By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes the Rangers' No. 2 center, a Toronto winger putting last year's rough campaign behind him, Chicago's offseason addition in net rolling, Sid the Kid close to returning, Korpisalo out weeks and a young blueliner scuffling in Music City.
First Liners (Risers)
Ryan Strome, C, New York Rangers
Strome, after a brief lull, is red-hot again. He had a pair of goals and two assists Saturday, giving the RFA four goals and eight assists his last 12 games. Strome, selected fifth overall in 2011, is up to eight goals and 23 assists in 37 games, putting him on pace to exceed the 50 points he tallied as a sophomore in 2014-15. Strome has moved between center and wing but is back centering the second line alongside Artemi Panarin, boding well for future success.
Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning
With myriad scoring options in Tampa Bay, sometimes — as odd as this may sound — Stamkos gets overlooked. His goal and assist Saturday increased the 2008 first overall pick to 800 career points in just 779 games. After tallying 98 points last season, Stamkos is on a point-per-game pace with 35 points in 34 games; a figure that could rise if his shooting percentage — now at 13.3 percent — approaches the 16.8 percent of a year ago.
Tomas Tatar, RW, Montreal Canadiens
Tatar potted a goal and an assist Sunday, increasing his output to seven goals and four assists in his last 10 games. Traded to Montreal before last season, Tatar posted a career-high 25 goals and 33 assists in his first year wearing bleu, blanc et rouge. Tatar leads the Habs with 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists), putting him on pace nearly halfway through the season to set a career-high in points, and his 10 power-play points (seven, three) is one behind Max Domi to lead Montreal in that category.
William Nylander, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs
Nylander's struggles last season after signing late look to be a thing of the past based on his production this year. His goal and assist Saturday extended the 21 year old winger's point streak to three games and he has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last six games. Nylander has looked explosive beside both John Tavares and Auston Matthews, and with 15 goals and 16 assists in 37 games, he has exceeded his output from the 54 games he played last season.
Ian Cole, D, Colorado Avalanche
Cole stepped up his game recently while Cale Makar was sidelined, and despite the return of Makar, he has shown no signs of slowing. His goal Saturday gave the veteran blueliner a pair of goals and four assists in his last six contests. Add in 43 blocks, 77 hits, 15 assists, and a robust plus-21 rating and you have a player contributing in almost every category. If you dumped him, as I did earlier in the season, pick him back up, because even when his production slows, he should help you across the board.
John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars
Klingberg got off to a ridiculously slow start before he was sidelined by injury. Now healthy, he is rounding back into form, as he has his six assists in his last five games. After a brilliant 2017-18 campaign during which he potted eight goals and added 57 assists, Klingberg was on pace for another solid season before missing six weeks with a hand injury. Klingberg is the triggerman on what should be a potent Dallas PP and finally is showing why he was a high pick in most fantasy leagues.
Robin Lehner, G, Chicago Blackhawks
Lehner is not the clear No. 1 starter between the pipes in the Windy City, but a changing of the guard could be forthcoming soon. He stopped 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday; the fifth straight start he has notched a victory. Coming off a career year on the Island, Lehner signed a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason with the Blackhawks with the hope of parlaying that contract into a long-term one in free agency after the season. With the win, Lehner improved to 11-6-4 with a 2.81 GAA and .926 save percentage in 23 games as he builds his case for a big-money deal.
David Rittich, G, Calgary Flames
Heading into Sunday's game, Rittich was back on a roll. His last five appearances have been more than solid for the Flames, going 2-1-1 along with a 2.06 GAA and .933 save percentage. After posting 27 wins, a 2.61 goals-against average and .911 save percentage last season, Rittich — in his first campaign as the starter to open the year — has 17 wins, a 2.65 GAA and .916 save percentage, numbers that took a hit when he allowed three goals on seven shots and was pulled from Sunday's game. Cam Talbot has been serviceable as the backup netminder, but Rittich, despite his poor effort Sunday, is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie for the Flames.
