By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes the 2015 No. 2 overall pick on a roll, Pac-man hot in the desert, a stats-stuffer on the blueline for Ottawa, Washington's former Vezina Trophy winner reeling off wins, and injury to Sid the Kid, and a flyer from earlier in the season scuffling.
First Liners (Risers)
Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres
Eichel has been on fire recently. His marker Sunday came on the heels of his four-goal performance Saturday against the Penguins. Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, known in some circles as the consolation prize to Connor McDavid, saw his output rise each of the three seasons following his rookie campaign in 2015-16, topping out at 82 points last season. The 23 year old has never scored more than 28 goals in a season but already has 13 in 20 games this season, putting him on pace for 50-plus thanks in large part to a career-high shooting percentage (18.2).
Max Pacioretty, LW, Vegas Golden Knights
Pacioretty had his second straight poor season last year — his first campaign in Las Vegas — tallying just 40 in 66 games along with a minus-13 rating. Through the first quarter of the 2019-20 season, Pacioretty has looked more like the winger who posted four consecutive 60-point campaigns. Pacioretty notched a goal Sunday, giving the former Montreal captain eight goals, 12 helpers, 90 shots on goal and a plus-1 rating in 22 games.
Tomas Tatar, LW, Montreal Canadiens
Tatar replaced the injured Jonathan Drouin (upper body) on the top line with Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault, adding an assist to extend his point streak to four contests. He has seven points during the streak and a team-high 20 points through 20 games. Tatar posted a career-high 58 points last season, his first in Montreal. A quarter of the way into the schedule, Tatar is on pace to far exceed that total.
Andre Burakovsky, LW, Colorado Avalanche
Burakovsky, selected 23rd overall in the 2013 draft, disappointed in Washington despite occasionally displaying his talents. Given a new lease on life in Colorado after his acquisition in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick and Scott Kosmachuk on June 28, the 24 year old winger has posted 16 points and 40 shots on goal through 20 games. Five of his points have come with the man advantage, as he looks to earn a long-term deal with the Avalanche.
Oscar Klefbom, D, Edmonton Oilers
The majority of the focus in Edmonton is on Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and a few other forwards, but don't sleep on the blueliners, including Klefbom. The Swedish defenseman, drafted 19th in 2011, missed 27 games last season but was still able to post 28 points, 11 of which came on the man-advantage. This season, Klefbom has 15 points, 50 shots on goal and 63 blocks through 22 games with none of those points coming on the power play, aided by an extra minute of ice time per game in those situations and two more per contest.
Mark Borowiecki, D, Ottawa Senators
Borowiecki is contributing across the board, including providing unexpected offensive production. The physical defenseman is up to 81 hits (second-most in the league), eight points, 35 blocked shots, and 29 PIM in 20 games. He is just three points shy of matching his career-high — hit twice in his career — and his physical output makes him much more valuable in leagues that utilize hits and blocked shots.
MacKenzie Blackwood, G, New Jersey Devils
Blackwood has bounced from riser to faller and now back to riser again. His win Saturday was his third in four starts. He's 7-4-3 this season in 13 starts and has been especially effective in November (5-2-1), where he has posted a 2.45 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. Blackwood burst on the scene last season, and with Cory Schneider showing no signs of regaining prior form and being placed on waivers Monday to send him down to the AHL, look for the second-rounder from 2015 to remain between the pipes.
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Holtby notched his sixth consecutive win Saturday, followed by his seventh straight Monday. During that stretch, the former Vezina Trophy winner has allowed just 15 goals. Holtby's goals-against average and save percentage still leave a lot to be desired, but his recent hot streak has improved both of those categories and his 11-1-3 mark makes his fantasy managers (and the Capitals) very happy. Roll with the veteran netminder in the last year of the five-year, $30.5 million deal he signed in July 2015.
