Derick Brassard

What is the Islanders’ long-term outlook?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the New York Islanders.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The Islanders will need to lock up a couple of critical restricted free agents this upcoming offseason but have a lot of components signed to long-term extensions.

The acquisition of Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the NHL Trade Deadline solidified their depth down the middle for years to come. Mathew Barzal has the potential to blossom into an elite centerman while Brock Nelson and Pageau can flip flop between the second and third line. Heart and soul player Casey Cizikas will continue to anchor the fourth line.

New York also has several of its top-nine wingers in place, including Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle and captain Anders Lee.

The newest addition to the core will be goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who is expected to come to the NHL at the start of next season. The Islanders drafted Sorokin in the third round of the 2014 draft and the Russian netminder has spent the past six seasons in the KHL. He has long been considered one of the best goalies not playing in the NHL. Throughout his career with CSKA, he never finished with a save percentage below .929 and is expected to produce at a similar level in North America.

Islanders goalie coach Mitch Korn has helped develop some of the League’s best goaltenders and Sorokin could be next in line.

Long-Term Needs

While the Islanders have a lot of their core signed to long-term contracts, the organization still needs a high-scoring winger to manufacture offense.

The Carolina Hurricanes swept the Islanders in a second-round series during last year’s postseason as they won four straight and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final. New York only managed to score five goals in those four games and were unable to solve its offensive deficiencies.

The Islanders play a fundamentally sound defensive system but need someone who can create offense on their own to change the momentum within a game. Barzal has a chance to be that type of game-breaker in today’s NHL but you need more than one player with that skillset.

In addition to their lack of offensive punch, the Islanders lost their defensive structure when Adam Pelech was lost for the season in early January. General manager Lou Lamoriello thought he solved the problem with the addition of Andy Greene from the New Jersey Devils but the Islanders went 2-5-4 in the 11 games he played and finished in a seven-game skid.

Coach Barry Trotz and his staff need to examine why the absence of one player impacted their system as much as it did.

Long-Term Strengths

The impact a coach has on any given team has long been disputed, but the effect Trotz has had on the Islanders is undeniable.

Ever since Trotz inked a five-year contract with the orange and blue, he brought a credibility to the team on the ice. The Islanders became one of the most defensively sound teams in the league and instantly became a playoff contender. With Trotz behind the bench, the Islanders will reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs on a consistent basis.

Besides strong leadership behind the bench, the Islanders have developed a strong culture inside the locker room. Players play for one another and there is a system of accountability that was lacking before Trotz arrived.

Overall, the Islanders should be in the playoff discussion for years to come with a disciplined structure, strong goaltending and a true difference-maker behind the bench. However, in order to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and not just a team that qualifies for the postseason consistently, they need to add a dynamic forward.

MORE ON THE ISLANDERS:


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Biggest surprises, disappointments for 2019-20 Islanders

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the surprises and disappointments for the New York Islanders.

Islanders carry over surprises from 2018-19 for a hot start

To be honest, I expected the Islanders to be scrappy this season, but to narrowly miss the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Through late November, that prediction looked as inaccurate as those who expected the Islanders to dwell in the cellar after John Tavares left during the summer of 2018.

Even factoring in Barry Trotz’s outstanding defensive acumen, it’s simply asking a lot for goalies to match what Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner pulled off in 2018-19. Yet, the Islanders combined more great goaltending (this time from Greiss and Semyon Varlamov) and timely scoring to start 2019-20 as one of the NHL’s hottest surprises.

It’s telling that the Islanders briefly topped PHT’s Power Rankings with their 16-3-1 record as of Nov. 21.

By compiling a franchise-record 16-game point streak, one wondered how high the Islanders might soar.

Betting on Varlamov (.920 save percentage through Dec. 31) over Lehner looked better than some figured. Meanwhile, Greiss continued his Trotz-era Renaissance (.919 save percentage during the same frame). The Islanders seemed poised to show that their way worked, and to an elite degree.

