By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes the Calder Trophy winner being even better as a sophomore, a D-man on a roll in the U.S. nation's capital, Darcy on fire in the desert, two veteran buy-low candidates, several big names sidelined, and a high-profile acquisition off to a very slow start in Toronto.
First Liners (Risers)
Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Columbus Blue Jackets
Dubois started slowly but has found his scoring legs recently. Friday was the first multi-point performance of the year for the 21 year old, but Dubois has been rock solid as the Jackets' No. 1 center, finding the scoresheet in five consecutive games and totaling six goals and 10 points in 13 games. Dubois took a step forward with 61 points last season and it wouldn't be shocking to see him exceed that output this year.
Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks
Pettersson notched 28 goals and 38 assists in winning the Calder Trophy last season. Through the early portion of the 2019-20 season, the 20 year old Swede is making that output look downright pauper-esque. Pettersson scored twice Saturday, giving the pivotman six goals and 20 points in only 14 games this season. Nine of his points have come with a man advantage, and it seems like there's no stopping Pettersson.
David Perron, LW, St. Louis Blues
Perron missed 25 games with an injury last season but still had a productive campaign, notching 23 goals and as many assists in 57 games, including an 11-game point streak. He has shown few signs of slowing this year, already posting seven goals and eight assists in 15 games. With Vladimir Tarasenko likely out for the year, Perron will be relied upon even more to score; so far, he has been more than up to the task.
Michal Kempny, D, Washington Capitals
Kempny continued his strong start to the season, notching a trio of assists Friday, then adding one more Sunday. After missing the first eight games of the season with an injury, Kempny has hit the ground running since his return by racking up three goals and six assists in his first eight games. His pace will slow, but Kempny benefits from his pairing with John Carlson, who had a ridiculous October. Kempny sees no power play time, but he should continue to notch assists and post a solid plus-minus rating while blocking more than 100 shots.
Jaccob Slavin, D, Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are on a roll, resulting in or caused by several players on pace for highly productive seasons. Slavin is one of those players, adding three apples Friday to give the Colorado-born blueliner eight assists in 14 games. Add a pair of goals, and Slavin, who had a career-high 34 points set in 2016-17 and scored 30 or more points the last few seasons, could be looking at 40-plus points this year.
Darcy Kuemper, G, Arizona Coyotes
I usually like spreading out the love on this side of the ledger, avoiding players from the same team where possible. Even though I highlight Phil Kessel below, Kuemper warrants inclusion this week after turning aside all 33 shots he faced in Arizona's 3-0 win over Colorado. With the shutout, Kuemper improved to 6-3-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average (GAA) and a spectacular .942 save percentage, even before he stopped 26 of 28 shots to defeat the Oilers in overtime Monday. Kuemper has held his opponents to two goals or fewer in all but one of his 10 starts. So glad I grabbed Antti Raanta over Kuemper in the RotoWire Staff League.
Mike Smith, G, Edmonton Oilers
Smith struggled early last year, but finished strong, ending the campaign 23-16-2 with a 2.73 GAA and a .898 save percentage in 42 games (40 starts) for the Flames. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Edmonton, where he is in a timeshare with Mikko Koskinen. Smith is 5-3-1 with a 2.12 GAA and .931 save percentage, providing the Oilers with — at times — excellent net play, giving up two goals or fewer in six of his nine appearances.
Others include Ryan Strome, Bo Horvat, William Karlsson, Patrice Bergeron, Nick Bonino, Mathew Barzal, Ryan Getzlaf, Erik Haula, Martin Necas, Filip Chytil, Brad Marchand, Kaapo Kakko, Joe Pavelski, Mark Stone, Andrei Svechnikov, James Neal, Johnny Gaudreau, Kyle Connor, Alexander Radulov, Matthew Tkachuk, T.J. Oshie, Brock Boeser, Oskar Lindblom, Tomas Hertl, Josh Bailey, Conor Garland, Sebastian Aho, Colton Sissons, Tom Wilson, Colton Parayko, Nate Schmidt, Miro Heiskanen, Dougie Hamilton, Ivan Provorov, Frederik Andersen, Ben Bishop, Thomas Greiss, Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko, Tuukka Rask, and Matt Murray.
