Ranking Every NHL Team's Power-Play Unit for the 2015-16 Season

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2015

Ranking Every NHL Team's Power-Play Unit for the 2015-16 Season

0 of 30

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The targets may vary from team to team, but the NHL standards for special teams are a 20 percent effectiveness rating for the power play and 80 percent success on the penalty kill. But while the PK can be influenced heavily by goaltenders, the power play is really all about the offensive talent you can get on the ice all at once.

    You'd think that would guarantee the most skilled teams top spots in goal scoring and efficiency with the man advantage, but that's not always the case. Although the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers were top three in the league a year ago, the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning were middle of the pack at best. The Ducks were actually in the bottom three.

    More than just talented players, there needs to be chemistry to make it work. Teams are always seeking to improve the power play in the offseason, and some big moves were made this year that could impact the rankings.

    Here is every NHL team's power play ranked based on what they've done this summer, how they've fared in the recent past and how much the moves will influence this season's units.

30. Toronto Maple Leafs

1 of 30

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 26th (45-for-283, 15.9%)

    Key additions: Mike Babcock

    Key subtractions: Phil Kessel, Cody Franson

    Bottom Line: New head coach Babcock had the Detroit Red Wings in second place in the category last year. But guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had a lot to do with that success.

    At least the Toronto Maples Leafs have Phil Kesl...er...at least they have Cody Fran...hmmm. Well, Tyler Bozak has proved he doesn't need Kessel to score, right? I give up. They're hooped. Babcock doesn't even have a Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar to work with here. They should be battling for last.

29. Carolina Hurricanes

2 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 13th (45-for-240, 18.8%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: Alexander Semin, Jiri Tlusty

    Bottom Line: It's somewhat of a miracle the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves in such a favorable spot in this category considering their top player, Eric Staal, battled injury and the first-unit group featured Riley Nash, Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry along with the more promising Elias Lindholm and Justin Faulk.

    The luck is very likely going to run out. The Hurricanes were third worst two years ago and fourth worst the season before that one.

28. Buffalo Sabres

3 of 30

    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 30th (30-for-224, 13.4%)

    Key additions: Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly

    Key subtractions: Nikita Zadorov

    Bottom Line: Last year's top unit featured Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford (before he was traded away) and defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen. Zadorov and Stafford are gone and incoming forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane weren't huge power-play contributors on their former teams—although Kane could provide a nice net-front presence if he can stay healthy and motivated.

    Rookie Jack Eichel is an unknown commodity with lots of talent who, along with last year's top pick in Sam Reinhart, could provide a boost for the unit. Essentially starting from scratch, though, it's unlikely they rocket too far up the rankings in percentage too quickly.

27. Ottawa Senators

4 of 30

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 22nd (47-for-280, 16.8%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: David Legwand

    Bottom Line: The fact Legwand is listed as a key subtraction here says it all. The ho-hum veteran was part of a four-forward power-play unit for most of the season before rookie Mark Stone got hot in the second half and provided some consistency. The group lives and dies by captain and defenseman Erik Karlsson, who hasn't had a forward as talented as Jason Spezza to work with for a couple of years.

    Stone is good but is he going to turn the team into a top power-play group even if he manages to match his second-half output for a full season? The answer—not that I was really asking—is no way.

26. New Jersey Devils

5 of 30

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 8th (41-for-212, 19.2%)

    Key additions: Kyle Palmieri

    Key subtractions: Scott Gomez, Marek Zidlicky, Jaromir Jagr

    Bottom Line: Technically, the New Jersey Devils lost Jagr and Zidlicky at the trade deadline last season, but the loss won't really be felt until this year since the team was way out of the playoff hunt. Gomez had a nice bounce-back season and was second on the team with 14 power-play points a year ago.

    Palmieri had a nice season with the Anaheim Ducks on special teams last season but will have to prove his five goals and 11 points on the PP in just 57 games wasn't a fluke. And he won't have the same quality of linemates with which to accomplish it.

