NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes a change of scenery making a difference, a 2017 high draft pick finding his way, a Norris Trophy candidate in the Desert, Montreal's No. 1 goalie sidelined and a winger struggles continuing after coming to the Island. 

First Liners (Risers) 

Sam Bennett, C, FLA – Bennett, drafted fourth overall by the Flames in 2014, never reached his potential in Calgary. This season, he posted just 12 points and a -14 rating in 38 games as Flame, but had shown signs of life with five assists in his last four games before he was traded two weeks ago. The Panthers acquired Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round pick via trade from the Flames for a 2021 second-round pick and prospect Emil Heineman. Bennett has carried over his hot play before the deal, scoring four goals while adding three assists in six games for Florida, centering the second line between Jonathan Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair.

Casey Mittelstadt, C, BUF – Mittelstadt, the eighth overall selection from the 2017 draft, looked like a bust coming into this season. In 114 games, Mittelstadt had just 17 goals and 22 assists with a minus-23 rating. He did little to inspire confidence the first part of this year, notching six points with a minus-13 in his first 20 games. But from March 31 forward, Mittelstadt has looked like a completely different player, displaying signs as to why he was selected so high, tallying eight goals with four assists

This week's article includes a change of scenery making a difference, a 2017 high draft pick finding his way, a Norris Trophy candidate in the Desert, Montreal's No. 1 goalie sidelined and a winger struggles continuing after coming to the Island. 

First Liners (Risers) 

Sam Bennett, C, FLA – Bennett, drafted fourth overall by the Flames in 2014, never reached his potential in Calgary. This season, he posted just 12 points and a -14 rating in 38 games as Flame, but had shown signs of life with five assists in his last four games before he was traded two weeks ago. The Panthers acquired Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round pick via trade from the Flames for a 2021 second-round pick and prospect Emil Heineman. Bennett has carried over his hot play before the deal, scoring four goals while adding three assists in six games for Florida, centering the second line between Jonathan Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair.

Casey Mittelstadt, C, BUF – Mittelstadt, the eighth overall selection from the 2017 draft, looked like a bust coming into this season. In 114 games, Mittelstadt had just 17 goals and 22 assists with a minus-23 rating. He did little to inspire confidence the first part of this year, notching six points with a minus-13 in his first 20 games. But from March 31 forward, Mittelstadt has looked like a completely different player, displaying signs as to why he was selected so high, tallying eight goals with four assists and a plus-six rating in 15 games.

Luke Kunin, RW, NAS – Kunin extended his goal-scoring streak to three games Saturday but was shut out Monday. He was coming off his best NHL season with 15 goals and 31 points in 63 outings when he was surprising flipped from the Wild to the Predators in exchange for Nick Bonino in October. Kunin has been streaky this season, riding hot stretches followed by periods when he can't sniff a goal. The Missouri native is up to seven tallies, 16 points, 65 shots on goal, 76 hits and a plus-3 rating through 33 contests as a middle-six forward. 

Kevin Fiala, LW, MIN – Much of the attention in the State of Hockey has been on Kirill Kaprizov. Fiala, though, has been more than solid under the radar for the Wild. Fiala extended his point streak — during which he has three goals and three assists — Saturday with a marker and apple. On the year, Fiala has 17 goals and 15 assists in 43 games after posting 54 points in 64 games last year his first in Minnesota. While his output has taken a slight dip, Fiala looks to be closing the year strong, which unfortunately happened against me in the RotoWire Staff League last week.

Shea Theodore, D, LV – Think Anaheim wishes it held onto Theodore instead of dealing him to Vegas to protect Josh Manson? Theodore has made that decision look more than unwise, blossoming into an elite blueliner in the Desert. He scored 29 points in 2017-18, upping that total to 37 the following season before taking a quantum leap year when he notched 13 goals and 33 assists in 71 games. Theodore is making last season look like just another step in his progression to star blueliner, tallying seven goals, 33 assists, 138 shots on net, a plus-26 rating and 39 blocked shots in just 44 games. 

Justin Holl, D, TOR – Holl is more of a defensive presence in Toronto's top-four skating alongside Jake Muzzin, but he has shown that he can produce a bit as well. He extended his assist streak to three Saturday, giving the 29-year-old Holl, 17 points, 72 hits, 70 blocked shots, 47 shots on net, 23 PIM and a plus-seven rating in 48 games. With those three assists, Holl is just one point off the career-best total he posted last season, his first full year with the Buds. Sneaky production is what helps win fantasy titles, so ride Holl for a bit longer while he is hot. 

Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS – You know you are in pretty good shape when your third and fourth goalies can notch wins and post solid performances. With Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak (COVID-19), Daniel Vladar and Swayman more than held their own, allowing Boston to remain in fourth place in the East Division. Coming into Sunday's game against the Penguins, Swayman was 5-1-0 along with a 1.65 goals-against average (GAA) and .943 save percentage in six appearances, relegating Halak to third-goalie duty despite his return. He allowed just one goal in 29 shots Sunday against the Penguins. 

Braden Holtby G, VAN – Holtby overall has been brutal his first year in Vancouver. On the year, Holtby is 7-6-2 with a 3.32 GAA and a .903 save percentage through 15 appearances. But, for fantasy purposes, many — and likely most — times, it's the Janet Jackson song, "what have you done for me lately?" Holtby has come out of COVID-19 protocols in much better shape than Thatcher Demko. His victory Saturday was his third consecutive win, during which has allowed just seven goals on 107 shots. Holtby was solid Monday in the loss to Ottawa, allowing just two goals on 27 shots.

Others include Evgeny Kuznetsov, Arttu Ruotsalainen, John Tavares, Nathan MacKinnon, Nico Sturm, Sebastian Aho, Jonathan Huberdeau, Denis Gurianov, Bryan Rust, Pavel Buchnevich, Tyler Toffoli, Frank Vatrano, Yegor Sharangovich, Sam Reinhart. Jason Robertson, Miles Wood, Jake Guentzel, Jakub Vrana (four goals in a game warrants a mention), Anthony Duclair, Phil Kessel, Torey Krug, Cale Makar, MacKenzie Weegar, Rasmus Dahlin, Dougie Hamilton, Alex Goligoski, Ilya Samsonov, Jack Campbell, Robin Lehner, Darcy Kuemper, Cam Talbot and Tristan Jarry

Buy Low

Vinnie Hinostroza, LW, CHI – Looking at Hinostroza's overall numbers won't give you a true indication as to why he is on this side of the ledger. But if you parse out just his stats as a Blackhawk and that should tell you all you need to know. Used sparingly in the Sunshine State, Hinostroza, drafted in the sixth round in 2012, posted a minus-two rating in just nine games for Florida. The 27-year-old's game has come alive since he was traded to the Blackhawks from the Panthers. In nine games since the trade, Hinostroza has two goals and six helpers while skating on the second line.

Training Room (Injuries)

Carey Price, G, MTL – Price has been out with a concussion after taking a shot off the mask on April 19 against Edmonton and is out indefinitely. This absence comes on the heels of Price missing six games with a lower-body injury. Price, 12-7-5 with a 2.64 GAA and .901 save percentage through 25 games, returned back to Montreal on Saturday and isn't expected to skate this week as he works through the NHL's concussion protocol. Jake Allen is seeing a heavier workload in the meantime, while Cayden Primeau serves as the backup. 

Others include Teuvo Teravainen (concussion, played just 13 games this season due to injuries, close to returning), Dylan Larkin (undisclosed, out since April 20, will miss the remainder of the season), Alex Ovechkin (lower body, missed Saturday's game, uncertain for Tuesday's contest versus the Islanders), Conor Garland (lower-body injury, considered week-to-week), Jakob Silfverberg (hip surgery, will be sidelined for 4-6 months), Shayne Gostisbehere (sprained MCL, will miss 7-10 days), Jacob Trouba (upper-body, likely concussion, injured April 20 against the Isles, missed last three games), Ty Smith (upper body, missed his fourth straight game Sunday game versus the Flyers), Petr Mrazek (lower body injury, out since April 19, available if needed) and Carter Hart (knee, out since April 17, not yet ready to return). 

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers) 

Victor Rask, C, MIN – Not everyone in Minnesota is rolling. Rask, a hot fantasy pickup early in the year, is best left in refuse pile now. The 28-year-old Rask hasn't scored since March 18, a span of 19 games, and he's only produced five assists in that span. Rask is still skating on the top like with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, so the potential still exists for him to reel off a hot steak before the year ends. But we are at the show me stage of the season and betting on that happening would be taking a huge risk. 

Kyle Palmieri, LW, NYI – Palmieri, acquired along with Travis Zajac from the Devils, has not produced for the Isles since the trade. In nine games with New York, Palmieri has just a goal and an assist. That production comes in an overall down season for Palmieri, an unrestricted free agent after the year, as he has just nine goals in 43 games. Palmieri tallied at least 24 goals each of the last five seasons, making his year's struggles a major aberration. While he has not stepped up his game since coming to the Island, if Palmieri has a big postseason, all will be forgotten, though doesn't help his fantasy teams now.

Rasmus Andersson, D, CGY – Andersson ended his point drought at 15 games when he found the empty net from his own corner with 2:29 left in the third period Saturday. It was the fourth goal of the year for the 24-year-old, one shy of the career high he established in 2019-20. Andersson has 17 points and 34 PIM in 47 games this season after tallying a career-high 22 points last season; a mark that looked to be severely at risk before his massive cold stretch. Despite his slump, Andersson is a name to remember in your fantasy drafts next season due to the growth shown this year.

Others include Max Domi, Travis Zajac, Logan Couture, Nick Suzuki, Dillon Dube, Oliver Wahlstrom, Patrik Laine, Charlie McAvoy and Martin Jones.

Sell High 

Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG – The Jets are scuffling and providing little support on the back end for Hellebuyck, who also has hit a rough patch. He's 1-4-0 in his last six starts, allowing 21 goals on 147 shots in that stretch. The good news is that Winnipeg still has a six-point bulge on Montreal, in fourth, and a 12-point lead on Calgary, who is in fifth place in Scotia North Division. But if the Jets want to do any damage, they need to tighten up on defense and have Helly revert back to earlier form.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Levine
Levine covers baseball and hockey for RotoWire. He is responsible for the weekly NL FAAB column for baseball and the Barometer for hockey. In addition to his column writing, he is master of the NHL cheat sheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets and Rangers.
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