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4 of fantasy hockey’s best even strength scorers

24 February 2016: Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) [5756] tries to control the puck along the boards. The Boston Bruins defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 in a regular season NHL game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

Unsurprisingly four of the NHL’s top-10 power play producers this season were among the top-10 players in fantasy hockey.

Despite the fact that power play points are a standard scoring category and that skilled offensive players almost always see significant power play time, some of fantasy hockey’s most valuable players made their mark almost exclusively at even strength.

Tyler Toffoli – Los Angeles Kings

The Kings were one of the NHL’s best even strength teams in 2015-16 and Toffoli was a big reason why. Ten of Toffoli’s goals came on special teams but the other 21 were scored at even strength along with 25 of his assists. The former 2010 second-round pick is showing signs of being a real offensive force in the league which has not gone unnoticed among fantasy managers over the past two seasons.

Toffoli led the NHL in plus/minus with a plus-35 rating after being a plus-25 in his sophomore year in 2014-15. Skating primarily with Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic at even strength, Toffoli enjoyed a 14.6 shooting percentage in his first 30-goal season.

Toffoli accomplished all of this while seeing less than 18 minutes of ice time each night. If he continues to see an expanded role in the Kings’ offense next season, he could surpass his ranking this season as fantasy hockey’s 23rd most valuable player.

Milan Lucic – Los Angeles Kings

The hard-hitting power forward is a pending unrestricted free agent, but has made it clear he wants to return to the Kings. After looking at his even strength scoring this season it’s not hard to understand why.

Lucic scored just eight power play points in his first year with the Kings but finished the season with 55 points after a disappointing final season in Boston. Returning to 20-goal form was key for Lucic’s fantasy value, which has never been tied to his power play production. Just 67 of Lucic’s 397 career points have come with the extra man.

Something prospective fantasy managers will want to keep an eye on is Lucic’s steadily decreasing shooting rate and penalty minute total over the past three years.

Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

Marchand is one of just two players (the other being Brandon Saad) who scored 30 or more goals while having less than 10 power play points. Lucic’s former teammate had 27 goals away from special teams play in his 37 goal season, which was the first 30-goal season of Marchand’s career.

The diminutive winger scored 10 shorthanded points this season while putting 70 more shots on net than he did in 2014-15 for the Bruins. Fantasy managers will likely be taking Marchand early on draft day next fall because of his standout offensive season and his ability to put up big penalty minute numbers. With both Lee Stempniak and Loui Eriksson currently headed to free agency, the odds that Marchand will remain a big part of the Bruins’ offense, especially at even strength, are excellent.

Jaromir Jagr – Florida Panthers

The superstar Czech winger recently stole headlines when he signed a one-year deal to return to the Panthers for his age 45 season. Only 23 other players were more valuable in standard scoring categories than Jagr was this year after he scored 17 more goals than he did in the 2014-15 season which he split between the Devils and Panthers.

Jagr had just 11 power play points in 2015-16 and 55 points at even strength. As the years wax on, the third-highest scorer in NHL history just keeps finding ways to produce. Along with Joe Thornton, Jagr has been challenging the notion that players past the age of 35 are too dangerous to draft in fantasy hockey.

With all of the young talent surrounding ageless star in Florida it will be fascinating to see what fantasy hockey experts and analysts project Jagr’s production next season will be.

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