It’s the final two-and-a-half months of the NHL season, and the All-Star Game is behind us. As the league resets out of the break, here is a look at rising and falling fantasy candidates for all 31 NHL teams.
Rising: Jakob Silfverberg, RW (rostered in 49.2 percent of ESPN leagues)
Making the most of this week’s opportunity to compete on an Anaheim top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, Silfverberg scored the opener in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins. An extension to that assignment should result in a drawn-out upswing from the 27-year-old winger after what has been an altogether mediocre January.
Falling: Corey Perry, RW (81.4 percent)
The winger hasn’t seemed himself since missing 11 games because of a knee injury. Additionally, his recent demotion to the fourth line is feeling permanent. Outside of the odd power-play point — his top-unit role remains unaltered — we aren’t expecting much else from Perry under present circumstances.
Rising: Antti Raanta, G (14.2 percent)
One of the league’s better netminders since the start of the new year, Raanta has allowed only two goals in each of his last five starts (.933 save percentage). Just don’t count on a lot of victories from the Coyotes’ No. 1 as his young club continues to figure it out.
Falling: Max Domi, C/LW (23.4 percent)
The three goals in 50 games is one concern, but the five total shots through January is a whole other problem. At this rate, Domi will finish the season with 35 points (minus-19), a jarring drop from his 52-point rookie campaign just two years ago.
Rising: Ryan Spooner, C (10.2 percent)
Shifting from bottom-six center to David Krejci‘s wing has worked out well for the 26-year-old forward. After losing a good chunk of October and nearly all of November to a groin injury, Spooner has quietly averaged 0.82 points/game since Nov. 24, including five goals in his past eight contests. The pending restricted free agent has every reason to keep up, or better, that pace between now and the spring.
Falling: David Backes, C/RW (35.2 percent)
A valued member of the Bruins for other reasons, Backes hasn’t contributed much to the score sheet since his small flurry at the end of December. The veteran’s third-line gig doesn’t set the table for much of an upswing in production.
Rising: Sam Reinhart, C/RW (14.7 percent)
As discussed in this week’s edition of Line Changes, Reinhart is clawing his way back to fantasy relevance with three goals and four assists in six recent games. Playing on a scoring line and the No. 1 power play with center Ryan O’Reilly means that improved pace could be maintained.
Falling: Evander Kane, LW (90.9 percent)
With only three points since Christmas, Kane’s fiery start of 15 goals and 18 assists feels like a long time ago. However, the sniper is finally getting another taste of top-line action with Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo. Plus, a trade to a contender remains in the cards for the pending free agent. So, all is not yet lost.
Rising: Matthew Tkachuk, LW (88.0 percent)
Already on a scoring tear with seven goals in eight games, Tkachuk will only benefit further from having his regular linemate, Michael Frolik, back healthy. In his first game after missing a month to a broken jaw, Frolik assisted on Tkachuk’s goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. A spot on the Flames’ top power play also offers the 22-year-old sophomore additional opportunities to make his productive mark.
Falling: Micheal Ferland, LW/RW (42.2 percent)
The Flames’ ordinarily dynamite top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Ferland has been uncharacteristically quiet of late, which means coach Glen Gulutzan could choose to shuffle out the trio’s right wing as a means of shaking matters up. Away from Gaudreau and Monahan, Ferland isn’t the same fantasy commodity at all.
Rising: Sebastian Aho, RW/LW (70.6 percent)
Scoring a goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, the Hurricanes’ winger looked no worse for wear after missing four full games to a concussion/lower-body combo. Skating on a top line and power play, Aho has 17 goals and 21 assists through 46 games.
Falling: Elias Lindholm, C/RW (12.7 percent)
Aho’s healthy return spells the end of Lindholm’s recent run as top-line substitute. At even strength, the 23-year-old forward was knocked down to a depth role Tuesday.
Rising: Alex DeBrincat, RW (33.4 percent)
Member of a newish scoring line with captain Jonathan Toews and ex-Coyote Anthony Duclair, DeBrincat is in good position to build on his already impressive 32-point rookie campaign. The 20-year-old’s recent hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings while skating with Toews and Duclair certainly caught our attention.
