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NHL Barometer: When The Cat's Away

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

This week’s article includes Hanzal (not Gretel) in Arizona, the Captain in Big D on a roll, down goes Senator Ryan and a former Calder Trophy winner still struggling.

First Liners (Risers)

Martin Hanzal, C, ARI – Hanzal is a highly sought after commodity with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. Those rumors appear to have kickstarted his game, with five goals in five games, giving him 15 markers in 49 games. Hanzal is one goal away from equaling his career high (16) set in 2010-11, although it’s unknown whether he will set that in the Desert or elsewhere. If he is moved, his value will depend on what line he is placed.

Calle Jarnkrok, C, NAS – Jarnkrok is the third-line center in Music City, but that hasn’t hurt his production. A goal Sunday gives him 10 points over his past 12 games. Jarnkrok had 16 goals and 14 assists in his second full season last year and looked primed to take the next step forward. That progress was more of a step back earlier in the season, but he now has found his groove and is producing in kind.

William Nylander, RW, TOR – Nylander is a natural center playing right wing due to the depth down the middle in Toronto. That shift hasn’t hurt his production, with 17 goals and 25 assists in this his sophomore – but first full season – in the majors. Nylander looks to be getting stronger as the season progresses, tallying seven goals and four assists his last 10 games while skating on a line with Auston Matthews.

Jamie Benn, LW, DAL – It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the Stars, but Benn is doing what he can to help lead the team. Playing in his 500th game Saturday, he notched the game-winning goal in overtime against the Lightning. That marker gives the captain 10 goals and nine assists over his past 15 games. Overall, Benn is up to 20 goals and 34 assists on the year with 22 of those points coming on the man-advantage.

Andrew Ladd, LW, NYI – Ladd signed a seven-year, $38.5 million contract with the Islanders last July. During the first three months of the season, he might have been worth 38.5 cents. But Ladd has righted the ship of late, notching eight goals with a pair of assists the past 13 games, as the Islanders are working their way back into playoff contention. The veteran is seeing third-line duty, but is producing like a top-six winger.

Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM – Klefbom is rightly a popular profile candidate in RotoWire columns this week. The young Swede has posted three goals, nine points and 24 blocked shots with a plus-9 rating over his past 12 contests along with an ascension to the Oilers’ top power-play unit. Klefbom finally looks to be living up to his status of the 2011 19th overall pick and the seven-year, $29 million contract extension he signed in Sept. 2015.

Zach Werenski, D, CLM – Every time we think Werenski may hit a rookie wall, he plows right through it. He was scoreless for six games but rebounded to post two assists on Feb. 15, and then added a goal and two assists two days later. That output gives Werenski nine goals, 36 points and a healthy plus-16 rating, with half of the offense coming on the man-advantage. It looks as though the Blue Jackets’ blueline is in good hands for the future with Werenski and Seth Jones.

John Gibson, G, ANA – Gibson stopped all 24 shots he faced Sunday to notch his fifth shutout of the season. He ceded the crease to Jonathan Bernier on Monday, but was forced into duty to start the second when Bernier allowed three goals on six shots in the first. Gibson proceeded to stop all 14 shots to up his save percentage to .923. He has already notched more wins than last season and is entrenched as the Anaheim starter between the pipes.

Michal Neuvirth, G, PHI – Neuvirth has started four straight games and seven of eight, as the Flyers are just three points from the second Eastern Wild Card spot. He allowed six goals against Edmonton on Feb. 15, but has only allowed one or two goals in the other six contests. Neuvirth is 3-3-1 in those seven games, but that record is largely due to Philly’s sporadic offense rather than his play in net.

Others include Travis Zajac, Nazem Kadri, Aleksander Barkov, Jeff Carter, Tyler Seguin, Lars Eller, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Strome, Christian Dvorak, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Brayden Schenn, Ryan Spooner, Nino Niederreiter, Henrik Zetterberg, Josh Leivo, Viktor Arvidsson, Tomas Tatar, Josh Bailey, Brad Marchand, Evander Kane, Jonathan Huberdeau, J.T. Miller, David Pastrnak, Patrick Kane, Marcus Johansson, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Tanner Pearson, Victor Hedman, Brent Burns, Alex Goligoski, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brady Skjei, Alexander Edler, Erik Karlsson, Jake Allen, Henrik Lundqvist (win #400), Brian Elliott, Petr Mrazek, Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby and Ben Bishop.

Training Room (Injuries)

Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT – Ryan broke his finger taking a shot off his hand Saturday and will miss four to six weeks. Prior to the injury, the winger had posted just 12 goals and 12 assists in 50 games after scoring 22 and 34 last season. Ryan signed a seven-year, $50.25 million contract with Ottawa in Oct. 2014 and lived up to that contract the last two years but has struggled this season without Mika Zibanejad.

Others include Steven Stamkos (meniscus surgery, reportedly on track to return within the original 4-to-6 month estimate), Mitch Marner (upper-body, placed on IR), Mike Hoffman (groin, day-to-day), Mark Stone (neck, no timetable for return), Conor Sheary (upper-body, may be back in next few weeks), Andre Burakovsky (hand, out until mid-March), Sven Baertschi (concussion, still on IR), Justin Schultz (concussion, no timetable for return), Olli Maatta (hand surgery, out at least six weeks), Travis Hamonic (knee, missed 21 games, could be back March), Darnell Nurse (ankle surgery, could return in next few games), Nikita Zadorov (ankle, out for the season), Jonathan Quick (groin injury in first game of the season, practiced Monday, could play a simulated game soon and might be back in early March) and Jimmy Howard (sprained MCL, suffered setback in AHL conditioning stint, unknown return).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Phillip Danault, C, MTL – Danault has gone from flavor of the month back to a pumpkin. For a while, he was skating with Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. The firing of Michel Therrien and the subsequent hiring of Claude Julien coupled with the return of Alex Galchenyuk has resulted in Danault getting moved back to the third line. Move along, nothing to see here.

Troy Brouwer, RW, CGY – Brouwer is suffering through a nightmarish campaign in his first year in Calgary. He has just two points in his last 18 games, giving him just 19 points in 52 games. Brouwer signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Flames in July, but is not coming remotely close to earning his pay and may not reach the 33-point plateau he has met the past seven seasons.

Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA – Ekblad has shown some signs of life with points in three straight games but that only highlights just how poor his season has been. The 2015 Calder Trophy winner scored 39 points as a rookie and 36 last season. Florida rewarded Ekblad by locking him for eight years with a $7.5 million average contact last summer. Unfortunately, he struggled right from the start and has yet to turn it around. The Panthers have recently found their stride, so maybe Ekblad still has a chance to salvage his season.

Frederik Andersen, G, TOR – Andersen did notch his 23rd win Tuesday but it wasn’t a result of his stellar goaltending. The Dane allowed four goals on 20 shots and has surrendered 33 his last nine contests. Since the calendar flipped to 2017, Andersen has a sub-.900 save percentage and has been bailed out by the Toronto offense. The Leafs are hanging around the playoff hunt but will need their #1 netminder to be a lot better for a realistic shot at the postseason.

Others include Derek Stepan, Nicolas Petan, Brian Gionta, Dylan Larkin, P.A. Parenteau, Ryan Murphy, Calvin de Haan, Troy Stecher, Noah Hanifin, Steve Mason and Pekka Rinne.