Some teams, like the Buffalo Sabres and the Edmonton Oilers, have exploded out of the gate on the power play. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are fueling destructive special teams that have helped both clubs avoid a regulation loss this season (combined 9-0-1).
The fantasy realm, as such, is enjoying some early season breakouts from the likes of James Neal, Victor Olofsson, Oscar Klefbom and Rasmus Dahlin. By all means, buy into the performances. McDavid and Eichel aren't going anywhere, so these supporting pieces can keep up close to the stats we've seen so far. It's not like the power plays are in the stratosphere or anything - the Sabres are converting on 42.1 percent and the Oilers on 41.2 percent. Those percentages will regress, but they don't have to by a ton (25 to 30 percent is reasonable for the top teams).
In the meantime, we can look to which players on which power plays are getting the job done with a little less fanfare than the Oilers and Sabres. A good target this time of year is players who are scoring power play points with minimal minutes or on the second unit. Nothing helps fantasy goodness over the long-term like a promotion on special teams.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers have four power-play goals so far this season and three have come from the second power-play unit. Travis Konecny has three power-play helpers in 6:09 of PP time, while Oskar Lindblom has two goals in 5:36 and Ivan Provorov has one of each in 6:09. The big minutes are going to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk for now, but it wouldn't be a shock to see the units begin to merge a little, getting some additional minutes for the players producing. With three goals at even strength as well, Konecny is a major buy for me.
New York Islanders: The Isles are getting fewer opportunities on the man advantage, with only 10 chances through five games, but they've converted on three of them. Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each have two power-play points on those goals. If he wasn't likely out with a leg injury at the moment, Eberle would have my attention here as he's been on the top line with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal. Keep him on the radar for when he returns. In the meantime, maybe have a look at Oliver Wahlstrom, who appears to be lining up with Barzal and Lee for his NHL debut in Eberle's stead.
Los Angeles Kings: Interestingly, the Kings have two power-play goals on 16 opportunities this season and both have been scored by Drew Doughty with assists on both to Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk. It's interesting because the trio have not been on an established unit together very often ... yet. Kovalchuk has been on the second unit for most occasions, but has been contributing in a big way so far this season. It won't hold for long with Kovy on the second unit if he keeps scoring - he has six points through five games. While last season was a write-off for the returning Kovalchuk, this one is off to a much better start. He's available in 80 percent of leagues.
San Jose Sharks: Combined, Evander Kane, Dylan Gambrell and Patrick Marleau have played 13:58 of power-play time. That combined time would be sixth on the team for power-play minutes this season. Yet the trio has accounted for four of the Sharks nine power-play points this season. The Sharks have been splitting up Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson for two different units on the man advantage of late, with Gambrell and Marleau landing on the unit with Karlsson. Marleau is of particular interest, as he's taking shifts with Logan Couture and Timo Meier at even strength.
And yes, I did just recommend the 36-year-old Kovalchuk and the 40-year-old Marleau as possible fantasy additions.
Forwards on the move
Mike Hoffman, W, Florida Panthers (up 10 spots to No. 67): We love Hoffman for fantasy purposes already, so it's hard to describe the emotion when he goes from 15 or 16 minutes a night to more than 20. Elevated to the top line with Aleksander Barkov for regular shifts this past week, it's unfortunate the Panthers didn't start winning to cement the placement. Either way, Hoffman has five goals and seven points already (five games) and with the chance to get an extra five minutes a game on the depth chart, he makes an aggressive move up the rankings.
Max Pacioretty, W, Vegas Golden Knights (up six spots to No. 79): The Cody Glass experiment has come to an end for now, with the Knights brining Paul Stastny back to center the second line that exploded together during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The result through two games back together has been five points for Pacioretty, five points for Stastny and three points for Mark Stone. It looks like they'll be hanging out together for a while again.
Jonathan Drouin, C, Montreal Canadiens (up nine spots to No. 151): I'm not even sure it's the Canadiens second line that Drouin is on, with the offense divided up fairly evenly among three lines. But it's working for Drouin, who has six points through the Habs first five games of the season. Drouin is taking shifts with sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia. Not a top line on paper, but the results have been solid. If Drouin keeps showing well, his supporting cast could improve and more power-play time could come his way.
Defensemen on the move
Dougie Hamilton, D, Carolina Hurricanes (up 18 spots to No. 61): While he might miss him as a friend, Hamilton has to be over the moon that Justin Faulk was shipped out of Carolina. He's claimed the big power-play minutes for the team and already has three power-play points this season - noting that he finished with a grand total of seven last season. He won't keep scoring on 21.1 percent of his many shots, but it's clear Hamilton is ascending into the top tier of fantasy defensemen.
Shea Theodore, D, Vegas Golden Knights (up 11 spots to No. 160): It feels like we've been waiting for a Theodore breakout for the better part of three years and, while last season was solid, it wasn't the exclamation point we wanted. This campaign is off to a better start, with five points through six games including three power-play helpers. Is 55 points and D2 status awaiting Theodore this season? He's certainly lined up to achieve those marks.
Goaltenders on the move
Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers (up 42 spots to No. 97): While I don't love the quality of competition to judge Hart's three-game season thus far, stopping 75 of 80 pucks while not losing in regulation is a pretty damn good start for a 21-year-old goaltender. The Flyers identity in the crease has been an ugly one in recent seasons, so riding a workhorse starter would be in the team's best interest. That said, he's still only 21 and the ability to start 60-plus games is a big question mark. I'm OK with playing this one out in fantasy for another couple months, but come 2020 I'm going to start wondering about the rest of Hart's season if he's started 80 percent of the Flyers games at that point.
New to rankings
Ilya Kovalchuk, Zack Kassian, Thomas Greiss, Patrick Marleau, Max Comtois (chance on top line, bonus for hits leagues), Justin Schultz (power-play time for the foreseeable future), Roope Hintz, Dominik Kubalik (didn't stick on top line, but still playing well), Paul Stastny, Jordan Staal