Fantasy 31: Players rising and falling for each NHL team

Robin Lehner should be the go-to goalie in Buffalo for a while following a shutout of Detroit this week. Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

With nearly a month of games played and the nine-game tryout period up, fantasy players have a bigger sample size and clearer picture of rosters to analyze. Here is a look at the players rising and falling in fantasy value for each of the 31 teams.

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks are healing. Instantly benefitting from having both Ryan Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm back in the lineup, Anaheim beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 on Tuesday. Rickard Rakell scored his first goal in four games, shifted to the left side of Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a spot that should result in greater production from the 24-year-old forward. In fantasy-relevant blue-line news, Lindholm registered a power-play assist in nearly 20 minutes of ice time while skating on the club's secondary unit. Young Brandon Montour (rostered in only 18 percent of ESPN.com leagues) anchored the top group and should endure in that role, at least until Sami Vatanen's shoulder is game ready.

Arizona Coyotes: Beyond the top forward line of Max Domi, Derek Stepan and rookie Clayton Keller, the Coyotes have failed to offer fantasy owners much to favorably chew on this season. That might change in the Big Apple on Thursday night -- although that is an incredibly slight "might." Former New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta is considered a questionable long shot to start versus his former team. While the Arizona squad has yet to win a game, it's always captivating when a netminder faces his old club and food for thought for daily fantasy enthusiasts who are compelled to play far outside of the box. But again, Raanta's availability is far from a slam dunk.

Boston Bruins: Two key notes ahead of the Bruins' tilt with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday:

Buffalo Sabres: Goalie Chad Johnson should find himself relatively idle in the next little while. After Robin Lehner earned his first shutout of the season against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, Johnson allowed five goals in Wednesday's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Accordingly, Lehner will be coach Phil Housley's go-to netminder this coming weekend and beyond. Mind you, we're not keen on enlisting either goalie for the 3-6-2 Sabres at present, not unless Lehner quickly proves Tuesday's performance wasn't a one-off.

Calgary Flames: Sidelined by what's believed to be a groin injury, Jaromir Jagr may not miss more than a week of action, all told. Placed on IR retroactively to Saturday, the 45-year-old is eligible to compete this coming Sunday versus the visiting Washington Capitals. "[Monday] I met with the (medical) guys and Jags and it's coming along real good," said Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan earlier this week. "We think it'll probably be about a week and he'll be back. It's not something we can see so it's obviously something soft-tissue." In the meanwhile, Micheal Ferland remains pegged to skate on the right side of top-liners Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.

Carolina Hurricanes: It's worth noting that defenseman Noah Hanifin logged more than 21 minutes of ice time in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Leading the Hurricanes' blueliners with four points in seven games, the 20-year-old third-year player is also serving on the club's secondary power play. Rostered in only 26 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Hanifin could be useful in both keeper and deeper redraft leagues.

Chicago Blackhawks: Following Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, a shuffling of the Blackhawks' forward lines might be in order. Coach Joel Quenneville hinted as much, anyway. If so, either rookie Alex DeBrincat or John Hayden could benefit from joining a top-six scoring line ahead of Friday's match with the Nashville Predators. Keep an eye on how it plays out.

Colorado Avalanche: There's no need to sweat Nathan MacKinnon's lack of production to start this season, especially since the 22-year-old himself doesn't seem much bothered. "I think it's going to come," MacKinnon said confidently, to the Denver Post. "I feel like my play has been solid. I've created a lot of chances for myself and others. It'll come, I trust my game. I've done a lot of good things out there, but obviously there's room for improvement. If I'm playing well, and talk to the staff and people around me, they're honest with me and I'm honest with myself, it'll come." This doesn't strike as the musings of a player bogged down mentally. Skating on a line with Mikko Rantanen and (presently) Sven Andrighetto, the goals will come for MacKinnon. Just don't count on too pretty a plus-minus in Colorado.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Recent mutterings out of Columbus hint at a potential interest in trading for disgruntled Avalanche center Matt Duchene. As in, GM Jarmo Kekalainen has not said, "We aren't the least bit interested in making such a move." So while such a transaction can't be ruled out altogether, Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg remain entrenched as the Blue Jackets' top-six centers for now.

