The importance of a good power play in the NHL cannot be understated. Last season, the New Jersey Devils had the fewest man advantage opportunities in the league, with 212; the Detroit Red Wings led the league with 294.
In recent years, the amount of penalties drawn by a player has started to get tracked, helping identify what players in the league give their teams more power play attempts. In case you’re wondering, Toronto’s Nazem Kadri and Washington’s Tom Wilson were two of the best in that regard last season, drawing 1.9 penalties per 60 minutes.
In 2014-15, the Red Wings led the league with 70 power play goals. Those goals accounted for nearly a third of their total offense.
Having players who can score on the power play regularly can affect a team’s gameplay too. If your team is going up against a hot powerplay unit, you can’t be aggressive. If you’re facing a team who struggles to score on the power play, you can be aggressive because you can probably afford to take some penalties.
These are the guys who are automatic while on the man advantage, they feast on other team’s penalty killers. Whenever they get a chance, they’re jumping over the boards with the intent to come back to the bench after lighting the lamp.
15. Phil Kessel
Although he’s well-known for his ability to score off the rush, the former sniper of the Toronto Maple Leafs proves he can also score on the powerplay.
He starred on one of the league’s worst powerplays, as the Leafs only converted 15.9% of their chances during the 2014-15 season, but he still managed to score 25 points while on the PP.
Over the last two years, he tallied 44 PP points, which accounted for 31% of his offence.
This season though, he’ll be playing on one of the league’s top power play teams, which will help his numbers a lot.
14. Steven Stamkos
Stamkos has one of the best one-time shots in the NHL, so when Tampa Bay’s power play takes to the ice, the penalty killers know to cover Stamkos as he’s setting up on the far face-off dot. Even then, it hardly works because Stamkos can power his shots through.
In the last two seasons, Stamkos has scored 20 PP goals, and considering he missed over half of the 2013-14 season due to injury, that’s pretty impressive.
During that span, he’s scored 36 PP points, which makes up just over 31% of his 114 points totals.
Last season, the Lightning were in the NHL’s top 10 in PP goals, scoring 53 over the course of the season, and with the emergence of other forwards on the Lightning, Stamkos should be able to find more space.
13. Pavel Datsyuk
‘The Magician’, as he’s affectionately called by Red Wings fans has slipped off a little bit in the past couple seasons, but that’s been mostly because of injuries.
Over the last two seasons, Datsyuk has scored 35 points on the PP, which accounts for 34% of his scoring totals. Factor in that he’s missed over 50 games during that span, his numbers would be way higher if healthy.
As some of Detroit’s young talents, like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar continue to develop, Datsyuk might be able to free himself up and add to his totals as his career begins to wind down.
12. Daniel & Henrik Sedin
This isn’t the first time I’ve lumped the twins together, and it probably won’t be the last. The Sedins have that crazy 6th sense; they always seem to know exactly where the other is on the ice without having to look, and they’ve used that to their advantage their entire careers.
Daniel has scored 43 PP points over the last two seasons. Henrik has also scored 43 PP points over the last two seasons.
Daniel’s PP production has accounted for 35% of his scoring totals during that time. Henrik’s PP production has accounted for 35% of his scoring totals during that time.
Seriously, those two are insane.
11. Sidney Crosby
Not really surprising to see Crosby on this list, what might surprising though, is he isn’t higher.
Crosby’s vision on the ice and his ability to read the play is talked about all the time, and those two things really help him and his team out on the man advantage. He’s the type of player who can run the power play from the corner or from behind the net and put the puck into dangerous areas.
Last season, Crosby had 31 PP points in what can be considered a down year for him. He only had 84 points.
Over the past two seasons, he’s scored 70 PP points, which accounted for 37% of his output, but with the addition of Kessel, those numbers could rise.
10. John Tavares
The New York Islanders finished last season in the top 10 in power play goals scored, even though they had a middling conversion rate of 18.7%, and Tavares was one of the main benefactors of all that power play time.
He ranked in the top 5 in PP scoring last season with 31 points.
Over the last two years, he’s scored 58 PP points which accounts for 38% of his total scoring.
What’s even more impressive, is that he’s been the guy on the Islanders’ powerplay, for the most part, as Frans Nielson and Kyle Okposo totals together, are just over half of Tavares’.
9. P.K. Subban
Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban has been growing in his role as the lead quarterback behind the Montreal Canadiens’ power play.
Last year, the Habs were in the bottom 10 teams in the NHL in converting PP opportunities, scoring on just 16.5% of their chances.