Falling: Duncan Keith, D (91.6 percent)
While the star defenseman has always been more of an assists guy, zero goals on the year feels a bit off. Keith is also contributing fewer helpers of late, seeing less ice time (including quality power-play minutes) and threatening to finish significantly in the red for the first time since his 2005-06 rookie campaign. Brent Seabrook isn’t the only Chicago blueliner having a lousy time of it.
Rising: Alexander Kerfoot, C/RW (20.6 percent)
With Nathan MacKinnon projected to miss the next two to four weeks with an injured shoulder, Kerfoot is slated to replace the star center on a top Avalanche line with Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. The rookie forward already has 12 goals and 20 assists in 46 games this campaign.
Falling: Jonathan Bernier, G (52.1 percent)
After an unlikely surge of nine-consecutive victories, Bernier has since fallen back to earth with three straight losses in which he surrendered a total of 10 goals. After missing most of January to a groin injury, Semyon Varlamov is now scheduled to start in Winnipeg on Saturday. We may soon see the goaltending pendulum swing the other way in Colorado.
Rising: Cam Atkinson, RW (47.9 percent)
Sidelined since before Christmas with a fractured foot, Atkinson is back and skating on a Blue Jackets scoring line and the No. 1 power play. Averaging more than 19 minutes through his first two games, the winger registered a goal and power-play assist on seven shots. After a sluggish start to 2017-18, this is more of what we expected from the 28-year-old, who collected 35 goals just last season.
Falling: Boone Jenner, RW/LW (19.3 percent)
Failing to register a single point since Dec. 29, Jenner played fewer than 10 minutes for the first time this campaign versus the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. After scoring 30 goals two seasons ago, the 24-year-old forward has quickly plummeted out of fantasy favor.
Rising: Kari Lehtonen, G (4.0 percent)
While Ben Bishop is in no immediate danger of losing the Stars’ No. 1 job, Lehtonen has been good enough (2-0, .949 in January) to earn a start every three games or so. That suffices in keeping the streaky 14-year veteran currently relevant in daily fantasy play and as a spot start in fantasy leagues.
Falling: Jason Spezza, C/RW, (13.3 percent)
After scoring two inspired goals on Jan. 16 following his healthy game off in the press box, we thought Spezza might be in for a small seasonal renaissance. No dice. Not skating with any one of the Stars’ big three of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov in all situations also doesn’t much help the 34-year-old’s productive prospects.
Detroit Red Wings
Rising: Petr Mrazek, G (11.8 percent)
Stepping up for the first time this season, Mrazek is finally reminding us of how well he’s capable of playing. Taking over for Jimmy Howard, the 25-year-old netminder has allowed only five total goals in his past five appearances, including two shutout victories. Exploit this uptick in play from Mrazek, however possible, before his next slide.
Falling: Mike Green, D (82.8 percent)
After a fairly productive start, the Red Wings’ top offensive-defenseman has only four points to show for each of December and January. But the pending free agent could — and should — be traded to a contender ahead of this season’s deadline, which would modify Green’s fantasy status significantly.
Rising: Darnell Nurse, D (36.5 percent)
One of the few bright spots for Edmonton this season, Nurse now appears a fixture on the club’s top pair and power play. Boasting a team-leading plus-14, the 22-year-old defenseman has six goals and 12 assists. He’s likely to be near the 35-point barrier before we’re all done.
Falling: Patrick Maroon, LW (56.1 percent)
Whether the physical winger is traded ahead of the deadline, as rumored, or continues to skate on a bottom-six unit with the Oilers, he isn’t skating with Connor McDavid … and that’s all that really matters. Away from the generational star, Maroon has exceptionally limited fantasy value.
Rising: Denis Malgin, C/RW (0.4 percent)
The Panthers are giving the 21-year-old sophomore the chance to skate on a forward line with the club’s leading scorers, winger Jonathan Huberdeau and center Vincent Trocheck. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that. At minimum, Malgin presents as an intriguing dark-horse DFS asset, for as long as this assignment lasts.
