NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers for the Week

NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers for the Week

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes Keller shining in the Desert, Kirill the Thrill, Ovi rolling, Georgiev racking up wins, the return of Larkin and Henrique's production declining. 

This will be the final column of the regular season. Thank you to all who read and/or commented. If you have any comments, please leave them below or send to either support@rotowire.com or jan.levine@gmail.com.

First Liners (Risers)

Robert Thomas, C, STL – The Blues will not make the playoffs this year, but Thomas has done his part. His goal and three assists Sunday gave Thomas 24 goals and 57 assists with his 81 points setting a new career-high set. The 24 goals are a career high as well, while the 57 assists tie his prior best mark set in 2021-22. The 24-year-old center has lived up to the eight-year, $65 million contract extension he signed with St. Louis in July of 2022, centering the team's top line at even-strength.

Mathew Barzal, C, NYI – Barzal extended his point and assist streak to four with a helper Saturday. With the point, Barzal is up to 56 apples and 23 goals in 76 games, with his hot streak helping the Islanders sit in a playoff spot with a little more than a week remaining in the regular season. Barzal sits just six points shy of his career-high in points, set his rookie season in 2017-18. Barzal is producing across the board, stepping up his production since Patrick Roy took over as the team's

This week's article includes Keller shining in the Desert, Kirill the Thrill, Ovi rolling, Georgiev racking up wins, the return of Larkin and Henrique's production declining. 

This will be the final column of the regular season. Thank you to all who read and/or commented. If you have any comments, please leave them below or send to either support@rotowire.com or jan.levine@gmail.com.

First Liners (Risers)

Robert Thomas, C, STL – The Blues will not make the playoffs this year, but Thomas has done his part. His goal and three assists Sunday gave Thomas 24 goals and 57 assists with his 81 points setting a new career-high set. The 24 goals are a career high as well, while the 57 assists tie his prior best mark set in 2021-22. The 24-year-old center has lived up to the eight-year, $65 million contract extension he signed with St. Louis in July of 2022, centering the team's top line at even-strength.

Mathew Barzal, C, NYI – Barzal extended his point and assist streak to four with a helper Saturday. With the point, Barzal is up to 56 apples and 23 goals in 76 games, with his hot streak helping the Islanders sit in a playoff spot with a little more than a week remaining in the regular season. Barzal sits just six points shy of his career-high in points, set his rookie season in 2017-18. Barzal is producing across the board, stepping up his production since Patrick Roy took over as the team's coach. 

Jonathan Drouin, LW, COL – Drouin is closing the season strong for the Avalanche. He has seven goals and eight helpers over his last 11 contests and is up to 19 goals and 34 assists in 74 games on the year. That output ties his career-high, which was reached in 2016-17 with Tampa Bay and 2018-19 with Montreal. Drouin signed a one-year, $825,000 contract with the Avalanche last July, hoping his career would be revived playing alongside former QMJHL Halifax teammate Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. This has most certainly been the case, and he is in line for a multiyear deal. 

Matthew Tkachuk, LW, FLA – Tkachuk tallied his 25th goal of the season Saturday. While he won't top the century mark as he did the prior two seasons, Tkachuk is still having a fine season with the 25 markers and 59 assists. Add in 144 hits, a new high, and 32 power-play points, and you have a complete player. His lamp lighting is slightly down due to a drop in shooting percentage from 12.4 per cent to 9.6, the second straight season that has fallen, and close to a two-minute decline in ice time.

Mattias Ekholm, D, EDM – Ekholm is close to having a career-best season. After scoring a career-high 44 points in 2018-19 in Nashville, he took on more of a defensive, defenseman role for the Predators. The move to Edmonton has unlocked his offensive game. The 33-year-old defenseman has racked up 10 goals, 43 points, 163 shots on net, 131 hits, 90 blocked shots and a plus-41 rating through 73 appearances. He has really stepped up his game lately, posting six goals and 11 helpers his last 13 contests.

MacKenzie Weegar, D, CGY – Weegar took a major step backward last season, his first in Calgary. After posting 44 points the prior year with the Panthers, Weegar notched just 31 points last season. Weegar, despite the Flames' struggles, has stepped up his production. The 30-year-old defenseman has three goals and five assists during his most recent five-game point streak. Overall, he's tallied 19 markers, 29 apples, 192 shots on net, 182 hits, 193 blocked shots, 47 PIM and a plus-1 rating while often looking like the team's top blueliner. 

