Fantasy Hockey: NHL Risers and Fallers Heading Into Week 7

If you haven’t gotten the chance to check out last week’s NHL fantasy risers and fallers, first of all, what are you waiting for, and second of all, here’s a reminder of how I compile the list. To qualify for my risers list, a player cannot be owned in 100% of standard fantasy leagues. To be on the fallers list, a player needs to be on the verge of being dropped off of a fantasy roster entirely. Ok good, I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now here are this week’s risers and fallers.

Clarke MacArthur battles for the puck -- Getty Images

Forwards:

Risers -

Clarke MacArthur, Ott F – MacArthur has 3 goals and 4 assists over his past 6 games. He also has an extremely good +7 rating, 8 penalty minutes, 2 power play points, and 19:59 minutes of average time on ice during that stretch. There are no negatives in his stat line as of late. He even has 37 shots on goal on the season. MacArthur is lighting up the stat line in every single statistical category. Players like that don’t remain on waivers for very long. MacArthur is a second line left winger, but for how long, as he is clearly out-performing Milan Michalek. Although with this kind of recent production, perhaps it is best he stays where he’s at.

Dustin Penner, Ana F – Penner is a top-line guy. He plays left wing for the Ducks first line and top power play unit which could explain why he is putting up numbers, especially with former 50-goal scorer and Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry playing on his right wing. Penner has doubled his point production over the last 6 games scoring 1 goal and 7 assists. He has a +18 rating on the season, which is tops in the league. The only downside is that he is only getting 15:53 minutes of average time on ice, but that is something you should be able to live with given his production elsewhere.

David Legwand, Nsh F – Legwand centers the Preds second line and top power play unit. He has 3 goals and 4 assists over the last 5 games to go along with 2 power play points and a +1 rating. Legwand is getting plenty of ice time too. He has 18:17 minutes of average time on ice over that same 5 game stretch. Pretty good for a second liner. We’ll see if Legwand can keep up this production, but for now, he is certainly worth a pick-up.

Fallers -

Michael Grabner, NYI F – Grabner has, count ‘em, 0 goals and 0 assists over the past 9 games with a -4 rating. He is only getting 14:05 minutes of average time on ice over the past 7 games, so he really isn’t getting much of an opportunity to end his scoring drought. Add to the fact that once Thomas Vanek returns from injury, Grabner might be reduced to third line duties, and it is not looking up for Grabner and his fantasy owners.

Steve Ott, Buf F – The primary reason for owning Ott over the years has been his ability to rack up penalty minutes while still putting up solid numbers. Right now, Ott is doing neither. Ott has only 2 penalty minutes over the last 5 game while rocking a soul-crushing -7 rating during that span. He has only scored 2 goals and 2 assists in 19 games this season. The Sabres are in full rebuild mode at the moment, which doesn’t bode well for Ott, or any other Sabres for that matter.

Sam Gagner, Edm F – Gagner has only played 6 games this season, so if you drafted him and stashed him on your bench, this is going to be hard to hear, but Gagner’s performance, or lack there of, is not due to rust. No, it is due to a condition known as playing for the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have the second to worst goal differential in the league behind only the Sabres. In fact, the Oilers are so desperate that they just went out and signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, so yeah, it’s not going so hot in Edmonton. Gagner has but 1 assist on the season with a -9 rating. While his point totals per game are sure to increase, it won’t be enough to offset what is sure to be a horrid +/- rating.

Defensemen:

Risers -

Jan Hejda, Col D – Hejda has a +16 rating on the season which is in the top 3 in the league. He is on the Avs top defensive pairing along with Erik Johnson, who was one of last week’s risers, and seems to be outperforming Johnson as of late. He has a goal and 3 assists over the past 6 games and leads the team with 22:39 minutes of average time on ice, almost two minutes more than Johnson.

Dougie Hamilton, Bos D – Hamilton is starting to round into form. He is paired with Zdeno Chara on Boston’s top defensive unit and is on the second power play unit. Hamilton has a goal and 2 assists in his last 6 contests with 20:07 minutes of average time on ice. Hamilton boasts an impressive 18 shots on goal over that same time frame. Three shots on goal per game is good for any player, yet alone a defenseman. He’s also registered a power play point for good measure. Hamilton is on a roll and should continue to get better and better as the season progresses.

Fallers -

Christian Ehrhoff, Buf D – Buffalo Sabres. Need I say more? There are not many Sabres worth owning at all at this point. Ehrhoff has a -4 rating over the past 5 games. Sad thing is that is actually pretty impressive for a Sabres defender. The thing with Ehrhoff is it is going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does get better. Ehrhoff has yet to score this season and has only 2 assists in the last 10 games. I can almost guarantee you that there are better options for you out there on your league’s waiver wire. Ehrhoff is, however, garnering 24:10 minutes of average time on ice, so there’s that.

Justin Faulk, Car D – Faulk has 0 goals and just 1 assist in his last 6 games while registering only one lone shot on goal. Faulk also has a paltry -7 rating over those 6 games. You can blame it on goalie Cam Ward being hurt and having to play in front of Justin Peters until you discover that Peters actually has better numbers than Ward after starting the same number of games. No, perhaps the Canes just aren’t that good. Take into account the increase in ice time that first year defenseman Ryan Murphy has been receiving lately, and you may see Faulk’s numbers go down even farther, if that’s even possible.

Goalies:

Risers -

Robin Lehner, Ott G – Lehner has done a more than adequate job filling in for the injured Craig Anderson. In fact, he has done an outstanding job. Lehner has won 3 straight games. Compare that to Anderson’s 4 wins in 11 starts and you have the makings of a goaltending controversy. Anderson certainly has the pedigree. Heck, he would’ve been a Vezina finalist last season had he not missed a substantial amount of time due to injury, but Lehner’s performance has at the very least earned him a more even timeshare with Anderson. It is too early to know for sure who Ottawa will lean on in goal going forward, but you can’t ignore the numbers, and the numbers say Lehner’s 2.13 GAA and .945 save percentage is better than Anderson’s 3.14 GAA and .912 save percentage.

Fallers -

Niklas Backstrom, Min G – This is not so much a reflection on Backstrom as it is an endorsement for Josh Harding. All Harding has done since Backstrom went down with his injury is lead the league in GAA (1.22) and save percentage (.947) among goalies with at least 6 starts. They say you can’t lose your job to injury and Backstrom has been the No. 1 guy in Minnesota for years, but come on. You’ve got to ride the guy that’s hot and no one’s been hotter than Harding. The Minnesota coaches know this, and they will be riding Harding the rest of the year. This means Backstrom and his 3.42 GAA and .871 save percentage will be riding the pine. I expect Backstrom to only see the ice when Minnesota plays a back-to-back, which is not nearly enough starts to warrant a spot on anyone’s fantasy roster.

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