Falling: James Reimer, G (13.7 percent)
A recent groin injury, for which Reimer has been ruled out a minimum of two weeks, and the anticipated return of Roberto Luongo mean we might not see much of Florida’s No. 2 for a bit.
Rising: Darcy Kuemper, G (11.2 percent)
As Jonathan Quick recovers from a nagging undisclosed injury, Kuemper has been terrific, allowing just one total goal through two consecutive wins. This brand of confident play from L.A.’s backup offers the Kings the luxury of allowing Quick whatever time he needs to fully heal from whatever is going on physically, along with additional nights off when needed.
Falling: Tyler Toffoli, RW (68.9 percent)
With only one goal (zero assists) since Jan. 4, Toffoli hasn’t appeared his usual productive self. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, provided by both a brand-new assignment on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and the pending return of Toffoli’s usual centerman Jeff Carter. All is hardly lost for the 25-year-old scoring winger.
Rising: Paul Byron, C/LW/RW (5.0 percent)
Subbing in for a concussed Phillip Danault on a top line with a red-hot Max Pacioretty, Byron has seven points in his past seven games. Until Danault reclaims that spot and/or Pacioretty is traded, Byron should continue to produce at a regular clip.
Falling: Carey Price, G (92.4 percent)
Sitting well outside the Eastern playoff picture, the Canadiens aren’t likely to go out of their way in bolstering themselves defensively ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline. That’s not great news for Price, who’s on track to finish the season with a 3.00-plus goals-against average for the first time in his NHL career. His current .905 save percentage isn’t too pretty, either.
Rising: Nino Niederreiter, RW/LW (44.5 percent)
Out with a lower-body injury since Jan. 6, Niederreiter is anticipated back as early as Friday against Vegas. Skating on a scoring line with center Eric Staal for most of the season, the 25-year-old winger has 13 goals and 6 assists, including 7 power-play points, in 31 games.
Falling: Charlie Coyle, LW/RW (27.8 percent)
Niederreiter’s pending return tees up a reshuffling of the Wild’s top six, in which Coyle might fall as the odd-man out. One goal and two assists in nine games doesn’t exactly help the winger’s case. There’s also a bit of trade talk involving Coyle, which might prove distracting.
Rising: Viktor Arvidsson, RW/LW (76.1 percent)
Out since the end of December with an injured hand, winger Filip Forsberg is anticipated to return any moment now. Having the Predators’ top forward back on his unit will instantly benefit Arvidsson, who skated with Forsberg and Ryan Johansen in practice earlier this week.
Falling: Kyle Turris, C (71.9 percent)
Looking ahead here, but keep in mind that Mike Fisher (who came out of retirement this week) could take over the center position on Nashville’s secondary power play, a spot currently filled by the ex-Senator. Again, it’s just something to keep in mind since Turris has 15 power-play points on the season.
Rising: Miles Wood, LW (2.3 percent)
Bumped to a line and top power play with fellow winger Kyle Palmieri, Wood is another young Devil to watch this winter. The 22-year-old sophomore has 14 goals and 57 penalty minutes on the season.
Falling: Cory Schneider, G (71.1 percent)
Even before his injury-inspired exodus from action (groin), the Devils’ No. 1 netminder had struggled since the end of December, winless in seven-straight with an .871 save percentage. While Schneider is back skating, his return to the crease could be a way off yet. No. 2 tender Keith Kinkaid is New Jersey’s go-to for now.
Rising: Anthony Beauvillier, LW (31.8 percent)
Beauvillier is living the dream, skating on a scoring line with Calder candidate Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. As long as he remains on that unit — and be wary, there’s no guarantee a healthy-again Andrew Ladd won’t reclaim the coveted spot — the 20-year-old should be spoken for in most ESPN leagues.
Falling: Nick Leddy, D (86.0 percent)
With only one assist (minus-12) in 11 games, the Isles’ top offensive-defenseman is clearly struggling. It may only be a short matter of time before young Ryan Pulock gets a consistent opportunity on the club’s No. 1 power play.
Rising: Pavel Buchnevich, LW/RW (39.1 percent)
Competing on a top line with Mika Zibanejad and Rick Nash, the second-year skater has two goals and four assists in his past half-dozen games. Even if the Rangers move a forward asset (or more) ahead of the trade deadline, as recently suggested, the prominent Zibanejad/Buchnevich forward pairing should remain intact.
Additional note: Forward Chris Kreider has been upgraded to day-to-day in his recovery from rib surgery (blood clot).
Falling: Kevin Shattenkirk, D (69.9 percent)
This might register as old news, since the club’s top offensive-defenseman underwent knee surgery nearly two weeks ago. However, this week’s sight of Shattenkirk working out his upper body (while still using crutches) incited a bit of hope. Regardless, he’s still in danger of missing most, if not all, of the regular season.
Rising: Mike Hoffman, LW/RW (91.0 percent)
Only if he’s traded! And even then, only if he lands a top-six spot with a contending club. Otherwise, Hoffman will be fortunate to finish with 20 goals this season, his lowest mark since joining the NHL ranks full time. So, this projected rise is purely speculative.
Falling: Mark Stone, RW (88.8 percent)
Apparently, suffering a setback in recovering from his knee injury, Stone is now considered doubtful for the weekend. Shelve the Senators’ forward until a more detailed timeline is in play.
Rising: Nolan Patrick, C (9.2 percent)
Centering a scoring line with wingers Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, Patrick scored a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. Assuming coach Dave Hakstol is willing to give this trio more than a minute together, the No. 2 pick in June’s draft instantly climbs Philly’s fantasy rankings.
Falling: Brian Elliott, G (55.6 percent)
Out of commission with a lower-body injury, Elliott remains without a concrete return date for now. Stay tuned. Unfortunately for the Flyers, backup Michal Neuvirth has been horrid his latest two games, allowing five goals in each (one incomplete). So, maybe don’t look in his direction for fantasy help right now. Third-stringer Alex Lyon made his NHL debut Wednesday night in relief and starts Thursday in New Jersey.
Rising: Matt Murray, G (91.3 percent)
After missing most of January (personal), the Penguins’ goalie emphatically re-established himself as his club’s No. 1 with Tuesday’s convincing 40-save victory over the San Jose Sharks. Moving forward, Murray should see the bulk of Pittsburgh’s starts, with backup Casey DeSmith filling in here and there. Relegated to the AHL, Tristan Jarry has little fantasy bearing at present.
Falling: Conor Sheary, LW (29.9 percent)
The 25-year-old winger is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Look for forward Bryan Rust, following up his first three-point game of the campaign, to first fill in up front on Sidney Crosby‘s left side.
San Jose Sharks
Rising: Kevin Labanc, LW/RW (7.4 percent)
Skating on Logan Couture‘s line, which is now considered the Sharks’ No. 1 unit with Joe Thornton sidelined, Labanc has two goals and five assists in seven games. The 22-year-old sophomore is also skating on San Jose’s top power play. If available, he merits adding in deeper leagues.
Falling: Aaron Dell, G (28.0 percent)
Back in the saddle, Martin Jones performed solidly in Detroit on Wednesday after a shakier performance the previous evening in Pittsburgh. However, that the Sharks opted to start Jones in back-to-back nights over Dell speaks even greater volumes to the club’s plans going forward. Right now, despite Dell’s consistent play most of this season, the starter’s crown is Jones’ to lose.
Rising: Vince Dunn, D (2.4 percent)
With four points in his past six games, the rookie defenseman sports additional promise in anchoring the Blues’ No. 1 power play. But we have high hopes for someone else in St. Louis on the fantasy scale: Whoever is acquired through trade and subsequently lands on a top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and center Paul Stastny. We like that yet-to-be-named guy a lot.
Falling: Jake Allen, G (80.8 percent)
Good glory, the Blues want to give their anointed No. 1 the opportunity to not only play, but also get himself together ahead of what they hope is a successful playoff run. However, if Allen continues to struggle, the club won’t hesitate in turning back to Carter Hutton, who has been money all season long (1.70 goals-against average, .945 save percentage).
