By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes a Staal hitting 1,000 points, a smoking-hot winger in Pitt, two backup goalies rolling, a young stud injured for Philly and a pair of slumping New York wingers.
First Liners (Risers)
Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild
Staal continued his hot play over the last month or so, notching a pair of goals Saturday then adding a marker Sunday for his 1,000th NHL point. Those two markers gave the 35 year old center five goals and six assists in 13 games since Nov. 19. Staal notched 65 and 76 points his first campaigns in Minnesota before falling to 52 last season. His fine play the last month has Staal up to 11 goals and 14 assists in 33 games on the season, which could allow him to exceed his 2018-19 output while keeping the Wild in playoff contention.
Victor Olofsson, LW, Buffalo Sabres
OIofsson posted two power-play goals and a pair of assists in a six-game taste of NHL action last season. That small sample was an indication of what was to come this year. OIofsson started the season hot and, after a mild bump in the road, has been extremely productive. In his last 19 games, the second-year winger has eight goals and 21 points, benefitting from skating alongside the red-hot Jack Eichel.
Jake Guentzel, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins
Guentzel exploded with 40 goals and 36 assists last season after tallying 33 and 48 points, respectively, his first two campaigns in the league. Selected 77th overall in 2013, Guentzel has been on a scoring tear, hitting the scoresheet in 12 of his last 14 games while logging six multi-point games in that stretch, helping Pittsburgh to manage without Sidney Crosby. The 25 year old has 17 goals and 36 points in 33 games this season, putting him on an early pace to exceed last season's production.
Robert Thomas, RW, St. Louis Blues
Thomas notched three apples Saturday, extending his point streak to four games during which he has notched a goal and five assists. Overall, the 20th overall pick in 2017 is up to four goals and 12 helpers in 29 games. St. Louis is rumored to be in on the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, which could impact Thomas' line placement and power-play time. But he has helped the Blues navigate the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko and his future is extremely bright.
Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Letang is a scoring machine from the blueline who, in his career, has basically only been slowed by injury. He notched three apples Saturday, giving the 32 year old six assists in his last four games and 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 25 games this season. Letang had 51 and 56 points the last two seasons, though he played just 65 contests last season. As long as he can remain on the ice, Letang should continue to rack up points from the blueline.
Keith Yandle, D, Florida Panthers
Yandle, who was misused a bit in New York, has thrived since coming to the Sunshine State. After notching 41 points his first season as a Panther, Yandle increased his output to 56 points two seasons ago and 62 last year. Yandle dished out two helpers Saturday and an assist Monday, reaching the scoresheet in seven of his last nine games, with two goals and nine assists during that stretch. Overall, the blueliner has four markers and 25 apples in 33 games.
James Reimer, G, Carolina Hurricanes
Reimer is the clear No. 2 goalie behind Petr Mrazek in Carolina but that doesn't mean he lacks value. Overall, he is 7-5-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average (GAA) and .924 save percentage (SV%), but those numbers only tell part of the story. In the last month, Reimer is 5-1 with two shutouts, a 1.67 GAA and .948 SV%. Reimer's GAA rose the prior three seasons while his SV% declined so, clearly, the move to the Hurricanes has been a godsend to his game.
Pavel Francouz, G, Colorado Avalanche
With Philipp Grubauer sidelined, Francouz more than stood in as Colorado's starting goaltender, going 5-0-1 in his last six starts while posting a .944 save percentage in the process. That fine play will allow coach Jared Bednar to turn to Francouz — who is 9-2-1 with a 2.26 GAA and .932 SV% after playing two games last season — without hesitation when he wants to rest Grubauer. Roll with Francouz in DFS leagues when he is between the pipes.