25. Arizona Coyotes

6 of 30

    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: 7th (46-for-230, 20%)

    Key additions: Antoine Vermette, Max Domi

    Key subtractions: Keith Yandle, Sam Gagner

    Bottom Line: They gave up their top power-play point man in Yandle at the deadline last season, but at least the Arizona Coyotes got Vermette back via free agency after trading him away in the winter. The Coyotes couldn't score much at even strength a year ago but were great on the power play thanks mostly to their top defensemen getting pucks through to the net.

    With Yandle gone, the onus is on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but some young guns such as Domi, Anthony Duclair and perhaps the Coyotes' top pick from the 2015 draft, Dylan Strome, will have to make their mark for the team not to plummet.

24. Florida Panthers

7 of 30

    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: 24th (40-for-246, 16.3%)

    Key additions: Reilly Smith

    Key subtractions: Jimmy Hayes, Brad Boyes

    Bottom Line: Technically, you could add Jaromir Jagr to the key additions. He was a staple on the top unit after coming over at the trade deadline and playing alongside Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and either Dmitri Kulikov or Brian Campbell. The loss of both Hayes and Boyes means the second unit has some holes to fill. Smith could help in that area, and Vincent Trocheck saw some time there as well.

    All in all, the Panthers made a huge jump last year from the league's worst PP in 2013-14 at 10 percent. A minor jump could take place depending on the development of the youngsters, but they are likely going to land back in the 16 percent region again.

23. Nashville Predators

8 of 30

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 25th (42-for-259, 16.2%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: The Nashville Predators took care of their own this offseason, bringing back Mike Ribeiro and inking long-term deals with Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Those three are the core of their top unit, but the group didn't manage much last season with one of the worst percentages in the league.

    With Shea Weber and Roman Josi on one unit and Seth Jones and a healthy Ryan Ellis on the other, they'll always be dangerous from the point, however. Unless James Neal makes more of an impact, don't expect much.

22. Minnesota Wild

9 of 30

    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 27th (39-for-246, 15.8%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: Chris Stewart

    Bottom Line: The power play hasn't been a Minnesota Wild strong suit for years. This season, the team will rely on some internal improvements to bump up the scoring percentage, with no new names likely to grace the top unit. Veteran Mikko Koivu will lose time to Mikael Granlund, and Matt Dumba may give Ryan Suter a rest at times or force coaches to go with three forwards more often than four.

    But even with elite goal scorers in Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek among them, the group isn't the most adept at the slick passing needed to keep good goaltenders guessing.

21. New York Rangers

10 of 30

    Frank Franklin/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 21st (39-for-242, 16.8%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: Martin St. Louis

    Bottom Line: For a team that seemed to have little trouble scoring goals during the regular season, the New York Rangers had a terrible power play. St. Louis, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan were often out there as the four forwards with only Dan Boyle on defense. That formula didn't work, and with St. Louis retired, there's a need for another playmaker up front on an already putrid unit.

    That could fall to the speedy Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider or maybe even newcomer Emerson Etem, who came over in the Carl Hagelin trade with the Anaheim Ducks and has a big body and some speed that could pan out with a new team.

    Things didn't click last year, but the Rangers have too much talent up front to languish near the bottom again. They were up over 18 percent two seasons ago and should get back there again with some new blood and a renewed focus after missing out on a second straight Stanley Cup Final appearance.

20. Boston Bruins

11 of 30

    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: Tied for 17th (38-for-213, 17.8%)

    Key additions: Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes

    Key subtractions: Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton

    Bottom Line: Both Smith and Soderberg helped form the Boston Bruins' top power-play unit last season, but since it was middle-of-the-pack good, their loss isn't too damaging. In fact, the big-bodied Beleskey and Hayes have a much bigger net-front presence than either of the aforementioned guys who no longer call Boston home.

    Patrice Bergeron is known for his two-way play, but he was the team's top-scoring forward on the man advantage with 14 points in 2014-15.

    A healthy Zdeno Chara would go a long way in replacing Hamilton, but the additions and subtractions here could wash out and leave the B's languishing in the middle of the pack.

19. Winnipeg Jets

12 of 30

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 17th (48-for-269, 17.8%)

    Key additions: Alexander Burmistrov

    Key subtractions: Evander Kane, Michael Frolik

    Bottom Line: The Winnipeg Jets' top unit remains intact with Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler joining defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom. Kane and Frolik were depth pieces on the power play, so that hurts. The return of Burmistrov—who left the team for two years to join the KHL—offsets some of that speed and skill. The team will need him to play a big role with the second group.