Even with those poor numbers, Subban has managed to score 43 points on the PP over the last two seasons, accounting for exactly 38% of his offence.
If the Canadiens can figure out how to make their power play a little more potent, Subban stands to increase his scoring numbers.
8. Jakub Voracek
Since the last lockout, Voracek has emerged into a pretty prolific scorer. Last season, he was point short of being a point-per-game player, with 81 points in 82 games.
A lot of that has come on the powerplay, as he’s been an important cog in Philadelphia’s man-advantage system. The Flyers were the third best in the NHL when it came to converting power play opportunities last season, scoring on 23.4% of their chances, scoring 60 PP goals.
In the last two seasons, Voracek has scored 55 points on the PP, accounting for over 38% of his scoring totals.
7. Henrik Zetterberg
The Detroit Red Wings powerplay was one of the most efficient last season, as they led the league with the most PP goals, and Zetterberg has been one of the key contributors to that, even while missing significant time to injuries.
In the past two years, Zetterberg has only suited up in 122 games, after missing half of the 2013-14 season. During that time, he’s still managed to score 44 PP points. Of those, 24 were the first assist, meaning he’s been the set-up man.
His PP points have accounted for just over 38% of his 114 points during that time.
6. Evgeni Malkin
Malkin is just one part of the high-flying offense in Pittsburgh, and because of some other guy on the team, he sometimes has to play second fiddle, even though Malkin’s contributions rank him higher on this list.
Surprisingly, the Penguins only had the 10th best PP conversion rate last season, at 19.3%, but if Olli Maata can stay healthy and develop, and with the addition of Phil Kessel, the Pens could be lethal on the man advantage.
Over the last two years, Malkin has scored 56 points on the PP, which made up for 39.4% of his scoring totals. He has dealt with some minor injuries, which has caused him to miss a chunk of games, so if he can stay heathy, his numbers will go up.
5. Joe Pavelski
Pavelski has quietly been one of the more consistent players in the NHL, it’s hard to believe he’s already 31 years old. Playing alongside Joe Thornton probably helps too.
The San Jose Sharks had one of the best powerplays in the NHL last season, scoring on 21.6% of their chances, and Pavelski scored almost a third of all their PP goals last season, with 19.
Over the past two years, Pavelski has scored 61 points on PP, and of those, 34 were goals.
His 61 PP points have accounted for over 40% of his total output.
4. Erik Karlsson
The two-time Norris Trophy winner has become known for his offensive prowess and a lot of his numbers have come on while quarterbacking Ottawa’s power play.
In the last two seasons, Karlsson has scored 140 points, and of those, 60 have come on the power play. That accounts for over 42% of his scoring totals.
Last season, the Senators were in the bottom half of the league in PP%, only converting on 16.8% of their opportunities.
As Mark Stone develops as an NHLer, Karlsson’s power play numbers should be on the rise too, since Stone could be that net-front presence.
3. Alex Ovechkin
Ovechkin is a generational player, and his ability to score is, in my opinion, underrated. The guy just loves to score goals, and it seems like it consumes him, especially on the powerplay.
The Washington Capitals had the most efficient powerplay in the league last year, scoring on 25.3% of their chances, and Ovechkin is a huge part of that, as he led the NHL in PP goals with 25.
Over the last two seasons, he scored 72 PP points, and of those, 51 were goals. The goals accounted for 49% of his totals, and the 72 points made up 44% of his scoring totals.
2. Claude Giroux
The Philadelphia Flyers had one of the league’s best power play units last year, scoring on 23.4% of their chances, and Giroux was the driver of the Flyer power play unit.
Last year, more than half of Giroux’s points came on the power play as he led the NHL with 37 PP points.
Over the last two seasons, he’s scored 74 PP points, which accounts for 47.4% of his scoring during that time.
Giroux is so effective on the power play, he’s helped to boost the point totals of players like Wayne Simmonds and former Flyer, Scott Hartnell, as they’ve benefited from being net-front presences and banging home loose pucks.
1. Nicklas Backstrom
He’s not a big time goal-scorer on the man advantage, but he doesn’t need to be. All Backstrom has to do is slide the puck to Ovechkin and let him do the rest. The thing about it is, Backstrom is really good at finding Ovechkin.
Last season, Backstrom had 33 powerplay points, while being the set-up guy on the league’s best powerplay team.
Over the past two seasons, he has led the league with 76 PP points, which accounts for 48.4% of his scoring totals.
It’s amazing the Capitals have such an efficient powerplay, when it’s clear the plan is for Backstrom to get it to Ovechkin, but it works.
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