Others include: William Karlsson, Phillip Danault, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Ryan Strome, Steven Stamkos, Andreas Athanasiou, Logan Couture, Sean Couturier, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Aleksander Barkov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jonathan Toews, Nick Suzuki, Bryan Rust, Jonathan Huberdeau, Alex Iafallo, Tyler Ennis, Artemi Panarin, Tomas Hertl, Evgenii Dadonov, Leon Draisaitl, Kyle Connor, Joonas Donskoi, Reilly Smith, Patrick Kane, Robby Fabbri, Brendan Gallagher, Reilly Smith, Zach Werenski, Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, John Carlson, Ivan Provorov, Keith Yandle, Victor Hedman, Darcy Kuemper, Marc-Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss.
Kirby Dach, C, Chicago Blackhawks
Dach, the third overall pick in this year's draft, tallied twice Sunday. That pair of markers gave Dach four goals and six points in four games. Dach is still only seeing around 11 minutes of ice time nightly with minimal power play time, but his recent fine stretch of play could result in an uptick of ice time and line placement. It might not be too long until Dach slides up to third line and gets second-line power-play action. Buy low if he is available.
Training Room (Injuries)
Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby underwent surgery on Nov. 14 to repair a core muscle injury that first occurred in training camp and was aggravated last week. The 32 year old center has played at least 70 games in each of the last six seasons, and that streak stands to end. Before being sidelined, Crosby posted five goals and 12 assists in 17 games after hitting at least 84 points each of the last six seasons. Pittsburgh has been hammered by injuries, and while Sid the Kid is sidelined, Evgeni Malkin will center the top line.
Others include: Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury, injured Friday, placed on IR on Saturday), Mika Zibanejad (neck, missed last nine games, and will be out Wednesday against Washington), Alex Kerfoot (facial fractures, injured Nov. 3, underwent surgery Friday), Marcus Johansson (upper body, placed on injured reserve), Jonathan Drouin (wrist, underwent surgery Monday, will be sidelined at least eight weeks), Jake DeBrusk (lower-body injury, injured Nov. 5, missed fifth straight game Saturday but expected to suit up Tuesday), T.J. Brodie (collapsed at practice Thursday, sidelined indefinitely), Torey Krug (upper-body injury, landed on injured reserve, out as well Tuesday) and Philipp Grubauer (lower body injured, missed fifth straight contest Saturday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Derek Stepan, C, Arizona Coyotes
The Rangers’ return for Stepan was initially panned. While Lias Andersson looks like a major reach with the seventh pick New York received for Stepan, Anthony DeAngelo pushes the trade in the Blueshirts' favor. Stepan posted 56 points his first year in the desert, but fell to 35 points last season and has just four goals and four assists this year. His six-year, $39 million contract expires after next season while ADA is still a RFA after this year and under New York control for a while longer.
Justin Faulk, D, St. Louis Blues
Faulk is off to a slow start in the Arched City, tallying just six assists in 21 games. He posted six consecutive 30-plus point seasons in Carolina prior to coming to St. Louis just before the start of the season. Faulk is still adapting to his new surroundings, is seeing bottom-pair action at times and seeing almost two minutes less of ice time a game; all of which has contributed to his subpar production. The good news — as we noted in our recent news update — his 52.1 Corsi For percentage is a reason for optimism.
Carter Hutton, G, Buffalo Sabres
Hutton's winless streak hit six Sunday when he allowed four goals against the Blackhawks. He reeled off six straight wins to open the season but is now stuck in a six-game winless funk (0-4-2) and has given up four or more goals in four of those outings. Hutton got off to a similarly strong start last season before fading rapidly. If Linus Ullmark, who had been slumping, finds his game, a changing of the guard between the pipes could be imminent.
Others include: Lias Andersson, Brandon Pirri, Markus Granlund, Michael Dal Colle, Ryan Donato, Ilya Kovalchuk, Tobias Rieder, Josh Anderson, Ryan Suter, Duncan Keith, Tyler Myers, Juuse Saros, and Sergei Bobrovsky.
James Neal, RW, Edmonton Oilers
Neal was the flavor of the month in October when he posted 11 goals and two assists. November hasn't been as kind to the veteran winger, as he has tallied just one goal and assist in eight games. The decline really shouldn't have come as a huge surprise since Neal notched his 11 markers in just 42 shots for a ridiculous 26.2 shooting percentage. Neal should still be somewhat productive and likely will have at least one more major hot streak, but your window to move him for a solid return is closing fast.