Others include Jack Eichel, David Krejci, Mark Scheifele, Nicklas Backstrom, Mika Zibanejad, Jonathan Toews, Brock Nelson. Logan Couture, Rickard Rakell, Anthony Duclair, Artemi Panarin, Tomas Tatar, James Neal, T.J. Oshie, Robby Fabbri, Tyler Toffoli, Max Pacioretty, David Pastrnak, Bryan Rust, Tomas Hertl, Blake Wheeler, Shea Weber, Charlie McAvoy, Filip Hronek, Oscar Klefbom, Mark Giordano, Roman Josi, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Ellis, Kaapo Kahkonen, John Gibson, Alexandar Georgiev, Frederik Andersen Tristan Jarry, Jonathan Quick, and Darcy Kuemper.
Alex Killorn, C, Tampa Bay Lightning
Killorn fell from 47 points in 2017-18 to 40 last year and likely opened the season on most leagues’ waiver wires. Despite his fine play, he may still be available in a majority of leagues, but that should be remedied quickly. Killorn has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last seven games and 26 points in 29 games this season with nine of those points coming on the man-advantage. Tampa Bay is struggling to find consistency and might be without Nikita Kucherov for a bit, making Killorn even more valuable to the team.
Training Room (Injuries)
Travis Konecny, D, Philadelphia Flyers
Konecny's upper-body injury, suffered Dec. 7, was confirmed to be a concussion. He was injured via an open-ice hit from Mark Borowiecki. The timeline for his return is unclear, dealing a major blow to the Flyers' top six. The 22 year old Konecny, selected 24th in 2015 and who had 49 points last season, was leading the team in goals (11) and points (28) when he was sidelined.
Others include Nikita Kucherov (injured blocking shot Saturday, no definitive word yet on length of possible absence), Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's Sarcoma, will miss remainder of the season, godspeed on his recovery), Emil Bemstrom (out the next 6-to-8 weeks due to a dislocated rib and broken cartilage), Jared Spurgeon (broken hand, suffered Dec. 2, traveling with team, might play this week), Cale Makar (undisclosed, injured Dec. 7, placed on IR, could play Thursday), Thatcher Demko (concussion, suffered this past Thursday, placed on IR) and Devan Dubnyk (personal, out since Nov. 16, traveling with team, could play Thursday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Pavel Buchnevich, LW, New York Rangers
Coach David Quinn continues to juggle his lines, but one constant lately has been Buchnevich seeing third-line action. Since Nov. 23, Buch has just one goal along with a minus-10 rating in 12 games. The season-long numbers — five goals and 14 assists in 32 games — are still fairly solid, but looking at his recent output or lack thereof tells a better story of his play. Bench him for now.
Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues
Parayko seems to always leave you wanting more. A big physical blueliner who looked to be ready to step into a top-pairing role, Parayko had done well defensively but his offense has taken a major backseat to Alex Pietrangelo (expected) and Vince Dunn (less so). His assist Saturday was his first since Nov. 25 and first point in the last five games. The 26 year old blueliner is now up to 13 points this year, adding 73 shots on goal and 58 blocked shots in 33 games, giving him value in leagues that utilize the ancillary stats but less in scoring-only formats.
Martin Jones, G, San Jose Sharks
As a Jones manager in the RotoWire staff keeper league, his up-and-down play has wreaked havoc on my record, as we play head-to-head weekly. Jones' horrific production has resulted in at least two losses this season for me and has aided the Sharks even less. If Aaron Dell had played any better between the pipes, Jones likely would be riding the pine. If either had been passable, Peter DeBoer might still be the team's head coach. But none of this has occurred and rostering Jones is enough to throw something at the TV and computer.
Others include Casey Mittelstadt (sent to AHL), Anze Kopitar, Matt Duchene, William Nylander, Michael Grabner, T.J. Brodie, Tyler Myers, Dennis Cholowski, Matt Niskanen, Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen, and Henrik Lundqvist.
Derick Brassard, C, New York Islanders
Remember when Brassard was hot in late-October into November? I advocated Selling High at that time. Hopefully, you did because if not, it certainly looks like time — or past time — to move on. Brassy has just one point — a goal — since Nov. 23 after a red-hot stretch for a month or so. He could rebound just as quickly as he regressed, but with just 14 shots in his last 10 games, scoring will be difficult without an uptick in attempts on goal.