NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers

NHL Barometer: Risers and Fallers

This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.

This week's article includes LA's second center, a Flame on fire, an Oilers D-man on a roll, Minnesota with a possible new #1 netminder and Carter slumping.

First Liners (Risers)         

Phillip Danault, C, LA – Danault has given LA everything they could have wanted and then some since he signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Kings in July of 2021. He tallied a career-high 27 goals and added 24 assists last season, his first as a King. This year, while centering the second line, Danault has 14 markers and 26 helpers in 58 games, with 15 of those points coming on the man-advantage. He has a decent chance of exceeding the career-high 53 points he potted in 2018-19 as a member of the Canadiens. 

Dylan Larkin, C, DET – One of the big questions in Hockeytown is if Larkin — an unrestricted free agent after the season — will sign a long-term deal to remain a member of the Red Wings. Larkin has done his best to prove he deserved that contract, as his goal Saturday extended his point streak to seven games, a run in which he's tallied seven goals and six assists. With his recent hot streak, Larkin is up to 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) through 54 games, building off the rebound campaign he had last season. Now fully healthy, Larkin is playing like a true first-line center.

Drake Batherson, LW, OTT – Batherson is at 17 goals and

This week's article includes LA's second center, a Flame on fire, an Oilers D-man on a roll, Minnesota with a possible new #1 netminder and Carter slumping.

First Liners (Risers)         

Phillip Danault, C, LA – Danault has given LA everything they could have wanted and then some since he signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Kings in July of 2021. He tallied a career-high 27 goals and added 24 assists last season, his first as a King. This year, while centering the second line, Danault has 14 markers and 26 helpers in 58 games, with 15 of those points coming on the man-advantage. He has a decent chance of exceeding the career-high 53 points he potted in 2018-19 as a member of the Canadiens. 

Dylan Larkin, C, DET – One of the big questions in Hockeytown is if Larkin — an unrestricted free agent after the season — will sign a long-term deal to remain a member of the Red Wings. Larkin has done his best to prove he deserved that contract, as his goal Saturday extended his point streak to seven games, a run in which he's tallied seven goals and six assists. With his recent hot streak, Larkin is up to 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) through 54 games, building off the rebound campaign he had last season. Now fully healthy, Larkin is playing like a true first-line center.

Drake Batherson, LW, OTT – Batherson is at 17 goals and 30 assists through 56 games with his assist Friday, giving him a new career-high in points. The burgeoning winger has 22 power-play points to boot, but his performance there, while beneficial, is also a reason why he's a minus-26, since more than half his points have come on the man-advantage. In addition, his shooting percentage is at just 10.5 percent after being over 15 percent the last two years, which bodes well for a possible spike in goals if he can move that number up closer to his prior history.

Dillon Dube, LW, CGY – Dube has increased his scoring each year he's been in the NHL. Skating on the top line in Calgary, Dube had four goals and three helpers during his recent three-game point streak. That output upped his season totals to 16 goals and 19 assists. His increased output this season has been aided by his line placement coupled with the extra two-plus minutes of ice time he's receiving each game. Continue to roll with Dube, who has shown he deserves his top-line deployment.

Alexis Lafreniere, LW, NYR – Lafreniere's growth has been anything but linear, as he has bounced up and down between the top three lines in New York since he was drafted first overall in 2020. Expectations when Laf was drafted were that he would take the league by storm. That has yet to happen, partially due to his usage and line deployment, prompting some to call him a bust. The 21-year-old winger has found a groove lately back on the Kid Line with five goals and five helpers over his last 12 contests. He's up to 10 goals, 28 points, 100 shots on net, 111 hits, 20 PIM and a plus-5 rating through 56 outings overall. 

Hampus Lindholm, D, BOS – Lindholm helped solidify the Bruins' blue line while Charlie McAvoy was sidelined to start the season. He hit a little bit of a lull in December but has been back to his productive self since then. Over the past 11 games, the Swedish d-man has a goal and six assists. On the season, Lindholm has six goals and 36 points in 56 games, an output that sets a new career-high in his first full season in Black and Gold after coming over from Anaheim last March. 

Tyson Barrie, D, EDM – Barrie benefits from all the offensive talent around him Edmonton and is in the midst of another hot streak. He has five goals and two helpers over his last nine games, including markers in three straight contests, giving the veteran blueliner 10 tallies and 39 points through 58 outings this season, with 25 points coming on the power-play. Expectations to begin the year were that Evan Bouchard would supersede Barrie as Edmonton's point man on the top unit, but Barrie has retained and excelled in that spot. 

