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This week’s fantasy hockey article includes consistency in Calgary, a pair of Schenns, a goalie seemingly back on the beam in Canada’s capital, Philly’s top center done for the year and a trade-able blueliner in New Jersey.
First Liners (Risers)
Mikael Backlund, C, CGY
If there is one term to use to describe Backlund, it’s consistent. Backlund put up 32 points in 54 games last season, which would have put him on pace for about 48 points in a full season — right in line with the 45-50-point range he’s landed in for four of the previous five campaigns — ergo , consistency. This season, Backlund started slowly, but in his last 11 games, Backlund has three goals and seven helpers. The 32-year-old has 21 points, 117 shots and a plus-7 rating in 45 games, and if he remains just mildly hot, he should finish in the 45-50 point range again.
Nico Hischier, C, NJ
Much of the focus in New Jersey is rightly on Jack Hughes, but he is not the only forward producing for the Devils. Hischier has been red-hot since the All-Star Game, notching goals in four consecutive games. That streak has come with Hughes sidelined due to COVID, but maybe the current success will help spur Hischier the rest of the year. Overall, it’s been a disappointing campaign for the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, but his current hot streak has Hischier up to 12 tallies, 29 points, 88 shots on net and a minus-6 rating in 42 games overall.
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Alex Killorn, LW, TB
Killorn has been red-hot since 2022 began, notching six goals and seven helpers in 15 games since the start of January. The forward is firmly entrenched as the left winger on the second line, skating with Steven Stammos. Killorn has 42 points, 91 shots on net, 52 hits and 42 PIM through 48 games, putting him on pace for a career year by a wide margin, exceeding the 49 points he notched two years ago in 68 games.
Brayden Schenn, RW, STL
Schenn missed stretches of time due to injuries three times this year, but he has been exceedingly productive when in the lineup. His pair of assists from him Saturday gave the 30-year-old seven goals and six assists in his last eight games. The physical forward has 12 tallies, 25 points, 52 shots, 37 hits and a plus-11 rating in 30 outings this season. One caveat, though, is that his production has been somewhat driven by a 23.1 shooting percentage, well above his normal pace. But, as long as he is also a facilitator, his output might not drop much as the shooting percentage regresses.
Luke Schenn, D, VAN
Profiled by several RotoWire writers the last few weeks, Schenn gets prime-time treatment in this column this week. Schenn is not counted on or expected to produce much offense, yet he is up to 10 points this season, with four — two goals and as many assists — in his last seven games. His main value of him lies in providing hits — and a lot of them. This season is no different, as the 32-year-old has 142 hits in just 33 games, well above his physical pace from even the last few seasons. If your league uses hits, and to a lesser extent with Schenn, blocked shots, as a category, run, don’t walk, to add him if he is somehow still available.
Noah Hanifin, D, CGY
For those who read this column frequently, you know I prefer not to profile two players from the same team. This week is one of those instances where I break that rule, partly driven by many teams being off but also because the D-man in bold treatment here is deserving. In his last 10 games, Hanifin’s offense has sparked to life with two goals and eight helpers, three of which have come with the man advantage. The 25-year-old is up to 23 points (eight on the power play), 90 shots, 43 blocks and a plus-12 rating through 44 games this season. He’s on pace to shatter his career-high 33 points from 2018-19.
Matt Murray, G, OTT
From starter to outcast to the AHL and back again. It’s been a wild 2021-22 season for Murray. Recalled from the minors Jan. 1, Murray has taken over again as the primary option in net for the Senators, though Anton Forsberg is still firmly in the mix. Heading into Saturday’s game, Murray was 3-1-1 in his last five with a 1.17 goals-against average and .966 save percentage. Against Boston, Murray remained hot, allowing just two goals in 35 shots. Playing behind a young Sens squad that will be even better when Josh Norris returns from his injury, Murray is a nice depth play.
Jake Oettinger, G, DAL
Braden Holtby is still very much present in big D, but if the Stars are to continue their push for a playoff spot, Oettinger needs to be between the pipes. In his last six games, Oettinger is 4-1-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. A logjam of netminders landed Oettinger in the minors to start the season. But he has worked his way back up the pecking order since his promotion of it. He burst on the scene last season and has shown that he deserves to be the starter most nights in net for Dallas.
