This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.
This week's article includes Ottawa benefitting from the acquisition of a second-line winger, a sniper returning to prior form, a young blueliner in Tampa Bay, Rask rolling and a former Hart trophy winner off to a slow start.
First Liners (Risers)
Anze Kopitar, C, LA – Kopitar suffered through a miserable season last year, tallying just 60 points in 81 points, down from 92 points in 2017-18. His strong start to the current campaign is making his production in 2018-19 look more like an aberration than the beginning of a negative trend. Kopitar potted a goal and an assist Saturday and an assist Sunday, giving the Slovenian center a pair of markers and six assists in just five games this season. That pace will slow, but Kopitar should cross the 70-point barrier once again.
Patrik Laine, LW, WPG – Laine racked up 36 goals his rookie season and 44 his sophomore campaign. He started his third season in the NHL like he would obliterate both marks. But 12- and 15-game goal droughts resulted in Laine finishing the season with 30 tallies, half of which came on the power play. Signed to a two-year, bridge deal for $13.5 million just before the 2019-20 year started, 21-year-old has been on fire to start the year, collecting 11 points in the Jets' first seven games as he looks to show that he deserves a long-term contract.
James Neal, RW, EDM – Neal, mentioned last week in the others listing, gets