By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes the modern-day version of the Rat, a veteran rookie for the Buds, a true rookie rolling for the Avalanche, a hot goalie in Carolina, the Blues suffering a major loss, concerns over Zib, and a slumping netminder in the Windy City.
First Liners (Risers)
Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild
After a slow start with just one assist in his first seven games, Staal has woken up of late. He's racked up three goals and two assists in his last four games. Staal had 22 goals last season and is just two years removed from a 42-goal campaign in which he tallied 76 points, so it's not out of the question that the 34 year old still has a few goals left in his stick. But his value entering the season was down following a decline to 52 points last season and his slow start might mean he is available in shallow leagues.
Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins
Marchand is rostered in every format, but his hot streak still lands him in the risers side of the ledger. His pair of goals and three assists Sunday stretched his point streak to 10 games, during which he has seven goals and 13 helpers. After hitting the century mark for the first time last season, Marchand is on an early pace to far exceed that total. Boston goes as Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak go, and that trio has shown no signs of slowing.
Ilya Mikheyev, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs
Mikheyev, who tallied 23 goals and 22 assists in 62 regular-season games with Avengard Omsk and another 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the playoffs last season, signed with the Maple Leafs this offseason. Despite myriad weapons for the Buds, Mikheyev has taken advantage of his top-six placement to post five goals and four assists early this season. The only negative is that Mikheyev isn't seeing power-play time, but his overall two-way game and likely continued production makes him a valuable asset, especially if available in your league.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona Coyotes
After failing to score the first three games of the season, OEL has been on a roll. He tallied a goal and assist Friday, giving the Swedish-born blueliner a pair of markers and seven points in the last eight games. Arizona is 6-3-1 this season, with its captain playing a large part in its recent success. Ekman-Larsson is looking to put together his third consecutive 40-point campaign and the sixth of his career. Besides, he has had 100-plus hits every full season he has played in the NHL, adding to his value.
Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche
Maker lit the lamp for the first of what should be many goals in the NHL. Drafted fourth overall in 2017, Maker has scored at least one point in nine of 11 games and has 10 points total. With a regular spot on the Avs' top power-play unit, the rookie is positioning himself as an early Calder Trophy favorite. But keep in mind, defensemen growth is not linear, so he will experience highs and lows during the season as the league adjusts to him.
Petr Mrazek, G, Carolina Hurricanes
Mrazek looked to be the goalie of the future for the Winged Wheel after posting solid campaigns in 2014-15 and 2015-16. But he posted goals-against averages of about 3 the next two seasons, landing in Philly during 2017-18. Mrazek resurrected his career in Carolina last season, posting a 2.39 goals-against average (GAA) and .914 save percentage over 40 regular-season appearances. That performance earned him a two-year, $6.25 million deal with the Hurricanes this offseason. He stopped 32 shots in notching his second shutout of the season Saturday against Chicago, improving to 5-1-1 with a 2.43 GAA and .909 save percentage.
Carter Hutton, G, Buffalo Sabres
Hutton opened the season 6-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .943 save percentage before allowing six goals on 24 shots Thursday. He rebounded from that poor effort to stop 43 of 45 shots in a shootout loss to the Coyotes on Monday. Hutton was brilliant early last season before finishing with a 3.00 GAA and .908 save percentage in 50 games played, as he won only three times in 18 appearances after January. With Linus Ullmark also off to a strong start, Hutton will have to continue his fine play to retain the No. 1 job in Buffalo. The stronger cast around him, including on the blue line, should enable that to occur.
Others include Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, Logan Couture, Jack Eichel, Brock Nelson, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Calle Jarnkrok, Boone Jenner, Nick Schmaltz, Maxime Comtois, Joonas Donskoi, Anthony Duclair, Anders Lee, Jonathan Drouin, Kevin Labanc, James van Riemsdyk, David Perron, J.T. Compher, David Pastrnak, Brendan Gallagher, Elias Lindholm, Jakub Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sebastian Aho, Jakub Voracek, Mark Stone, Evander Kane, Mathew Dumba, Hampus Lindholm (check injury status), Jaccob Slavin, MacKenzie Weegar, Brent Burns, Roman Josi, Filip Hronek, Michal Kempny, Tuukka Rask, Matt Murray, Ryan Miller, Semyon Varlamov, Robin Lehner and Carey Price.