Islanders stumble as time goes on

However, you could argue that the Islanders couldn’t always walk what often felt like an all-defense tightrope. That high-wire act began to unravel, particularly from mid-January and on.

You can see that slippage in the big, shining neon light that was a seven-game losing streak entering the pause. But, really, the Islanders’ slide extended back a couple of months. If you want to hammer home disappointments for Islanders fans, you can’t get much more dramatic than “opening the door for the Rangers.”

That’s all disappointing, especially since the Islanders made some fairly aggressive trades (for Andy Greene and J.G. Pageau) to improve and patch up injuries. Your level of surprise likely revolves around how sustainable you thought the Islanders’ successes really were.

Looking at certain stats, it’s clear the luck swung violently the other way.

Via Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders tied with those hated Rangers for the fourth-highest PDO (save percentage + shooting percentage, a decent proxy for luck) of 102 through Dec. 31. Looking at 2020 alone, the Islanders ranked sixth-lowest with a 98.5 mark.

A higher-scoring team might have been able to weather slippage from Varlamov (.908 save percentage since Jan. 1) and Greiss (.901 during that span), but the Islanders struggled.

Surprises and disappointments for Islanders on offense

Modest offense from the Islanders shouldn’t rank among surprises, but the team not finding ways to inject more offense could be seen as one of their disappointments.

Considering how stringent the Islanders’ system is, Mathew Barzal leading the team with 60 points is understandable. It feels a bit wrong for a player that talented, but a lot is being asked of Barzal and a few others.

That said, the Islanders made things work — enough — thanks to nice scoring by committee.

Beyond some continued strong play from Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, the Islanders also made a smart, low-risk gamble on Derick Brassard. The oft-traded forward ranked eighth in team scoring with 32 points. That’s pretty nifty stuff from a $1.2 million investment.

The Islanders have to hope that they see solid growth in Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom like they did in Anthony Beauvillier this season.

Overall, I’d say that the pleasant surprises outweighed the disappointments for the Islanders in 2019-20. Of course, we’ll have to see if play resumes to learn what other twists and turns were coming.

MORE ON THE ISLANDERS:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Live Blog

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Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today. Read on for news and analysis.

4 p.m ET

That’s all for the live blog after an active Monday trade deadline. Be sure to check out the Trade Tracker for all of the moves that might still be pending as well as the Winners and Losers later on tonight.

3:30 p.m ET

Johnny Gaudreau caused a bit of a stir earlier when he left the ice early. That will cause plenty of speculation this time of year, but Johnny Hockey put all that trade to rest.

“I had to pee,” Gaudreau said via the Calgary Sun. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. Next time I will hold it in as long as I can, until practice is over.”

3:20 p.m ET

Not a Tyson Barrie deal but the Maple Leafs have announced they’ve extended Jake Muzzin for four years with a $5.625M cap hit. That amounts to $22.5M over the length of the contract.

Since coming over in a trade from LA last season Muzzin, who could have been a UFA this summer, has 38 points in 82 games with Toronto while averaging over 21 minutes a night.

3:17 p.m ET

Carolina has helped their blue line acquired Sami Vatanen from the Devils for a pick and a prospect, per Bob McKenzie, and also added Brady Skjei from the Rangers for a 2020 first-rounder. With injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, it was clear the Canes needed help on the blue line.

Vatanen, who can become a UFA in July, has missed the last 10 games with a leg injury, but he certainly bolsters the defense when healthy as a right-hand shot. He has 23 points in 47 games this season and has been averaging nearly 22 minutes a night. Skjei has four years left with a $5.25M cap hit. He has eight goals and 23 points in 60 games this season while averaging 20:41 of ice time.

Don Waddell is going for it in hopes of building off of last spring’s memorable run to the Eastern Conference Final.

PHT analysis

3:15 p.m ET

The rumored Zach PariseAndrew Ladd deal was not consummated today. According to Mike Russo, the Wild and Islanders began discussion the swap back in the summer, so maybe this is something that Lou Lamoriello and Bill Guerin will revisit around the draft or after free agency opens in July.

