The list of noteworthy power play producers at season’s end seldom hold surprises, but even big name players are capable of exceeding expectations.
Players who make an impact on the man advantage are especially valuable in fantasy hockey because power play points are a standard scoring category and many leagues track power play goals and assists individually. Here are three surprising power play producers from the 2015-16 season that made a big splash in fantasy hockey and greatly exceeded their projected statistics.
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
When hockey fans think of offensive contributions from Chicago’s blue line, Seabrook’s name isn’t typically at the top of the list. But in the 2015-16 regular season the star defenseman paired with Duncan Keith on the top power play unit and made a big impact on the score sheet.
Seabrook finished sixth among all defensemen in power play points thanks largely to his 19 assists on the man advantage. In addition to setting a career-high in power play assists, Seabrook also set a career-high in power play goals with six, despite a slight dip in his shooting.
There’s no real mystery behind Seabrook’s surge in power play production. Seeing nearly three minutes of power play time each game with Patrick Kane certainly had something to do with it and so did Chicago’s outstanding 22.6 percent power play.
With so little cap room to play with, the chances that the Blackhawks will be bringing someone else into the picture to compete with Seabrook on the power play are slim. Seabrook could remain a top-100 player in fantasy hockey next season, but don’t be surprised if his production on the man advantage drops.
Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils
The first-year Devil scored 23 of his 57 points this season on the power play, including 11 goals. The 25-year-old winger will have plenty of fantasy managers scratching their chins next fall because of his 222 shot, 30 goal breakout season in New Jersey.
Palmieri had a stretch of 20 games this season, starting on Dec. 26, where he scored just one power play point on the ninth best power play in the league. It was during that stretch of games that the Devils lost Michael Cammalleri for the season with his hand injury.
After Cammalleri left the Devils’ lineup Palmieri scored nine points on the power play in 32 games and remained a focal point of New Jersey’s offense. As it turns out, Palmieri was just as productive per-game with Cammalleri as his center as he was without him in regards to his power play production.
Palmieri is a winger that will be well worth a mid-to-late round pick in the fall. He was a top-50 player in standard scoring categories thanks largely to his power play production, shooting rate, and goal scoring. He is a lock for the Devils’ top line and top power play unit next season, the only question is whether or not he will repeat his amazing performance from this season or regress on a New Jersey team that needs to add a lot more talent this offseason.
Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
O’Reilly is the first Sabre to finish in the NHL’s top-50 scorers since the 2009-10 season when Derek Roy had 69 points in 80 games. O’Reilly accomplished this despite missing 11 games this season.
With so much attention on Jack Eichel in Buffalo, O’Reilly’s quietly outstanding season has gone a little underappreciated. A big part of his offense came from what he contributed to the league’s 11th best power play unit.
O’Reilly scored 22 of his 60 points on the power play which was good enough to match his career-high in power play points set in 2013-14. The young center has carved out a role for himself as an invaluable part of the Sabres’ top six forward group and on their top power play unit.
Although he finished outside of fantasy hockey’s top-100 players this season, O’Reilly exceeded all expectations in terms of his production-per-game. If not for a minus-16 plus-minus rating and the games he missed, there would be many more fantasy managers taking him in mock drafts before draft day in the fall.