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 hot center in the Desert, Jake from Pittsburgh guaranteeing production, the return to form of an Edmonton D-man, the Flower blooming, a big loss on the blue line in Columbus and Vasy scuffling. 

First Liners (Risers)

Clayton Keller, C, AZ – When thinking of first-line centers, Keller's name doesn't usually come to mind. But over the last two seasons, he's been close to a point-per-game player, living up to his seventh-overall selection in the 2016 draft. Last season, Keller posted 28 goals and 35 assists in 67 games. He's slightly increased that per-game production this season, potting six lamplighters with 11 apples in 15 contests, producing at least one point in 12 of 14 games, including each of his last five. 

Nick Suzuki, C, MTL – Suzuki, selected 13th overall in 2017 by Las Vegas, took a major step forward last year, especially after Martin St. Louis was hired as coach. After scoring 41 points in each of his first two NHL seasons, Suzuki played in all 82 games, posting career highs in goals (21), assists (40), points (61), shots on goal (186) and power-play points (20). This year, Suzuki, skating with Kirby Dach and Cole Caufield, is up to 10 goals and nine assists in 15 games. Even more impressive is that after posting an unsightly minus-29 rating last year, Suzuki is a plus-six so far this season.

Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT – Guentzel scored for the fourth straight

This week's article includes a hot center in the Desert, Jake from Pittsburgh guaranteeing production, the return to form of an Edmonton D-man, the Flower blooming, a big loss on the blue line in Columbus and Vasy scuffling. 

First Liners (Risers)

Clayton Keller, C, AZ – When thinking of first-line centers, Keller's name doesn't usually come to mind. But over the last two seasons, he's been close to a point-per-game player, living up to his seventh-overall selection in the 2016 draft. Last season, Keller posted 28 goals and 35 assists in 67 games. He's slightly increased that per-game production this season, potting six lamplighters with 11 apples in 15 contests, producing at least one point in 12 of 14 games, including each of his last five. 

Nick Suzuki, C, MTL – Suzuki, selected 13th overall in 2017 by Las Vegas, took a major step forward last year, especially after Martin St. Louis was hired as coach. After scoring 41 points in each of his first two NHL seasons, Suzuki played in all 82 games, posting career highs in goals (21), assists (40), points (61), shots on goal (186) and power-play points (20). This year, Suzuki, skating with Kirby Dach and Cole Caufield, is up to 10 goals and nine assists in 15 games. Even more impressive is that after posting an unsightly minus-29 rating last year, Suzuki is a plus-six so far this season.

Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT – Guentzel scored for the fourth straight contest Friday, and despite getting shut out Saturday, he now has eight goals in his last 11 games. His hot streak dates to last season. Starting from April 12, Guentzel has 15 goals among 26 points over his past 18 appearances. Skating to Sidney Crosby's left, Guentzel potted 40 goals last season and in 2018-19. His early hot streak gives the sniper a chance to match or exceed that total last season, though there is certainly a long way to go. 

Tim Stutzle, LW, OTT – Somewhat quietly, Stutzle is finding his form. After notching a goal and five assists his first nine games — with all the scoring coming in three of those contests — Stutzle has hit the scoresheet in five of his last six games. During that stretch, the third-overall selection in the 2020 draft has four goals and five assists to give the 20-year-old winger five markers and 10 apples in 15 contests. Skating on the top line with Claude Giroux and Brady Tkachuk, Stutzle should exceed the 59 points he posted in 78 games during his sophomore season in the NHL last year. 

Alex Pietrangelo, D, LV – Last season, Pietrangelo topped the 40-point plateau (44) for the fifth time in the past six years and averaged more than 24 minutes per game (24:39) for the eleventh straight year. This season is shaping up to possibly be even better offensively. Pietrangelo has 13 points through 16 games along with 20 hits, 35 shots on net, 37 blocked shots and a plus-3 rating. The slight difference, besides the scoring pace he is on, is that the veteran blueliner is seeing about a minute less per game in ice time though he is averaging 30 seconds more in power-play time.

Tyson Barrie D, EDM – Barrie continued his return to form Saturday, notching two goals in the Oilers' 4-2 win over the Panthers. It's not as if Barrie was completely unproductive his first two seasons in Edmonton, but his output left you wanting more. This year, Barrie has points in four straight and in six of his last seven contests. During that stretch, he's potted the previously mentioned two goals plus six assists to give him 12 points in 16 games. As the point man on the potent Edmonton power-play, Barrie is in very good position to remain extremely productive. 

Martin Jones, G, SJ – Raise your hand if you thought Jones would end up as Seattle's no. 1 netminder and play well? As expected, not many. Jones has benefitted from an injury to Philipp Grubauer to see additional playing time, but he's more than taken advantage of the opportunity. After enduring several rough seasons between the pipes, Jones hasn't allowed more than two goals in five straight starts. Overall, the 32-year-old netminder is 7-4-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .909 save percentage through 12 appearances. 