Here’s Lamoriello on how close a deal actually was: “I don’t know what the definition of ‘close’ is. But until something materializes, it’s not close.”

3:06 p.m ET

3:04 p.m ET

There’s a new goalie in Las Vegas and his name is Robin Lehner. The Golden Knights added Lehner in a deal with the Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban. Per Natural Stat Trick, Vegas owns the sixth-worst event strength save percentage (.901) and this is a good move to push Marc-Andre Fleury, who has not had his best season.

The trade is also a decision on Subban, who has been mediocre backing up Fleury this year. The way Lehner has played, would it be surprising if he ends up getting the bulk of the work down the stretch and potentially in the playoffs?

• PHT analysis

2:40 p.m ET

There are 20 minutes to go and still no movement on the likes of Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Mike Hoffman, or Robin Lehner.

Deals can be announced after the 3 p.m. ET deadline as long as teams process it beforehand. The queue at NHL Central Registry to get the trade through can get backed up this late in the game.

2:35 p.m ET

Conor Sheary is headed back to Pittsburgh as the Sabres sent him and Evan Rodrigues to the Penguins for Dominik Kahun. Sheary, began his NHL career with the Penguins and was part of their back-to-back Stanley Cup teams in 2016 and 2017. He also spent plenty of time alongside Sidney Crosby.

Rodrigues asked for a trade in December and now has his wish joining a Cup contender.

The Blackhawks dealt Kahun, a impending RFA, last summer for Olli Maatta and he put up 10 goals and 27 points in 50 games this season. He now joins the list of players Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has acquired and dealt again within a year. Alex Galchenyuk, Jamie Oleksiak, Erik Gudbranson, Tanner Pearson, Derick Brassard, Ryan Reaves, and Riley Sheahan, among others, are in that club.

• PHT analysis

2:19 p.m ET

The idea of Jumbo going back to Boston is slowly losing hope.

2:16 p.m ET

The Ovechkin’s have announced an acquisition of their own as Nastasiya Ovechkin reveals she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

2:15 p.m ET

Vegas doesn’t get its man in Erik Gustafsson as the defenseman goes from Chicago to the Flames for conditional picks. Calgary also adds depth to their blue line in picking up Derek Forbort from the Kings for a 2021 fourth-rounder.

• PHT analysis

1:54 p.m ET

It’s official: J.G. Pageau and the Islanders have worked out a six-year, $30M extension after this morning’s trade from Ottawa. He now joins captain Anders Lee as the only Islanders signed through the 2025-26 NHL season. Six years is one more than what the Senators were interested in doing, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.

Pageau also gets a full no-trade clause in the first two seasons and a partial no-trade for the final four years.

1:37 p.m. ET

Always double check those Twitter accounts, friends!

1:26 p.m. ET

Guess it was always in the cards…

1:21 p.m. ET

Andreas Athanasiou is on the move to the Oilers after the Red Wings sent the speedy forward to Edmonton for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and Sam Gagner. Prospect Ryan Kuffner is also part of the deal going to the Oilers. This could be a good change of scenery deal for the 25-year-old winger. After putting up 30 goals and 54 points last season, AA has struggled this year with only 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games on a struggling Detroit team.

Now imagine Athanasiou, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, on a line next to Connor McDavid. Talk about speed.

This is second deal between the Oilers and Red Wings since Sunday night following the Mike Green trade.

PHT analysis

1:05 p.m. ET

With Marleau on the move to Pittsburgh, where does that leave Joe Thornton? According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Jumbo is still considering his options with two hours to go. The 40-year-old is averaging 15:19 of ice time this season in 62 games where he has four goals and 27 points.

The Bruins and Penguins were among some of the rumored teams interested if Thornton was willing to green light a deal. Certainly a return to Boston would make for one of the bigger stories of the deadline, but it remains to be seen if Sharks GM Doug Wilson will even have the chance to make the move.

