NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

NHL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes Buffalo's No. 1 center, the Hobbit rolling in Minny, a rookie netminder in Boston, Puljujarvi down in Edmonton and Saros slumping in Music City. 

First Liners (Risers)

Tage Thompson, C, BUF – Thompson's solid season continued Saturday against the Avalanche with a hat trick. The hat trick was the first of Thompson's career, continuing a breakout campaign that has seen him pile up 20 goals and 38 points through 47 games. Acquired by Buffalo in the deal that sent Ryan O'Reilly to St. Louis, Thompson struggled his first three seasons as a Sabre, playing 65 games in 2018-19 before seeing just a game of NHL action the following season. Thompson was in-and-out of the lineup early last year before playing the last 23 games, and this year he's taken a major step forward.

Andrei Svechnikov, LW, CAR – Svechnikov looks more like the player who scored 24 goals and 61 points in 68 games two seasons ago as opposed to the winger who tallied just 42 points in 55 games last season while setting career lows in goals (15) and shooting percentage (10.2). In the last 15 games, Svechnikov has racked up 10 goals and 22 points thanks to eight multi-point performances. This hot streak has improved his season marks to 22 goals, 26 assists with a plus-13 rating in 46 games. 

Brock Boeser, LW, VAN – Boeser was extremely consistent his first four full seasons in the NHL, scoring 45 to

This week's article includes Buffalo's No. 1 center, the Hobbit rolling in Minny, a rookie netminder in Boston, Puljujarvi down in Edmonton and Saros slumping in Music City. 

First Liners (Risers)

Tage Thompson, C, BUF – Thompson's solid season continued Saturday against the Avalanche with a hat trick. The hat trick was the first of Thompson's career, continuing a breakout campaign that has seen him pile up 20 goals and 38 points through 47 games. Acquired by Buffalo in the deal that sent Ryan O'Reilly to St. Louis, Thompson struggled his first three seasons as a Sabre, playing 65 games in 2018-19 before seeing just a game of NHL action the following season. Thompson was in-and-out of the lineup early last year before playing the last 23 games, and this year he's taken a major step forward.

Andrei Svechnikov, LW, CAR – Svechnikov looks more like the player who scored 24 goals and 61 points in 68 games two seasons ago as opposed to the winger who tallied just 42 points in 55 games last season while setting career lows in goals (15) and shooting percentage (10.2). In the last 15 games, Svechnikov has racked up 10 goals and 22 points thanks to eight multi-point performances. This hot streak has improved his season marks to 22 goals, 26 assists with a plus-13 rating in 46 games. 

Brock Boeser, LW, VAN – Boeser was extremely consistent his first four full seasons in the NHL, scoring 45 to 56 points, and if the NHL had played full seasons the last two years, he likely would have been in the mid-50s range again. Despite the trade whispers surrounding him, the winger's been good lately with five goals and four assists in his last eight appearances. The 24-year-old has 15 goals, 28 points, 127 shots on net and a minus-5 rating in 44 games, though he's been much more like his usual high-scoring self since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach in December. 

Mats Zuccarello, RW, MIN – Zuccarello, a Rangers' fan favorite, struggled his first season with the Wild in 2019-20 after signing a five-year, $30 million contract with the team in July 2019. The arrival of Kirill Kaprizov helped the Norwegian Hobbit's game, as the diminutive winger notched 35 points in 42 games after missing the first month of the season following arm surgery. Zucc has been even better in 2020-21, reaching the 50-point mark for the first time since 2017-18 — he's at 17 goals and 35 assists, including 19 power-play points, in 41 games this season. He has been red-hot his in last 16 games, posting nine goals and 18 helpers.

Moritz Seider, D, DET – Every time Seider looks to be hitting a wall, he plows through and posts solid production. In his last 16 games, Seider has two goals and 12 points, with more than half that production (both tallies and five helpers) coming with the man advantage. On the season, the 20-year-old blueliner, taken sixth overall in 2019, is up to five goals, 30 points and a solid plus-two rating in 51 games. Even more impressive, Seider has been a physical presence, notching 74 hits and 98 blocked shots as evidence of his well-rounded game. 

Justin Faulk, D, STL – Faulk, after signing a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension with the Blues in September 2019, had a brutal first season in St. Louis. He rebounded to have a much better season campaign, looking more like the player he was in Carolina. Faulk has taken another step forward in 2021-22 with 24 points, 92 shots on net, 90 hits, 51 blocked shots and a plus-31 rating in 43 games. A decent portion of his point production has come recently, as Faulk has a pair of goals and eight assists in his last 12 games.

Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS – Swayman has certainly had an interesting rookie season. From sharing the Boston goaltending job with Linus Ullmark to landing in the AHL when Tuukka Rask joined the team and then back to the parent club when Rask was injured and then retired. Ullmark has hit a bit of a rough mark, opening the door for Swayman to grab the No. 1 goalie role. After giving up three goals on 24 shots after being recalled Feb. 8, Swayman has surrendered just four tallies on 124 shots on nets his last four games while also notching his second shutout of the season.