Dallas Stars: Following this week's earlier drama, all's well enough between the Stars' head coach and his No. 1 netminder. While still less-than-thrilled at having been pulled in Tuesday's eventual 5-3 loss to the Avalanche, Ben Bishop has expressed his unqualified respect for Dallas' bench boss. As for Ken Hitchcock, he's made it clear the move was intended as a collective kick-in-the-pants and was not personal. "It has nothing to do with Ben Bishop, it has to do with: 'Wake up, let's get playing.' Which is exactly what we did," Hitchcock said Tuesday. "It has nothing to do with Ben, and I'll do the same thing with any other goaltender. If I think it's going to help the team and change their mind-set, I'll have to do whatever it takes." Starting eight of nine contests, Bishop has been solid for his new club this season, collecting five wins, a 2.38 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Look for the 30-year-old to reclaim his spots between the pipes versus the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Detroit Red Wings: Off to a rip-roarin' start with 11 points in 10 games, Mike Green may very well finish 2017-18 with a team other than the Red Wings. An unrestricted free agent following this season, the offensive-defenseman is already evolving into a desired commodity ahead of the trade deadline -- presuming Detroit is selling, and not buying, this winter. While this is far from a pressing issue, a different, more supporting role with a contending team could negatively influence Green's fantasy value down the road. For now, the motivated 21-year-old is reaping the rewards of sitting atop the Wings' blue-line hierarchy.

Edmonton Oilers: Seven games into his NHL career, Kailer Yamamoto is three more away from burning the first year of his entry-level deal and more-or-less securing a full-time gig with the Oilers. While the decision isn't Todd McLellan's alone, Edmonton's head coach is clearly impressed with the diminutive 19-year-old, to the point of skating him on a top line with Connor McDavid. "For a young player he's playing big minutes against some really good players right now," McLellan said. "He's been tested and he's passing the test." It's hard to foresee the young lad going anywhere amidst that kind of talk. Mind you, with Leon Draisaitl back in the lineup, Yamamoto might not be long for the plum gig alongside the most gifted forward in the game, which would undoubtedly diminish the teen's potential in re-draft leagues.

Florida Panthers: We'll get a better sense shortly of the severity of Roberto Luongo's hand injury, but the initial feeling from coach Bob Boughner isn't terribly cheery. Major roster moves aside, goalie James Reimer takes over as top guy for the duration of Luongo's absence. Recent Pittsburgh Penguins export Antti Niemi is in place to serve as backup. Tuesday's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens aside, Reimer has been solid enough for the Panthers to date and qualifies as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy netminder in most deeper leagues.

Los Angeles Kings: The hat trick was certainly impressive. Following up that eruption with another two goals and an assist in three games has only added to his fantasy charm. But we're most captivated by Adrian Kempe as Jeff Carter's replacement on a Kings' scoring line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Rostered in only 11 percent of ESPN.com leagues, the 21-year-old 2014 first-rounder should be exploited across the board, at least while riding hot as a top-six center.

Montreal Canadiens: If not forevermore, the London Knights will likely have to manage without defenseman Victor Mete in the immediate future. Ahead of Mete's contract year-burning 10th game, Marc Bergevin suggested that as long as the 19-year-old continues to play as he has, he isn't going anywhere. Considering Mete has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game as top-pair partner to Shea Weber, this sentiment from the Habs' GM is hardly startling. While the young blueliner doesn't boast great fantasy value at present, he has offensive upside as a long-term keeper-league asset.

Minnesota Wild: It might be worthwhile to start paying serious attention to rookie forward Luke Kunin. After impressing coach Bruce Boudreau in what was otherwise a lackadaisical team effort in Tuesday's dismal 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the 19-year-old 2016 first-round draft selection has seemingly won the opportunity to compete on a scoring line with Tyler Ennis and Eric Staal. Goodness knows how long this opportunity lasts, particularly with the pending return of Nino Niederreiter (high ankle sprain), but Kunin merits consideration in keeper leagues at minimum.

Nashville Predators: Before jumping on the Colton Sissons bandwagon, know that the young substitute center (in for an injured Nick Bonino) is playing on a line with "two wingers with no finish." That's a concerning take since it's from a reporter who covers the Predators for The Tennessean. While 21-year-old Kevin Fiala still has plenty of plenty potential, and Craig Smith has enjoyed his productive moments at times, there's something to be said for taking a wait-and-see approach to how this forward unit eventually develops.

New Jersey Devils: With the team's ninth and 10th games of the season scheduled over the weekend, both rookie forwards Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt are expected to stick beyond that fundamental audition period. Centering a No. 1 scoring line alongside Taylor Hall, Hischier already has two goals and five assists to show for his young career, while Bratt is now pegged to fill in for Kyle Palmieri as a top-six skater with center Adam Henrique. Palmieri hasn't even started to skate yet after suffering a lower-body injury last weekend, so the latter could be in for a particularly productive stretch.

New York Islanders: In a move surprising to some, rookie Josh Ho-Sang has been sent down to the minors. While invested owners in keeper leagues might benefit in the long run from holding on to the talented 21-year-old, re-draft competitors can't be faulted with cutting ties for now. The relationship between Ho-Sang and his current club feels unstable at best, and it's difficult to predict how the Islanders will handle their 2014 first-round draft pick this season and beyond -- and if he even remains with the Brooklyn club altogether.

New York Rangers: Off to a 2-6-2 start, the Rangers are struggling and lacking any clear path for immediate redemption ahead. As it stands, it's rough to recommend enlisting perennial fantasy stalwart Henrik Lundqvist -- or even Thursday's spot starter Ondrej Pavelec in DFS play -- as a favorable fantasy goaltending commodity in the near future. Use other goaltending options for now, if available.

