Fantasy Hockey Values: Pair of Avalanche on the rise thanks to extra ice time
By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's fantasy hockey risers and fallers includes Colorado's second-line center, a Flame on fire, a pair of young wingers heating up, the Bob rolling and Hertl the Turtle in a slump.
First Liners (Risers)
J.T. Compher, C, COL
Compher has seamlessly stepped in as Colorado's second-line center. After tallying between 31 and 33 points three of the last four seasons, Compher has exploded with a career-best 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) this year, benefitting from his line placement, coupled with four extra minutes of ice time per game. Compher had multiple points in three outings this past week, picking up two goals and six assists with a plus-7 rating in that span. The 27-year-old has recently been partnered with Mikko Rantanen on the second line, resulting in his uptick in performance.
Mikael Backlund, C, CGY
Backlund continues to somewhat quietly put up points for the Flames. His goal and assist Thursday brought his point streak to five and his lamp-lighting run to four consecutive games. Despite getting shut out Saturday, Backlund is up to 14 goals and 27 assists in 60 games, giving him an outside shot at topping the career-high 53 points he notched in 2016-17. Drafted in the first round in 2007, Backlund should top 900 games this season, and, if healthy, inch closer to 1,000 contests next season as the six-year, $32.1 million contract extension he signed with the Flames in February of 2018 expires.
T.J. Oshie, LW, WAS
Oshie continued his recent stretch of hot play, notching a goal and an assist Sunday. We won't discuss the boarding penalty that injured Ryan Lindgren and should have resulted in a major penalty or game misconduct Saturday. Oshie has come alive since the All-Star break, racking up five goals and nine points over the last seven games, but the 36-year-old winger has just 15 goals and 26 points through 45 contests overall. His production this year is close to matching the 25 points he tallied in 44 games last season, the third straight year his output fell.
Dawson Mercer, RW, NJ
Mercer extended his goal-scoring streak to six by lighting the lamp against the Flyers on Saturday. During this span, Mercer has eight markers and two helpers, upping his season totals to 19 and 20, respectively. The 39 points leave Mercer three shy of the 42 he posted last year as a rookie. Taken 18th overall in 2020. Mercer is skating on the top line and on the second power-play unit in New Jersey. The future is exceedingly bright for the 21-year-old forward.
Philip Tomasino, RW, NAS
After being taken in the first round, 24th overall, Tomasino had a solid rookie season, posting 11 goals and 21 assists in 76 games. This season, Tomasino pretty much spent the four months of the NHL campaign down at the AHL Milwaukee, where he compiled 12 goals and 32 points in 38 games. Promoted on February 13, Tomasino didn't hit the scoresheet his first two games up, but he seems to have found his groove. Tomasino is seeing first-line right-wing duty with Filip Forsberg (upper body) sidelined, notching five points his last five games, and should stick with Ryan Johansen (leg) out eight weeks.
Bowen Byram, D, COL
Colorado fans have been waiting for Byram to blossom ever since he was drafted fourth overall in 2019. We all received a glimpse after he returned from injury late last season, ultimately finishing with 17 points. Byram then served as a key top-four defender in Colorado's run to the Stanley Cup. Injuries have limited him to 19 games this year, but he scored three times and added an assist over his last five games, tallying eight points in 10 contests since returning from a lower-body injury. Byram has thrived with the extra ice time he has received with Cale Makar (concussion) sidelined.
Noah Dobson, D, NYI
Dobson took a big step forward last season, taking over as the Islanders' top fantasy-producing defenseman. He tallied 13 goals and 38 assists last season and has followed that up with a solid campaign this year. Six of Dobson's nine points through 10 games in February have come on the power play, giving the 23-year-old blueliner 12 markers and 24 helpers in 59 contests. The three-year, $12 million bridge contract Dobson signed with the Islanders last August will likely end up as a major bargain.
Sergei Bobrovsky G, FLA
Bobrovsky has seen heavy duty between the pipes for the Panthers since returning from injury at the beginning of February. Part of that has been due to Spencer Knight landing in the AHL, and now with Knight in in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, the Bob will be backed by Alex Lyon. Through eight starts in February, Bobrovsky is 5-3-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, with both numbers far exceeding his production prior to the start of this past month.
Others include Evgeny Kuznetsov, Casey Mittelstadt, Brayden Point, Nick Suzuki, Mikael Granlund, Andrei Kuzmenko, Kirill Marchenko (Mr. Cy Young), Seth Jarvis, Mike Hoffman, Matt Martin, Tyson Barrie, Roman Josi, Kris Letang, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Stuart Skinner, Ilya Sorokin, Ilya Samsonov and Ville Husso.
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Tyler Johnson, C, CHI
Johnson, due to the injury to Jonathan Toews and now the trade of Patrick Kane, is receiving the opportunity to see top-six minutes. He's yet to take full advantage of those increased minutes, posting two goals and three assists his last eight games. Johnson, who has one more year left on the seven-year, $35 million contract he signed to stay with Tampa in July 2017, is likely to remain in Chicago after the trade deadline. If Max Domi also is dealt, Johnson should get another boost, but what he does with it remains to be seen.
Tomas Hertl, LW, SJ
San Jose is playing out the string and Timo Meier is now finally elsewhere, as has been long rumored. If Erik Karlsson also goes, that will leave Hertl as the main offensive threat for the Sharks. Hertl has hit a bit of a rough patch lately, posting just one assist his last five games. Overall, Hertl has 15 goals and 33 helpers and 57 contests, but his future road to score has certainly gotten tougher now that Meier has taken his wares and skills to New Jersey.
Dante Fabbro, D, NAS
Fabbro's streak of futility continued Saturday, as he failed to dent the scoresheet for the 14th straight contest. With a career-high 24 points last season, the 24-year-old Fabbro appeared to be emerging as an offensive force on the Preds' blue line. However, with the addition of Ryan McDonagh over the offseason, Fabbro is now skating on the third pairing, averaging less ice time compared to last year (16:03 vs. 19:03). The combination of those two factors has resulted in Fabbro posting just one goal and seven assists in 53 games.
Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR
Shesterkin has hit the skids lately. He had surrendered at least four goals in four straight starts and hadn't allowed fewer than three in seven straight contests before stopping 26 of 28 shots to earn the win Sunday. That rough patch has left him with a lackluster 2.65 goals-against average and .910 save percentage on the season. After entering the All-Star break on a roll, and playing in the game itself, Shesterkin has been unable to regain his prior form. With New York scuffling a bit as well, having lost four straight prior to Sunday, it's possible that Jaroslav Halak sees additional starts in the short term.