Fantasy Hockey Values: A look at risers and fallers, including John Tavares

By Jan Levine, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

In this space, we'll look at which NHL players are seeing their fantasy hockey values rise or fall on a week-to-week basis.

This week's article includes a return to the 70s with a Pinto in demand, the Nuge on a roll, a winger rolling in LA and another winger slumping in the Sunshine State.

First Liners (Risers)

Shane Pinto, C, OTT

Pinto, a second-round pick in 2019, closed out the 2020-21 season strong with seven points in a dozen games but played in just five games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last year. He opened this year as the third-line center, notching goals in five straight contests before being shut out on Oct. 27. Pinto got right back on the scoresheet this past Saturday, lighting the lamp again. With Josh Norris (shoulder) possibly lost for the year, look for Pinto to eventually be the second-line pivot.

John Tavares, C, TOR

Tavares is at the top of the list of those to blame for the Maple Leafs' recent playoff flameouts according to the Toronto faithful. Entering the 2022-23 season, most pegged JT for a drop in production despite him averaging close to a point per game his first four seasons in the blue and white. Tavares so far is showing that rumors of his fantasy demise were unfounded, as he was on a four-game, five-point scoring streak heading into the week and has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in as many games to lead the team.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, RW, EDM

Nugent-Hopkins had a solid enough season with 50 points in 63 games last year, but he only lit the lamp 11 times. Entrenched on the first-line power play and on the top line next to Connor McDavid (unless Leon Draisaitl is moved up), RNH was a candidate to rebound goal-wise as his 7.1 shooting percentage last year was markedly low. So far this year, Nugent-Hopkins is proving that thought process to be accurate, as he has five goals in nine games — including the 200th of his career — to go along with six apples.

Gabriel Vilardi, RW, LA

Vilardi, drafted as a center, has seamlessly moved to right wing in LA, easing some of the logjam at pivot for the Kings. He struggled to find a foothold during his first few seasons in the league, but that hasn't been the case this season. Vilardi's goal Monday was his eighth of the season to go along with five assists. His hot start has resulted in Vilardi moving up to the top line — at least periodically — alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. One caveat is that Vilardi is shooting at a better-than-25-percent clip, so look for his goal output to drop slightly, though his helper total could rise.

Brandon Montour, D, FLA

Montour is doing his best to make up for the absence of Aaron Ekblad on the Panthers' back line. After missing two games with an injury, Montour has points in four of his last five contests, tallying two goals and five assists in that span. Montour compiled a career-best 37 points in 81 games last season, his first full year in Florida. With all the firepower in the Panthers' lineup, Montour will still retain solid fantasy value even after Ekblad returns in mid-November.

Rasmus Dahlin D, BUF

Dahlin opened the season with goals in each of his first five games, setting an NHL mark. While he failed to light the lamp in the next three contests, Dahlin added a goal and an assist Monday to give him six goals and as many helpers on the year. Dahlin rebounded after a so-so 2020-21 campaign to post career highs in goals (13), assists (40) and points (53) last season. The next key for Dahlin is to improve in his own end, an area where he has made gains this season.

Sabres D Rasmus Dahlin got off to a strong start for fantasy hockey managers.
Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin got off to a strong start for fantasy hockey managers this season. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

Adin Hill, G, LV

Yes, you are reading correctly — Hill is included as a riser. Logan Thompson is the clear No. 1 goalie in the desert, but Hill has been very good when between the pipes. Hill has allowed exactly two goals in each of his three starts and has walked away with wins in all three. He posted subpar numbers while playing for the Coyotes and Sharks, but with a potent team and solid defense in front of him, Hill could get 15-20 wins while seeing close to 30 starts for Las Vegas.

Linus Ullmark, G, BOS

Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million deal with Boston in the summer of 2021 after spending the first six years of his career in Buffalo. He posted a 26-10-2 record, 2.45 goals-against average (GAA) and .917 save percentage last season but lost his hold on the starting role to Jeremy Swayman. Entering this season, the prevailing view was that Swayman would see most of the starts. That hasn't been the case, as Ullmark is 6-0-0, has given up one goal or fewer in three of his last four starts and carries a dazzling 1.70 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Others include Brock Nelson, Mark Scheifele, Tage Thompson, Nicolas Roy, Matt Duchene, Zach Hyman, Evan Rodrigues, Brandon Hagel, Rickard Rakell, Martin Necas, Erik Karlsson, Tony DeAngelo, David Jiricek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Logan Thompson, Vitek Vanecek and Stuart Skinner.

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Alexander Wennberg, C, SEA

Wennberg is probably producing what those who have him rostered — hopefully only in deeper leagues — expected. But with his ice time, including on the man-advantage, he should be producing more than he has to date. Wennberg had 37 points last season and his assist Saturday — his first point in five games — gives him a goal and three helpers in 10 contests. He averages over 19 minutes of ice time, including nearly three minutes on the power play, both of which are up from last year, yet the production hasn't been there.

Sam Reinhart, RW, FLA

Reinhart had a career year in his first season with the Panthers last year, finishing with 33 goals and 82 points in 78 games. This season, it's been a completely different result, as Reinhart hasn't scored a goal in Florida's first nine games. Based on his talent and the team surrounding him, you would expect a return to the mean — at a minimum — or at least a number other than zero in the goal column. Reinhart is a buy-low candidate, but until you see him light the lamp, he's a player who belongs on your bench.

John Gibson, G, ANA

Gibson has been brutal to start his 2022-23 campaign. After winning in his first game of the year, the veteran netminder went 0-5-1 over his next six starts, giving up at least four goals in four of them. Gibson notched the win Sunday, surrendering three goals on 36 shots, which left him with a 4.23 GAA and .888 save percentage on the season. He signed an eight-year, $51.2 million contract extension with the Ducks in August 2018 but has really tailed off since inking that deal. Anaheim looked to have the team around him this offseason, but that hasn't shown in the standings. Gibson likely would benefit from a change of scenery, but that probably isn't happening.

Others include Elias Lindholm, Ryan O'Reilly, Ryan Strome, Sam Bennett, Teuvo Teravainen, Jacob Trouba, Kris Letang, Jordan Binnington and Jack Campbell.