Alex Nedeljkovic, G, PIT – Nedeljkovic has taken over the reins as the Penguins' No. 1 goaltender from Tristan Jarry. Saturday was his eighth straight start after he went 5-0-2 in his previous seven contests. Despite allowing three goals in the third period and four overall, Nedeljkovic extended his point streak to eight games during which he has posted a 2.33 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. He extended that streak to nine in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Monday. Overall, he is 16-6-7 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .907 save percentage and has the Pens in a playoff spot.   

Justus Annunen, G, COL – Annunen, a third-round pick, 64th overall in 2018, may have taken over as Colorado's No. 1 netminder from Alexandar Georgiev. He's gone 6-2-0 with an excellent .950 save percentage in his last eight outings, while Georgiev has struggled between the pipes. Overall, Annunen is 7-4-1 on the season with a .931 save percentage and 2.24 goals-against average, resulting in him signing a two-year contract extension with the Avalanche in March.

Others include Jack Eichel, Matty Beniers, Auston Matthews, Nick Suzuki, Tage Thompson, Filip Forsberg, Kirill Kaprizov, Gustav Nyquist, Brandon Saad, Sam Reinhart, Jake Guentzel, Kirill Marchenko, Roman Josi, Evan Bouchard, Josh Morrissey, Kris Letang, Stuart Skinner, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jake Oettinger Philipp Grubauer, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky

Buy Low

William Eklund, LW, SJ – Eklund notched the first hat trick of his career Saturday. He saw his modest four-game point streak – during which he tallied those three goals and three assists – end Sunday. San Jose is playing out the string and looking to the future with Eklund a key component. Eklund, the seventh overall pick of the 2021 draft, has 15 goals and 25 assists in 75 games, albeit with a minus-44 plus-minus rating. He should continue to see top-six minutes, both at even-strength and on the power-play.

Training Room (Injuries)

Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA – Ekblad will miss the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury but is expected to be ready for the start of the playoffs. He finishes the year with four goals, 18 points, 98 shots on net, 59 blocked shots and 85 hits in 51 appearances. Since playing all 82 games in the 2018-19 season, Ekblad has missed time due to injury every season, and this year is no different, as he also missed the first month of the season following offseason shoulder surgery. 

Others include Mason McTavish (lower body, injured Tuesday, missed Friday's and Sunday's games), Jake Neighbours (upper body, suffered Saturday). Mikko Rantanen (concussion, left Friday's game, did not play Sunday), Tomas Hertl (knee, made season and Knights debut against Vancouver on Monday), Thomas Chabot (lower body, missed four games, returned to the lineup Saturday) and Elvis Merzlikins (lower body, sat out his third straight game Saturday). 

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Trevor Zegras, C, ANA – Saying this year has been a washout for Zegras is a mild understatement. Injuries have limited to Zegras to just 27 games, and even when he is in the lineup, his output has been brutal. Zegras has just four goals and seven assists in those 27 games after posting 61 and 65 points the last two seasons, respectively. His extended holdout before he signed a deal contributed to the injury and possibly his rough campaign. There are whispers that Anaheim could look to deal Zegras – who signed a three-year, $17.25 million contract with the Ducks last October – this offseason. 

Cam Fowler, D, ANA – Fowler has had a solid year overall, but his production has tailed off substantially of late. He has just a goal and three assists with a minus-seven rating his last 13 games. For the year, Fowler has potted five markers and 30 helpers in 77 games. Early in the season, it looked like Fowler would come close to matching or exceeding the career-high 48 points he tallied last season. As we have seen, that proved not to be the case. A decent year for Fowler, though not a special one. 

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, MIN – Fleury is limping to the finish. His loss Saturday means the future Hall of Famer has gone 1-2-2 with 18 goals allowed in his last five starts. His stats are meh this season (17-13-5 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .899 save percentage), and with Minnesota all but eliminated from playoff contention, the Flower could see his playing time limited down the stretch. Jesper Wallstedt was promoted Saturday and started Sunday, pitching a shutout, and could see several games for the Wild the last week-plus of the regular season. 

Others include Ross Colton, Anton Lundell, Jack Roslovic, Evander Kane, Sean Durzi, Brent Burns, Samuel Ersson and Alexandar Georgiev.

Sell High

Zach Parise, LW, COL – Parise was signed by the Avalanche in January to provide winger depth. He was in a top-six role until the trade deadline, when the Avalanche's acquisitions bumped him down to the third line. Parise has four goals and five assists in 26 games, but just two helpers in his last 11 games. Colorado doesn't need the offensive production from Parise, as its hope is that he raises his games and contributes to a long playoff run. 

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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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