Three up, three down: Maple Leafs’ Marner still has untapped potential

Watch as some nice passing by the Maple Leafs sets up Auston Matthews who scores Toronto’s fifth goal of the night.

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

Three Up

Mitchell Marner – RW – Maple Leafs – 2 Goals, 13 Assists, 36 Shots, 21 Games
The supposed sophomore slump appears to have given Marner a break this month as the talented winger has piled up nine points in nine games. Of course, this storyline was overblown. It didn’t help that Marner had at times been buried on the fourth line, but that was never going to last. The buy-low window on Marner is closing, but there is still untapped potential here. Marner is skating on one of the league’s most dynamic power plays but has just four power-play points so far. He’ll have his fair share once the season is done, which puts him in line for 60+ points.

Sebastian Aho – LW/RW – Hurricanes – 4 Goals, 13 Assists, 54 Shots, 19 Games
With the monkey finally off his back, Aho has started to pile up the goals, scoring in three straight games. All the reasons that made Aho a popular breakout candidate still hold true. He continues to pile up shot totals, on pace for 225. His power-play time is also up to 2:56 per game, a significant upgrade over last season. Now that Aho is finally producing, he makes a good waiver-wire grab who just might have staying power. If Aho is unavailable in your league, his linemate, Teuvo Teravainen, is similarly hot and offers a nice consolation prize.

Mathew Barzal – C – Islanders – 4 Goals, 14 Assists, 38 Shots, 19 Games
The dynamic rookie centreman has taken off since Jordan Eberle was added to his wing with three goals and 12 assists in his last 10 games. Barzal is also a key part of the Islanders’ top power-play unit, giving him exposure to superstar forward John Tavares. Barzal is good enough that he could stand on his own, but it doesn’t hurt to have Tavares insulating him from the toughest matchups on a nightly basis.

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Three Down

Jesper Bratt – LW/RW – Devils – 5 Goals, 8 Assists, 33 Shots, 19 Games
The rookie forward was a nice story early on, but the early rush of favourable shooting is starting to wear off. He is still talented, but he has tumbled down the depth chart with Kyle Palmieri back in the lineup. That tumble will continue when Marcus Johansson returns. There is still room for Bratt to be valuable in deeper leagues but as his usage dips below 16 minutes per game he’ll be much less interesting to fantasy owners.

Aaron Ekblad – D – Panthers – 3 Goals, 5 Assists, 49 Shots, 20 Games
After a hot start, Ekblad has fallen off in November with just one point in nine games. Keith Yandle has usurped his top PP minutes, which is especially damaging now that the Panthers have converted to a loaded top unit that sees two-thirds of the available minutes. Not only has Ekblad lost exposure to the Panthers’ best, but he is losing valuable minutes as well. Ekblad’s minutes are up this year, but the increase is almost entirely in penalty-kill time, which may simply be taxing him rather than amplifying his fantasy value. He pumped nine shots on John Gibson on Sunday night, so the capacity for extreme shot volume still exists. It may be enough to keep him in your lineup while waiting for him to grab those power-play minutes back.

Nick Foligno – C/LW/RW – Blue Jackets – 3 Goals, 5 Assists, 40 Shots, 20 Games
After discussing Alexander Wennberg’s declining fantasy stock in this space last week, we will once again slag a Columbus player. Foligno offers a lot more to fantasy owners than Wennberg with his multiple position eligibility and value in peripheral categories, but he has also gone 11 games without scoring a point. One of very few forwards skating 20+ minutes per game, Foligno is receiving all the opportunity in the world, but the Blue Jackets’ power play is terrible, so we must downgrade all their players accordingly. If you can extract value out of Foligno’s peripheral production, you can afford to be patient. If you’re in it just for points, you should seek other options.

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