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 possible new second-line center in Colorado, a rookie winger off to a hot start in Nashville, a D-man not named Seider rolling in Hockeytown, down goes Laine (again) and a not-so-super Super Trouba.

First Liners (Risers)

Evan Rodrigues, C, COL– A tight salary cap market resulted in Rodrigues waiting a lot longer to sign a contract and receiving a deal far below what should have been his market value. After posting career-best marks in goals (19), assists (24), points (43), shots on goal (243) and power-play points (eight) last season for Pittsburgh, Rodrigues signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Avalanche in September. With Alex Newhook slumping, Rodrigues has moved to second-line center and has notched seven points in his last nine games. However, Newhook has shown some signs of life, so watch the situation closely. 

Ryan O'Reilly, C, STL – O'Reilly looked washed up a few weeks ago, but looks can obviously be deceiving. After notching just one point in his first 12 games, O'Reilly has four goals and three assists in his past eight, which included a four-game point streak that ended Saturday. His current hot streak has gotten ROR back close to the pace he needs to be on to finish the season in the mid-50s point range — at a minimum — that has been the hallmark of his career. Ride the hot wave while it lasts. 

Carter Verhaeghe, LW, FLA – Verhaeghe has somewhat

This week's article includes a possible new second-line center in Colorado, a rookie winger off to a hot start in Nashville, a D-man not named Seider rolling in Hockeytown, down goes Laine (again) and a not-so-super Super Trouba.

First Liners (Risers)

Evan Rodrigues, C, COL– A tight salary cap market resulted in Rodrigues waiting a lot longer to sign a contract and receiving a deal far below what should have been his market value. After posting career-best marks in goals (19), assists (24), points (43), shots on goal (243) and power-play points (eight) last season for Pittsburgh, Rodrigues signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Avalanche in September. With Alex Newhook slumping, Rodrigues has moved to second-line center and has notched seven points in his last nine games. However, Newhook has shown some signs of life, so watch the situation closely. 

Ryan O'Reilly, C, STL – O'Reilly looked washed up a few weeks ago, but looks can obviously be deceiving. After notching just one point in his first 12 games, O'Reilly has four goals and three assists in his past eight, which included a four-game point streak that ended Saturday. His current hot streak has gotten ROR back close to the pace he needs to be on to finish the season in the mid-50s point range — at a minimum — that has been the hallmark of his career. Ride the hot wave while it lasts. 

Carter Verhaeghe, LW, FLA – Verhaeghe has somewhat quietly — given the other names in Florida — been on a red-hot point streak. He's hit the scoresheet in nine of his last 11 contests, posting nine goals and seven assists during that stretch. Skating on the top line, Verhaeghe is nearly midway through the three-year, $12.5 million contract extension he signed with the Panthers in July of 2021. He posted 55 points last season and is on early pace to far exceed that total while also serving as one of the two point men on the second power-play unit.

Viktor Arvidsson, RW, LA – Arvidsson was limited to just 66 games last season, his first in LA, but enjoyed a resurgence in production, finishing with 49 points. Skating on the second line, both at even-strength and on the man-advantage, Arvidsson has three goals and 11 assists in 19 games, including six helpers in his last seven contests. His ice time has remained relatively constant the past several seasons, and if he remains healthy, he should finish somewhere in the 50-point range once again for the Kings. 

Quinn Hughes, D, VAN – Hughes notched two assists Friday against the Kings and repeated the feat Monday against the Golden Knights, giving him 18 helpers in 15 contests this season. He's only been held off the scoresheet twice in 2022-23, making him one of the most consistent offensive contributors thus far. When discussing the elite blueliners in the NHL, Hughes' name sometimes gets pushed down the list. In terms of young d-men, Cale Makar and Adam Fox get most of the publicity, but Hughes most certainly belongs in the mix, and he has still has room to grow. 

Filip Hronek D, DET – The points scored and corresponding streak are nice for Hronek, but what likely has impressed his coaches more is his improved play in his own end, contributing in his rise from a minus-29 rating to last season to plus-seven so far this year. Hronek posted 38 points in 2021-22, but that was offset by his unsightly minus-rating. This year, Hronek has 14 points in 18 games, including four goals and four assists over his last seven games, getting on the scoresheet in six of them while recording a plus-two rating. 

Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG – Coming into the season off back-to-back campaigns in which his goals-against average rose and his save percentage declined, Helly was viewed as a risky high draft pick by many. Add in a defense that struggled in front of him as well as his heavy workload in 2021-22, and  arguments could very easily have been made to move him down on your cheat sheet. All Helly has done so far is blow up those theories. He's gone 8-4-1 with a ridiculously low 2.07 goals-against average and an excellent .935 save percentage. While I do expect some regression to the mean, he should be a lock for 30+ wins barring injury.