How about the Stars? Thornton’s old buddy Joe Pavelski joined in the summer, and former Sharks PR man Tom Holy is also employed by Dallas. Don’t rule out that connection.

12:57 p.m. ET

Bobby Ryan, who’s been dealing with an alcohol problem and was in the NHL/NHLPA assistance program since November, could be back for the Senators Monday night. It would be his first game since Nov. 16.

Ryan, by the way, is one of two Senators left from Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. The other is Craig Anderson.

12:36 p.m. ET

Hold on to your butts we may have a trade happening that no one saw coming. According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the Islanders and Wild are working on a deal that could see Zach Parise reunited with Lou Lamoriello and Andrew Ladd headed to The State of Hockey.

Parise’s dad, J.P., played parts of four seasons with the Islanders from 1975-1978.

Ladd, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, still has three years on a deal that will carry a $4M cap hit. Parise, meanwhile, is willing to waive his no-move clause to make the deal happen, per Mike Russo. His contract, as we famously know, has five years left and a $7,538,461 cap hit with it. What softens the blow somewhat is Parise’s salary declines from $9M this season to $8M next year to $6M, $2M, and then $1M in the final two years.

And if you’re wondering…

12:29 p.m. ET

The Hurricanes announced today that Petr Mrazek suffered a concussion after his collision with Kyle Clifford Saturday night. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the injured Mrazek, James Reimer and Brett Pesce, “Nobody is short term.” David Ayres is a little too busy at the moment, so where does this put GM Don Waddell? Certainly Robin Lehner is a name that could be heading to Raleigh before 3 p.m. ET today. The Blackhawks netminder can be a UFA this summer and sports a .920 even strength save percentage in 33 appearances this season.

12:17 p.m. ET

Some non-trade news today: The Red Wings claim Dmytro Timashov on waivers from the Maple Leafs and the Ducks add Andrew Agozzino from the Penguins after he was waived on Sunday. Losing Timashov now gives Toronto $10,578,961 in long-term injury relief, per Cap Friendly.

Also, Rocco Grimaldi has signed a two-year, $4 million extension with the Predators. The 27-year-old has 10 goals and 30 points in 58 games this season.

12:06 p.m. ET

Speculation abound that the Islanders are close to extending J.G. Pageau after acquiring the forward this morning. It was a big package and now it makes sense. In 60 games this season Pageau has 24 goals and 40 points. He’s also shooting a career high 17.8% so when does the regression monster come to bite?

11:54 a.m. ET

Here’s a fun one: Wayne Simmonds is heading to the Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick with New Jersey retaining 50% of his salary. Simmonds, who can be an UFA this summer, joins a Buffalo team sitting six points out of a playoff spot as of Monday. Interesting strategy by Jason Botterill. Is this move a precursor to flipping Simmonds elsewhere or a trial run to a potential extension before July 1?

PHT analysis

11:23 a.m. ET

A very newsworthy morning for the Rangers. President John Davidson said that they have extended Chris Kreider for seven years at a $6.5M cap hit, which is good news for Rangers fans and for their 2020 playoff push. JD also brought some bad news revealing that Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestrkin were involved in a Sunday night car accident. Buchnevich is considered day to day, but Shesterkin suffered a small rib fracture and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Henrik Lundqvist is now back in the New York goalie picture.

11:14 a.m. ET

It’s funny what deadlines can do. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, now it appears as if the Rangers will extend Chris Kreider, which would take one of the bigger names off the board.

11:05 a.m. ET

Patrick Marleau‘s quest for a Stanley Cup will continue in Pittsburgh after the Penguins acquired the veteran in exchange for a conditional third-round pick. (Pick becomes a second if Pittsburgh wins the Cup.) This move has real “Iginla to Pens, circa 2013” vibes to it. Does Marleau’s game fit into their system of speed and chipping and winning pucks? He’s certainly added depth on the wing and Mike Sullivan is hoping he can find a role for him in their bottom six.

