Fantasy hockey stock watch: March's most improved players

Ivan Barbashev has sped into a top role with the Vegas Golden Knights. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

With just about three weeks in the rear-view mirror from the NHL's trade deadline, it's about time for another check on some of the players who switched uniforms at or ahead of the deadline. It's easy to overlook a change in production for a player in fantasy on the surface, as their year-long fantasy totals can mask a positive or negative change with a small sample on a new team.

So, even though the sample is small, let's compare it to their fantasy points per game (FPPG) with their previous team to see the difference.

All stats are as of the morning of Sunday, March 19, so I'll comment if something significant has happened since then.

Improved FPPG

Dmitry Orlov, D, Boston Bruins (2.3 FPPG with Bos; 1.7 FPPG with Wsh): The poster for success with a new address, Orvlov looks like a different player in the Bruins system. He's at least stopped putting up multi-point games in every outing, but the production is still there. The Bruins have deemed Orlov, Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy all as power-play quarterbacks depending on need and game flow, changing which defenseman is on the top unit and which two are on the second unit. Orlov was given the day off on Sunday for the second game of a back-to-back set. Given the Bruins still have three weekend back-to-backs, that will be something to keep an eye on.

Ivan Barbashev, W, Vegas Golden Knights (2.2 FPPG with Vgk; 1.3 FPPG with STL): Earning a chance with Jack Eichel on the top line, Barbashev hasn't looked back since being dealt from the Blues. His fantasy production has come in bunches, but it's a marked improvement from being on the third line most nights for the Blues. His ice time is up by almost 90 seconds per game and Barbashev has started to get power-play minutes with his new club. It's a positive fantasy story all around.

Rasmus Sandin, D, Washington Capitals (2.5 FPPG with Wsh; 1.4 FPPG with Tor): Another trade success story, Sandin came into a Capitals team with an injured John Carlson and a recently traded Erik Gustafsson and Orlov. It really did leave him as the only real option to get the key power-play time on a unit with the game's best power-play scorer. And Sandin has delivered, with four of his 10 assists coming on the advantage. His ice time shot up from 18 minutes per game with the Toronto Maple Leafs to more than 24 minutes with the Caps. The looming return of Carlson could throw a spanner in the works, but that overall increase in ice time bodes well for Sandin to even survive the return of some competition on the blue line.

Jakub Vrana, W, St. Louis Blues (2.3 FPPG with StL; 1.0 FPPG with Det): But actually, Vrana found his form again in the AHL while still with the Detroit Red Wings organization, so we knew he was going to score if given the chance. This is one example among these traded players where the player appeared in fewer games with his pre-trade team. Vrana's venture out of the Red Wings plans this season has been well-documented, but so has his explosiveness as a scoring threat in the NHL. The early returns suggest the Blues hit on this lottery ticket.

Mattias Ekholm, D, Edmonton Oilers (2.2 FPPG with Edm; 1.4 FPPG with Nsh): Actually, with Monday's win against the Sharks on the books, that would be 2.5 FPPG for Ekholm as an Oiler. While he is getting some of the production from points thanks to the all-world stars he shares the ice with, his counting stats are also through the roof. Both his hits and blocked shots are up to 1.8 per game, compared to 1.3 or lower with the Predators -- even though his ice time is down three-quarters of a minute.

Patrick Kane, W, New York Rangers (1.9 FPPG with NYR; 1.7 FPPG with Chi): Sunday's quiet outing from Kane actually brings him even at 1.7 FPPG for both teams. His ice time is down two full minutes from when he was a Blackhawk, but that's to be expected when there are other mouths to feed. Regardless of Kane's personal output, the Rangers have seemingly found their ideal line combinations, as evidenced by winning the weekend 13-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. What might be missing is the over-the-top power-play production we hoped for with Kane's move here, but Kane isn't on the top unit in every game as, once again, the Rangers have too many mouths to feed. It doesn't look like a chance with Mika Zibanejad is in the immediate future, as Kane looks settled with Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck for the time being. It's too bad that Artemi Panarin chemistry didn't instantly rekindle.

Sammy Blais, W, St. Louis Blues (1.7 FPPG with StL; 0.7 FPPG with NYR): There's no secret here, as the Blues are using Blais with regularity and he wasn't getting that with the Rangers. A physical player, Blais approaches fantasy relevance when he gets big minutes thanks to a spike of hits. He isn't at a level you would use in shallow leagues, but deeper formats could get a boost from the total production Blais is bringing as a member of the Blues again. He went from 9:38 per game with the Rangers to 14:13 in his 18 games with the Blues and already has almost twice the points he had in 40 games with the Rangers.

Vladislav Gavrikov, D, Los Angeles Kings (1.7 FPPG with LA; 1.3 FPPG with Cls): With minimal fantasy points in Monday's outing, Gavrikov is down to 1.5 FPPG with the Kings. So, he's doing more than he did with the Blue Jackets, but stil isn't at a fantasy relevant level.

Evgenii Dadonov, W, Dallas Stars (1.6 FPPG with Dal; 1.0 FPPG with Mon): His arrival has helped improve the Stars second line with Jamie Benn and Wyatt Johnston, with perhaps Dadonov's biggest impact making Johnston more relevant to fantasy. The rookie center has scored in six of the past eight games with his new winger.

Denis Gurianov, W, Montreal Canadiens (1.6 FPPG with Mon; 0.7 FPPG with Dal): With the Habs, Gurianov is taking his shot. Or, shots, as it were, as his shots on goal per game have jumped from 1.6 with the Stars to 2.8 with the Canadiens. He would need to pick up a few more points to truly get into the fantasy conversation, but Gurianov is already in streamable territory with his elevated production.

Vladislav Namestnikov, W, Winnipeg Jets (1.9 FPPG with Wpg; 0.9 FPPG with TB): A flurry of production from Namestnikov is likely short-lived as he was elevated to the top six in place of the injured Pierre-Luc Dubois, but a healthy Jets team will keep him on the third line going forward.

Connor Mackey, D, Arizona Coyotes (1.4 FPPG with Ari; 0.9 FPPG with Cgy): It's certainly not enough production for fantasy this season, but Mackey will be worth keeping an eye on next season as his fantasy points per 60 has remained steady with the increase in ice time he's received with the Coyotes. Another bump next season to ice time and the 26-year-old could be in the mix.

Depressed FPPG

Bo Horvat, C, New York Islanders (1.7 FPPG with NYI; 2.6 FPPG with Van): Where art thou, Mathew Barzal? Horvat's production was bound to go down compared to his run with the Canucks this season, but the dip became more precipitous when Barzal was sidelined on Feb. 18. Horvat had shown some instant chemistry with Barzal and the Islanders power play had started to show signs of life. But without Barzal, the advantage has gone right back into the doldrums.

Timo Meier, W, New Jersey Devils (1.9 FPPG with NJ; 2.5 FPPG with SJ): The Devils have been looking to find the right fit for Meier and perhaps had a revelation on Sunday. In his first game with Nico Hischier, the Meier-Hischier-Jesper Bratt line managed to collect four goals -- a Bratt hat trick and one from Hischier. Meier didn't get the fantasy goodness from the outing, but he helped drive the success with the line. