By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's article includes Hertl the Turtle, a rookie winger rolling in Big D, a blueliner stepping up for the Cats, the Isles' rookie netminder, Carolina welcoming back its top man between the pipes, and one of Columbus' big acquisitions slumping.
FIRST LINERS (RISERS)
Tomas Hertl, C, SJ
The Sharks are surprisingly hanging around in the playoff hunt in the West Division. Aiding that effort has been the play of the Timo Meier-Hertl-Rudolfs Balcers trio. That line has been on fire lately, with Hertl notching five goals and eight helpers in his last 14 games. He's up to 24 points, 60 shots on net, and 15 PIM in 31 games. The 74 points he scored in 77 games two years ago certainly looks to be an aberration, but that doesn't mean he lacks value, especially in deeper leagues.
Jason Robertson, LW, DAL
Robertson, a second-round pick, 39th overall in 2017, posted 25 goals and 47 points in 60 games for AHL Texas last season, earning a three-game cup of coffee at the parent level. That performance earned Robertson a full-time role with the Stars this season, and he has not disappointed. Robertson saw his point streak end at four games Sunday, but the 21-year-old rookie has put together a solid season with 24 points (eight goals, 16 helpers), 65 shots on net, and a plus-6 rating in 31 contests. He should continue to see top-six usage, though he'll likely be more productive when Roope Hintz (lower body) is in the lineup, as the two young forwards have shown good chemistry lately.
Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT
Quietly, Guentzel is having another fine season. He continued his solid ways on Saturday, adding a goal and two assists. Guentzel hasn't gone more than two games in a row all season without finding the scoresheet, and he has 16 goals and 38 points in 38 games this season. A 2013 third-round pick, 77th overall, Guentzel benefits from riding shotgun to Sidney Crosby. But he warrants that prime spot thanks to his consistent play and production, which has been especially so the last two-plus seasons.
David Perron, RW, STL
Perron is showing that his performance the last three seasons is no fluke. His assist Saturday extended the 32-year-old Perron's modest point streak to three games, during which he's posted a goal and three helpers. The winger has maintained a point-per-game pace this year with 13 goals, 24 helpers, 101 shots on net, and a minus-1 rating through 37 games. Perron looked to be on the downside of his career in 2015-16, but he started to recapture his form the following season and has been full steam ahead since then, thriving in his third stint in the Arch City.
MacKenzie Weegar, D, FLA
Florida lost a huge component in its attack when Aaron Ekblad (leg) went down for the season. With Ekblad sidelined, someone needs to step up on the blueline for the Cats. Weegar showed last weekend he might be the candidate for the job. Weegar notched a goal and an assist Saturday and followed that with a pair of helpers Sunday. This season, Weegar has three goals and 23 points with a plus-20 rating through 39 games, but he could be primed for a strong last month or so of the season if he receives solid time on the man-advantage in place of Ekblad.
Alex Goligoski, D, AZ
In leagues with daily moves, especially ones with daily pickups, jumping on players when they are hot and jettisoning them when they cool off is the name of the game. Similar in seasonal leagues with fewer pickups and moves, but a little less so due to the nature of the league. Goligoski is red hot with assists in five consecutive games and seven points in his last seven contests. Until this season, he used to be a decent back-end fantasy option on the blueliner, but he has just nine points. However, with seven of those coming recently, he is worth a short-term flier while he is hot.
Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI
Sorokin may have taken a bit of time to settle into the NHL, but he looks like a seasoned veteran lately. His win Saturday made him 9-3-2, but he is 9-1-0 in his last 10 decisions. This season, he has a 2.21 goals-against average (GAA) and .914 save percentage and should receive Calder consideration. The Islanders are still for the most part alternating Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov between the pipes, but Sorokin has made a case for, and has received, increased play.
Cam Talbot, G, MIN
Talbot continues to roll between the pipes for the Wild. After missing some time with an injury, Talbot has reclaimed the No. 1 goalie job from Kaapo Kahkonen, starting and winning both games last weekend. Those two victories meant that the 33-year-old goalie had won five of his last six starts heading into Monday's outing to improve to 11-5-2. He's posted a 2.26 GAA and a .928 save percentage in 19 appearances overall, continuing the career resurrection that began last season in Calgary. Of course, Talbot surrendered five goals to Colorado on Monday, though that doesn't change my view of him or his inclusion here.
