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Fantasy hockey: Power play sleepers to pick up now

Things are looking up for Ilya Kovalchuk in Montreal. Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire

They are the special teams treasures many of us can't live without. Those who not only serve as greater scoring threats in general but, where power-play scoring counts on its own, provide the added windfall of checking several boxes at once. More bang for your fantasy buck, right? So here's a quick view of some less-popular power-play performers, or those boasting a certain potential, to help bolster your roster of choice. I'm also including each respective team's rate of power-play success since December 1.


Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 26.8%

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW, Montreal Canadiens (rostered in 19.2% of ESPN.com leagues): The inspiration for this week's column, Kovalchuk is off to a quick start in wooing those supporting the blue, blanc et rouge with three assists in two games, including one with the extra skater. While Brendan Gallagher's return, unofficially expected Thursday, bumps Kovalchuk from the Habs' top scoring line to the second - aside Max Domi and Nick Suzuki, so not bad - the veteran's gig on the No. 1 power play appears secure (for now). Could he flame out once the jolt of this fresh start wears off? Sure. But as far as fantasy gambles go, I don't mind rolling the dice on what could stack up as a decent resurrection story in Montreal. As long as the 36-year-old remains a factor with the man-advantage.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 19.3%

Mikael Granlund, LW/C, Nashville Predators (57.2%): Widely expected to benefit from the coaching change in Nashville, Granlund has a shot to impress new bench boss John Hynes on the Predators' No. 1 power play. After putting up serious numbers in (almost) three previous campaigns in Minnesota - 185 points in 221 games - the 27-year-old tumbled off a cliff after joining Nashville late last season. To the tune of 20 points in 52 contests. Whether we can blame Peter Laviolette for that or not, having a new voice barking directions won't hurt. I expect much better things from Granlund between now and early April, including with the extra skater. If possible, scoop him up.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 20.9%

Patric Hornqvist, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins (51.4%): Lauded as a Waiver Watch pick-up earlier this week, the physical veteran is poised to break out this second half. The banged-up Penguins better hope so, in any case. A staple on Pittsburgh's top power play, Hornqvist is also due to benefit at even-strength from Sidney Crosby's return soon enough. He has four goals in his most recent five games.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 25.0%

Christian Dvorak, LW/C, Arizona Coyotes (23.2%): Ranking eighth in the league since December's launch, the Coyotes seem to be figuring it out with the man-advantage. And while top-unit members Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, Clayton Keller and Oliver Ekman Larsson are largely spoken for in ESPN.com leagues, Dvorak is not. Earning his first power-play point since early December with a goal Tuesday, the 23-year-old can now exhale and go about adding to that special teams total. Skating on a No. 1 line with Hall, Dvorak is already enjoying a career year with 11 goals and 15 assists. Fantasy managers in deeper leagues should take interest.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 18.5%

Nikita Gusev, LW, New Jersey Devils (22.8%): One of my favorite under-the-radar fantasy assets altogether is also evolving into a legit threat with the extra skater. While the five power-play points accrued in December isn't a jaw-dropping tally, it's five more than he collected the previous two months. And now the KHL export is skating on the Devils' top unit in place of injured forward Jesper Bratt. Another solid showing or two, and he's likely to stick there even once Bratt heals up. (Jack Hughes' pending return is another story, but let's cross that bridge upon approach.) Meanwhile, Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen remains, as usual, underappreciated as the No. 1 assembly's anchor, boasting eight assists in his past eight games including four with the man-advantage.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 17.4%

Marcus Johansson, LW, Buffalo Sabres (7.6%): Another underrated fave of mine of late, Johansson is having a time in Buffalo with six points in four contests, including a power-play assist. Injuries to Victor Olofsson and Jeff Skinner mean we can likely count on the 29-year-old sticking on the Sabres' top power play a while yet. He's also centering a second scoring line and putting in some serious minutes. Honestly, if in the market for a reliable roster plug - due to injury or whatever else - you could do much worse. I also like him as a less conventional DFS asset right now.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 18.0%

Filip Hronek, D, Detroit Red Wings (43.2%): If not now in shallower re-draft leagues, definitely down the road. A key piece of the Wings' future, the 22-year-old Sophomore is already being tasked with skating on the club's top power play. No small wonder, considering the gifted offensive-defenseman leads Detroit's blue line with 23 points, including seven with the extra skater. Beyond a desultory minus-18, Hronek already has value in many scoring fantasy leagues. But just wait a couple of years for the young lad to mature further, and Steve Yzerman to work his managerial magic. Then look out.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 22.9%

Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks (rostered in 40.3%): Leading his entire squad in special teams production - no great feat, sadly - Fowler appears in little danger of losing his gig on the Ducks' top unit - a power play that has enjoyed more success of late. Fact is, Anaheim's most productive blueliner is hammering out a decent campaign overall, with nine goals and 14 assists (plus-four) through 43 contests. That translates into 44 points by season's end. Not bad. If available, the 28-year-old may be worth acquiring in leagues that also reward contributions with the extra skater.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 19.3%

Samuel Girard, D, Colorado Avalanche (27.2%): The only skater on this list not competing on his club's No. 1 power play, Girard's recent outburst of nine assists - two with the man-advantage - in five games nonetheless merits attention. He's like a "Cale Makar Lite", but much more available.

Team power play success rate since Dec. 1: 16.9%

Adam Boqvist, D, Chicago Blackhawks (4.0%): For starters, the 19-year-old has been bumped to anchoring a Blackhawks' top power play with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat. Then there's the three points in three games, including a power-play assist, earned by the eight-overall draft pick (2018). Enough reason for me jump all over this future blue-line star in any semi-deep fantasy league.