“Although we have had a disappointing season in San Jose, he deserves every opportunity to have a chance at winning a Stanley Cup, and we’re happy to help accommodate that,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck.”

PHT analysis

10:50 a.m. ET

Nate Thompson moves from the Canadiens to Philadelphia, which gives Marc Bergevin an arsenal of picks when Montreal hosts the 2021 draft in June. Bergevin has stockpiled 13 picks in the upcoming draft, six of which will come in the opening three rounds.

10:16 a.m. ET

Another move, this one between two teams chasing playoff spots in the East. Vincent Trocheck is on his way to Carolina in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen. The Panthers have dropped nine of their last 13 games. This must be Dale Tallon’s idea of a wake-up call.

PHT analysis

10:00 a.m. ET

The NHL schedule features only the Senators and Blue Jackets so there will be heavy focus on whatever moves are consummated before the deadline. Some names still out there include Chris Kreider, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Erik Gustafsson, Jesper Fast, and Wayne Simmonds, among many others.

In Kreider’s case, there were questions as to whether he’d even be on the market. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported over the weekend that contract talks between the forward and the Rangers have stalled and he’ll likely be dealt. He’s been linked to the Bruins for a while now, but was adding Ondrej Kase their only move to bolster up front?

9:50 a.m. ET

We have our first trades of the day! Vladislav Namestnikov is headed to the Avalanche for a 2021 fourth-round pick. Joe Sakic adds depth for a team that has eyes on winning the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion goes and sends Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the Islanders for a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick. If the 2020 first-rounder is top three, it moves to 2021, and Ottawa will only receive the 2022 pick if the Islanders win the Cup this season.

For a team that is looking towards the future, this has been a good day so far for Dorion, who could also move Tyler Ennis before the deadline. The Senators own nine potential picks in the first three rounds of the 2002 NHL Draft and seven in the first four rounds in 2021. Those are a lot of assets to build a prospect cupboard and also use for trade bait.

PHT analysis

9:00 a.m. ET

Good morning! Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today.

Be sure to check out the PHT Trade Tracker today for every move made and we’ll have full coverage of all the big deals that go down today.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Islanders on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

With their win last night, the Flyers moved into the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are just one point behind the Islanders, who sit third in the Metro. The Islanders moved into third place in the Metro with their win over the division-leading Capitals last night. They are looking to make the playoffs for the second straight season under Barry Trotz after reaching the Second Round last year.

The Flyers have alternated missing and making the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons. Last season, Philadelphia finished 16 points outside the playoffs but have turned things around under new head coach Alain Vigneault, who led each of his previous two teams (Vancouver and New York Rangers) to the Stanley Cup Final.

After going 13 games without a goal, Flyers captain Claude Giroux has now scored in two straight games. With three points (1G-2A) in Saturday’s win against Washington, Giroux reached 800 points for his NHL career (now 801 points in 876 games). He is the 4th player in Flyers history to reach 800 points.

This is the first of a three-game road trip for the Flyers, facing the Islanders tonight before heading down to Florida to take on the Panthers and Lightning. The Flyers have recently improved their play on the road, winning two straight road games and taking points in each of their last five on the road (3-0-2).

This game will be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the Islanders continue to split their home games with Nassau Coliseum. Despite the complaints from both fans and players, the Islanders have been excellent at the Barclays Center recently. They’ve not lost in regulation in Brooklyn this season (6-0-3).

The Islanders have continued to rotate Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov in net. With Greiss earning the win last night against Washington, it looks to be Varlamov’s turn tonight. While the two have had almost identical numbers this season, Varlamov has struggled as of late, losing seven of his last nine starts (2-6-1).

