appropriate to start out saying there is little offensive upside in Nashville. Lost are Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn, while Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen have joined the team. Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand and Mike Fisher are going to see Power Play time and youngster Filip Forsberg should make the team out of camp and is likely their forward with the most offensive upside. Just don’t forget that he just turned 19, has only five NHL Games notched on his belt and is surrounding with teammates who are limited offensively. The Predators will likely find a way to compete and win some hockey games, but it’ll be scoring by committee and sound defense that does it. There isn’t a Predator forward I’d target.

Defense Changes: There are few changes on the Blue Line in Nashville, Jonathan Blum and Scott Hannan are gone and first round pick Seth Jones will begin his audition in Nashville immediately. Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm should round of the defense corps that is lead by Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein. Weber is a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, but his stock is too high on draft day, Josi however, is an excellent target. Klein is a well-rounded defenseman who can be ignored in fantasy, while Ryan Ellis might never live up to his hype entering the league. Seth Jones will likely be targeted, but I’d pass unless you’re getting him beyond late.

Conclusion: There isn’t enough fire power offensively to expect this team to pad your stats via the Power Play. Shea Weber is a great player, but the price tag will be too rich considering the talent surrounding him. I’d avoid the entire team and let someone else check their 2-1 box scores all season.

St. Louis Blues

Forward Changes: David Perron was dealt for Magnus Paajarvi in the summer and Andy McDonald retired, so the Blues lost a couple weapons on there Power Play, but it wont hinder them in 2013-14. Derek Roy was brought in and has been a proven scorer in the past and could thrive in St. Louis. Expect Vladimir Tarasenko to take another step forward in his development. Obviously, Chris Stewart, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen will also see opportunities with the man advantage. This is a scoring by committee type team, who often plays defense first, but there are still a lot of offensive weapons and Fantasy options up front for the Blues.

Defense Changes: This will essentially be the same defensive group returning. Kris Russell and Wade Redden are gone, but they rarely figured in the mix. Alex Pietrangelo is re-signed and may slip a little in drafts because of his less than stellar season in 2013, which means you should be targeting him all the more. Kevin Shattenkirk has done nothing but score since joining the NHL and Jay Bouwmeester could have some of his best years ahead of him, especially considering he is just 30 years old. Bouwmeester had seven points in 14 regular season games with the Blues last year. Jordan Leopold rounds out the likely contenders for time with the man advantage, but is only an option in deeper leagues.

Conclusion: David Backes, Chris Stewart and Alexander Steen are three of the most complete fantasy options going, although injuries are a concern. Patrik Berglund is too talented not to post a 30 goal, 60 point season soon and T.J. Oshie is fun to watch, but often a bit overrated, so don’t reach for him. The big three of defense are all excellent draft targets. Overall, the Blues have a lot of options and high-end offensive production wont be found for any of them, but they’ll all chip in and fill stat lines across all categories. The Blues’ Power Play will be strong.

Winnipeg Jets 

Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane

Apr 6, 2013; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane (9) an forward Alexander Burmistrov (8) celebrate a goal by Kane during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at the MTS Centre. Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Forward Changes: There have been some significant changes in Winnipeg, but nothing major in terms of their power play. Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Olli Jokinen and Bryan Little all return. Devin Setoguchi, Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik will battle it out for time with the Man Advantage. Setoguchi and Scheifele will both see time on the power play. The Jets have cut ties with Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov, Alex Burmistrov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, but none were fantasy options. Expect more of the same from the Jets, Evander Kane should take another step forward, with Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd all regressing offensively some, but still solid offensive producers. If you want to roster Olli Jokinen that is your choice, but remember 2005 was a long time ago.

Defense Changes: With the exception that Paul Postma saw a few Power Play minutes because of injuries, there are no changes on the Jets’ Blue Line. Dustin Byfuglien is reportedly in great shape and if he ever got to playing minutes at forward his value would soar. Tobias Enstrom is a fantastic offensive defenseman and Zach Bogosian is just scratching the surface of his potential. Bogosian is a better real player, than in Fantasy, but he could emerge beginning this season as a force. Grant Clitsome has resigned and should round out the Power Play options on Winnipeg’s Blue Line, although, he isn’t a Fantasy option to begin the season.

Conclusion: You can get a lot of value from Jets’ players late. Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien aren’t likely to hang around too long, but Zach Bogosian should be on your radar late. Similarly, Evander Kane will be a popular pick in the middle rounds and with good reason, but Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler will present better value and will be there near the end. The Jets may be ready to truly contend for a chance at the second season, but the Conference and Division switch hurts them a lot. It is likely that their offensive production regresses and that will also be the case with the Man Advantage too.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions will boast one of the NHL’s top Power Play units again in 2013/14, while the Jets wont find life quite as easy in the Western Conference. Don’t underestimate the young talent in Colorado and Dallas, while there isn’t a lot to like in Nashville. The Blues and WIld both play excellent defense, but similarly, both boast a number of intriguing Fantasy players to target.

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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.
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