Matt Murray, G, TOR – Murray, out from October 12 with an adductor injury, returned to action November 15. With Ilya Samsonov (knee) landing on injured reserve shortly before Murray was ready to return. Toronto turned to Erik Kallgren, who went 2-1-1 in four starts. Murray started   three straight games and should continue to see most of the playing time in net in the near future with Samsonov out another week. When Samsonov returns, he and Murray should each see a healthy amount of action between the pipes, impacting both of their values but also making them each a viable starting candidate in deeper leagues.           

Others include Logan Couture, Elias Pettersson, Dylan Strome, Nick Suzuki, Sam Steel, David Perron, Elias Lindholm, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Connor, Claude Giroux, Jordan Kyrou, John Carlson, Roman Josi, Erik Karlsson, Miro Heiskanen, Morgan Rielly, Miro Heiskanen, Pyotr Kochetkov. Martin Jones, Jordan Binnington and Juuse Saros.

Buy Low

Juuso Parssinen, LW, NAS – Parssinen, a seventh-round pick by Nashville in 2019, has paid immediate dividends for the Predators since his promotion on November 12. In five games since being recalled from Milwaukee of the AHL, Parssinen has collected five points, including two goals and an assist Thursday against the Islanders. Nashville is usually in need of an offensive infusion, even after the acquisition of several forwards the past few seasons, and the team is more than getting one — albeit in a short sample size — from Parssinen.   

Training Room (Injuries)

Patrik Laine, D, CLM – When it rains it pours. Already without Zach Werenski for the season and having spent some time earlier this year with Laine on the shelf, Columbus will need to make do without their high-scoring winger again for the next few weeks. Injured November 12 against the Islanders, Laine is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained ankle. He was off to a relatively slow start with two goals and four points in eight games but tallied 56 points in 56 games last year, his first full season as a Blue Jacket, resulting in him signing a four-year, $34.8 million contract extension with Columbus this past July.            

Others include Nicolas Roy (lower body, injured Thursday, sat Saturday and Monday), Travis Konecny (upper body, likely hand, injured Thursday, returned home for further evaluation), Nikolaj Ehlers (will undergo sports hernia surgery and be sidelined indefinitely), Roope Hintz (lower body, missed Saturday's game, but played Monday), Max Pacioretty (Achilles surgery in August, expected to miss six months, skated Friday), Seth Jones (thumb, out since Oct. 30, slated to miss 3-4 weeks, skated before practice Friday), Marc-Andre Fleury (upper body, placed on injured reserve Wednesday) and Ilya Samsonov (knee, out since Nov. 5, won't return this week).

 Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Alex Newhook, C, COL – The departure of Nazem Kadri was expected to pave the way for Newhook to assume the mantle as the Avalanche's second-line center. A funny thing happened on the way to that ascension. Newhook failed to score in his first eight games of the season and was benched last Monday night due to his poor play. Evan Rodrigues has stepped up to fill that role, but Newhook scored Thursday and Monday while adding an assist Saturday. He might be close to moving out from third-line duty, making him a buy-low candidate.

Josh Bailey, LW, NYI – I'm not picking on the Islanders even though I profiled Oliver Wahlstrom last week and Bailey this week. Bailey was a healthy scratch for the second straight game Thursday versus the Predators but got back into the lineup Saturday and scored Monday. He sits with four goals and two assists in 17 games this season. Bailey has been extremely consistent in his Islanders career, posting at least 32 points each of the last nine seasons, including 44 last year. He is too good and too proud of a player to slump this poorly the rest of the season, but he can't do much if coach Lane Lambert is scratching him to play a more physical player in Ross Johnston

Jacob Trouba D, NYR – Super Trouba has not been so super this season. After posting 11 goals and 28 assists last year, Trouba has been limited to just five assists this season. The one constant in Trouba's game has been his physical play. He delivered 207 hits and blocked 171 shots in 2021-22. This year, through 19 games, he's already dished out 63 hits and blocked 51 shots. The advanced metrics and eye test show a blueliner who has struggled in his own zone, however, though he's created several rebound chances with his shots, which could allow his production to rise. 

Others include Marco Rossi, Anton Lundell, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Artemi Panarin (poor 5x5 production), Bryan Rust, Brady Skjei and Joonas Korpisalo

Sell High

Vitek Vanecek, G, NJ – There's hot and then there's Devils hot. New Jersey won their 13th game in a row Monday and are now a ridiculous 16-3 for the season. A large driver for the winning streak and overall record has been the play of Vanecek between the pipes. With Mackenzie Blackwood injured, Akira Schmid has filled in nicely, but Vanecek has carried much of the weight between the pipes, sitting at 9-1-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Vanecek went 20-12-6 last season with Washington, so his fine season isn't that big of a surprise, but he'll eventually come slightly back to earth. If you can get a king's ransom, by all means, take it. 

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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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