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders
WHERE: Barclays Center
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Islanders-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Claude Giroux – Sean CouturierJakub Voracek
Joel FarabeeKevin HayesTravis Konecny
James van RiemsdykScott LaughtonTyler Pitlick
Michael RafflConnor BunnamanNicolas Aube-Kubel

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen
Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers
Robert HaggJustin Braun

Starting goalie: Brian Elliott

ISLANDERS
Anders LeeMathew BarzalJordan Eberle
Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey
Kiefer Bellows – Derick BrassardMichael Dal Colle
Matt MartinCasey CizikasLeo Komarov

Devon ToewsRyan Pulock
Nick LeddyJohnny Boychuk
Noah DobsonScott Mayfield

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

Brendan Burke and Brian Boucher will call the action at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Kathryn Tappen will anchor studio coverage alongside analysts Patrick Sharp and Ben Lovejoy.

NHL Fantasy Hockey: Stephenson, Fiala lead this week’s top adds

Welcome to our weekly Adds/Drops column, where I focus on highlighting players you should consider grabbing or be concerned about in fantasy leagues. As always, the goal here isn’t to recommend 10 players you must add and five players that need to be dropped. Context is everything and the context of each league is different. What this is instead is a guideline so that if you’re looking to make a change, you have potential players to target and if you see players I’ve suggested to drop, you can evaluate your potential alternates.

Players Worth Adding

Jimmy Vesey, Sabres – LW/RW: Vesey has just eight goals and 18 points in 52 games this season, but he might end up having a strong end to the campaign. Through Jan. 30 he averaged a mere 13:38 minutes, but that’s skyrocketed to 19:37 minutes per contest over his last five games. He’s been put on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart and the trio has done well with Vesey scoring two goals and four points in his last three contests. If that line stays intact, then it should continue to mean great things for Vesey.

Derick Brassard, Islanders – C/LW/RW: Brassard has been a hot-and-cold player this season who has unfortunately spent a bit more time on the cold side of the spectrum. Right now though, he’s doing well with two goals and four points in his last three games. He’d need to get a bigger role with the Islanders for him to be worth holding onto for the rest of the season and that seems unlikely for him to get at this time. So if you do decide to pick him up, you’ll need to be willing to drop him at the first sign of trouble.

Chandler Stephenson, Golden Knights – C/LW/RW: Stephenson started the season with Washington and had just three goals and four points in 24 contests, but he was also averaging only 11:50 minutes. On Dec. 2, the Capitals dealt Stephenson to Vegas in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick and the Golden Knights had bigger plans for him. He’s averaged 15:58 minutes since joining Vegas and he’s rewarded them for that expanded role by scoring eight goals and 17 points in 28 contests. Along with his eligibility in every offensive position, he’s a decent pick up, especially right now that he’s hot with two goals and five points in his last five games.

Anthony Cirelli, Lightning – C: I mentioned Cirelli last week too, but he’s still only owned in 32% of Yahoo leagues, so if you wanted to pick him up now while he’s still hot, you can do so. He has five goals and 12 points over his last 10 games and has only been held off the scoresheet twice over that stretch. It helps that the Lightning will play on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Monday Feb. 17, so if you pick him up now, you’ll get a lot of use out of him in short order.

Ondrej Palat, Lightning – LW: And given how active the Lightning will be in the coming week, you might want to consider Palat as well. Like Cirelli, Palat has been very effective lately with two goals and 10 points in his last nine games. Palat’s left wing eligibility will also make him more appealing than Cirelli to certain fantasy owners. If you’re hurting for hits, Palat is worth considering in that regard too given that he has 111. He is owned already in 47% of leagues though, so there will be some of you who have the option to take Cirelli, but not Palat.

Kevin Fiala, Wild  – LW/RW: Fiala is on a four-game point streak and three of those contests have been multi-point contests for him. He was doing fairly well even before this point streak though. Fiala’s only significant cold spell came at the beginning of the season when he was limited to an assist in his first eight games. Since then he has 13 goals and 34 points in 42 contests while never enduring a point drought longer than back-to-back games. So while the hot streak makes it an easier decision to grab him now, there’s value in holding onto him even beyond that.

