NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers

NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes a return to the 70s with a Pinto in demand, the Nuge on a roll, a winger rolling in LA, major losses in Ottawa and Anaheim and a slumping winger in the Sunshine State. 

First Liners (Risers)

Shane Pinto, C, OTT – Pinto, a second-round pick in 2019, closed out the 2020-21 season strong with seven points in a dozen games but played in just five games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last year. He opened this year as the third-line center, notching goals in five straight contests before being shut out on October 27. Pinto got right back on the scoresheet this past Saturday, lighting the lamp again. With Josh Norris (shoulder) possibly lost for the year, look for Pinto to eventually be the second-line pivot. 

John Tavares, C, TOR – Tavares is at the top of the list of those to blame for the Maple Leafs' recent playoff flameouts according to the Toronto faithful. Entering the 2022-23 season, most pegged JT for a drop in production despite him averaging close to a point per game his first four seasons in the blue and white. Tavares so far is showing that rumors of his fantasy demise were unfounded, as he's on a four-game, five-point scoring streak with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in as many games to lead the team. 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, RW, EDM – Nugent-Hopkins had a solid enough season with 50 points in 63 games last

This week's article includes a return to the 70s with a Pinto in demand, the Nuge on a roll, a winger rolling in LA, major losses in Ottawa and Anaheim and a slumping winger in the Sunshine State. 

First Liners (Risers)

Shane Pinto, C, OTT – Pinto, a second-round pick in 2019, closed out the 2020-21 season strong with seven points in a dozen games but played in just five games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last year. He opened this year as the third-line center, notching goals in five straight contests before being shut out on October 27. Pinto got right back on the scoresheet this past Saturday, lighting the lamp again. With Josh Norris (shoulder) possibly lost for the year, look for Pinto to eventually be the second-line pivot. 

John Tavares, C, TOR – Tavares is at the top of the list of those to blame for the Maple Leafs' recent playoff flameouts according to the Toronto faithful. Entering the 2022-23 season, most pegged JT for a drop in production despite him averaging close to a point per game his first four seasons in the blue and white. Tavares so far is showing that rumors of his fantasy demise were unfounded, as he's on a four-game, five-point scoring streak with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in as many games to lead the team. 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, RW, EDM – Nugent-Hopkins had a solid enough season with 50 points in 63 games last year, but he only lit the lamp 11 times. Entrenched on the first-line power play and on the top line next to Connor McDavid (unless Leon Draisaitl is moved up), RNH was a candidate to rebound goal-wise as his 7.1 shooting percentage last year was markedly low. So far this year, Nugent-Hopkins is proving that thought process to be accurate, as he has five goals in nine games, including the 200th of his career, to go along with six apples. 

Gabriel Vilardi, RW, LA – Vilardi, drafted as a center, has seamlessly moved to right wing in LA, easing some of the logjam at pivot for the Kings. He struggled to find a foothold during his first few seasons in the league, but that hasn't been the case this season. Vilardi's goal Monday was his eighth of the season to go along with five assists. His hot start has resulted in Vilardi moving up to the top line — at least periodically — alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. One caveat is that Vilardi is shooting at a better than 25 percent clip, so look for his goal output to drop slightly, though his helper total could rise. 

Brandon Montour, D, FLA – Montour is doing his best to make up for the absence of Aaron Ekblad on the Panthers' back line. After missing two games with an injury, Montour has points in four of his last five contests, tallying two goals and five assists in that span. Montour compiled a career-best 37 points in 81 games last season, his first full year in Florida. With all the firepower in the Panthers' lineup, Montour will still retain solid fantasy value even after Ekblad returns in mid-November. 

Rasmus Dahlin D, BUF – Dahlin opened the season with goals in each of his first five games, setting an NHL mark. While he's failed to light the lamp in his next three contests, Dahlin added a goal and an assist Monday to give him six goals and as many helpers on the year. Dahlin rebounded after a so-so 2020-21 campaign to post career highs in goals (13), assists (40) and points (53). The next key for Dahlin is to improve in his own end, an area where he has made gains this season. 

Adin Hill, G, LV – Yes, you are reading correctly, Hill is included as a riser. Logan Thompson is the clear #1 goalie in the Desert, but Hill has been very good when between the pipes. Hill has allowed exactly two goals in each of his three starts and has walked away with wins in all three. He posted subpar numbers while playing for the Coyotes and Sharks, but with a potent team and solid defense in front of him, Hill could get 15-20 wins while seeing close to 30 starts for Las Vegas.