18. Montreal Canadiens

13 of 30

    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 23rd (40-for-243, 16.5%)

    Key additions: Alexander Semin, Zack Kassian

    Key subtractions: P.A. Parenteau

    Bottom Line: The Montreal Canadiens were 20th in goals scored last season and relied way too heavily on goalie Carey Price—which is why he ran away with the Hart Trophy voting. The Habs made an effort this offseason to boost their anemic offense, adding Semin in free agency in spite of his recent struggles in Carolina, where the Hurricanes bought out his last contract because of his awful 2014-15 campaign.

    Semin is one of those super talented but motivationally challenged enigmas who could either bump the Canadiens up significantly in power-play numbers or have them curse the day they spent money on him. Kassian is an underrated pickup coming over from Vancouver, where the Canucks wanted him to use his size physically rather than take advantage of his great hands. His size will come in handy on the power play.

    They should be a much better unit this season, taking pressure off both Max Pacioretty and Price.

17. Los Angeles Kings

14 of 30

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 11th (47-for-247, 19.0%)

    Key additions: Milan Lucic

    Key subtractions: Justin Williams

    Bottom Line: Adding a big power forward doesn't seem like a big deal for a team like the Los Angeles Kings, who have a roster full of big power forwards, but it gives the power-play units more depth and options. Lucic will be motivated to prove to the Boston Bruins and the league he has plenty of scoring left in the tank, and there will never be more room than when the other team is down a man to take advantage of space.

    He only had a pair of goals and eight points a year ago with the Bruins but saw his role decrease and played the 10th most minutes on average on the power play. He'll get plenty in L.A. and should create more time and space for potential linemates Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.

    The loss of Williams can't be overstated, however. He was a guy you could count on to produce. The Kings will need Lucic at his best to help make up that difference.

16. Colorado Avalanche

15 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 29th (37-for-247, 15.0%)

    Key additions: Nikita Zadorov

    Key subtractions: Ryan O'Reilly

    Bottom Line: Not much has changed for the Avalanche from last season, although with the collection of talented forwards they have to man the man advantage, last year might have been a bit of an anomaly for a group that finished fifth in the league the previous season. Losing O'Reilly may actually help the Avs, as Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene will get more minutes and are more slick and creative than the departed.

    Zadorov proved to be an effective blueliner for the Buffalo Sabres down the stretch and gives the Avs another option to move the puck with Tyson Barrie. They should bounce back closer to the desirable 20 percent success rate teams target.

15. Anaheim Ducks

16 of 30

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 28th (37-for-235, 15.7%)

    Key additions: Carl Hagelin, Chris Stewart

    Key subtractions: Kyle Palmieri

    Bottom Line: Palmieri was the Anaheim Ducks' fourth-ranked power-play performer last year, but he was shipped to the New Jersey Devils during the June draft. The Ducks did add the speedy Carl Hagelin in a deal with the New York Rangers and grabbed an inconsistent Chris Stewart on a prove-it contract via free agency. Either could provide something different on the man advantage but most likely on the second unit or in spot duty on the first if the team is seeking a spark.

    The top dogs remain the same with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Pat Maroon and Cam Fowler or Sami Vatanen likely to keep their jobs. Maybe they should consider shaking it up, though, as they've been in the bottom third for three of the past four years. They're too talented to languish for long and should be able to move up a little.

14. Chicago Blackhawks

17 of 30

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 20th (46-for-261, 17.6%)

    Key additions: Trevor Daley

    Key subtractions: Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards

    Bottom Line: It's hard to fathom how the Chicago Blackhawks fared so poorly on the power play considering the ability to play Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews together along with defenseman Duncan Keith and either Brent Seabrook or another forward like Marian Hossa or Andrew Shaw.

    Sharp is a big loss from the top group. He often manned one of the points on the man advantage, leaving Keith as the only real blueliner. I'm sure Seabrook or Trevor Daley could fill in there just fine and maybe even prevent some shorthanded opportunities.

