In conventional scoring leagues, there is no fantasy skater more coveted than one who regularly contributes the extra competitor. For those familiar with English rhyming lingo, these figures are likely to earn their managers a double bubble, if not the less rhyming triple bubble, in one move. A power play goal or an assist not only counts in the basic category, but also as a point with the extra skater, and maybe even a shot at the net. Two or three fantasy boxes checked at one time. It’s no wonder these players are so highly regarded across the fantasy spectrum. And the league is about to witness the return of a leading actor in that highly valued line.
Cleared by the NHL after allegedly violating COVID-related rules during the holidays, Evander Kane is he is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday afternoon. God knows, the spiral club could use the injection of such skill from such a proven performer.
The fact is, general manager Ken Holland and Co. isn’t going this route to bury Kane in the bottom six. No possibility. Instead, they’re securing him to play on the wing with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl (I’m guessing he’s the former) and eventually the best power play in the club. Under the current circumstances, there’s little doubt that trainer Dave Tippett will experiment with a unit that potent, to say the least. Dropping to 20th in the league since Dec. 27, the Oilers are inching along with an 18.8% ERA over PP. Which is pretty amazing, considering McDavid and Draisaitl still lead the NHL in points with the man advantage. Kane led San Jose in producing power plays just two seasons ago with 14 goals and four assists in just 64 games, before scoring seven points with the extra skater during last year’s abbreviated campaign. The 30-year-old striker is also known for shooting into the net. much and earning a good chunk of penalty minutes.
Right now, Kane is still available in more than 71% of the leagues on ESPN.com. But know that as pen is put to paper, that number will drop rapidly.
Here are another handful of hidden assets that offer a little more fantasy oomph in power play production:
Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, Florida Panthers (enrolled in 57.6% of ESPN.com leagues)
As if you needed yet another reason to secure Duclair as a fantasy product. Of his 18 goals and 16 assists in 35 games, seven points have come from the advantage man. Which makes sense, since Duclair recently joined a top power-play unit with forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart, Aleksander Barkov and defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Averaging 2.0 fantasy points/game in standard fantasy competition, the Panthers winger should be considered well above half the leagues on ESPN.com. Much more.
Sean Monahan, center back, Calgary Flames (52.2%)
Just because his ultra-productive days are certainly in the rearview mirror, that doesn’t mean the 30-plus-year-old former striker is finally gone entirely. Barely in his twenties (he’s 27) and with a long road ahead of him as a professional, Monahan remains determined to get out of this arduous multi-season losing streak. A mid-January promise to shoot more into the net is already reaping tangible rewards. Since Jan. 18, the Flames center has three goals — two with the extra skater — on 14 shots in four games. Not a real surprise, considering Monahan is still skating on a top power game with one of the best lines in the entire NHL.
As long as he keeps Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk on special teams, and continues to throw the puck into the net regularly, this former fantasy favorite could have a much richer second half through 2021-22. Fantasy managers with below-average lineups in ESPN.com’s standard leagues might want to give it some thought.
Tage Thompson, center, buffalo sabers (14.5%)
While they aren’t winning most games, the Sabers’ power play is moving forward with a 23.1% ERA since Dec. 27, which ranks them 14th in the league. Nothing bad. A big thank you to their best striker this season, who has been very hot lately with the additional skater. Since New Year’s Eve, two goals and four assists of Thompson’s eight total points have featured the man advantage. Not surprisingly, he averaged 2.6 fantasy points per game during that period. Like Duclair in Florida, the Sabers’ top center is puzzlingly underrepresented in ESPN.com’s fantasy leagues.
Tyler Ennis, LW/RW, Ottawa Senators (0.6%)
Judging by his sudden hat-trick in Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Buffalo, plus 12 shots over the span of two games, the recent two-game bench seems to have done Ennis a lot of good. Trainer DJ Smith thinks so, and credits the forced mini-break for helping to calm the negative noise in Ennis’s head:
“He’s had great legs since sitting down a couple of times in a row. Sometimes you just need a mental refresh, a reset. It’s like you’re starting the year all over again… Now all of a sudden he looks like he’s 20.” years again and he’s making all these plays. That’s how meticulous the mind is and how confidence comes and goes.”
Thats not all. With Drake Batherson unfortunately out for weeks, if not months, Ennis seems entrenched as a backup in the Senators’ top unit with the man advantage. Remember, the 32-year-old used to be a regular on the power play in his first at-bat with Ottawa (2019-20), and for many previous seasons as a member of the Sabers. The versatile winger is also moving up to a spot in the top six alongside center Tim Stutzle with even force. Fantasy managers in the deeper leagues on ESPN.com would do worse than pay more attention to how Ennis is doing with all this added offensive responsibility. That hat-trick was certainly a good start.
James van Riemsdyk, LW/RW, Philadelphia Flyers (11.8%)
Because he’s likely to be traded to a contender before this year’s deadline, that’s why. Along with captain Claude Giroux, van Riemsdyk ranks high in the trade bloc of a team that a) hasn’t won a game since 2021, b) has essentially no chance of making the playoffs, and c) needs to get faster/more young to compete on the road (admirable speed is not one of JVR’s most prized qualities). While the Flyers would likely have to withhold some salary, the year remaining on the 32-year-old’s contract suggests such a deal could likely be falsified.
If so, wherever he lands, a top spot on the power play is basically guaranteed. Since 2013-14, the former Maple Leaf and his formidable presence at the front of the net has racked up 30% of his 410 points with the extra skater. A fresh start with another special teams unit should see a tangible increase in rate this season. There’s potential sneaky value here in the deeper leagues on ESPN.com. The pressing question is whether to pounce on van Riemsdyk now, when he is overwhelmingly available, or until when/if a deal is struck. There is risk either way.