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, MIN – After looking like he was wilted, the Flower is blooming again in Minnesota. Fleury stopped 28 shots Friday to notch his 72nd shutout (and first with the Wild) of his illustrious career. Seattle is the 28th franchise Fleury has shut out, passing Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun for the most in NHL history. After beginning the year slowly, MAF has allowed one goal or less in three of his last four starts, upping his season marks to 6-3-1 with a 2.87 goals-against average (GAA) and a .905 save percentage through 11 outings.

Others include Filip Chytil, Elias Pettersson, Tage Thompson, Nicolas Roy, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Phil Kessel, Chris Kreider, Jason Zucker, Morgan Rielly, Miro Heiskanen, Rasmus Andersson, Josh Morrissey, Ilya Sorokin, Connor Hellebuyck and Karel Vejmelka.

Buy Low

Alexander Barabanov, LW, SJ – Barabanov had his third multi-point effort in his last seven games Friday against Dallas, notching a power-play goal and an assist. The 28-year-old winger has a goal, seven helpers, 21 shots on net, 12 hits, 11 blocked shots and a minus-7 rating through 13 appearances, serving as a playmaker on the second line. Last season, in his first full year as a Shark, Barabanov posted 10 goals and 39 points in 70 games. He is tagged as Buy Low due to the possible lack of name recognition in shallower leagues.

Training Room (Injuries)

Zach Werenski, D, CLM – For the second time in three years, an injury will significantly shorten Werenski's season. In the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 campaign, a sports hernia limited Werenski to just 35 games. Thursday, Werenski suffered separated shoulder and torn labrum and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. His absence leaves Columbus without their top defenseman and top offensive threat from the blue line. Look for Jake Bean to take Werenski's place, quarterbacking the first power play. 

Frederik Andersen, G, CAR – Andersen, injured Tuesday in practice, landed on injured reserve Friday. No information has been provided as to what the injury is or how long his absence is expected to last. Andersen will be eligible to return Nov. 14 against the Blackhawks, but nothing is certain at this time. Andersen is 5-3-0 with a 2.72 GAA and an .891 save percentage this season. Carolina will use Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov between the pipes while Andersen is sidelined. 

Others include Jared McCann (lower body, missed three games, played Friday), Evander Kane (wrist, cut by skate Tuesday, out 3-4 months), Ondrej Palat (groin, out since Oct. 24, will miss 8-10 weeks), Aaron Ekblad (groin, injured Oct. 17, returned to action Saturday), John Carlson (lower body, missed six games, returned to action Friday), Jake Oettinger (lower body, injured October 29, activated and started Friday) and Matt Murray (groin, returned to practice this week, will play Tuesday). 

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Alex Kerfoot, C, TOR – Kerfoot, a revelation last season, his third as a Maple Leaf, has crashed back to earth this year. Signed to a four-year, $14 million contract with the Leafs in July of 2019, Kerfoot's 51 points last season matched his production from the prior two seasons combined. Kerfoot has turned back into a pumpkin this year, posting just one goal and four assists through 16 games. Slated to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, Kerfoot will need to find his game to earn a solid contract this upcoming offseason. 

Oliver Wahlstrom, LW, NYI – Wahlstrom, a first-round pick in 2018, has yet to find his stride. Drafted as a potential sniper, Wahlstrom scored just 13 times in 73 games, including just one goal in his final 17 contests last season. This year, Wahlstrom has seen time on the fourth line as coach Lane Lambert has attempted to light a fire under the young winger. The talent is most certainly there, but you must wonder if and when Wahlstrom will put it all together. Maybe the power-play goal he scored Monday will be the start, though he logged just 10:01, including a mere 0:30 on the power play.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB – Who replaced Vasilevskiy with a subpar replica? Vasilevskiy was a Vezina Trophy finalist in every season from 2017-18 through 2021-22, but he's struggled so far this year. After allowing five goals on 24 shots and taking the loss Friday and three goals in 22 shots while earning the win Sunday, Vasilevskiy is just 5-5-1 with a 3.10 GAA and .898 save percentage on the year. In addition, he's allowed at least three goals in each of his last seven contests. His track record suggests he should bounce back as the season progresses; the only question (hopefully) is when. 

Others include Adrian Kempe, Ryan Johansen, Alex Killorn, Andrew Mangiapane, Michael Bunting, Moritz Seider, Damon Severson, Jaroslav Halak and John Gibson

Sell High

Evan Bouchard D, EDM – Coming into the 2022-23 season, the signs seemed to indicate that Bouchard would man the point on the first power play unit in Edmonton and be in line for a spike in production. Neither has been the case, as Tyson Barrie has regained his spot on the man-advantage and has been the beneficiary of that placement. Bouchard, who had 43 points last season, is sitting at just five points through 16 games and hasn't hit the scoresheet in his last five contests. In redraft leagues, try to take advantage of his prior season's output to fill other needs. 

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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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