Vitek Vanecek G, NJ – All Vanecek does is win. Prior to falling to Montreal on Tuesday, Vanecek hadn't lost in regulation since Dec. 28 (12-0-1) and allowed two or fewer goals in nine of those 13 games. For the year, Vanecek is 24-6-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .914 save percentage as New Jersey continues to push Carolina for first in the Metro Division. After two fairly solid years between the pipes for the Caps, Vanecek was dealt to New Jersey this offseason. The three-year, $10.2 million contract he signed with the Devils last July looks like a bargain for the team.

Others include Brock Nelson, Kent Johnson, Elias Lindholm, Dylan Cozens, Mikael Backlund, Claude Giroux, Zach Hyman, Rickard Rakell, Chris Kreider, Robby Fabbri, Anthony Beauvillier, Rickard Rakell, Cam Fowler, Drew Doughty, Jake McCabe, Brandon Montour, Owen Power, Jeremy Swayman, Jaroslav Halak, Ilya Samsonov and Ville Husso

Buy Low 

Filip Gustavsson, G, MIN – A changing of the guard may be taking place between the pipes in Minnesota. Gustavsson has started five of Minnesota's last six games, going 4-0-1 with a .948 save percentage. He's now 15-8-2 with a .928 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA this season. The Senators flipped Gustavsson to the Wild for Cam Talbot last offseason in a move that looks short-sighted right now, with Gustavsson playing well and Talbot having dealt with several injuries while also struggling a bit. Gustavsson is a buy-low solely due to name recognition.

Training Room (Injuries) 

Jake DeBrusk, LW, BOS – DeBrusk, injured in the Winter Classic, returned to action Saturday with a goal and an assist. He was on a roll before missing 17 games with the lower-body issue, having racked up five goals and seven points through his prior six appearances. The two points Saturday and the goal Monday gave DeBrusk, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Bruins last March, 18 markers and 15 helpers in just 38 games. Barring further injury, DeBrusk should exceed the career-high 43 points he scored as a rookie in 2017-18. 

Others include Jack Hughes (upper body, returned to action Saturday), Mathew Barzal (lower body, injured Saturday, week-to-week), Tom Wilson (lower body, missed seven games, returned to the lineup Saturday), Travis Konecny (upper body, left Monday's game), Sam Bennett (undisclosed, missed third straight game Monday), Pavel Buchnevich (lower body, injured Friday, missed last two games, might play Thursday), Filip Forsberg (upper body, missed fifth straight game Tuesday), Torey Krug (undisclosed, injured Tuesday, played Thursday, sat Saturday against Colorado, played Sunday), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (injured Wednesday, will be out for weeks with a sprained ankle), Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body, missed eight games, played Sunday), Pavel Francouz (lower body, will miss three weeks) and Tristan Jarry (upper body, out from January 22,  started Monday). 

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers) 

Jack Quinn, C, BUF – Quinn, profiled as a Faller a little over a month ago, unfortunately lands in this spot again. Selected in the first round, eighth overall in 2020, Quinn posted 26 goals and 61 points in 45 games for AHL Rochester. He broke camp with the Sabres this year and has notched nine goals and 14 assists in 48 games. Quinn lands in this spot as he's been limited to two goals and a pair of helpers over his last 14 games. That slump has seen him dropped to the third line recently, and he hasn't exceeded 15 minutes of ice time in a game since Dec. 10 

Jeff Carter LW, PIT – After a rebound campaign last season and decent start to this year, Carter's production has cratered. He has just one point — a goal — in his last 17 games, including an 11-game streak without hitting the scoresheet. Carter signed a two-year, $6.25 million contract extension with the Penguins in January of 2022, a deal that looked like a solid move last season. Now, though, the $3.125 million cap hit looming next year looks excessive given his rapid decline this season. Maybe he finds his way down the stretch. 

Scott Mayfield, D, NYI – Mayfield has already tied his career-high in goals with five, which is the good news. The bad news is that he hasn't lit the lamp in 17 games and has just four assists during that streak. While the offense has slumped, Mayfield is still contributing hits (73) and blocks (121), but the offensive production has tailed off rapidly. The 15 points scored by Mayfield leaves him four shy of tying his career-high, with that number showing that he's more of a shutdown blueliner than a scoring one. 

Others include Yanni Gourde, Alexander Holtz (sent to AHL), Alexander Romanov, Ryan Suter, Travis Sanheim, Igor Shesterkin, Jordan Binnington and Marc-Andre Fleury

Sell High

Darcy Kuemper, G, WAS – Kuemper's recent losing skid hit four Tuesday in a loss to the Red Wings. He has allowed three goals or more in each of the four losses, surrendering 14 goals on 110 shots during this stretch. Kuemper, who won the Cup with Colorado last season before signing with the Caps this offseason, has posted a 16-18-5 record with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. His current struggles could result in Charlie Lindgren seeing more action between the pipes in the near term.

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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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