By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes a rookie on the rise in Montreal, a hot winger in a new home, the "other" Hughes on a roll, the second goalie in Carolina playing well, Hertl going down and the third overall pick from 2018 assigned to the minors.
First Liners (Risers)
Nick Suzuki, C, Montreal Canadiens
Suzuki, drafted 13th overall in 2017, has been red-hot lately. He scored an even-strength goal and a power-play assist Saturday and added a helper Sunday, giving Suzuki six points (one goal, five helpers) in the last four games after going scoreless in his previous four. The rookie has 10 goals and 33 points in 54 games, centering the second line for the Canadiens. The future is bright for Suzuki.
Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers
Zibanejad continued his roll Saturday, tallying the only goal in New York's 1-0 win over Detroit. He has five multi-point efforts in his last 13 games, racking up four goals and 12 points in that stretch. Despite missing most of November with an upper-body injury, Zibanejad is having a brilliant campaign with 20 goals and 43 points through only 38 games, though the time missed could result in Zib falling short of the career-high 74 points he tallied last season.
J.T. Miller, LW, Vancouver Canucks
Miller continues to roll as a member of the Orcas. His assist Sunday extended his point streak to six straight games, including three consecutive multi-point performances. Miller signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract with the Lightning in June 2018 but was demoted to the third line last season and dealt to Vancouver this offseason. That move has done wonders for his game, as Miller is up to 20 goals and 53 points through 53 games and should far exceed his career-high 58 points set in 2017-18, which led to that long-term deal.
Jakub Vrana, LW, Washington Capitals
Vrana, whose nine-game point streak ended Wednesday, got right back on the beam with a pair of assists Friday and one Sunday. Those three points improved Vrana's season marks to 23 goals and 22 assists in 53 games, leaving him two points shy of his career-high set just last season. The Czech winger, drafted 13th overall in 2014, has blossomed into a top-six forward, making the two-year, $6.7 million contract he signed with the Capitals in July 2019 a bargain.
Thomas Chabot, D, Ottawa Senators
Chabot notched a goal and an assist Friday, giving Ottawa's top blueliner five points in his last six games. He exploded last season, going from 25 to 55 points, resulting in Chabot signing an eight-year, $64 million deal with the Senators in September. Quietly, Chabot has five goals and 30 points with a minus-20 rating and 137 shots on net in 51 games. That output gives Chabot an outside shot at matching his 2018-19 point total.
Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks
For all the attention rightly paid to Cale Makar, Hughes may be having the more impressive season. His game-winning overtime goal Saturday gave the seventh pick in the 2018 draft eight goals, 31 assists, and 18 power-play points with two game-winning tallies in 52 games. Hughes' output Saturday boosted him past Makar, who has played in 10 fewer games than Hughes due to injury. The Western Conference has two impressive neophyte blueliners, which should be the case for years to come.
Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins
Rask, who missed Boston's last three games before the All-Star break with a concussion, returned to action in fine form, allowing just one goal on 38 shots to notch the win Friday. In his last seven games, Rask is 5-0-1 with a .943 save percentage and can receive rest when needed thanks to Jaroslav Halak. Rask is 18-4-6 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 29 games and could notch 30-plus wins again after tallying just 27 victories due to Halak's play and a sluggish start.
James Reimer, G, Carolina Hurricanes
Reimer was fantastic in January, posting a 3-0-1 record while registering an impressive 1.69 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in four appearances. To kick off February, Reimer saved 32 of 35 shots in a shootout win Sunday. Carolina's No. 2 goalie is 12-6-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Petr Mrazek is the top netminder for the Hurricanes, but Reimer has shown that he can be counted on when called upon by coach Rod Brind'Amour.
Others include: Christian Dvorak, Eric Staal, Leon Draisaitl, Jack Eichel, Paul Stastny, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Evgeni Malkin, Teuvo Teravainen, Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, Brock Nelson, Jack Eichel, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Tanner Pearson, Artemi Panarin, Filip Forsberg, Alex Iafallo, Nikita Kucherov, William Nylander, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Ovechkin (passed Mark Messier for eighth place on the All-Time Goals list), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Patrik Laine, Brandon Saad, Jake DeBrusk, Joel Farabee, Reilly Smith, David Pastrnak, Bryan Rust, Tomas Tatar, David Perron, Anthony DeAngelo, John Carlson, Jeff Petry, Mark Borowiecki, Torey Krug, Ilya Samsonov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jacob Markstrom, Corey Crawford and Carey Price.
Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Edmonton Oilers
Yamamoto, drafted 22nd overall in 2017, has battled injuries and ineffective play his first few seasons of pro hockey. The big question when Yamamoto was drafted was his small stature, though his talent was evident. Yamamoto was called up on New Year's Eve and has found instant chemistry with Leon Draisaitl, posting five goals and as many assists in 11 games, exceeding his output from the 26 games he played in the NHL in his first two seasons. If he is still available in your leagues, jump on board now.
Training Room (Injuries)
Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks
San Jose's playoff chances took a major blow this week, as Hertl tore his left ACL and MCL following a collision with Chris Tanev. Hertl, who will miss the rest of the season but should be ready for training camp, finishes the year with 16 goals and 36 points while posting a minus-18 rating in 48 games. The Sharks, already without Logan Couture, could now be sellers at the deadline.
Chris Kreider, LW, New York Rangers
Kreider was injured by friendly fire, taking a knee to the head by Mika Zibanejad on Saturday. Heading into Saturday, Kreider had six goals in his prior eight games and 12 markers and nine apples in his previous 21 games. For the season, Kreider, an unrestricted free agent and potentially a trade deadline target, was up to 18 goals and 16 assists with 10 of his points coming on the man-advantage. The injury, though, is not believed to be serious, but he did sit out Monday's game.
Others include: Aleksander Barkov (lower body, left Saturday's game), James Neal (foot, missed last two games), Micheal Ferland (upper body, out since Dec. 10, will head to AHL Utica for practice this week), Drew Doughty (undisclosed, missed third straight game Saturday), Shayne Gostisbehere (knee, out since Jan. 7, has missed 10 straight games, might play Thursday), Justin Schultz (lower body, missed 16 straight games, returned to action Friday), Joonas Korpisalo (knee, injured Dec. 29, was to miss 4-6 weeks, traveling with team) and Linus Ullmark (knee, injured Tuesday, will miss 3-4 weeks).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Montreal Canadiens
Kotkaniemi, who was a mild surprise as the third pick of the 2018 draft, was a healthy scratch Thursday and was sent down to the AHL Laval on Saturday. Before sitting Thursday, Kotkaniemi had no points his prior six games and just one point — a goal — his last 12 games. After producing 34 points last year, the 19 year old has registered just eight points through 36 games with the Habs. Kotkaniemi has never played in the AHL, but hopefully, this will serve as a solid reset with top-line duties on tap, resulting in a call up before the end of the season.
Kasperi Kapanen, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kapanen was a healthy scratch Saturday. His banishment to the press box was due to "internal accountability" and the Finnish winger had zero points his prior five games. When word came down that coach Sheldon Keefe was sitting Kapanen and his absence wasn't injury-related, the immediate thought was that a trade might be in the works, as Kapanen has been rumored to potentially go for blue-line help for the Buds. But that proved not to be the case, as Kapanen was scratched after oversleeping and was back in the lineup Monday, notching an assist.
Jordan Binnington, G, St. Louis Blues
Binnington's shaky play continued Saturday, as the Blues' netminder allowed three goals on 31 shots. I guess surrendering three goals is a step forward, as Binnington entered the game having allowed four goals in three consecutive contests. Binnington is still the No. 1 netminder in St. Louis, but Jake Allen has played well enough that he could see some additional action until Binnington finds his form.
Others include: Johan Larsson, Marcus Johansson, Oliver Kylington, Nick Leddy, Jimmy Howard, David Rittich, Antti Raanta, and Pekka Rinne.
Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks
Burns is having a nice season, but he is nowhere near his normal level of production, especially when factoring in where he likely was selected in drafts. He has posted 10 goals, 23 assists and a minus-25 rating in 53 games, a far cry from the 16 goals, 67 assists and plus-25 rating he notched last year. San Jose as a whole has struggled, and while Burns may be slightly adversely affected by Erik Karlsson's presence on the blue line since he also eats up power-play time, the Sharks need to be concerned that the eight-year, $92 million contract they afforded Burns last July may not age well sooner than expected.