Others include Clayton Keller, Brayden Point, Dylan Larkin, Tage Thompson, Dylan Strome, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Carter, Mitch Marner, Nick Suzuki, Roope Hintz, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Jeff Skinner, Matthew Boldy, Patrik Laine, JT Miller, Andrew Mangiapane, Gabriel Landeskog, Sebastian Aho, Jesper Boqvist, Jason Robertson, Justin Faulk, Roman Josi, Torey Krug, Justin Schultz, Victor Hedman, Morgan Rielly, Moritz Seider, Ilya Sorokin. Cam Talbot, Frederik Andersen, Darcy Kuemper, and Linus Ullmark.
Cole Caufield, LW, MTL
Caufield’s rough start to the season landed him in Laval of the AHL for a brief stint, though the time in the minors didn’t result in a spike in production after he was recalled in mid-November. His play from him since then was uneven, followed by missing seven games in January due to COVID. Caufield’s return to action basically coincided with the hiring of interim coach Martin St. Louis, whose presence and history as a diminutive scoring forward should benefit Caufield. So far, so good, as Caufield carved goals in back-to-back games Thursday and Saturday (though he was shut out Sunday).
Training Room (Injuries)
Sean Couturier, C, PHI
Couturier, sidelined since Dec. 29 with what was previously labeled an upper-body injury, underwent successful back surgery Friday and will miss the rest of the season. With Philadelphia in last place in the Metropolitan division, there was no need to further delay the season-ending procedure. Couturier is expected to make a full recovery in approximately three months, so he should be back to 100 percent health well ahead of training camp. The 29-year-old forward will finish the 2021-22 season with six goals, 17 points and 79 shots in 29 games. He could be Philly’s captain next season with claude-giroux an unrestricted free agent at year’s end and not expected to return.
Others include players still on the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as Nathan MacKinnon (nose, concussion, practiced in a regular jersey Thursday and played Sunday), Jack Eichel (neck, will make season debut Wednesday)Kaapo Kakko (upper body, already missed six games, will be sidelined at least another month)Nikolay Ehlers (knee, missed last eight games, at least “weeks” away from returning)Douglas Hamilton (jaw, missed last 15 games, was a full participant in practice Saturday, could play Tuesday)Vitek Vanecek (upper body, injured against the Penguins on Feb. 1, placed on IR on Feb. 8) and Tuukka Rask (lower body, retired this last week).
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Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Sean Monahan, C, CGY
Monahan posted 82 points in 2018-19 but has hit hard times since. After falling to 48 points the following season, he dropped to 28 in 48 games last year. Monahan has moved from the top to the third line, drying up nearly all his 5v5 production from him, as 12 of his 19 points from him have come on the man advantage. Lately, though, he has not been denting the score sheet at all, going scoreless in eight consecutive games. He has one year remaining in the seven-year, $44.1 million contract extension he signed with the Flames in August 2016 — though, he may very well be elsewhere next year.
Nils Hoglander, LW, VAN
The future is still more than bright for Hoglander — the only question being when that starts. This season, though, has been a bit rough. His assist from him Thursday snapped a six-game point drought for Hoglander, who has now gone 13 appearances without a tally. The Swede has suffered a bit of a sophomore slump with just 16 points in 46 games after racking up 27 points in 56 appearances last season. Vancouver might be a seller at the deadline. If that happens, Hoglander could find his way to a scoring line.
Jack Campbell, G, TOR
I was loving life in October and November having Campbell in two leagues. Since then, though, the positive vibes have ceased a bit. Recently, well, the language used to describe his play would include some bleeped words. Campbell is clearly not as good as he was the first two months of the season nor as bad as he has been the last two-plus months. But Petr Mrazek you have played well lately and is stealing more time between the pipes. Campbell partially stemmed the tide Monday, but he is far from out of the woods in terms of losing playing time in net.
Others include Ryan Johansen, Quinton Byfield, Jordan Eberle, Victor Olofsson, Hampus Lindholm, Jaroslav Halak, Cayden Primeau and Jordan Binnington.
Damon Severson, D, NJ
Putting Severson here is in no way a denigration of how well he has played, as he has been brilliant on the New Jersey blueline. But the imminent return of dougie hamilton from a broken jaw is likely to impact Severson’s ice time on the man-advantage along with his offensive chances. In his last 11 games, Severson has one goal and 11 assists while functioning as the Devils’ top defenseman. The 27-year-old has 27 points, 101 shots on net, 59 blocks, 50 hits and 40 PIMs in 47 games. Maybe Hamilton and Severson man the points together; if so, hang onto Severson. Otherwise, trade now.