Three up, three down: Be optimistic about Klefbom, O’Reilly

Gene Principe catches up with Antti Raanta following a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, in which the Arizona Coyotes' goaltender earned a shutout after Patrick Maroon's goal was called back.

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

Three Up

Oscar Klefbom – D – Oilers – 3 Goals, 12 Assists, 161 Shots, 53 Games
Klefbom was expected to build off of last season’s 38-point performance that declared to the world that he was a No. 1 defenceman. Instead, he has played hurt and played terribly. He looks more comfortable since the all-star break, returning to his role as the lone defenceman on the top power-play unit and bombing shots from the point.

The Oilers power play is still terrible, but the defenceman has two power-play assists and five assists overall in nine games this month. Consider it time for cautious optimism.

Ryan O’Reilly – C – Sabres – 18 Goals, 25 Assists, 157 Shots, 58 Games
O’Reilly has skated nearly 24 minutes per game in four games since Jack Eichel went down with an ankle injury. This is nothing new as the centreman carried a similar load when Eichel missed the first six weeks of last season. O’Reilly averaged 3.5 shots per game without Eichel last time around and is putting up similar production with 16 shots in the past four games. Points may a bit tougher to come by, though O’Reilly did put up back-to-back three-point games last week.

With the Sabres power play finding more success in the second half, and all the minutes he can handle, O’Reilly looks to be about the best replacement for Eichel you might still find on the waiver wire.

Antti Raanta – G – Coyotes – 12 Wins, 20 Losses, 77 Goals Against, 35 Games
Raanta was supposed to help the Coyotes rise to respectability this season, but early struggles with injury and inconsistency derailed those hopes. Raanta has been healthy in the second half, providing some consistent goaltending to a now feisty Coyotes team.

His numbers since the start of January are elite, boasting a 7-3-4 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. Those numbers could help any fantasy team. There is bonus value in getting in now as the pending UFA could potentially be a contender’s solution in goal.

Three Down

Nino Niederreiter – W – Wild – 15 Goals, 6 Assists, 81 Shots, 39 Games
Coming off of a breakout 57-point campaign, Niederreiter was expected to flourish in a key role for Minnesota. Instead, he has battled injury and inconsistency. Coming off the latest injury, Niederreiter has just two points in nine games, while bouncing around the Wild lineup. He has averaged just 14:43 per game and hasn’t yet found his footing.

The concern is that it will be too late for fantasy owners when Niederreiter does finally get comfortable.

Alex Pietrangelo – D – Blues – 9 Goals, 28 Assists, 152 Shots, 56 Games
Pietrangelo’s pace has slowed significantly in the second half. He’s put up only nine points in 19 games since the start of January.

A big part of his decline has come because of a loss of power-play usage. He has only two power-play points over the last two months having seen his power-play ice time drop to just 2:02 per game. Vince Dunn has taken over the top power play duties in St. Louis for the time being. Pietrangelo is good enough to remain relevant for owners, but his current 54-point pace is slipping.

He looks like a good candidate to sell high on prior to your league’s trade deadline.

Kyle Turris – C – Predators – 9 Goals, 22 Assists, 94 Shots, 52 Games
Turris’ first month in Nashville was explosive, combining with Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith to form one of the league’s most prolific second lines.

He scored 17 points in his first 17 games with the Predators, but has just five points in the last 24 games. Taken altogether, Turris is producing at a 44-point pace since joining the Predators, which isn’t far off our initial expectations following his trade out of Ottawa. Turris still has use in deeper leagues, but in shallower formats there are hotter options to pursue.


Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

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