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 first-round pick thriving in Buffalo, Winnipeg's former captain on a roll, Dallas' top d-man hot, down goes Demko and a big-dollar free-agent signing scuffling in Anaheim. 

First Liners (Risers)

Dylan Cozens, C, BUF – Cozens, selected seventh overall in 2019, took a major step forward last season with 38 points in 79 games. That year looks like it just was the start of Cozens becoming a viable fantasy option. Cozens has recorded five multi-point performances in his last 12 games (including each of his last three contests), delivering five goals and 16 points over that stretch. Centering the second line in Buffalo, Cozens is up to 24 points in 25 games, aided by an increase in his ice time and shooting percentage, the latter of which should also be sustainable. 

Matt Duchene, C, NAS – Last season was a magical campaign for Duchene, as he resurrected his career after a pair of down seasons, notching career highs in goals and points. Expecting 86 points again would be foolish, but Duchene still has plenty of value. Duchene had his third multi-point effort in the last eight games Friday, a span in which he has three goals and seven helpers to boost his season totals to 21 points in 23 games. He's likely to slow down a little, but a 60-point season would appear to be a reasonable mark for Duchene. 

Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG– Wheeler was stripped of the captaincy before

This week's article includes a first-round pick thriving in Buffalo, Winnipeg's former captain on a roll, Dallas' top d-man hot, down goes Demko and a big-dollar free-agent signing scuffling in Anaheim. 

First Liners (Risers)

Dylan Cozens, C, BUF – Cozens, selected seventh overall in 2019, took a major step forward last season with 38 points in 79 games. That year looks like it just was the start of Cozens becoming a viable fantasy option. Cozens has recorded five multi-point performances in his last 12 games (including each of his last three contests), delivering five goals and 16 points over that stretch. Centering the second line in Buffalo, Cozens is up to 24 points in 25 games, aided by an increase in his ice time and shooting percentage, the latter of which should also be sustainable. 

Matt Duchene, C, NAS – Last season was a magical campaign for Duchene, as he resurrected his career after a pair of down seasons, notching career highs in goals and points. Expecting 86 points again would be foolish, but Duchene still has plenty of value. Duchene had his third multi-point effort in the last eight games Friday, a span in which he has three goals and seven helpers to boost his season totals to 21 points in 23 games. He's likely to slow down a little, but a 60-point season would appear to be a reasonable mark for Duchene. 

Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG– Wheeler was stripped of the captaincy before the season started and everyone was wondering how long he would remain a Jet. His somewhat slow start to the season did little to quell those whispers and rumors, but Wheeler has since put those comments to bed. Over the last seven games, Wheeler has three goals and nine assists, and the 36-year-old now has 22 points (five on the power play), 45 shots on net, 14 PIM and a plus-1 rating through 23 contests while skating on the first line. 

Dylan Guenther, RW, AZ – The inclusion of Guenther is more for those individuals who play in keeper leagues. His production this season will be uneven and sporadic, mixing flashes of brilliance with those where he looks lost on the ice. Taken ninth overall in 2021, Guenther has three goals and eight assists while seeing most of his action in the bottom-six. He has shown he isn't out of place with top-six deployment, which should be his likely landing spot later this season and beyond. 

Zach Hyman, RW, EDM – Hyman, after six years in Toronto, signed a seven-year, $38.5 million contract with the Oilers in July of 2021. Playing alongside Connor McDavid and/or Leon Draisaitl was a motivating factor for Hyman to land in Edmonton. The result was new career highs in goals (27), assists (27), points (54) as well as several other categories. He's showing that last season's rise in output was no fluke, as Hyman is up to nine goals and 17 assists — seven in the past four games — in 26 contests while skating on the top line. Check his status, as he missed Monday's game with an undisclosed injury. 

Noah Hanifin, D, CGY – Hanifin tied his career-high in goals with 10 while also reaching new highs in assists (38) and points (48) last season. He got off to a horrific start to the 2022-23 season, going scoreless his first eight contests, but he looks to have turned the corner, with all 10 of his points coming in the last 15 games. The fifth-overall pick in 2015, Hanifin has settled as the Flames' top-pair, left-handed blueliner at even strength while manning a point on the second power play unit.

Miro Heiskanen D, DAL – With John Klingberg no longer in Big D, the expectation was that Heiskanen would assume the role as top dog on the power-play point and on the first even-strength unit. Those presumptions have proven to be prescient, as Heiskanen has taken his game to the next level. After hitting the scoresheet Friday with three assists, Heiskanen had points in four consecutive games, managing a goal and six assists in that span before the streak was broken Sunday. Heiskanen now has three goals and 16 assists in 22 games this season, putting him on pace to top his career high of 36 points. 