    Losing Saad and Richards is a big chunk of the second unit, too, and hurts the team's depth on the power play. However, the main group is good enough to have the Hawks back near the top 10 rather than the bottom 10.

13. Edmonton Oilers

18 of 30

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 20th (41-for-232, 17.7%)

    Key additions: Connor McDavid, Andrej Sekera

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: Sekera was a huge score for a team lacking much in the way of top-end defensive talent. His joining as a free agent is a sign of perception changing when it comes to the northern Alberta squad. It also speaks to the generational talent set to join the Oilers in 2015 first overall draft pick Connor McDavid. Have you heard about the five goals he scored in a scrimmage this summer?

    Seriously, though, McDavid looks like the first real deal since Sid the Kid or The Big Baby (Eric Lindros). His presence alone is enough to boost the percentage a touch. Factor in Sekera, and the team could opt for two strong offensive defensemen and spread out the forward offense over two deep groups.

12. New York Islanders

19 of 30

    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 16th (50-for-267, 18.7%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: John Tavares almost doubled the output of any teammate on the power play last season and finished with the fifth-highest total in the league. He's a rare game-breaker who can do it on his own—and he proved it by playing with nearly everyone at times on the man advantage. With a healthy wing man in Kyle Okposo for a full season, Tavares may be able to help the team climb into the top 10. He's just that good and getting better every year.

11. Tampa Bay Lightning

20 of 30

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: Tied for 13th (53-for-282, 18.8%)

    Key additions: None

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: The Tampa Bay Lightning actually scored the eighth-most power-play goals in the league last season with 53 of them, but they had the fourth-most opportunities. As long as they have sniper Steven Stamkos and playmaker Tyler Johnson on separate units, they are going to have one of the most deadly one-two punches possible on the power play, able to call each of them No. 1.

    Their percentage wasn't in the top 10 last year, but with the group of incredible forwards they boast with natural chemistry, and a healthy defensive quarterback in Victor Hedman—who flourished in the playoffs—the Bolts will be there this time around.

10. Calgary Flames

21 of 30

    Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: Tied for 13th (48-for-255, 18.8%)

    Key additions: Dougie Hamilton, Sam Bennett, Michael Frolik

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: Defense led the way for the Calgary Flames last year, with three D-men cracking double digits in points and four blueliners in the top seven in team scoring on the power play. With a trade for Boston Bruins defenseman Hamilton, the Flames got even richer in that department.

    As long as rookie dynamo Johnny Gaudreau—who led the team with 21 power-play points—is able to sustain his impressive production, the team will likely surprise again in the functionality of their man-advantage units. There won't be a massive drop from the first to second units, either, thanks to the depth on the back end and the fact that Bennett should be expected to play a full season in Calgary.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

22 of 30

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 5th (53-for-244, 21.7%)

    Key additions: Brandon Saad

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: Making a big trade for an up-and-coming star in Brandon Saad, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave more punch to their already potent power play, which jumped from 11th in 2013-14 to fifth in the league last year in effectiveness.

    Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson are the primary scorers, but Saad will offer another effective offensive threat to mix with Scott Hartnell, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson, among others who offer a nice mix of speed, size and skill.

    The Blue Jackets should remain near the top of the league long as superstar Johansen is healthy.

8. St. Louis Blues

23 of 30

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 4th (56-for-251, 22.3%)

    Key additions: Troy Brouwer

    Key subtractions: T.J. Oshie

    Bottom Line: Parting with Oshie might cost the St. Louis Blues some points in the shootout, but the flashy showdown star wasn't an essential part of the team's power play. The Blues should continue their dominant ways on the man advantage thanks to the strong blue-line quarterbacking from Kevin Shattenkirk and feisty forwards David Backes, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz creating mayhem in front of the net.

    Brouwer was second in goals behind Alex Ovechkin on the Washington Capitals' top-ranked power-play unit and adds another big body to the front of the net for screens and tips.

7. Vancouver Canucks

24 of 30

    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: Tied for 8th (46-for-248, 19.3%)

    Key additions: Brandon Sutter

    Key subtractions: Nick Bonino, Zack Kassian

    Bottom Line: Let's face it, the Sedin twins do all the damage. They accounted for 50 power-play points combined while the rest of the team ranked third through 16th—the other members of the Vancouver Canucks to earn points on the man advantage combined for a total of 79.