David Krejci, C, BOS
Krejci isn't having a phenomenal season, but he has picked up his production the last three weeks or so. Overall, Krejci has just a pair of goals and 21 assists in 30 games; solid, but not spectacular. But 10 of those helpers and both of those markers have come in his last 11 games, as he has righted the ship following a very slow start. Krejci is a perfect No. 2 center behind Patrice Bergeron, and if his shooting percentage moves back closer to his norm, his value will rise.
Others include: Brayden Point, Sean Couturier, Ryan Strome, Alexander Wennberg, Vincent Trocheck, Claude Giroux, Zach Hyman, Kirill Kaprizov, Jordan Eberle, Nick Schmaltz, Gabriel Landeskog, Evander Kane, Keegan Kolesar, Eeli Tolvanen, Carter Verhaeghe, Artemi Panarin, Andrew Copp, Kevin Fiala, Phil Kessel, Rudolfs Balcers, Samuel Girard, Brett Pesce, Jakob Chychrun, Ryan Graves, Adam Fox, Jared Spurgeon, Dmitry Orlov, Ryan Murray, Alec Martinez, MacKenzie Blackwood, Jack Campbell, Mike Smith, Daniel Vladar, Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer.
TRAINING ROOM (INJURIES)
Petr Mrazek, G, CAR
Mrazek, out since Feb. 3 due to thumb surgery, made a heck of a return to game action, posting a 28-save shutout Sunday against the Stars after playing one game on a conditioning stint for Chicago in the AHL. Despite Sunday being just his fifth appearance this season, he's already racked up three shutouts. Mrazek has allowed just three goals on 94 shots this season. He may still be eased into action, as the Hurricanes received good goaltending from both James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic in Mrazek's lengthy absence, but down the stretch, Mrazek could be No. 1 netminder for the Hurricanes.
Others include: Bobby Ryan (upper body, missed fourth consecutive game Sunday), Jake DeBrusk (out since March 18, cleared the NHL's COVID-19 protocol Sunday), Mats Zuccarello (lower body, missed second consecutive game Monday, no clear timeline to return), Brendan Gallagher (fractured his thumb Monday and is expected to miss multiple weeks), Colton Parayko (back, missed 21 games, out of lineup since Feb. 15, activated and played Monday) Tuukka Rask (upper body, placed on injured reserve, missed the Bruins' last five games), Darcy Kuemper (lower body, out since March 8, progressing well in his recovery, though no timetable for his return) and John Gibson (upper body, missed three games, activated off injured reserve, started between the pipes Sunday vs. Arizona).
Entering Tuesday, 20 Canucks players and coaches are on the COVID-19 protocol list. How the NHL makes up the missed games remains to be seen.
FOURTH LINERS/PRESS BOXERS (FALLERS)
Max Domi, C, CLM
The Domi-Josh Anderson trade has been more than just a little lopsided. While Anderson is showing that his decline last year was largely injured related, Domi's poor output is evidence that his game has cratered from the 72 points he posted two seasons ago. Domi has five goals and nine assists along with an unsightly minus-13 in 39 games. Signed to a two-year, $10.6 million contract with the Blue Jackets in October 2020, Domi has been an unmitigated bust in Columbus.
Jakub Vrana, LW, WAS
Vrana was a mildly surprising healthy scratch Sunday, though his recent production likely played a major role in that decision. Vrana has 10 goals and 13 assists in 35 games, which is decent, though below his pace from his career season last year. Also, Vrana has just five assists and just shots on goal with a minus-four rating in his last 11 games. Hopefully, this wake-up call will be the kick in the rear that jumpstarts his season.
Thomas Chabot, D, OTT
Overall, Chabot has had a relatively solid campaign, but he has slumped lately. Chabot did post two assists Saturday, breaking his skid of just one point the prior seven games. In addition, he has only four goals this season, with just one coming since Feb. 4. Chabot has tallied those aforementioned four markers and 19 helpers in 35 games, putting him ahead of last year's scoring pace but behind the career campaign he posted two seasons ago. But the future is bright for Chabot and potentially the Senators.
Jaroslav Halak, G, BOS
Halak was manning the pipes for the B's with Tuukka Rask sidelined, but the extra work did not result in improved sharpness in his game. He allowed at least four goals in four of his last seven games, but Boston's offense had bailed Halak out his last two games. Halak still has a respectable 2.44 GAA and .910 save percentage, but those numbers stood at 1.88 and .927 less than a month ago. Halak tested positive Monday for COVID, which will sideline him a while, giving Daniel Vladar additional playing time until Tuukka Rask is ready to return.
Others include: Logan Couture, Dylan Larkin, Jamie Benn, Jack Roslovic, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Nikita Gusev, Cam Fowler, and Jordan Binnington.