Ilya Samsonov, G, WAS – The pendulum looks to be swinging up for Samsonov, but as we have seen, tread cautiously if trying to ride the wave. Samsonov has won three of his last four starts, improving to 17-7-3 this season. Vitek Vanecek is close to returning from his upper-body injury, which will cut into Samsonov's playing time. But the 24-year-old netminder still should see copious action in net for the Caps, who need to decide if Samsonov, Vanecek or neither is their goalie of the present and future. 

Others include Brayden Schenn, Trevor Zegras, Mark Scheifele, Kirby Dach, Jared McCann, Jack Hughes, Mika Zibanejad, Boone Jenner, Robert Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Patrik Laine, Sebastian Aho, Max Pacioretty, Tyler Bertuzzi, Matthew Boldy, Brayden Schenn, Kyle Connor, Evander Kane, Gustav Nyquist, Johnny Gaudreau, Yegor Sharangovich, Max Pacioretty, Joe Pavelski, Roman Josi, Jaccob Slavin, Jeff Petry, Timothy Liljegren, Evan Bouchard, Drew Doughty, Zach Werenski, Quinn Hughes, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Oettinger, Jacob Markstrom, Anton Forsberg, Darcy Kuemper, Laurent Brossoit, and Ville Husso.

Buy Low

Scott Laughton, C, PHI – Laughton has recently been taking advantage of the hole created at center by the absence of Sean Couturier. Drafted 20th overall in 2012, Laughton has mainly been a third-line pivot for the Flyers, but thrust onto the second line, he has scored four goals and as many assists in his last eight games. Couturier is done for the year and Claude Giroux is all but certain to be dealt by the trade deadline, meaning that Laughton should remain in a top-six role. Jump on board now just in case he can maintain a semblance of this type of scoring output. 

Training Room (Injuries)

Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, EDM – Puljujarvi, injured Thursday against the Ducks, is expected to be sidelined for about four weeks with his lower-body injury, landing on him on injured reserve. The 23-year-old's 28 points in 46 games are a career high as he struggled to gain a foothold in Edmonton after being selected fourth overall in 2016. Puljujarvi looked to possibly be a candidate to remain in Europe, before returning to the NHL last year and re-establishing his career. When he does return, look for Puljujarvi to resume his role as a top-six winger. 

Others include players still on the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as Ryan Getzlaf (lower body, missed second straight game Saturday), Mark Stone (back, placed on LTIR, might miss remainder of regular season), Vladimir Tarasenko (undisclosed, missed Saturday's game, might play Tuesday), Joel Farabee (upper body, could return Feb. 26), Robin Lehner (upper body, rumored to be shoulder, missed third straight game Sunday) and Matt Murray (undisclosed, did not play Saturday or Sunday, expected back Tuesday). 

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers) 

Andrew Copp, C, WPG – Copp, currently dealing with an upper-body injury that forced out of Thursday's and Saturday's game, could be on the trade block if Winnipeg decides to blow it up. An unrestricted free agent after the season, Copp was rumored at one point to possibly sign a long-term deal with the Jets, but no deal has been forthcoming. Prior to being injured, Copp's game has gone south, as the 27-year-old center has just one point — a goal — in his last 11 games. Despite his struggles, Copp still would generate a ton of interest in the trade market if the Jets decide to move him. 

Ilya Mikheyev, RW, TOR – A thumb injury and COVID cost Mikheyev just about all  of the first two-and-a-half months of the season. Mikheyev had six goals and an assist his first seven games in 2022, but since then, his game has tailed off dramatically. In his last 11 games, the 26-year-old right winger has just a goal and two helpers, and no points in his last six games before scoring Monday. Toronto is loaded with weapons up front, so it is not counting on Mikheyev to score, but any production eases the burden on the big boys and lengthens the lineup. Mikheyev should remain in his third-line role despite his current slump.           

Juuse Saros, G, NAS – Before the last four games, Saros' numbers had been eerily like those last season, his first year as the unquestioned No. 1 netminder in Nashville, when he posted a 2.28 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. As RotoWire noted in its player update after Friday's loss to the Hurricanes, "after going undefeated in regulation (4-0-1) through January and into the first game of February, Saros has suddenly stumbled, going 0-4-0 in his last four starts with a 3.87 GAA and .880 save percentage." But Saros is too good, and the Preds' team is too solid for his struggles to continue for too long. In the short-term, you might consider benching him.

Others include Casey Cizikas, Seth Jarvis, Jordan Greenway, Dustin Brown, Tyson Barrie, Shayne Gostisbehere, Carter Hart, Linus Ullmark and Cam Talbot.

Sell High

Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS – McAvoy is still having a solid campaign, but his production has ground to a complete halt. After posting seven goals and 21 assists in his first 38 games of the season, McAvoy failed to dent the scoresheet in each of his last eight games before tallying a pair of assists Monday.  McAvoy finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting in 2020-21 after collecting 30 points and a plus-22 rating in 41 games, leading Boston to sign the Long Beach, N.Y., native to an eight-year, $76 million contract extension last October. McAvoy may be getting back on the beam, so take his placement here with a grain of salt.

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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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