    Sutter may be an upgrade in most aspects of the game over Bonino, who did a nice job filling in for Ryan Kesler offensively last season but was traded away this offseason. The Canucks never did use Kassian's talents to their fullest. Daniel and Henrik Sedin keep the team near the top.

6. San Jose Sharks

25 of 30

    Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    2014-15 season: 6th (55-for-254, 21.6%)

    Key additions: Joel Ward, Paul Martin

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: In spite of all that ails the San Jose Sharks, their Big 5 on the power play is pretty lethal. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns combine young and old, skill and snipe—and it is extremely effective when they're all able to be out there together.

    Depth has been addressed with the addition of Martin, another strong puck-moving defenseman, and Ward, who played a minor role in helping the Washington Capitals achieve the most efficient power play in the league this past year.

5. Dallas Stars

26 of 30

    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 11th (55-for-290, 19.0%)

    Key additions: Patrick Sharp

    Key subtractions: Trevor Daley

    The bottom line: The Dallas Stars were already full of power-play riches with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza up front and John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski on the back end. With the trade for Patrick Sharp, who played on the point with the Chicago Blackhawks and often teed up his blast from the blue line with great results, the Stars added a proven goal scorer.

    The team gave up Daley, who had a career season, to get the more defensive Johnny Oduya, but Sharp is a difference-maker even at his age and will bump the Stars up near the top of the heap.

4. Philadelphia Flyers

27 of 30

    Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 3rd (60-for-237, 23.4%)

    Key additions: Sam Gagner

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: The Philadelphia Flyers relied heavily on one four-forward unit and defenseman Mark Streit to do most of the damage, and the team was content to leave them out there for most of the power-play minutes. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn contributed 46 of the team's 60 power-play goals last season.

    They'll remain together again this year, and the addition of Gagner just offers more depth for a second unit. He was a decent contributor for the Arizona Coyotes a season ago on a surprisingly decent special teams group.

3. Detroit Red Wings

28 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 2nd (70-for-294, 23.8%)

    Key additions: Brad Richards, Mike Green

    Key subtractions: None

    Bottom Line: The Detroit Red Wings led the league in power-play opportunities last season and are always near the top of the category. That helps them when it comes to the goal count—they scored 10 more (70) than their closest competitor, the Washington Capitals (60)—but their efficiency is right up there, too. That says a lot about the collection of talent they have to ice on the power play.

    Most impressive is the fact the Wings are so well-rounded behind stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg that they shouldn't miss a beat when the older vets start to slow down. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan have bright futures.

    For good measure this year, the Wings brought in coveted defenseman Mike Green and a still slick Brad Richards, both of whom could bolster the unit even more and give the Wings a chance at having the league's top power play. 

2. Washington Capitals

29 of 30

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: 1st (60-for-237, 25.3%)

    Key additions: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams

    Key subtractions: Troy Brouwer, Mike Green

    Bottom Line: The Washington Capitals lost two players from their top unit this offseason in Brouwer and Green. That's the bad news. The good news is they still have Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who are nearly impossible to stop even at five-on-five. Ovechkin scored 25 of his team's 60 power-play goals to lead the league by six in that category. No other Caps players hit double digits, with Brouwer finishing second with eight.

    Defenseman John Carlson should fill in fine for Green, and either Oshie or Williams will get plenty of time in light of Brouwer leaving. But the truth is as long as Ovechkin and Backstrom are healthy, the team will finish among the leaders.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

30 of 30

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2014-15 season: Tied for 8th (49-for-254, 19.3%)

    Key additions: Phil Kessel

    Key subtractions: Brandon Sutter, Paul Martin

    Bottom Line: Martin is a tough one to lose as a solid power-play puck-mover, but Kessel together with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang on defense with either Patric Hornqvist, David Perron, Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta rounding out the top group will give the Penguins a deadly top unit—definitely among the most dangerous in the league. The top guys will never want to leave the ice.

    The negative, though, is they may lead the league in shorthanded goals against after finishing with the second most last year with 11.