NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes the Rangers' second-line center, a young blueliner blossoming in Columbus, Samsonov rebounding, the eldest Hughes close to returning and Murray's time appears to have ended in Ottawa. 

First Liners (Risers)

Ryan Strome, C, NYR – Strome, the Rangers' second-line center, has been on fire since returning from a four-game absence in October. With a goal and an assist Friday, Strome extended his point streak to eight games, a stretch during which he's piled up two goals and 10 points.  The fifth overall pick by the Islanders in 2011, Strome started to live up his draft selection after coming to the Rangers during the 2018-19. On a line with Artemi Panarin, look for Strome, an unrestricted free agent after the season, to continue to rack up points.

Tage Thompson, C, BUF – Thompson, who came to Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, has teased occasionally with his talent but has failed to put it all together. By posting eight goals, six assists, 14 points with a minus-six rating, Thompson set career highs across the board last season, which is an indication of how he has struggled to translate his talent to performance. The injury to Casey Mittelstadt gave Thompson a chance to run with the first-line role and he has made the most of that chance, as he is up to 10 goals and six assists in just 21 games this season. 

Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF – Skinner is having a major resurgence

This week's article includes the Rangers' second-line center, a young blueliner blossoming in Columbus, Samsonov rebounding, the eldest Hughes close to returning and Murray's time appears to have ended in Ottawa. 

First Liners (Risers)

Ryan Strome, C, NYR – Strome, the Rangers' second-line center, has been on fire since returning from a four-game absence in October. With a goal and an assist Friday, Strome extended his point streak to eight games, a stretch during which he's piled up two goals and 10 points.  The fifth overall pick by the Islanders in 2011, Strome started to live up his draft selection after coming to the Rangers during the 2018-19. On a line with Artemi Panarin, look for Strome, an unrestricted free agent after the season, to continue to rack up points.

Tage Thompson, C, BUF – Thompson, who came to Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, has teased occasionally with his talent but has failed to put it all together. By posting eight goals, six assists, 14 points with a minus-six rating, Thompson set career highs across the board last season, which is an indication of how he has struggled to translate his talent to performance. The injury to Casey Mittelstadt gave Thompson a chance to run with the first-line role and he has made the most of that chance, as he is up to 10 goals and six assists in just 21 games this season. 

Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF – Skinner is having a major resurgence after back-to-back brutal campaigns. After tallying just 23 points in 2019-20 and 14 last season, Skinner already has eight goals and seven assists in 22 games. The key difference in Skinner's turnaround seems to be renewed confidence and a supplemental increase in playing time; he's averaging 16:49 of ice time after slumping to a career-low 14:31 level last year. If you got on board cheaply, ride the wave as long as it lasts.

Pavel Buchnevich, LW, STL – Buchnevich took a bit longer than expected to settle in with St. Louis but has found his game recently. Friday, Buchnevich scored an even-strength goal and added a power-play assist, topping that Saturday with a pair of goals and a helper. Buchnevich is enjoying a strong stretch with five goals and 11 points in his last nine games, including two goals and four points with the man advantage. On the season, the winger now has eight goals and as many apples in 19 games.

Vladislav Gavrikov, D, CLM – Gavrikov made a seamless transition from the KHL to the NHL, becoming a regular on the Columbus blue line the last two seasons, albeit with little offensive production. This has not been the case this year as Gavrikov is seeing second-pair duty but also has played alongside Zach Werenski. He is shooting an unsustainable 9.1 percent, but his ability to rack up assists — 10 so far — should remain somewhat intact, especially if he continues to average 21 minutes a game. 

Tony DeAngelo, D, CAR – DeAngelo has settled in nicely in Carolina, on the ice but especially off, where we have not heard any rumblings of issues with his teammates or other. He picked up two assists Friday, extending his point streak to four games as he continues to put a sour ending to his time with the Rangers behind him. DeAngelo has four goals and 19 points through 20 games for Carolina, adding 23 PIM, 43 shots on goal and a plus-10 rating to his ledger. His numbers aided by ADA seeing almost four minutes a game on the man-advantage and 18-plus minutes each game. Check his status as he was placed on the COVID-19 list Monday.

Cam Talbot, G, MIN – Talbot's overall numbers aren't elite, but he is racking up wins, especially lately in Minnesota. He earned his fourth win in the last five starts Sunday, making at least 28 stops in each of those five, posting a .938 save percentage. Overall, he is 12-5-0 albeit with a 2.71 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Kaapo Kahkonen showed last season he can handle the burden of being the team's top goalie when needed, but he is still the No. 2 netminder behind Talbot, who is signed for this year and next. 