Tristan Jarry, G, PIT – In his first season as Pittsburgh's unquestioned No. 1 goaltender, Jarry delivered. His 34 wins and 2.42 goals-against average were both career-best marks, while his .919 save percentage was the second-best of his career. Jarry started this season hot, winning his first four starts, before going the next three weeks without a win while looking lost between the pipes. He has certainly righted the ship, going 6-0-1 in his last seven outings, allowing 14 goals on 223 shots in that stretch.           

Others include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Jared McCann, Joel Eriksson Ek, Boone Jenner, Brock Nelson, Mikael Granlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Nick Paul, John-Jason Peterka, Roope Hintz, Matias Maccelli, Travis Sanheim, Vince Dunn, Gustav Forsling, Noah Dobson, Darnell Nurse, Dan Vladar, Jake Oettinger, Dan Vladar, Spencer Martin, Juuse Saros and Pyotr Kochetkov

Buy Low 

Philipp Grubauer, G, SEA – Grubauer had a brutal first year in Seattle, posting an 18-31-5 mark while his 3.16 goals-against average and .889 save percentage were both career worsts. Signed to a six-year, $35.4 million contract by the Kraken in July of 2021, Grubauer was expected to be a solid last link in the Kraken defense, which his numbers indicate was far from the case. Grubauer got off to a slow start this season, going 0-1-1 while allowing 12 goals on 86 shots, before he suffered a lower-body injury October 21. Martin Jones took hold of the starting goalie job and ran with it, but Grubauer was solid in his first start after returning November 25. He then surrendered five goals on 28 shots Saturday against the Panthers, but he could still force a time-share or regain his starting role if he plays well between the pipes. 

Training Room (Injuries)

Thatcher Demko, G, VAN – Demko notched 33 victories in his first year as Vancouver's starting goalie last season, but his 2.72 goals-against average (GAA) and .915 save percentage were much more pedestrian. This year, the 26-year-old has struggled to the tune of a 3-10-2 record alongside a 3.93 GAA and an .883 save percentage through 15 games. After getting injured Thursday against Florida, Demko will miss the next six weeks with what looked to be a strained groin or hip. Spencer Martin will see most of the action between the pipes while Demko is sidelined.

Others include Anthony Cirelli (shoulder surgery in July, made season debut Saturday), Aleksander Barkov (illness, out since Nov. 23, skating at Panthers facility, but out again Tuesday), James van Riemsdyk (broken finger, surgery Oct. 28, started skating on his own this past week), Cam Atkinson (upper body, medically clear, close to returning), Tyler Bertuzzi (hand/wrist underwent surgery Friday, out six weeks), Kris Letang (stroke, suffered last Monday, out indefinitely, sending positive thoughts and prayers for a full recovery), Jake Bean (shoulder surgery, out 4-6 months), Darcy Kuemper (upper body, left Saturday's game, out Monday) and Petr Mrazek (groin, injured Saturday, out at least one week).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Ryan Strome, C, ANA – Ask any Rangers fan for their lasting image of Strome, and they'll tell you it's of him missing open nets. Despite his chemistry with Artemi Panarin and his production in New York, the missed shots are what has stuck with most of them. Strome signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Ducks this past July. After a decent start, Strome has hit the skids a bit. He scored his first goal in nine outings Saturday, ending an eight-game stretch in which he'd collected just one point and registered a minus-10 rating 

Tanner Jeannot, LW, NAS – Jeannot, an undrafted free agent, came almost out of central casting to notch 24 goals and 17 assists — though he went scoreless the last 12 games of the season — while posting a ridiculous 318 hits last season. His shooting percentage last year was an unsustainable 19.4 percent, so a regression was expected. There's a difference, though, between regression and an almost complete fall-off in output. Jeannot registered his first point in 13 outings Tuesday and now has three goals and a pair of helpers in 23 games, showing that last season's year-end slump might have been more the norm than an aberration.

Jonathan Quick, G, LA – Cal Petersen was placed on waivers Wednesday after posting a 5-3-2 record with a 3.75 GAA and .868 save percentage in 10 games. With Petersen landing in the AHL, quick is now the unquestioned starter in LA. While that is a positive, if Petersen had been playing well, Quick would be the one opening the bench door while Petersen was on the ice. Heading into Saturday's game, Quick had a record of 8-7-2 this year with a 3.33 GAA and an .888 save percentage. 

Others include Jack Roslovic, Yanni Gourde, Vasili Podkolzin, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jack Campbell, Jordan Binnington and Cal Petersen

Sell High

Tyson Barrie, D, EDM – Barrie, who signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract to remain an Oiler in July of 2021, had a solid but unspectacular season last year, posting 41 points after notching 48 points his first year in Edmonton. The torch was passed to Evan Bouchard to start the season, but Barrie looked to have regained his spot as the first-unit point man. Signs point to a switch back to Bouchard, which doesn't mean that Barrie won't have value, but he may not hit the level expected when he inked that deal to stay with the team.

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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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