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NHL Barometer: Flick of the Risto

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 Sam the Man, Derek Who?, a hot former Calder Trophy winner between the pipes in Philly, down goes Domi and no more Panik at the Disco.

First Liners (Risers)

Sam Gagner, C, CLM – Gagner is seeing bottom-six minutes but his production has been like a top-six player. A goal and assist Tuesday gives him 12 goals and nine assists in 26 games. The former Oiler, Coyote and Flyer is getting 13:30 in ice time but over 2:30 of that has come on the man-advantage, where he has notched nine points.

Leon Draisaitl, C, EDM – Draisaitl has been shut out the last two games but he still has 10 goals and eight assists over his past 16 games. After a rough rookie season and start to his sophomore year, the young German rebounded to post 51 points in 2015-16. Draisaitl – who qualifies at center and wing in most leagues – has shown no signs of slowing down, notching 26 points in 32 games through Tuesday.

Derek Ryan, RW, CAR – Derek who? Ryan quietly continues to produce, warranting a spot on your fantasy team. In the ‘Canes wild 8-6 win over the Canucks, he had three assists while playing on a line with Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask. That gives Ryan 11 points in 16 games, including nine in his last seven contests. Might as well take a flier on the University of Alberta product.

Brayden Schenn, LW, PHI – Schenn potted a hat trick Saturday and followed that up with the overtime winner Sunday. The second line winger upped his point total for the fourth straight year, posting a career-high 59 in 2015-16. With 20 points in 28 games and six in his last six games, Schenn could match or exceed that total. As we noted on Sunday, he and Wayne Simmonds (28 points) form one of the most dangerous second-line duos in the league and are a big reason why the Flyers have won an eye-popping nine games in a row to pull into the eighth seed in the East.

Corey Perry, RW, ANA – Perry tallied another goal Tuesday, giving the sniper three markers in his last four games. A slow start has him sitting with just seven goals through 30 games. But Perry has not scored less than 33 goals in his last five full seasons, so pounce on the opportunity if an owner has soured on him.

Nick Holden, D, NYR – Holden notched the game-winning goal in New York’s 1-0 win over Chicago last Thursday. Acquired on draft day from Colorado for a fourth-rounder, Holden has quietly totaled four goals, 14 points and a plus-12 rating through 31 games. With 60 hits and 37 blocked shots, Holden has even more value in leagues that use those additional categories and likely came much cheaper than more high-profile defensemen.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, BUF – Ristolainen has just one goal on the year, which finally came on Dec. 6, but that doesn’t mean it’s been a disappointing season. His two assists Tuesday give the Finn 18 assists in 28 games. Much of that production has come recently, which means his career-high of 41 points set a year ago could be in jeopardy. Ristolainen also has 78 hits and 52 blocks, after posting 139 and 137 respectively last year, putting him on pace to exceed both marks.

Matt Murray, G, PIT – Murray was the beneficiary of a robust Pittsburgh attack in the team’s 7-0 whitewash of the Cardinals Coyotes. With the shutout, he has now won four in a row and lowered his GAA to 1.84 while raising his save percentage to .936 and improving his record to 11-2-0. A hand injury suffered in the World Cup cost Murray the beginning of the year but he has gone on to solidify his role as the #1 netminder in the Steel City.

Steve Mason, G, PHI – Mason, the former Calder Trophy winner, got off to a horrific start and ceded starts to Michal Neuvirth. But Neuvirth suffered an injury, opening the door for the incumbent, who has grabbed control of the top goaltending job. Mason hasn't lost a start since Nov. 25, winning seven straight, while dramatically improving both his GAA and save percentage thanks to the consistent work. Anthony Stolarz will see some time between the pipes but Mason is the one to ride.

Others include Mikael Granlund, Alexander Wennberg, Jamie Benn, Paul Byron, Claude Giroux, Ryan Kesler, Nicklas Backstrom, Auston Matthews, Ryan Johansen, Tyler Seguin, Anders Lee, David Pastrnak, Johnny Gaudreau, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jeff Skinner, Marian Gaborik, Charlie Coyle, Matthew Tkachuk, Kevin Labanc, Cam Atkinson, Max Pacioretty, Justin Schultz, Ryan McDonagh, Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Ekblad, Brent Burns, Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt Niskanen, Trevor Daley, Scott Darling, Sergei Bobrovsky. Antti Raanta, Chad Johnson, Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk.

Training Room (Injuries)

Max Domi, C, ARI – Domi left Thursday’s game against the Kings with a hand injury that required surgery and will sideline him indefinitely. Prior to the injury, he tallied a goal, giving him 15 points in 25 games. The 12th pick from 2013 scored 18 goals and added 34 assists as a rookie last year and expectations were high for him coming in. Domi has been up and down this year, but the Coyotes will miss his offensive skill.

Others include Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais (knee, each out 6-8 weeks), Jonathan Toews (undisclosed, return to action Tuesday), Rick Nash (groin, could play Thursday), Kris Versteeg (upper-body, close to returning), Pavel Buchnevich (back, slowly recovering), Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles, at least a month away), Mark Streit (shoulder, out two weeks), Darnell Nurse (ankle surgery, out 12 weeks) and Semyon Varlamov (groin, day-to-day).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Nick Bjugstad, C, FLA – Bjugstad returned from his hand injury on Nov. 22, and his time has been less than memorable with no points in 10 games. After taking a step forward as a sophomore in 2014-15, he regressed last year and those struggles have carried forward to the present. Bjugstad has been superseded in the Sunshine State by Vincent Trocheck and will need to be content with third-line minutes.

Richard Panik, RW, CHI – Panik’s slump after a strong start to the season continued Tuesday, as he failed to score against the Rangers. After hitting six goals and nine points over nine games over the first month of the season, he has just one goal and two assists through 22 games dating back to Nov. 1. The bloom is clearly off the rose for Panik, who should be buried on your bench or completely off your roster.

Ryan Murray, D, CLM – Murray seemed to take a step forward last year with four goals and 21 assists. But that performance looks to be a mirage, as he has just three points in 21 games. In addition, the 23-year old is seeing basically no power-play time, which further depresses his value. Columbus has been a potent offense this season but Murray has been on the outside looking in.

Cory Schneider, G, NJD – Schneider’s GAA had been below 2.26 the past six years while his save percentage was no lower than .921 during that stretch. Following a strong start, he has bottomed out recently, allowing a combined 10 goals in his last two starts and 32 over his last nine. In fact, New Jersey allowed the most goals in the league from Nov. 11 to Dec. 11. This poor stretch puts Schneider’s GAA at 2.83 and SV% at .907, each a far cry from what his owners and the Devils expected.

Others include Adam Henrique, Patrice Bergeron, Brandon Dubinsky, Anthony Duclair, Jussi Jokinen, Andrew Ladd, Bobby Ryan, Ron Hainsey, John Carlson, Cody Franson, Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot.