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 pair of veteran pivotmen rolling, a Sabre winger on fire, two hot Western conference blueliners, Toronto's top D-man sidelined and a Cup-winning winger scuffling.

First Liners (Risers)

Sean Monahan, C, MTL – Monahan is centering the Habs' third line but is also seeing time on the first power-play unit. His two assists Friday extended his active point streak to four, and he's collected eight points (three goals, five helpers) over the last eight contests. Monahan, after a slight bobble in early November, appears to be inching closer to the form he flashed with the Flames in 2018-19, when he set a career high by racking up 82 points in 78 games.

Max Domi, C, CHI – Domi continues to be quietly productive in the Windy City, raising the return Chicago could receive for the center, who will be unrestricted free agent after the season. He's hit the scoresheet in five of his last nine contests and sits with five goals, nine assists and a minus-seven rating in 21 games. After posting 72 points in 2018-19, Domi's production cratered the next two seasons before he rebounded last season with 39 points. He's on early pace to far exceed that mark while centering the second line. 

Kent Johnson, RW, CLM– Johnson, the fifth overall pick in 2021, earned the first multi-point game of his 26-game career Friday, notching a goal and an assist. Those two points gave the young pivotman 11 points — five goals and six assists — in 18 games. With Patrik Laine (ankle) out, Johnson has moved up to the first power-play unit while also skating at right wing on the second line. The talent is certainly there for the production to remain constant throughout his rookie season.

Alex Tuch, RW, BUF – Buffalo has several players who are finding their stride. Tuch, acquired in the Jack Eichel deal, is clearly one of those whose game has taken a massive step forward this season. Tuch had three goals and 10 points during his five-game point stretch that ended Friday, and on the season he's up to 10 goals and 22 points through 22 contests. The only question still to be answered is whether Tuch can stay healthy, as that was not the case in Las Vegas for the scoring winger. 

Jakob Chychrun, D, AZ – Chychrun has seemingly been on the trade block forever. Signed to a six-year, $27.6 million contract extension with the Coyotes in November of 2018, Chychrun has missed time due to injury and has underperformed for much of that deal. He gave a hint as to what he possibly could produce in 2020-21, when he scored 18 goals and added 23 assists in 47 games. Chychrun didn't make his season debut until last Monday because of a wrist injury but has scored a goal and added two assists in his four games played to date. 

Josh Morrissey D, WPG – Many experts thought last year was going to be Morrissey's big breakout as he looked to rebound from a so-so 2020-21 campaign. While he did manage career highs in goals with 12 and points with 37, we were still expecting more overall. We may have just been off by one season, as Morrissey is putting it all together in 2022-23. Morrissey has points in 10 of 11 games in November, including four straight contests, and he's at four goals, 20 helpers, 37 shots on net, 24 hits, 26 blocked shots and a plus-6 rating in 20 contests on the year. 

Darcy Kuemper, G, WAS – Kuemper's inclusion here is based on the belief that his last two starts, and not his play the prior few weeks, are a closer reflection of what we should expect this year. Prior to Wednesday's start and win against the Flyers, Kuemper had dropped three straight decisions, yielding 12 goals during that skid, and was 1-6-0 with a 3.39 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in his last seven starts. He righted the ship by allowing two goals in 23 shots for the win Wednesday and followed that up with a 32-save shutout — his second of the season — Friday against the Flames.

Akira Schmid, G, NJD – The Devils' ridiculous hot streak has been spurred by the play of Vitek Vanecek in net, but he hasn't done it all by himself, as Schmid has also been a stalwart between the pipes. Granted all this is in a small sample size, but Schmid's fine numbers are hard to ignore. Schmid, taken in the fifth round (136th overall) in 2018, has allowed just four goals in four games this season and never more than two in a single game. He's delivered a .953 save percentage and 3.99 goals saved above expected (GSAx) so far while going 4-0-0.        Â 

Others include Brock Nelson, Brayden Point, Matty Beniers, Jack Quinn, Luke Kunin, Pavel Buchnevich, Jason Robertson, Ilya Mikheyev, Blake Wheeler, Timo Meier, Justin Schultz, Aaron Ekblad, Filip Hronek, Alex Pietrangelo, Karel Vejmelka, Tristan Jarry, Ville Husso and Ilya Sorokin.