Others include Mika Zibanejad, Auston Matthews, Max Domi, Eric Staal, Jeff Carter, John Tavares, Craig Smith, Nico Hischier, Calle Jarnkrok, Bryan Rust, Brendan Gallagher, Mark Stone, Kevin Fiala, Jaden Schwartz, Artemi Panarin, Jonathan Marchessault, Patrick Kane, Kyle Connor, Kyle Palmieri, Jordan Eberle, Nikita Gusev, Roman Josi, Shea Theodore, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jeff Petry, Anthony DeAngelo, Nate Schmidt, MacKenzie Blackwood, Jordan Binnington, Tristan Jarry and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Denis Gurianov, RW, Dallas Stars
This one is a deeper league special and the main reason why I am doubling up on Stars in this week's column. Gurianov scored in his third consecutive game Saturday, and the Russian is up to nine goals and 14 points with 76 shots on goal in 34 games this year. The 12th overall pick from 2015, who had one goal in 21 games last season, is starting to show his promise, and an 11.8% shooting rate isn't totally unsustainable for a player with that kind of pedigree. Gurianov makes for a nice, cheaper option in DFS as well.
Training Room (Injuries)
Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby, sidelined since Nov. 9 with a sports hernia for which he underwent surgery on Nov. 14, should resume practicing with the team shortly. He was cleared to resume skating in an individual setting a little more than two weeks ago and has progressed sufficiently to take the next step in his rehab. Pittsburgh has thus far survived quite nicely without their captain, going 13-5-3 in his absence, but will be glad to welcome Crosby back to the lineup.
Joonas Korpisalo, G, Columbus Blue Jackets
Korpisalo will be out "weeks" after sustaining a knee injury in the first round of the shootout Sunday against the Blackhawks on an attempt from Jonathan Toews. His absence deals a huge blow to the Blue Jackets, as Korpisalo had dominated lately, going 6-0-3 in his last 10 starts with a .942 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average. Elvis Merzlikins figures to be the No. 1, and the Blue Jackets recalled Matiss Kivlenieks from AHL Cleveland to serve as the backup.
Others include Jonathan Drouin (sidelined since undergoing surgery on his left wrist Nov. 18, is no longer wearing cast, projected absence was 8-10 weeks), Anthony Mantha (upper body, will be sidelined a minimum of four weeks), Brendan Lemieux (broken left hand, suffered Friday, out 3-4 weeks), Jeff Skinner (upper body, injured Friday, out for 3-to-4 weeks), Ilya Mikheyev (will miss more than three months after undergoing successful surgery to repair an artery and tendons in his wrist, which was lacerated Friday), Jake Muzzin (broken foot, injured Friday, week-to-week), Torey Krug (upper body, placed on injured reserve) and Aaron Ekblad (shoulder, not in Panthers' lineup Saturday but returned earlier than reported on Sunday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Ryan O'Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues
O'Reilly has lit the lamp just twice since Nov. 30. He still has posted eight assists in those 13 games, though only one of those apples has come on the man-advantage. Despite the mild slump, ROR has notched eight markers and 26 assists in 40 games with 11 of those points coming on the power play. O'Reilly should reel off a hot streak before too long, as he has posted 20-plus goals in five of his last six seasons.
Dante Fabbro, D, Nashville Predators
Fabbro, selected 17th overall in 2015, is seeing more than 19 minutes of ice time per game as he skates alongside Mattias Ekholm. Despite that amount of playing time and pairing, Fabbro is scoreless in his last 10 games. Overall, the rookie blueliner has just eight points (3G, 5A) in 38 games, but he has a ton of offensive upside, requiring patience from fantasy managers. Production may not come for a year or two, so those in single-year leagues might want to cut bait.
Thomas Greiss, G, New York Islanders
As good as Greiss was earlier in the season, he's as bad as he has been lately. Since Nov. 9, Greiss is 4-6-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average and .896 save percentage, allowing less than three goals in only two of those appearances. Coach Barry Trotz hasn't yet turned the reins in net over to Semyon Varlamov, but Greiss' struggles might result in a change happening sooner than later, especially if Varly has a few more good outings in a row.
Others include Brett Connolly, Milan Lucic, Wayne Simmonds, Morgan Frost, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Rasmus Andersson, Devon Toews, Matt Murray, Petr Mrazek, and Connor Hellebuyck.
Joonas Donskoi, LW, Colorado Avalanche
Donskoi helped the Avalanche withstand the absence of several of their top forwards, including Mikko Rantanen. But his production has expectedly waned since Colorado got healthy. Donskoi has just a solitary assist along with a minus-five rating in his last nine contests while skating on the second line. Signed to a four-year, $15.6 million contract by the Avs in July 2019, Donskoi has also provided 13 goals and 15 assists. He should continue to be a solid depth winger but his top-shelf production from earlier this year may be a thing of the past.