Three up, three down: Flames’ Mikael Backlund on the rise

Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund celebrates after scoring a goal. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Welcome to the fantasy hockey stock market. Each week we will look at three players trending up and three players trending down.

Three Up

Mikael Backlund – C – Flames – 6 Goals, 10 Assists, 49 Shots, 23 Games
The Flames’ shut-down centreman is having another quietly effective season. He has 10 points in his past 10 games, climbing up to a 57-point pace. That might prove too high a total for Backlund as that would mean a career high, but he should clear 50 points for the second straight season. Shallower leagues don’t have much time for 50-point centremen, but Backlund can offer plenty of value in deeper formats, especially given his current hot streak.

Ryan Johansen – C – Predators – 3 Goals, 13 Assists, 35 Shots, 23 Games
The floodgates have opened for Johansen. After scoring his first goal of the season on Nov. 16, he has three goals and eight points in a six-game span. He is finally turning it on for patient owners. The centreman is in the mix for a fifth straight 60-point season, which should be relevant in all leagues.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault – C/LW – Golden Knights – 8 Goals, 13 Assists, 66 Shots, 19 Games
Until this past week, Marchessault had been cruising along as a good-but-not-great fantasy option. Then he went off for three straight three-point games, vaulting himself into the league’s top 50 in scoring, and above a point-per-game pace. That scoring pace is unlikely to continue, but Marchessault managed a 30-goal/50-point season skating similar minutes to the 16:57 he has averaged with Vegas. Marchessault should once again threaten to score 30 goals, which will make him relevant in virtually all settings.

Three Down

Max Pacioretty – LW – Canadiens – 7 Goals, 5 Assists, 104 Shots, 14 Games
Normally we look at players to consider dropping, but here we look at player who would be worth trying to buy. Drowning at a half-point-per-game pace with no points in the last six games, Pacioretty is letting down fantasy owners. You’ll never get him at a lower price tag. The big forward is money in the bank producing at least 30 goals, 60 points and 250 shots on an annual basis. Currently fourth in the league with 104 shots, Pacioretty is on pace for a career high 355. That shot volume should keep you sated until the offence comes around, you can bet that it will.

Tuukka Rask – G – Bruins – 3 Wins, 10 Losses, 37 Goals Allowed, 12 Games
Loser of four straight and eight of the last 10 games, Rask is off to another woeful start to the season. He has been horribly inconsistent the past two seasons, either starting strong or finishing strong, but ultimately finishing with a sub-par .915 save percentage. He sits at .899 thus far, and is losing starts to backup Anton Khudobin, who started and won four straight games before Rask’s loss on Sunday. Another loss for Rask likely thrusts Khudobin back into the crease. Eventually, Rask is going to come out ahead in this goalie battle, but not before losing some more starts to Khudobin.

Cam Fowler – D – Ducks – 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 14 Shots, 11 Games
Fowler has two assists in four games since returning from injury. He has also skated at least 22 minutes in each of those games. He is clearly an important piece for the banged-up Ducks, and a Randy Carlyle favourite. However, it seems that Fowler may have lost his gig on the top power-play unit to upstart Brandon Montour. Outside of a hot first half to last season (with 11 power-play points in 44 games), Fowler has never been all that strong of a power-play performer. If Montour continues to cannibalize Fowler’s PP minutes, it is likely that Fowler will once again fall short of the 40-point plateau, a benchmark he hasn’t hit since his rookie season.


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