At some point in the season, a team destined to miss the playoffs needs to start thinking about the future. Let’s not go so far as to use the “T” word; You know, that’s what people keep their pet fish in. But teams are not only looking at their options with trading assets, but also internally looking for which players could potentially do more with more opportunities.
Three standouts stood out in the rankings this week, but I’m sure there will be more, and more as the season moves further away from some franchises. All three get more and more powers, whether they convert them into Fantasy Points or not. And there will be more as some teams at the bottom of the standings start to worry more about next season than this one.
Barrett Hayton, C/W, Arizona Coyotes (in the top 250 at #225): On the verge of becoming a regular with the Coyotes since the 2019-20 season, Hayton broke through playing 60 games last season, turning him into a mainstay of the roster. However, he never exceeded 17 minutes of average ice time in any month of last season when he peaked at 5:58 pm in December. He started outside the scoring line again this season, but his usage skyrocketed in late December when the Coyotes began moving some pieces around the depth chart. Initially touching down with Nick Ritchie and Christian Dvorak, Hayton scored six points in four games from December 29 to January 5. This resulted in a move to the top spot with Clayton Keller and Nick Schmalz on January 8th. Hayton scored in his first three games with the trio, but has been quiet for the last two games. This promotion also brought a place at the top of the powerplay that could wake up again at any moment.
Mason McTavish, center, Anaheim Ducks (in the top 250 at #223): There aren’t many positives to take from the Ducks offense this season. After starring Troy Terry, Adam Enrique and Trevor Zegras for most of the campaign, some recent changes have led McTavish to play Zegras. The promotion was held on 4 January and McTavish responded with one goal and one assist. In the next game, he scored two goals and provided two assists. In the next game… I wish there were three and three, but no, McTavish hasn’t scored in three games since then. McTavish had a nine-game cup of coffee with the Ducks at the end of a very busy 2021-2022 season in which he played for two OHL franchises, led the Hamilton Bulldogs to a Memorial Cup final game, led the Canadians to the World Championship. Gold as a junior, played in the Olympics and even snuck into some AHL games before making his NHL debut. McTavish had already played on the powerplay before moving up to the top spot; he is tied for the lead on the team with 10 powerplay points and is third in playing time by a margin.
Kirill Marchenko, W, Columbus Blue Jackets (in the top 250 at number 237): The 22-year-old was expected to make quick work of the AHL after three seasons in the KHL. He delivered. Marchenko – although he missed the Blue Jackets from the start in favor of other young players such as Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov – scored a fair amount of points in the AHL (19 points in 16 games, the best among AHL rookies in the points per game) to now stick with the Jackets (hopefully). He scored 10 goals on the ice in just over 200 minutes in an NHL five-on-five game, six of which he scored himself. His on-ice goal tally is 60 higher than the likes of Kirill Kaprizov or Alex Ovechkin this season, while his 60 goal tally this season is second only to Jared McCann, Daniel Sprong and Klim Kostin among players with at least 200 minutes.
As for the other ratings…
Nikolai Ehlers, W, Winnipeg Jets (moved up 22 spots to 43rd): After one goalless game to ease his return to the Jets, Ehlers has scored three goals and provided six assists in five games since then. It shows how important an injured reserve can be to your team.
Elias Lindholm, center, Calgary Flames (moved up 20 spots to #61): Signs of life? Absolutely. Over the past four weeks, Lindholm has been quietly averaging 2.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) to stay within the bounds of a reliable fantasy starter. The success is largely due to the fact that Dillon Dube moved to the line with Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli.
Brock Nelson, C, New York Islanders (dropped 23 places to 99th): One of the most consistent players at the start of the season, the well of production dried up for Nelson (and some of the other islands). His fantastic points per game (FPPG) for the season and last month speaks volumes: he has 2.0 FPPG for the season, but only 1.1 FPPG for the last month. I blame the game on the majority, when the islanders seem to have forgotten how to compete. They’ve had the league’s six worst powerplay goals in 56 opportunities since early December, and even conceded three shorthanded goals in that period, for a ridiculous net powerplay percentage of 5.4%. They would have been better off refusing a penalty in the style of Keil Makar.