Claude Giroux, LW, Philadelphia Flyers
Giroux notched just his second multi-point game of the season Saturday against the Maple Leafs. After posting 102 points two seasons ago. Giroux "fell" to 85 points last season. It's only a matter of time before Giroux starts to rack up helpers, as he finished with more than 60 apples the last two campaigns. As such, this may be a way to acquire Giroux low due to his slow-ish start. Just don't expect a ton of goals from him, as he has scored 30-plus goals just once in his career.
Phil Kessel, RW, Arizona Coyotes
Kessel notched an assist and potted a goal — just his third of the season — Saturday. Overall, the U.S. native has nine points in 13 games, yet it seems as if he has notched much less than that. Kessel, acquired by Arizona this last offseason from Pittsburgh, has tallied at least 20 goals the last 11 seasons. It should be only a matter of time before Kessel starts to consistently light the lamp out in the desert.
Training Room (Injuries)
Patric Hornqvist, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins
Hornqvist left Saturday's game with a leg injury and will be sidelined longterm. He had been on a roll recently, racking up two goals and six points in his last seven games, so his absence will be a decent loss for the Penguins. In his stead, Dominik Kahun could draw into the lineup and Jared McCann could get a bump up to the second power-play unit. Hornqvist's production had declined the last two seasons, but as noted above, he was on a roll prior to being injured.
Others include John Tavares (broken finger, out since Oct. 16, could play Wednesday), Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury, out since Oct. 5, returned to action Saturday), Vincent Trocheck (lower-body injury, missed sixth straight game Saturday), Mika Zibanejad (neck, missed last three games, could play Wednesday), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body, injured Oct. 26, placed on injured reserve Wednesday), Logan Brown (upper-body injury, week-to-week), Alex Tuch (upper-body injury, left Saturday's game after recently returning from an undisclosed ailment), Josh Manson (sprained knee, out 5-10 weeks), Victor Hedman (lower body, optimistic he'll be ready for the Lightning's Global Series matchups with Buffalo in his native Sweden this week) and Quinn Hughes (lower-body injury, looked like ankle, left Friday's game and sat out Saturday's contest).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Vinnie Hinostroza, RW, Arizona Coyotes
Hinostroza was held off the scoresheet once again Saturday, After scoring a career-high 39 points last season, Hinostroza has started the season off slow with only two points in 12 games. Hinostroza has been limited by playing two minutes less per game — 12:57 on average compared to 15:16 last season — as well as not being on either power-play units. Besides, he is not skating on the fourth line, adversely impacting his potential output even further.
Tyson Barrie, D, Toronto Maple Leafs
Barrie, the big acquisition this offseason by Toronto, got off to a strong start with four assists in his first three games. Since then, his game has been much ado about nothing, as Barrie has posted just one helper his last 12 contests. Sooner or later, Barrie will rebound and rack up points, as he has five double-digit goal campaigns his last six seasons and has posted at least 49 points in four of those years. But for now, bench him until you see signs of life.
Devan Dubnyk, G, Minnesota Wild
Dubnyk notched at least 31 wins the past four seasons, though his GAA rose and save percentage declined the last two campaigns. This season has seen Dubnyk struggle mightily between the pipes, as he is just 2-6-1 with a 3.68 GAA and .883 save percentage. Many experts questioned the moves made by the Wild this offseason, and early on, that view looks to be right in point. Dubnyk should rebound at some point, but he may now be a No. 3 fantasy goalie rather than a borderline No. 1 or clear No. 2 netminder.
Others include Kyle Turris, Alexander Wennberg, Markus Granlund, Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Fiala, Nikita Gusev, Oscar Klefbom, Shea Theodore, Erik Gustafsson, Samuel Girard, Martin Jones, Jonathan Bernier, Corey Crawford, and Jonathan Quick.
Derick Brassard, C, New York Islanders
Brassard was invisible the first few weeks of the season, but he has been red-hot since shifting from third-line center to second-line right wing. Brassy lit the lamp again Saturday, the fifth straight game he has tallied a marker. Brassard should continue to be somewhat productive but expect him to hit a wall before long, especially since he has a 20.5 shooting percentage. If you grabbed him early in the streak, enjoy the ride but be prepared to jump quickly.