Welcome to the fantasy hockey stock market. Each week we will look at three players trending up and three players trending down.
Nazem Kadri – C – Maple Leafs – 17 Goals, 14 Assists, 131 Shots, 52 Games
At the depths of Kadri’s mid-season slump, we recommended trying to buy low on Kadri. It was only a matter of time before he rediscovered his scoring touch. It took a reimagining of the lines, pairing Mitch Marner with Kadri to get the centreman going, but he is now on a five-game scoring streak. His current 49-point pace is still on the low side but look for more from Kadri during the stretch run as he should push for 55 points.
Petr Mrazek – G – Red Wings – 7 Wins, 8 Losses, 46 Goals Against, 19 Games
It’s easy to forget after the poor season and a half that Mrazek has had, but he was once one of the most promising young goaltenders in the league and presumed future in Detroit’s crease. He fell out of favour leading to trade rumours and getting exposed in the expansion draft but Mrazek is finally back to looking like a solution, having started five of the last six for the Red Wings, conceding just eight goals in that stretch.
Does this portend to future success? Not necessarily. The Red Wings are not going to contend for a playoff spot. If Mrazek stays in Detroit, he will continue to have a reduced ceiling. Could he continue this hot streak for a contender in need of goaltending help?
Cam Atkinson – RW – Blue Jackets – 8 Goals, 9 Assists, 114 Shots, 36 Games
It’s been a nightmare season for Atkinson and his fantasy owners, but the winger has started out hot coming off injury, scoring in four straight games. All the reasons to like Atkinson are still there. He boasts a tremendous shot volume firing nearly 3.0 SOG per game, is skating a career high 18:33 per game and is a fixture on the Blue Jackets’ power play.
That power play is no longer a joke either. Since the start of January, the Blue Jackets have clicked on a quarter of their power play chances, a top-10 mark. Fantasy owners should have expected a 25-goal/55-point season from Atkinson. While he won’t hit those benchmarks, he can produce at that rate going forward.
Mika Zibanejad – C – Rangers – 15 Goals, 14 Assists, 117 Shots, 43 Games
It just hasn’t been the same for Zibanejad since returning from injury as the Rangers’ top centreman has scored just seven points in 19 games. Some of this is no doubt the result of inconsistency coming off injury, but the Rangers’ power play has tanked after a hot start. Losing Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Kreider to injury has not helped, nor has the inconsistent usage of top playmaking forward Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich is now out with a concussion and the Rangers are reportedly looking to sell ahead of the trade deadline. This is a shoddy environment for productivity.
Pierre-Luc Dubois – C/LW – Blue Jackets – 10 Goals, 13 Assists, 102 Shots, 52 Games
Alexander Wennberg’s return from injury has bumped Dubois down the depth chart. He is no longer seeing consistent power play time, nor is he playing with Artemi Panarin on a nightly basis. Those two helped form one of the best possession lines in the league, and should get back together at some point, but the reduced usage has led to Dubois’ scoring falling off.
Anders Lee – LW – Islanders – 27 Goals, 15 Assists, 127 Shots, 53 Games
The Islanders’ top line was one of the most consistent in the league until falling off at mid-season. It’s no surprise, as they had been experiencing some extremely favourable shooting percentages. In particular, Lee has suffered from regression going scoreless in the last five games and contributing just three goals and no assists in the last 15 games.
Lee remains one of the league’s best net-front men, and sees too much time next to superstar John Tavares to completely fall off. Lee was dropped from the top line for the Islanders’ last game, but that’s likely a short-term demotion. His current 65-point pace is much more reasonable than when he was averaging a point per game, although there is still room for further regression. The winger’s career high for points is merely 52. It wouldn’t shock if he failed to hit 60 points, even after a blistering start.