Rising: Yanni Gourde, RW/C/LW (37.5 percent)
Just like that, Chris Kunitz‘s tenure as a top-six forward has, unsurprisingly, come to an end. Instead, up rises Gourde to join Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson in place of the injured Ondrej Palat. With 33 points in 50 games to date, Gourde scored a goal in each of the three games leading up to the All-Star break. So, yeah, he seems hot.
Falling: Anton Stralman, D (17.4 percent)
With Victor Hedman back from injury, Stralman falls right out of the power-play mix in Tampa. Frankly, the veteran offensive-defenseman was a disappointment, failing to register a single point during Hedman’s five-game absence. With one assist in 16 games, the 31-year-old has little fantasy value altogether.
Rising: Nazem Kadri, C (83.4 percent)
Since joining forces with winger Mitch Marner, Kadri has been his old scoring self again, collecting three goals, including two with the extra skater, and one assist in three games. Consider the 27-year-old’s recent drought — December was ugly — a thing of the past.
Falling: Morgan Rielly, D (77.7 percent)
While Rielly believes himself ready to return from an existing upper-body injury, the Leafs’ trainers aren’t quite on the same page. So, it might be a few games yet before Toronto’s top offensive-defenseman is back to competitive action. Otherwise, fellow Toronto blueliner Jake Gardiner is ripping it up with 10 points in six games, while AHL call-up Travis Dermott is also making a favorable impression at both ends of the ice.
Rising: Bo Horvat, C (48.9 percent)
A favorite of ours in recent days, Horvat has a goal and two assists in his past three games. The 21:42 of ice time logged in Tuesday’s win over the Avalanche further demonstrates that the Canucks’ top center feels just fine after missing most of December and January with a fractured ankle.
Falling: Henrik Sedin, C (13.5 percent)
Two. Vancouver’s veteran center has two goals this season. While the older Sedin has always played second violin to brother Daniel in the goal-scoring department, and the twins together are unquestionably more focused on filling a mentoring role with this young Canucks squad, two goals still feels drastically low for a player of Henrik’s caliber. After all, he scored 15 last year. What happens when he’s moved off a top line with Calder-candidate Brock Boeser?
Vegas Golden Knights
Rising: Shea Theodore, D (26.3 percent)
The Knights’ young defenseman is seeing a steady increase in minutes, not only with the top power play, but also as a top-pair defenseman. Considered a long-term key piece on the franchise’s blue line, Theodore is already making a positive impression here and now with five points in his past six games (plus-9).
Falling: Malcolm Subban, G (25.6 percent)
Marc-Andre Fleury continues to shine, and Subban has only two starts to his credit this calendar year, neither one of them that impressive. Unless Fleury gets hurt or falters badly, we’re not likely to see much of Vegas’ backup in the foreseeable future.
Rising: Lars Eller, C (5.8 percent)
The third-line/secondary power-play center is on one of his rare rolls with 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 games (plus-6), including 3 points with the extra skater. Take advantage of this uncharacteristic burst before Eller resumes his more conservative ways.
Falling: Matt Niskanen, D (30.5 percent)
Despite seeing quality minutes on the Capitals’ top pair and secondary power play, it just isn’t happening for Niskanen in this injury-shortened season. Earning just three points since Dec. 16, the 31-year-old offensive-defenseman hasn’t registered a single point with the man advantage in all of his 36 games. Look to other fantasy blue-line options until Niskanen snaps out of this funk.
Rising: Mark Scheifele, C (95.5 percent)
Not only is Scheifele due back in the next couple of weeks or so, but, as outlined by ESPN Insider Matt Coller, the top-tier center also has a history of kicking it up another notch following the All-Star break. Knowing that, the 24-year-old might be worth targeting in a high-profile, blockbuster trade of sorts, but do it before he returns.
Falling: Kyle Connor, LW (24.9 percent)
After a lengthy run in the Jets’ top six, Connor has since tumbled to the fourth line, averaging slightly more than 11 minutes of ice time in his past three games. That’s ahead of Scheifele’s anticipated return, so who knows what happens once the center is back on the ice. Outside of deep, keeper leagues, it’s probably time to cut the promising rookie loose.