Ottawa Senators: Battling the flu, center Kyle Turris will sweat it out in sick bay through Thursday's game against the Flyers. Bench the centerman if possible, and give Jean-Gabriel Pageau a longer look as a dark-horse asset in DFS play. The 24-year-old is slated to serve as Turris' top-six replacement in the short-term.

Philadelphia Flyers: Nolan Patrick is okay! Or at least so says the rookie forward himself after sustaining an upper-body injury earlier this week. While awaiting confirmation from those behind the Flyers bench, Patrick's confidence does bode well for his lineup inclusion against the Senators on Thursday. Veteran Wayne Simmonds, on the other hand, isn't guaranteed to suit up. Keep a view to how it all shakes out ahead of puck drop.

Pittsburgh Penguins: And just like that, the Penguins are down a prominent defenseman. Shelved on IR, Justin Schultz is out indefinitely with a concussion. With eight points to his credit already, including three with the extra skater, Olli Maatta will be asked to contribute even more in Schultz's absence. Have a look to see if the 23-year-old puck-moving blueliner is available in your own league (rostered in 66.3 percent of ESPN.com leagues).

San Jose Sharks: Forward Kevin Labanc has outwardly lost his top-line gig aside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. During Wednesday's practice, Joonas Donskoi skated with the Joes while Labanc fell to a third unit, joining Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker. While the demotion inarguably sucks a fair bit of air out of Labanc's fantasy value, Donskoi might merit a second thought in DFS play ahead of Thursday's tilt with the Bruins. He has two goals in his past three games.

St. Louis Blues: Fantasy owners freaking out about Jaden Schwartz fizzling out after lighting it up for 14 points in 10 games can chill out: Blues head coach Mike Yeo believes there's no end in sight to this torrid tear. "There's no reason he can't continue it," Yeo said Monday. "Some scorers get one or two points on two or three chances. He's involved with five to seven scoring chances a game right now. And it's not like he's opportunistic, where the puck finds his stick. He finds ways to break you down. He can create off the forecheck or off your gap ... is smart enough to take advantage of what you give him. He's relentless, skilled, has a great work ethic and hockey sense." This certainly taints the view of Schwartz as a "sell-high" candidate.

Tampa Bay Lightning: As long as Mikhail Sergachev continues to contribute and produce as he has with the Lightning, Tampa management will contentedly relinquish the 2018 second-round draft selection contingent on the rookie defenseman reaching 40 NHL roster games this season. The 19-year-old has four goals and five assists to date, including six points in his past four contests. This young, dynamic blueliner should be spoken for across the full fantasy spectrum. He currently isn't.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Ideally, the Maple Leafs would like to have James van Riemsdyk able to compete Thursday night after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday's victory over the Kings. But if not, "Plan B" involves bumping Mitch Marner to JVR's line aside Tyler Bozak and Connor Brown instead, allowing for Josh Leivo to join the lineup as a fourth-line skater and power-play participant. Ultimately, such a shuffle should offer increased scoring opportunities for Marner, who played particularly well Monday after stumbling slightly to start the season. Check in with the Leafs' lineup ahead of their next tilt with the visiting Hurricanes.

Vancouver Canucks: If there was any lingering doubt, the era of Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin seeing top-line minutes with the Canucks has formally come to an end. New coach Travis Green has confirmed his commitment to skating all four of his forward units as he sees fit, period by period, game by game. That has been made evident by "fourth-liner" Derek Dorsett leading his squad in goals (five), while eclipsing both Sedins in average ice-time. The fantasy takeaway here is don't rely on consistent production from any member of Vancouver's group out front, including Dorsett, at least until coach Green alters his approach.

Vegas Golden Knights: Forward Vadim Shipachyov won't not be long for the bright Vegas lights. According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the KHL export hasn't been a "fit" with the Golden Knights and has received permission to pursue a trade. Hopefully, for all involved, Shipachyov "fits" in elsewhere, or this playing stint in North America won't last much longer. Jettisoned to and from the minors, the 30-year-old managed to pot a goal in three games (plus-three) at the NHL level. It's just a weird saga all around.

Washington Capitals: As discussed earlier this week, Alex Chiasson is designated to join a scoring line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals are hoping Chiasson provides a productive front-of-net presence alongside those two prolific players. Fantasy players should keep a view to see if that's how it indeed works out. Chiasson is currently rostered in 0.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

Winnipeg Jets: For now, the Jets appear content to stick with winger Kyle Connor in place of Mathieu Perreault, who's slated to miss action until mid-November with a lower-body injury. So, also for now, you should be content with the bonus production likely available in your own league, compliments of the rookie forward. Averaging more than 18 minutes per game, Connor has a goal and assist in two contests this season.