Ilya Samsonov, G, WAS – Samsonov won his fifth consecutive start Sunday, improving to 9-0-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 10 appearances. Vitek Vanecek, who did a solid job in net for the Capitals last season when Samsonov missed time twice due to COVID-19 and struggled when between the pipes, has regressed a bit this season, opening the door for Samsonov. Look for Samsonov to see as much action as he can handle in the short-term while he remains hot.

Others include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Drouin, Nazem Kadri, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Christian Dvorak, Logan Couture, Max Domi, Dylan Larkin, Trevor Zegras, Mikael Granlund, Roope Hintz, Kevin Fiala, Sonny Milano, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Kaprizov, Valeri Nichushkin, Jake Guentzel, Timo Meier, Andreas Johnsson, Michael Bunting, Tom Wilson, Zack Kassian, Kaapo Kakko, Mario Ferraro, Adam Boqvist, Alex Goligoski, Ryan Suter, Dmitry Orlov, Dougie Hamilton, Devon Toews, Juuse Saros, Mikko Koskinen, James Reimer, Tristan Jarry and Elvis Merzlikins.

Buy Low 

Tomas Tatar, LW, NJ – After a slow start to the season, Tatar is heating up. With a goal Friday, Tatar how has points in six of his last nine games. All three of his goals have come during that stretch. Tatar is skating on the first line and second power play unit in New Jersey; spots he should retain the balance of the season. He is not the same scorer he was 2018-19 and 2019-20 in Montreal, but he should be good to average at least half-a-point a game as a Devil. 

Training Room (Injuries)

Jack Hughes, C, NJ – Hughes, out since Oct. 19 with a shoulder injury, was a full participant at Saturday's practice. He was not in the lineup Sunday, but Hughes should be activated sometime this week. Hughes picked up two goals and three points through the first two games of the campaign before suffering the injury. Early the season, Hughes looked every bit like the talent that earned him being selected first overall in 2019, building on the steps forward he took last season.

Others include Nathan MacKinnon (lower body, out since Nov. 6, on track to return to the Colorado lineup Wednesday), Casey Mittelstadt (upper body, out since opener Oct.14, was on the ice for last Wednesday's game-day skate in a non-contact sweater), Nicklas Backstrom (hip, out season to date, in a non-contact jersey during last Wednesday's morning skate), Marco Rossi (left Sunday's AHL contest with an undisclosed injury, possibly to his head), Anthony Duclair (lower body, missed second straight game Saturday, won't play Tuesday, might play later this week), Bryan Rust (lower body, lands on injured reserve Sunday), Mats Zuccarello (hand, missed Sunday's game, will try to join practice Monday) and Bowen Byram (concussion, returned to action and scored Saturday after a six-game absence), Brock Nelson (lower body, injured Sunday, out 2-4 weeks).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Mathew Barzal, C, NYI – The Islanders dealt with a depleted roster for several games before additional COVID-19 related absences forced the NHL to postpone Sunday and Tuesday's games. Prior to the shutdown, Barzal had just eight points in 17 games, including none his last five. If the Isles can get their normal roster back when action resumes, Barzal should be able to hit the ground running. But in the short term, bench him.

Blake Coleman, LW, CGY – Coleman parlayed strong play with Tampa Bay and his key role in two Cups into a six-year, $29.4 million contract with the Flames in July 2021. While he is also contributing heavily to Calgary's strong start, that has not translated into production. Through 20 games, Coleman has just three goals and as many assists, though he does have 43 hits, which is where a good portion of his value is derived on the Flames. Don't expect a major uptick in output from Coleman. 

Matt Murray, G, OTT – Murray, in the second season of a four-year $25 million contract, struggled immensely in Ottawa, resulting in the team waiving him Saturday. He put up a 3.26 goal-against average (GAA) and .890 save percentage in 2021-22 after posting a 3.38 GAA and .893 save percentage the prior season, his first as a Senator. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was reassigned to AHL Belleville as he went unclaimed.

Others include Vincent Trocheck, Phillip Danault, Jake DeBrusk, Dominik Kubalik, Evander Kane, Tanner Pearson, Josh Morrissey, Ty Smith and Adin Hill.

Sell High

Kevin Shattenkirk, D, ANA – The expected coming back to earth for Shattenkirk has begun. After notching four goals and 10 assists his first 17 games, Shattenkirk has been held scoreless his last five games with a minus-seven rating. This is probably just a blip on the radar, as Shattenkirk is still averaging big minutes, though his power-play time on ice has dropped compared to earlier in the season. If you have him rostered, see what might be available, but do expect a healthy discount on his return.

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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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