Eli Tolvanen, W, Seattle Kraken (up 76 points to 164): He’s always had the quality to be in the top six hitters in the NHL. And he’s capitalizing on the opportunity the Kraken has given him here, helping to lead the line with Janni Gourd and Oliver Bjorkstrand, who have nine goals in eight games combined. He averages 2.6 FPPG per Kraken.
Scott Lawton, C/W, Philadelphia Flyers (moving up 43 spots to No. 173): The Flyers are getting some input on their roster. Without looking, you might think that Lawton was on the same line as Travis Konecki, but that’s not the case. He does join Konechny in the powerplay, but Lawton does it with equal strength too. He posted 2.9 FPPG in his last 12 games.
Boone Jenner, C/W, Columbus Blue Jackets (up 19 spots to No. 134): Returning from injury, Jenner didn’t immediately return to the top spot along with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Lane, so it’s hard to get him back to where he was in the rankings before the injury. He might get there again, but the Jackets need to start experimenting with their lineup to find the best combinations, so it’s not a guarantee.
Calle Jarnkrock, C/W, Toronto Maple Leafs (moved up 11 spots to No. 190): It’s time to name Yarnkrok more than a temporary member of the Leafs’ top six as he helps down the fort on the line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner night after day and night since December . 20. There is a small threat on the horizon due to Nicholas Robertson’s recovery, and again a small chance that the Leafs manage to improve their wing in the trade, but pending those scenarios, Jarnkrok may wait out the season here.
Kilm Costin, W, Edmonton Oilers (in the top 250 at number 232): Costin does exactly what you would expect a player to do when given the chance to play in the Oilers’ top six: he’s versatile, plays in a good position, and puts himself in the right places to let superstars set goals. All seven of his goals have been scored since he started in the top six at the end of December.
Robbie Fabbri, W, Detroit Red Wings (in the top 250 at number 248): With three goals in five games since his debut of the season, we shouldn’t be too shocked by this since Fabbri can score when he’s on the ice. The question is whether he can continue to hit the top six in a fairly crowded lineup and start earning some powerplay time to really increase his potential.
Vince Dunn, D, Seattle Cracken (up 31 spots to No. 135): Dunn and partner Adam Larsson were on the ice, scoring six Kraken goals against the Hawks in a five-on-five matchup on Saturday, with neither scoring doubles. The icing on the cake is that Dunn has amassed 2.2 FPPG over the past month, which puts him in 18th place among all defensemen.
Jake Wolman, defenseman, Detroit Red Wings (in the top 250 at number 216): Do you think Dunn was good, but he was underestimated? Wolman, who recently partnered with Moritz Seider on defense, has posted 2.5 FPPG over the past month and is available in almost every league. He has a good profile for blocks and hits, so adding some offensive potential from being on the ice with Zayder pushed him towards fantasy relevance.
Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota Wild (moved up 19 spots to #94): And let’s go even further! Last month, Spurgeon averaged 2.6 points per second, blocking more shots than any other defenseman except Alex Pietrangelo and scoring six points. However, he is still getting minor powerplay time as the Wild remain committed to using Calen Addison as a specialist. If only Spurgeon could take that place too.
Tristan Jarry, goaltender, Pittsburgh Penguins (down 23 spots to #63): Hopefully we’ll see Jarry in the crease again soon. Reports say he faced gunshots in practice on Monday. Jarry has not played since he pulled out of the Winter Classics due to a lower body injury.
Frederick Andersen, Gee, Carolina Hurricanes (moved up 38 spots to #77): Well, he’s back, and for a brief moment, it was just as awkward as expected. Andersen returned to the Canes and picked up two wins on Thursday and Saturday. Petr Kochetkov rushed to the start on Sunday and didn’t do himself a favor by conceding three goals in the loss. It was the last excuse the Canes needed to send Kochetkov to the AHL, so Andersen will again have a big workload.
Martin Jones, G, Seattle Cracken (up 111 spots to No. 112): This Kraken winning streak really highlighted what Jones has been quietly bringing to the game this season. While odds are nothing special, wins are an important part of being a fantasy goalkeeper. And Jones has the third-most wins in the league this season. The winning streak also cleared up any short-term questions about Philipp Grubauer, who has moved back into the crease that should have been him this season.
Philip Gustavsson, G, Minnesota Wild (up 34 spots to #150): Speaking of odds, Gustavsson…