Buy Low

Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, DET – Bertuzzi missed 13 consecutive contests because of a hand injury before returning Nov. 15. He had one assist in two games prior to being sidelined and was scoreless his first two games back, but he seems unsurprisingly to have found his form, with a goal and pair of helpers his last four games. Bertuzzi had 30 goals and 62 points in 68 contests last season and is skating on the second line with Andrew Copp, with Dominik Kubalik currently on the top line next to Dylan Larkin.

Training Room (Injuries) 

Morgan Rielly, D, TOR – Rielly, who injured his knee Monday, November 21 against the Islanders, was placed on long-term injured reserve the following day. With that designation, Reilly will be sidelined for at least 10 games and 24 days. His absence leaves the Maple Leafs without their point man on the power play and their main offensive weapon from the blueline. Prior to being sidelined, Rielly had 16 assists, 34 shots on goal, 24 blocks and 22 hits while averaging 23 minutes of ice time in 20 games after notching 68 points last season. 

Others include Evan Rodrigues (lower body, injured Wednesday, will miss 2-4 weeks), Travis Konecny (upper body, injured Nov. 17, expected to miss 10-14 days), Kyle Palmieri (upper body, missed last two games), Seth Jones (thumb, out since Oct. 30, slated to miss 3-4 weeks, played Wednesday), Linus Ullmark (upper body, left Friday's game) Marc-Andre Fleury (upper body, out from Nov. 15, started Friday) and Ilya Samsonov (knee, out since Nov. 5, close to returning).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Wyatt Johnston, C, DAL – Johnston's placement here is due more to his usage than his skills and talent. The upside in Johnston is still large, but he may not realize it for a few years, making him a risky bet in single-year leagues. Johnson's goal Friday was his first since Nov. 3; he'd been limited to one assist in nine games since that date. Deployed on the third line, Johnston is seeing about 14 minutes of ice time nightly, including 1:35 on the man-advantage. He will produce a little, but don't look for a major spike in output this season, though he has scored in back-to-back games, which could be a sign of things to come. 

Corey Perry, LW, TB – Perry's production has completely hit the skids. After getting off to a quick start with four points in his first six games, his offense has all but dried up since. Perry had just one assist and no goals in his last 14 games before lighting the lamp Monday against Buffalo. Perry turned back the clock with 19 goals and 21 assists in his first year in Tampa last season, his highest output since the 2017-18 campaign. Don't expect a massive rise in output going forward, though he clearly won't remain goalless the remainder of the season. 

Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN – For those who play in leagues with blocks, Spurgeon still has value, as he's parried away 44 shots in 21 games. But beyond that stat, Spurgeon has been a major disappointment after posting 10 goals and 30 assists last season. Spurgeon has just two goal and five assists to date, and while his time on ice is relatively static compared to last year, the material change is that he's seeing almost two fewer minutes on the man-advantage on average. Unless that changes, look for his output to remain so-so. 

Others include Cole Sillinger, Adrian Kempe, Alexander Holtz, Nick Robertson, Evgenii Dadonov, Torey Krug, Noah Hanifin, Joonas Korpisalo and Jake Allen,

Sell High

Craig Anderson, G, BUF – Anderson was fine when used in small doses. But with Eric Comrie out for weeks due to his upper-body injury, Anderson is being exposed in his additional playing time and has not aided by the team in front of him. Anderson has now lost four out of his last five decisions, allowing 14 goals on 152 shots for a 3.22 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Look for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to see additional playing time between the pipes while Comrie is sidelined.

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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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