Pavel Buchnevich, LW/RW, Rangers: The Blueshirts wanted to ease Buchnevich into action, returning from a back injury, but he’s been so consistent and productive, that plan went into the garbage. Buchnevich has a nifty 2-4-6 line since returning four games ago, settling in on the second line and getting a regular shift on the power play. The Rangers viewed him as something of a project when they selected Buchnevich in the third round of the 2013 draft, but he’s already showing a dividend at age 21.
Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, Wild: His ice time is actually down a spec this year, but that’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make when all of his key fantasy stats (goals, assists, shots) are up. A modest but not-unsustainable jump in shooting percentage is part of the story, but we also have to note a boost in power-play time. He’s also skating on the first Minnesota line, clicking nicely with Eric Staal. The dual-position eligibility is a selling feature; you still still make the add in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
Josh Anderson, RW, Blue Jackets: When I’m looking for those goon points — sorry, PIM points — I try to find them tied to a player who does other things, like shoot the puck and score the occasional goal. Anderson checks these boxes, with 26 shots and 22 PIMs over the last month. He’s not going to see much power play time, but he’s also a third-liner, not a fourth-liner, in Columbus. He’s also worth considering if hits are a category in your league.
Thomas Greiss, G, Islanders: It might be too late for the Isles to make a playoff run, but if they’re going to get anywhere, Greiss will lead them there. Back-to-back shutouts over Boston and Dallas give the Islanders some momentum, and Greiss has made the last eight starts in the cage — even a seven-goal misstep at Carolina didn’t change the plan. Perhaps a coaching change and an extended homestand — though the end of the month — will get New York going.
Ondrej Pavelec, G, Jets: With all the talent in Winnipeg, it’s silly to see the Jets currently outside the playoff cutline. Perhaps their third goalie can get them moving, given how poorly Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson have played thus far. Pavelec was a 2.28/.902 man with five shutouts as recently as two years ago, and he has a reasonable .917 goals-against average in the AHL. He passed his first assignment, a 6-3 win over the Coyotes.
Jake Allen, G, Blues: There was a time I thought a german shepherd could produce fantasy-worthy goaltending numbers in front of the St. Louis defensive group. I guess Allen disproves that theory, with his bloated 2.85 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. Those stats would be unacceptable on a bad club, let along one as deep as the Blues. Allen’s confidence is shot (the team isn’t even bringing him on the Buffalo trip), and I don’t blame any fantasy owners who are cutting the cord entirely. The only saving grace for Allen — Carton Hutton has been just as bad. Can Pheonix Copley bail out the Blues?
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning: He’s dropped his last five starts, pushing his ratios down to 2.90/.906. While it hasn’t been a stellar Ben Bishop year, it appears he’s weathered the storm; it’s a good time to kick the tires on a Bishop deal.
Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Flames: His shot numbers and possession numbers are static from the breakout year, but with 10 goals and a minus-14 rating, no one wants to hear it. Perhaps it’s a residual from the finger injury, or maybe it’s a statement of how Calgary’s entire offense has fallen apart this year (10th in goal rate last year, 19th this season).