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Fantasy hockey: One category superstars

Mike Hoffman returns to an elite power play unit in Florida. Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

For many managers, there's much more to fantasy competition than goals and assists. In that view, here's a round-up of players that satisfy other categories without sacrificing scoring - all of them ranking outside of ESPN's NHL Fantasy Top-50. Because I don't need to tell you Nikita Kucherov scores a lot of power-play goals. You already know that.

N/A indicates a ranking outside of ESPN.com's Top-275.


Power play points

Mike Hoffman, LW, Florida Panthers, No. 83

Slightly sidestepping the spotlight on a squad that also includes Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, Hoffman merits extra attention for what he accomplishes with the extra skater. In his first season with the Panthers, the former Senator scored half of his total 70 points with the man-advantage, split between 17 goals and 18 assists. If your league offers a premium for power-play scoring, Hoffman ranks substantially higher on your own do-draft list than otherwise.

Matt Duchene, C, Nashville Predators, No. 112

In hopes of reviving their doddering power play, the Predators reportedly intend to plunk their top offseason acquisition right in front of the net when competing with the man-advantage this year. Specifically when running out Nashville's top unit, which also includes Ryan Johansen, Victor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and defenseman Roman Josi. If all goes to plan, anticipate a significant increase in Duchene's usual power-play output, most recently totalling six goals and eight assists, split between Ottawa and Columbus last year.

Josh Morrissey, D, Winnipeg Jets, No. 166

As Dustin Byfuglien's NHL career remains up in the air, and Tyler Myers extends his own in Vancouver, Morrissey steps in as full-time substitute in playing the point on one of the league's top power plays. While hardly a case of fish-out-of-water - the 24-year-old is no stranger to the gig - he hasn't owned it consistently. Now that being the case, Morrissey could comfortably flirt with 25-30 power-play points by April. In addition to what the 13th overall draft pick (2013) accomplishes on the top-pair at even-strength.

See also: Kaapo Kakko, RW, New York Rangers, No. 121

Shots on goal

Victor Olofsson, RW, Buffalo Sabres, N/A

Tiny sample size to be sure, but Olofsson averaged 3.5 shots per game through a half-dozen contests in making his NHL debut this past spring. Rounding out the positive first impression, he also scored two goals and two assists. Fast-forward to present-day training camp, and the 24-year-old Swedish League export and recent Rochester American is earning a go on a Sabres' forward line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. If that trio sticks, or he lands anywhere within Buffalo's top-six, Olofsson can't be overlooked as a potent sleeper candidate with a high fantasy ceiling.

See also: Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets, No. 97

Faceoffs won

Phillip Danault, C, Montreal Canadiens, No. 215

Underwhelming otherwise, the Canadiens center brings a little extra to the fantasy table in what he also offers in the faceoff circle. Ranking seventh in the NHL with 882 wins, and boasting a 55.5% success rate, Danault finds himself on the fringe of some pretty elite company, counting Ryan O'Reilly, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Another go around at centering a top-six scoring line with Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar, the 26-year-old center could generate 60 points in 2019-20. By no means a make or break fantasy asset, Danault does sport genuine value in deeper leagues that prize this category.

See also: Jordan Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes, No. 193

Hits

Max Comtois, LW, Anaheim Ducks, N/A

A regular subject in our preseason fantasy coverage, Comtois is recognized for bringing a treasured blend of physicality and productive ability to the game. This kid is going to throw his body around a lot, occasionally outside the parameters of what the league now permits. While still feeling out matters during last fall's 10-game audition, Comtois nonetheless managed to collect seven points and 27 hits. Look out if he wins a role in the Ducks' top-six.

See also: Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo Sabres, No. 263

Blocked shots

Jacob Trouba, D, New York Rangers, No. 137

Assuming he carts his proven taste for shot-blocking from Manitoba to Manhattan, the former Jets defenseman offers yet another weapon out of his fantasy-relevant arsenal. Only five players blocked more shots in 2018-19 (171) than Trouba, and not one of them is also pegged to anchor a Rangers' top power play this season. Staring down a potential career-best 60 points, the 25-year-old deserves heavy draft-day highlighting in any league that rewards scoring and the painful art of sacrificing oneself in the name of defense.

See also: Alexander Edler, D, Vancouver Canucks, No. 194

PIM

Evander Kane, LW, San Jose Sharks, No. 52

The Sharks forward averaged 2.04 penalty minutes per game in 2018-19 - edging notorious troublemaker Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals by 0.01 -for an impressive total of 153. Unlike Wilson, the 28-year-old sniper finished 12th overall in shots per game with 3.6 (total: 268) and scored 30 goals. Frequently underrated as a fantasy asset, Kane serves as a dynamite triple threat in leagues that reward shooting, scoring, and sitting in the sin box.

Average time-on-ice

Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets, No. 111

While yet to overthrow perennial minute-muncher Ryan Suter from top of the time-on-ice podium, Jones is ever inching nearer the Wild defenseman, maxing out at 25:49 this past campaign, the sixth of his still-young career. Sharing top-pair and power-play duties with fellow Columbus blueliner Zach Werenski, the 24-year-old seems set to return to his 57-point-earning ways of only two years ago. All the while playing near 26 minutes per game.

See also: Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers, No. 163

Save percentage

John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks, No. 110

The Ducks' No. 1 netminder faced an average of 31.7 shots per game this past season, a number consistent with the league median. But now new head coach Dallas Eakins wants to offer his skaters more freedom on offense, likely opening up play, and consequently seeing Gibson more peppered than usual. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, if Anaheim manages to score more often as a result (depending on quality of shots of course). Gibson is a top-tier goalie who deserves greater support up front. And an increase in shots-against will only bolster his save percentage.