Jakob Chychrun, Coyotes – D: Chychrun is only owned in 24% of Yahoo leagues, but he’s a decent fallback option for owners who are hurting defensively either due to blueliners who have disappointed or are injured. His 11 goals and 22 points in 57 contests are nothing great, but those are decent numbers and it helps that he’s also accumulated 131 shots. Right now he’s also on a little bit of a hot streak with a point in each of his last three games. He’s no one’s ideal fantasy option, but in a pinch, he’s worth keeping in mind.

Damon Severson, Devils – D: Severson had three goals and seven points in his first 33 games this season, but since then he’s started to contribute at a solid pace offensively. From Dec. 20 onward, he has four goals and 15 points in 21 games. The Devils don’t exactly have a lot of bright spots right now, but he’s one of them.

Colton Parayko, Blues – D: Parayko is a big part of the Blues’ defense, but not a major offensive contributor. He has six goals and 18 points in 49 games and endured a terrible offensive drought from Nov. 30-Feb. 1 where he was limited to just an assist in 19 contests. He’s bounced back recently though with five goals and six points in his last three games. I have doubts about him as a long-term pickup, but it might be worth grabbing him for now in the hopes that the hot streak will last a little bit longer.

Jake Gardiner, Hurricanes – D: Gardiner has been effective recently with five assists in his last four games. He also might end up being of some use for the rest of the season if you decide to pick him up and then hold onto him beyond just this hot streak. He was averaging 16:14 minutes before Dougie Hamilton suffered a broken left fibula and that’s jumped to 19:50 minutes since the injury. That increased role gives him the potential to be a significant contributor going forward, especially given his past offensive success when he was getting big minutes in Toronto.

Players You May Want To Drop

Rasmus Sandin, Maple Leafs – D: Sandin is an exciting defenseman, but for now he’s a pretty big gamble. He has a goal and seven points in 16 contests, which is pretty good, but he has just one assist in his last six games. More importantly, he’s averaging 13:40 minutes, which is a very small role for a defenseman to have. The 19-year-old has value in keeper leagues, but if you’re in a single season league you might want to consider other options.

Esa Lindell, Stars – D: Lindell had a goal and nine points in seven contests from Dec. 29-Jan. 14, but that hot streak is well in the rear view mirror at this point. He has just two assists in his last nine games and no points in his last four contests. He’s still worth keeping an eye on even if you do drop him given that he’s a decent defenseman who might be worth reacquiring at a later time.

Antti Raanta, Coyotes – G: Darcy Kuemper will be a game-time decision on Monday, but even if he doesn’t play, it’s pretty clear that his return is imminent. That means Antti Raanta’s time as the de facto starter is at an end. On top of that, Raanta is having injury problems of his own. He was a last minute scratch on Saturday due to a lower-body issue. Lower-body injuries have plagued Raanta this season, which makes his latest setback of particular concern.

Valeri Nichushkin, Avalanche – LW/RW: Nichushkin’s success this season has come in short spurts. His latest hot streak lasted just three games from Feb. 1-6 with him scoring two goals and five points over that span. If you picked him up hoping that his streak would continue, unfortunately that’s not likely to be the case. He’s been held off the scoresheet in each of his last two games.

Devan Dubnyk, Wild – G: This has easily been Dubnyk’s worst season since he joined the Wild. He has a 10-14-2 record, 3.33 GAA, and .893 save percentage in 27 games. He’s showing no signs of bouncing back either. He’s allowed at least three goals in seven of his last 10 games.

If you’re looking for fantasy hockey information, Rotoworld is a great resource. You can check the player news for the latest information on any player and insight into their fantasy outlook.

Every week Michael Finewax looks ahead at the schedule and offers team-by-team notes in The Week Ahead. I have a weekly Fantasy Nuggets column where I basically talk about whatever’s captured my attention that week. Gus Katsaros does an Analytics columns if you want to get into detailed statistical analysis. If you’re interested in rookies and prospects, there’s a weekly column on that written by McKeen’s Hockey.