Linus Ullmark, G, BOS – Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million deal with Boston in the summer of 2021 after spending the first six years of his career in Buffalo. He posted a 26-10-2 record, 2.45 goals-against average (GAA) and .917 save percentage last season but lost his hold on the starting role to Jeremy Swayman. Entering this season, the prevailing view was that Swayman would see most of the starts. That hasn't been the case, as Ullmark is 6-0-0, has given up one goal or fewer in three of his last four starts and carries a dazzling 1.70 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Others include Brock Nelson, Mark Scheifele, Tage Thompson, Nicolas Roy, Matt Duchene, Zach Hyman, Evan Rodrigues, Brandon Hagel, Rickard Rakell, Martin Necas, Erik Karlsson, Tony DeAngelo, David Jiricek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Logan Thompson, Vitek Vanecek and Stuart Skinner 

Buy Low 

Cole Perfetti, LW, WPG – The 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Perfetti was limited to 18 games last season due to an upper-body injury. He opened this season as the Jets' second-line left winger while seeing second-unit power play time. Perfetti didn't dent the scoresheet his first two games of the season, but he's righted the ship and then some, notching three goals and as many helpers his last seven games. He has the pedigree of someone who could score 30 or more goals but may not have the name recognition in some deeper formats. 

Training Room (Injuries)

Josh Norris, C, OTT – Norris, who injured his shoulder last Saturday, could require surgery and is in danger of missing the remainder of the season. After taking a major step forward with 35 goals and 20 assists last season in his second full year in the NHL, Norris signed an eight-year, $63.6 million contract with the Senators this past July. Expectations were high for Ottawa and Norris this season, so his absence will be a major loss. Without Norris in the lineup, Derick Brassard received the first crack at a second-line role, though a red-hot Shane Pinto, profiled as a Riser this week, will likely end up in that spot. 

Others include Sean Couturier (back revision surgery Thursday, expected to be out 3-4 months), Brad Marchand (hip, returned nearly a month earlier than expected, notched a pair of goals in first game Thursday), James van Riemsdyk (broken finger, will miss the next six weeks after undergoing surgery), Vitali Kravtsov (upper body, injured Saturday, possible concussion), Valeri Nichushkin (lower body, missed second straight game Saturday), Ondrej Palat (lower body, injured Oct. 24, placed on injured reserve Saturday), Aaron Ekblad (groin, injured Oct. 17, targeting Nov. 12 return), Quinn Hughes (lower body, missed last four games, practiced Sunday, expected to play Tuesday), Jamie Drysdale (torn labrum, left shoulder, surgery required, will miss 4-6 months), Miro Heiskanen (upper body, missed third straight game Saturday) and Jake Oettinger (lower body, left Saturday's game, will miss at least one week before being re-evaluated).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Alexander Wennberg, C, SEA – Wennberg is probably producing what those who have him rostered — hopefully only in deeper leagues — expected. But with his ice time, including on the man-advantage, he should be producing more than he has to date. Wennberg had 37 points last season and his assist Saturday — his first point in five games — gives him a goal and three helpers in 10 contests. He averages over 19 minutes of ice time, including nearly three minutes on the power play, both of which are up from last year, yet the production hasn't been there. 

Sam Reinhart, RW, FLA – Reinhart had a career year in his first season with the Panthers last year, finishing with 33 goals and 82 points in 78 games. This season, it's been a completely different result, as Reinhart hasn't scored a goal in Florida's first nine games. Based on his talent and the team surrounding him, you would expect a return to the mean — at a minimum — or at least a number other than zero in the goal column. Reinhart is a bow-low candidate, but until you see him light the lamp, he's a player who belongs on your bench.

John Gibson, G, ANA – Gibson has been brutal to start his 2022-23 campaign. After winning in his first game of the year, the veteran netminder went 0-5-1 over his next six starts, giving up at least four goals in four of them. Gibson notched the win Sunday, surrendering three goals on 36 shots, which left him with a 4.23 GAA and .888 save percentage on the season. He signed an eight-year, $51.2 million contract extension with the Ducks in August of 2018 but has really tailed off since inking that deal. Anaheim looked to have the team around him this offseason, but that hasn't shown in the standings. Gibson likely would benefit from a change of scenery, but that probably isn't happening.

Others include Elias Lindholm, Ryan O'Reilly, Ryan Strome, Sam Bennett, Teuvo Teravainen, Jacob Trouba, Kris Letang, Jordan Binnington and Jack Campbell.

Sell High

Hampus Lindholm D, BOS – Like Brandon Montour, Lindholm (who was profiled two weeks ago) gets a bump in value due to the absence of the team's #1 defenseman. In Lindholm's case, Charlie McAvoy is the absent blueliner who won't return until December due to off-season shoulder surgery. Lindholm has a pair of goals and five assists in nine games with three of those helpers coming on the man-advantage, aided by the nearly four minutes of ice time per game he is seeing on the power play. Enjoy the extra production for now but expect a decline in output once McAvoy returns, so be gauging offers if you can.

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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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