By Jan Levine, RotoWire Senior Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s article includes a hot Ottawa center, two unknown wingers, a hometown boy on a roll, a new netminder in Montreal and a downed Ducks captain.
First Liners (Risers)
Derick Brassard, C, OTT – Brassard suffered a rough first season in Ottawa after coming over from the Rangers, dropping from 27 goals and 31 assists to 14 and 25, respectively. Some regression was expected, though, after his shooting percentage rose from 11.3 in 2014-15 to 14.8 the following year. But Brassard saw his shooting percentage cut by more than half, which partially contributed to his decline in production. This season, he’s back to 2015-16 levels, resulting in a rise in output, accompanied by a two-minute spike in ice time – much of which has come with the man advantage.
William Karlsson, C, LV – Karlsson, who came over to the Golden Knights from the Blue Jackets in the expansion draft, didn’t have a point in the first four games of the season. But since then, he’s tallied at least a point in nine of the last 12 contests, aided by his move back to wing. Karlsson has six goals and 12 points during that stretch, matching his goal total from a year ago and more than making up for what Vadim Shipachyov was supposed to provide Vegas offensively.
Sven Andrighetto, RW, COL – To win in deeper leagues, you need to get production from surprising sources. After coming to Colorado from Montreal, Andrighetto posted five goals and 11 assists in 19 games with his new club. That was viewed as a bit of an aberration given his track record. However, he has shown that breakout was no fluke, adding five goals and seven assists in 16 games this season.
Yanni Gourde, LW, TB – After tallying six goals and two assists over 20 games with the Lightning last season, Gourde earned a spot on Tampa’s lineup to begin the season. He has more than made the most of the opportunity, notching 12 points in 17 games while skating 17:17 nightly on the second line – 2:22 of which has come on the power play.
Jason Zucker, RW, MIN – Zucker had a career-year in 2016-17, posting 22 goals, 25 assists, 172 shots and a whopping plus-34 rating with 46 of his 47 points coming at even strength. As of Tuesday, Zucker had tallied just three goals but added five assists in the first 13 games. He has more than made up for that, scoring twice against Toronto, three times against Montreal and the lone goal Minnesota posted Saturday against the Flyers. Ride the streak while it lasts.
Torey Krug, D, BOS – Krug missed the first game of the season with a non-displaced fracture of his jaw suffered in the preseason. He struggled initially, as it took a bit of time to find his game on the ice. The diminutive defenseman looks to be all the way back, extending his point streak to seven games (nine points) with an assist Saturday against Toronto. Krug is up to 11 points in 15 games, as he looks to exceed his career high of 51 set last year.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, NYR – Shattenkirk took less money over fewer years to sign with the Rangers, his hometown team. After struggling to settle in initially, Shattenkirk has taken off lately, especially with the man advantage. He’s meshed well with partner Brady Skjei is second among all league defensemen with 17 points – nine of which have come on the power play.
Charlie Lindgren, G, MTL – Taking advantage of short-term risers is one way to get a quick boost in your league. Lindgren is a player that could provide that short-term boost, With Carey Price still sidelined and Al Montoya now out with a concussion, Lindgren is, in essence, the last man standing between the pipes for Montreal. That hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, as Lindgren has allowed just five goals in his four starts, stopping 133 of 138 shots faced. Price is on IR with a lower-body injury and doesn’t have a timetable for a return, so it appears safe to ride Lindgren as long as he’s playing.
Braden Holtby, G, WAS – Holtby got off to a slow start but he has since righted the ship. His 2.48 GAA is .41 worse than last year’s mark, but scoring is up pretty much all around the league. Holtby has allowed 10 goals his last five games, winning each contest, and earned his 200th career victory Friday. His overall numbers should improve as Washington’s defense settles in even more following a rough start to the campaign.
Others include: Alex Kerfoot, Rickard Rakell, Brayden Schenn, Mika Zibanejad, Steven Stamkos, Bo Horvat, Derek Ryan, Patrice Bergeron, Sean Monahan, Jamie Benn, Anze Kopitar, Vincent Trocheck, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Aleksander Barkov, David Perron, Pavel Buchnevich, James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, Mark Stone, Blake Wheeler, Mike Hoffman, Milan Lucic, Rick Nash, Johnny Gaudreau, David Pastrnak, Nikita Kucherov, Connor Brown, Jakub Voracek, Mats Zuccarello, Jonathan Huberdeau, Micheal Ferland, Dustin Brown, Phil Kessel, Jordan Eberle, Michael Grabner, Reilly Smith, Colin Miller, John Carlson, John Klingberg, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, Alex Pietrangelo, Seth Jones, Ryan McDonagh, Brad Hunt, Morgan Rielly, Esa Lindell, David Savard, Roberto Luongo (win No. 455, fourth all-time), Devan Dubnyk, Pekka Rinne, Martin Jones and Henrik Lundqvist.
Training Room (Injuries)
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA – Getzlaf, who took a deflected puck to his face on Oct. 29, underwent surgery to repair the zygomatic bone in his cheek. That operation could sideline the Ducks’captain for up to two months. The Ducks are already weaker down the middle without Ryan Kesler (hip), and are now without their leader and best offensive weapon. Getzlaf closed out last season with 35 points in 25 games and the team may need that kind of run again to earn a playoff berth.
Others include: Auston Matthews (upper body, has missed three straight games), Ryan Kesler (hip, still targeting a return before January), Travis Zajac (pectoral, received medical clearance to resume practice), Marcus Johansson (concussion, out since Nov. 1, placed on injured reserve), Justin Abdelkader (fractured cheekbone, day-to-day), Rasmus Ristolainen (upper-body, placed on injured reserve), Carey Price (lower body, on injured reserve) and Ryan Miller (lower body, day-to-day).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT – Crosby’s goal skid hit 11 games Saturday, as he was shut out against the Predators. He has only tallied three assists while posting an ugly minus-9 rating during that span. Sid the Kid started the season brilliantly, notching five goals and as many helpers the first eight games of the year. But, as noted above, it’s been downhill since then. He is too good of a player to have this rough patch continue much longer, so show some patience and expect a major rebound.
Richard Panik, LW, CHI – Panik notched six points in Chicago’s first four games of the season, taking advantage of his placement on a line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. The bloom went off the rose fairly quickly, as Panik added just two assists his next five games and then endured a seven-game scoreless streak. Panik finally broke that streak with two assists Saturday, but until he strings together a few solid games, relying on the winger will be risky.
Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM – Klefbom took a major step forward last season, posting 12 goals and 26 assists in 82 games, averaging 22:22 of ice time while scoring 16 of his 38 points on the power play. Drafted 19th overall in 2011, Klefbom has been unable to reproduce that level of success to start the season, notching just one goal and four points — and a minus-6 rating — in the first 16 games.
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI – Halak lost his starting job to Thomas Greiss last year, resulting in a demotion to Bridgeport of the AHL. He returned in fine form for the NHL season’s final weeks, going 6-1-0 with a 1.58 GAA and .949 save percentage in his final seven outings, but was left exposed in the expansion draft. The veteran Czech goalie went unclaimed and opened the season in a platoon with Greiss. However, Halak has now allowed three goals or more in eight of nine starts this season, possibly opening the door for Greiss to see more action between the pipes.
Others include: Bryan Little, Jason Spezza, Adam Henrique, Brandon Sutter, Brandon Saad (maybe OT, GWG will get his game going), Tobias Rieder, Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Karl Alzner, Olli Maatta, Zdeno Chara, Brent Burns, T.J. Brodie, Tuukka Rask, Cam Talbot and James Reimer.