Ryan Strome, C, New York Rangers
Strome has bounced up and down the New York lineup but returned to the second line Thursday. He benefitted from the placement of Artemi Panarin on his line, scoring twice against the Sabres. Strome got off to a slow start but has eight points in his last eight games. He may need to hold off Filip Chytil, however — who is playing well in Hartford and was called up Monday — to keep his pivot spot, as Strome might be shifted to wing. Besides, with Mika Zibanejad injured Sunday, Strome could move up to the top line.
Joel Armia, RW, Montreal Canadiens
Armia, drafted 16th overall by Buffalo in 2011, hasn't lived up to the hype of that high selection. He has become a serviceable bottom-six forward, topping out at 13 goals last season, his first in Montreal. Armia is on a roll recently, extending his goal streak to three games with a game-winning tally and he has six snipes in his last seven games. He now has six markers in nine games, warranting a spot in your lineup while he is hot.
Training Room (Injuries)
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis Blues
Tarasenko, injured Thursday against the Kings, will undergo left shoulder surgery and be evaluated in five months. His absence deals a huge blow to St. Louis' playoff hopes, let alone their chances to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Tarasenko, who has reeled off five consecutive 30-plus goal campaigns, has a history of shoulder issues, as he also underwent surgery following the 2017-18 season. He started hot with three goals and 10 points in the first 10 games but now will miss most of the balance of the regular season. Robert Thomas is getting the first chance to fill Tarasenko's spot on the first line.
Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers
Zibanejad left Sunday's game after a hard hit from Patrice Bergeron. The injury is listed as upper-body and not his head, as contact came in the chest/shoulder area but also near the jaw. It's possible the whiplash effect of the hit could result in a concussion, which is a major concern given Zib's history. Hopefully, he misses no action or, at most, a game or two and the injury proves to truly be just to the upper body. Stay tuned.
Others include David Krejci (upper-body injury, missed Saturday's and Sunday's games, could play Tuesday), Vincent Trocheck (lower-body injury, missed Saturday's game), Jimmy Vesey (upper-body injury, week-to-week), Josh Anderson (upper-body injury, returned from six-game absence with goal and an assist Saturday), Bryan Rust (hand, returned Saturday with a goal after missing 11 games) and Devan Dubnyk (upper-body injury, will return to game action this week).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Philadelphia Flyers
Kotkaniemi, drafted third overall last season, collected 34 points as a rookie. He tired over the course of the year and as a result, his playing time dipped below 13 minutes per game in the final five weeks of the season. Kotkaniemi is once again centering the third line in Montreal, overall seeing similar ice time to last season. He has just three points in 11 games this year and has seen his ice time dip recently, with coach Claude Julien benching him late in contests. With Phillip Danault and Max Domi centering the top-two lines in Montreal, Kotkaniemi's opportunities will be limited.
John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars
Klingberg, who scored a career-high 67 points two years ago and 45 last season, has failed to hit the score sheet in the last four games. As a faller, he is more of a Buy Low candidate, given his deployment and prior production. Dallas has struggled offensively overall but should eventually right the ship thanks to the talent in Big D. When that happens, Klingberg is expected to be right in the center of the action.
Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks
Crawford's hold on the Chicago netminding job is getting more and more tenuous. After allowing four goals on 31 shots Saturday, Crawford is now 1-4-0 with a 3.67 GAA and .888 save percentage. Last year, for the second straight season, concussions wreaked havoc with Crawford's games played, as he compiled a 14-18-5 record while posting a sub-par 2.93 GAA and .908 save percentage in 39 appearances. The presence of Robin Lehner was already cutting in Crawford's playing time; his struggles could result in Lehner seeing more time behind the pipes.
Others include Jonathan Toews, Tyler Seguin, Mikael Granlund, Blake Wheeler, Bobby Ryan, Vinnie Hinostroza, Kaapo Kakko, Alexander Radulov, Jacob Trouba, Carter Hart and Aaron Dell.
Brayden Schenn, LW, St. Louis Blues
Schenn played a major role in the Blues winning their first Stanley Cup last season. He has carried that fine play into this season, posting 13 points in 12 games, scoring in nine of those contests. The acquisition of Ryan O'Reilly, who took over as the No. 1 center and paired better with Vladimir Tarasenko, resulted in Schenn seeing his output drop from 72 to 54 points last year. Keep in mind that Schenn is shooting a ridiculous 37.5 percent while posting just 24 shots in those 10 games, so a decline in output could be forthcoming soon.