By Jan Levine, RotoWire Senior Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s article includes a pair of third-line centers, somewhat of an unknown in Tampa, P.K. rolling, Bobby Lu close to returning and a young D-man enduring growing pains.
First Liners (Risers)
Lars Eller, C, WAS – Eller has had a pretty good start to 2018. In 14 games prior to Sunday’s contest, Washington’s third-line center has tallied six goals and five assists to up his season marks to 11 and 17. Saturday, Eller, who came over to the Caps in 2016 from the Canadiens, inked a five-year deal worth $3.5 million annually. Eller’s recent upswing in scoring has been aided by a shooting percentage of 25, so expect a decline, but he still has value in deeper leagues and daily formats.
Ryan Dzingel, C, OTT – It’s been a rough season for Ottawa, but Dzingel has been one of the few bright spots. Since the calendar flipped to 2018, Dzingel has recorded six goals, 13 points, 34 shots and 10 PIM through 17 games. He’s averaged 17:02 of ice time – 2:00 with the man advantage – and is on pace to post a career-best showing across the board. If the Senators sell at the trade deadline, Dzingel could be in position to move up the depth chart.
Mitch Marner, RW, TOR – Marner had a monster game Saturday, notching a pair of goals while also adding three assists against Ottawa. Those five points gave the sophomore winger 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 57 games after he posted 61 (19 goals, 42 assists) in 77 contests last season as a rookie. Drafted as a center, Marner has moved to right wing on Toronto’s second line, skating with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau.
J.T. Miller, LW, NYR – Miller notched a pair of assists Friday and has now collected two goals, six assists and three multi-point showings through his past seven outings. It’s been an uneven year for Miller, who has struggled at times while bouncing from center to wing during the season. His recent hot streak has him on track to flirt with last season’s 57-point showing, as he now has 37 points in 55 games, An RFA after the season, Miller’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Rangers set to be sellers at the deadline.
Yanni Gourde, RW, TB – Gourde extended his point streak to five with an assist Saturday. In addition, he has a total of 11 points over his last eight games. On the year, Gourde sits with 20 goals and 21 assists in 55 games in his first full season in the NHL. One note of caution is that Gourde has a shooting percentage over 21, so expect some regression there.
P.K. Subban, D, NAS – Subban is having a magical second season in Nashville. He was shut out Saturday, but Subban has 43 points in 54 games with 18 coming on the power play. The former Canadien went scoreless for four games in December, but he’s since tallied 11 goals while adding 14 assists in 25 games. Subban should get strong consideration for the Norris Trophy come June.
Alexander Edler, D, VAN – In his past 15 games, Edler has notched a goal and 11 assists, albeit with a minus-7 rating. One big criticism of Edler has been his inability to stay healthy, as he last played a full season back in 2011-12. In addition, with a year remaining on the six-year, $30 million extension he signed in 2013, Vancouver might have a tough time moving him.
Braden Holtby, G, WAS – Holtby’s ratios prior to Sunday’s game – 2.74 GAA and .916 save percentage — leave a bit to be desired. But he has won four of his past five games to improve to 28-10-2 for the campaign, though he allowed five goals on 29 shots in an overtime loss to the Red Wings on Sunday. After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2015-16, Holtby might have been even better last year, posting a 2.07 GAA and .925 save percentage while notching 42 victories. Set as Washington’s No. 1 netminder, expect Holtby to continue to rack up wins.
Brian Elliott, D, PHI – Elliott missed four games recently but has hit the ground running since returning. Coming into Saturday’s contests against the Coyotes, Elliott had won each of his last four starts, and stretching back to before he was sidelined, seven of his last eight outings. Elliott’s overall ratios aren’t impressive, but he has righted the ship after several rough patches and appears to be the top option in Philly.
Others include Mathew Barzal, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Calle Jarnkrok, Tyson Jost, Connor McDavid, Matt Duchene, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Eric Staal, Pavel Zacha, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Steven Stamkos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Anze Kopitar, Blake Wheeler, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Marchessault, Alexander Steen, Scott Hartnell, Josh Bailey, Jamie Benn, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, Ondrej Kase, Kyle Palmieri, Jason Zucker, Rickard Rakell, Brock Boeser, Brent Seabrook, Shyane Gostisbehere, Hampus Lindholm, Brent Burns, Keith Yandle, Jeff Petry, Brent Burns, Torey Krug, John Klingberg, Drew Doughty, T.J. Brodie, Jeff Petry, Darcy Kuemper, Robin Lehner, Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury, Devan Dubnyk and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Training Room (Injuries)
Roberto Luongo, G, FLA – Bobby Lu, out since Dec. 4 with a groin injury, returned to practice for the first time since the injury Thursday. James Reimer, now out with his own groin injury, and Harri Sateri have held the fort as well as possible with Luongo out. Florida will more than welcome back their top netminder, as Luongo could return to game action sometime this week.
Others include Jack Eichel (lower body, possible ankle, left Saturday’s game), Brock Boeser (hand injury, missed Friday’s game), Boddy Ryan (hand, will miss at least three weeks due to a finger injury that includes ligament issues), Patric Hornqvist (lower body, placed on IR), Shea Weber (foot, out since mid-December, shed his walking boot, skated Wednesday), Jonas Brodin (fractured left hand, underwent surgery, out 3-to-4 weeks), Ryan McDonagh (upper body, missed Friday’s skate and will miss upcoming road trip), Cory Schneider (groin, sidelined since Jan. 23), Malcolm Subban (undisclosed, injured and placed on IR on Saturday) and Ondrej Pavelec (ankle, injured Friday, placed on IR on Saturday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Derek Ryan, C, CAR – Ryan saw top-six minutes earlier this season but has drifted slowly down the Canes’ depth chart and is now centering the fourth line. He failed to land on the scoresheet for the sixth straight game Friday, skating a season-low 11:52 in the contest. Ryan still has 26 points in 55 games – just three away from the career-best 29 he posted last season – but his decline in ice time and role makes it difficult to rely on him.
Ryan Callahan, RW, TB – Callahan posted a helper Saturday, but that point gives the veteran winger just three in his last 16 games. Injuries have cost Cally several games in each season, but that’s not the sole reason for his struggles. The former Rangers captain tied his career high with 54 points in 2014-15, but dropped to 28 the following season. A second hip surgery limited Callahan to just 18 games last season and he is playing on the fourth line this year, limiting his fantasy value.
Will Butcher, D, NJD – Butcher has fallen off following the brilliant start to his NHL career. After opening with 18 points in his first 23 appearances, he has just 11 points without a goal in his last 32 games. His 29 points include 16 with the man advantage, and Butcher may have already exceeded expectations, but his struggles of late have shown that life in the NHL as a young blueliner can be tough.
Carey Price, G, MTL – Price was solid Saturday night against Nashville but lost in a shootout to drop to 1-4-1 in his last six starts. However, his 2.19 GAA and .924 save percentage in his last five starts indicate that his struggles have been more to do with the team than his individual play. It’s been a disappointing season for Price, who entered the game just 15-20-4 with a 2.95 GAA and .906 save percentage on the year. Price was limited to just 12 games in 2015-16 due to injury but was a finalist for the 2017 Vezina Trophy and entered this season looking to build off that solid campaign. That has not been the case, as the face of the Montreal franchise is in the midst of his worst-ever campaign.
Others include Nicklas Backstrom, Martin Hanzal, Max Domi, Patrick Maroon, Jeff Skinner, Jesper Bratt, Evander Kane, Colin White, Kevin Bieksa, Anton Stralman, Ryan Ellis, Thomas Hickey, Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Markstrom, Thomas Greiss and Jeff Glass.