By Jan Levine
RotoWire Senior NHL Writer
First Liners (Risers)
Kyle Turris, C, NAS – Turris tallied 17 points in his first 17 games but hit the skids in mid-December and then notched just three points in 15 games leading into the All-Star break. He has righted the ship the last few weeks, posting 15 points in his last 19 games. The play of Nashville’s second-line center has been a big reason why the Predators enter the last week-plus of the season leading the West in points.
Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR – Zibanejad, whom the Rangers acquired two years ago for Derick Brassard, saw his seven-game point streak end Monday. During that streak, Zib tallied eight goals to give him a career-high 27 markers and four assists. Zibanejad got off to a strong start to the season, but then was sidelined by a concussion and scored just eight times in 34 games after his return. He is expected to enter 2018-19 as the Blueshirts’ top-line center.
Kyle Connor, LW, WPG – Connor, the 17th overall pick in 2015, scored two goals and added three assists in 20 games last season. That action helped Connor get acclimated to the speed and physical nature of the NHL. He has taken a quantum leap forward this season, notching his 29th goal Sunday to go along with 21 assists — with 10 of those points coming with the man advantage. He’d tallied five goals and a pair of assists in his last seven games leading into Tuesday’s action, when he was held off the scoresheet.
Ty Rattie, RW, EDM – Exceptional players can help almost anyone score. Rob Brown scored 50-plus skating alongside Mario Lemieux. Dave Lumley had an 11-game scoring streak as Wayne Gretzky’s wing. Now, Rattie is loving life alongside Connor McDavid. Rattie has seven points in his last seven games, including four goals. In 35 prior games, Rattie notched 10 points, so his current production shows the effect of skating with an elite linemate.
Evander Kane, LW, SJ – Acquired from Buffalo for conditional first- and fourth-rounders, as well as Danny O’Regan, Kane has nine goals and five assists in 14 games playing on the top line. The fourth overall pick by Atlanta in 2009, Kane moved with the team to Winnipeg before getting traded to Buffalo. Kane has had a star-crossed career, much of which has been his own doing, but he has settled seamlessly into the Bay Area.
Neal Pionk, D, NYR – The Rangers are playing out the string in evaluation mode, granting additional minutes to several young players. Pionk has taken advantage of that opportunity, scoring 13 points in his last 13 games. The undrafted free agent out of Minnesota-Duluth saw his seven-game point streak end Monday, but he tallied his first NHL goal Saturday and is averaging close to 22 minutes of ice time.
Keith Yandle, D, FLA – Yandle scored his eighth goal of the season and added his 44th assist in Florida’s 3-0 win over the Islanders on Monday. That victory put the Panthers one point behind the Devils with a game in hand for the second wild-card spot in the East. With 52 points, Yandle is just one point shy of his second-best total of 53 posted in 2013-14 and seven shy of the career-high 59 he notched in 2010-11.
Keith Kinkaid, G, NJ – The Devils sit in a playoff spot thanks to the play of Kinkaid between the pipes. With Cory Scheider injured much of the season, Kinkaid has played a career high 35 games, winning 21 with a 2.85 GAA and .911 save percentage prior to Tuesday’s start. He stopped 31 shots to notch the win Tuesday.
John Gibson, G, ANA – Anaheim can end up third in the Pacific, in one of the two wild-card spots or out of the playoffs. Gibson has lost just twice in his last 14 regulation games and had won five of his last six starts to sit at 30-17-7 on the season before falling Tuesday to Vancouver. While Gibson’s GAA has risen from 2.22 to 2.46, he has upped his save percentage slightly to .925 on the year.
Others include Derek Stepan, Nicklas Backstrom, Connor McDavid, Nazem Kadri, Anze Kopitar, Casey Mittelstadt (signs ELC with Buffalo), Filip Chytil (assist in debut Monday). Lias Andersson (goal in debut Monday), Sam Reinhart, Jeff Carter, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jonathan Drouin, Clayton Keller, Teuvo Teravainen, Evgenii Dadonov, Viktor Arvidsson, Jordan Greenway (signed ELC with Minnesota), Alex Galchenyuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Blake Wheeler, Eeli Tolvanen (signs ELC with Nashville). Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Brendan Gallagher, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kreider, Brad Marchand, Cam Atkinson, Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Miller, Charlie Hudon, Claude Giroux, Anders Lee, Alex DeBrincat, Valentin Zykov, Taylor Hall, Jonathan Marchessault, Jake Gardiner, Jeff Petry, Torey Krug, Brenden Dillon, Ethan Bear, Tyson Barrie, Matt Niskanen, Ryan Ellis, Ian Cole, Brent Burns, John Klingberg, Antti Raanta, Semyon Varlamov, Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson, Sergei Bobrovksy, Philipp Grubauer, Pekka Rinne, Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones.
Training Room (Injuries)
Sean Monahan, C, CGY – Monahan has been shut down for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. He is slated for wrist surgery and dealt with a nagging hip issue most of the year. Despite the injuries, Monahan set career highs in goals (31), points (64), game-winning goals (11) and shots on net (202) in 74 games. With Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau sidelined, Calgary has run up the white flag on the season.
Others include Patrice Bergeron (fractured his right foot Feb. 24 against the Maple Leafs, returned to action Sunday), Auston Matthews (shoulder, out since Feb. 22, returned to action Thursday), Jonathan Toews (upper body, missed third straight game Monday), Johnny Gaudreau (father’s cardiac event, could miss rest of the season, prayers for a full and speedy recovery), Rick Nash (upper-body, hasn’t played since March 17), Nick Foligno (upper-body, out 2-4 weeks) Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL, resumed skating, could return the final weekend of the season) and Ben Bishop (lower-body, re-evaluated April 1).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Ryan Strome, C, EDM – Strome has two points in his last 11 games and 33 in 77 on the year. After scoring 50 points his sophomore campaign in 2014-15 as a member of the Islanders, it’s been downhill since. Selected fifth overall in 2011, Strome has been a disappointment. Dealt to Edmonton for Jordan Eberle, Strome is still languishing while Eberle has resurrected his career.
Vladislav Namestnikov, LW, NYR – Namestnikov looked prime for a major payday while a member of the Lightning, skating on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Tampa Bay moved him to the Rangers in the Ryan McDonagh deal, adding a more physical presence in J.T. Miller. The Lightning not wanting to pay him $4 million-5 million as an RFA might have driven part of the decision to deal him. After scoring a goal and an assist in his first game as a Blueshirt, Namestnikov has just one point in his past 12 contests while seeing plenty of power-play action.
Tyler Myers, D, WPG – Myers has 34 points in 75 games, his best output since his sophomore campaign in 2010-11 as a member of the Sabres. But his output has slowed substantially the past month. In his last 16 games through Tuesday’s action since Feb. 23, Myers has notched just one point with a minus-four rating. With Jacob Trouba about to return, look elsewhere for production from your blue line.
Robin Lehner, G, BUF – Lehner has just three wins in his last 14 games since the beginning of February. After seemingly taking some strides last season, winning 23 games with a 2.68 GAA and .920 save percentage, Lehner has looked like the netminder who struggled with Ottawa. It’s quite possible that Lehner, an RFA after the season, has played his last season as a member of the Buffalo organization.
Others include Derek Ryan, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Valtteri Filppula, Tobias Rieder, Justin Williams, Andrew Ladd, Adam Pelech, Troy Stecher, Anton Stralman, Cory Schneider, Petr Mrazek, Mike Smith and Scott Darling.
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