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NHL Barometer: May the Fors Be With You

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 Drouin it, a hot Forsberg, trade beneficiaries in St. Louis and Tampa, and a winner/loser in Minnesota.

First Liners (Risers)

Kyle Turris, C, OTT – Turris tallied a goal Monday, giving him four goals and four assists in his last nine games. The latest marker was his 22nd of the season, putting him on pace to far exceed his career-high of 26 set in 2013-14. Turris is Ottawa’s top-line center, and receives the ice time reflective of that. Ottawa is in the thick of the playoff race and hunt for the Atlantic Division title, with the former Coyote serving as a huge component. Ride him while he is hot.

David Krejci, C, BOS – Krejci isn’t having a great year but his production has picked up since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the bench. The Czech has 12 points his last 11 games, giving him 16 goals and 26 assists on the year, albeit with a minus-12 rating. It’s possible that if Krejci stays hot, he could reach 60 points for the second straight year and fifth time in his last seven seasons, as Boston looks to remain in playoff contention.

Jonathan Drouin, RW, TB – Drouin has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games, aided by his three power-play assists Monday. After scoring 32 points as a rookie, he had a year to forget last season, which included a two-month demotion amid speculation he would get traded. GM Steve Yzerman held on to the former QMJHL star, who played a key part in Tampa’s run to the Eastern Conference Final. Drouin already has 39 points, putting the 2013 third overall pick on pace for over 50.

Radim Vrbata, RW, ARI – Vrbata has been red-hot for Arizona, thereby raising his value on the trade market. He notched his 15th goal of the season and added an assist Sunday giving him 46 points on the season. The minus-14 is mildly nightmarish, but Vrbata has been one the better bargains of the season after signing a one-year, $1 million deal this past August. His value might actually fall with a deal because he is playing top line and power-play duty in Arizona, so watch where he goes if he is traded.

Filip Forsberg, RW, NAS – Should there be anyone else but Forsberg here? 10 goals and four assists in six games earn you prime time real estate. Until this hot streak, it looked like reaching at least 63 points for the third consecutive year was a longshot. Now, Forsberg is 14 points away with 19 games to go. Difficult, but not unreachable, especially seeing how well he has worked alongside Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.

Colton Parayko, D, STL - Parayko is one of the big winners at the trade deadline through Tuesday night, as Kevin Shattenkirk’s departure to Washington leaves a hole on the Blues' power play. Look for Parayko, who was already on pace to exceed the 33 points he tallied last year – none of which coming on the man-advantage – to increase his totals.

Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM - Klefbom gets a second straight mention, as he certainly has been awesome of late, racking up 12 points in his last 15 games. After waiting for him to take the next step in his development, Edmonton has finally been rewarded. Ice time with Connor McDavid sure doesn't hurt and Klefbom has been the de facto blueliner when the Oilers' captain has been on the ice.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB - The other big beneficiary of the trade deadline might be Vasilevskiy. Tampa Bay did acquire Peter Budaj in the deal that sent Ben Bishop to LA, but you have to figure the Russian will see the lion's share of the action between the pipes. It hasn't been the best of seasons for Vasilevskiy, but he likely will get the chance to finish strong and is clearly the Lightning’s goalie of the future.

Brian Elliott, G, CGY - The rollercoaster than has been Elliott's season is on the upswing. February has been kind to the veteran, as he has posted a .922 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA to go with a 7-1-1 record. Calgary is in seventh place in the conference, so maintaining that spot may well depend on how Elliott performs.

Others include Travis Zajac, Max Domi, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Mikael Granlund, Jack Eichel, Sidney Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, David Pastrnak, Micheal Ferland, Patrick Kane, Max Pacioretty, Jake Guentzel, Brad Marchand, Johnny Gaudreau, Viktor Arvidsson. Richard Panik, Wayne Simmonds, Patrik Laine, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, Brady Skjei, Zach Werenski, Jonathan Bernier, Matt Murray and Carey Price.

Training Room (Injuries)

Steven Stamkos, C, TB – Stamkos, sidelined with a lateral meniscus tear in the right knee that required surgery in November, joined an optional skate on Monday and could play before the end of the season. He is on track to return within the original 4-to-6 month estimate but there has been speculation that if Tampa is out of playoff contention, he would be shut down. That still may be the case, but it’s looking more and more possible he will be back in the next few weeks.

Others include Mitch Marner (upper-body injury, activated Tuesday), Mika Zibanejad (hand/wrist, day-to-day), Pavel Zacha (concussion, on IR), Jeff Skinner (upper-body, day-to-day), Jeff Skinner (upper-body, day-to-day), T.J. Oshie (upper-body, missed third straight game Tuesday), Andre Burakovsky (hand, placed on long-term IR, out until mid-March), Conor Sheary (upper-body, close to full-contact practice), Jason Pominville and Zach Parise (mumps, indefinite), Dan Girardi (ankle, out 10-14 days), Kris Letang (upper-body, skating with team), Trevor Daley (knee surgery, out six weeks), John Gibson (lower-body strain, could be back after bye week) and Andrew Hammond (torn labrum in hip, surgery needed, out three months).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Martin Hanzal, C, MIN – Hanzal has gone for outhouse to penthouse in terms of the standings, but in reverse in terms of fantasy value. The move from Arizona to Minnesota resulted in him going from 13th in the conference to first overall, but he has moved from the top line to the third line. Not a bad situation to be in, but not the same as first-line minutes.

Matt Read, RW, PHI – Read went scoreless again Tuesday, meaning that he has just one goal and two assists in 21 games since Jan. 1. After peaking at 47 points as a rookie, he had a solid season in the lockout campaign in 2012-13 and 40 points the following year, but it’s been all downhill since. This season, Read has just 13 points and likely will decline in points for the third straight campaign.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, ARI – After posting a career-high 55 points last year, much was expected from OEL this season. The overall minutes are similar, but he is averaging over a minute less on the power play. However, that decline doesn’t fully explain his drop from 55 points in 75 games to just 33 in 62, which includes a current streak of six scoreless games. Eventually, Ekman-Larsson will turn it around, but that might not happen until next season.

Cam Ward, G, CAR – Ward isn’t having a horrible season, as it’s fairly in line with his last two years. In fact, he should exceed his win total from each of those two seasons soon. But a 2.65 GAA and .904 save percentage is nothing to hang your hat on. Ah, for the halcyon days of 2005-06 when Ward was king and the Canes won the Stanley Cup.

Others include Derek Stepan (no goals in 18 games), Anze Kopitar, Dylan Larkin, Troy Brouwer, Sami Vatanen, Mike Matheson, Justin Faulk, Robin Lehner and Connor Hellebuyck.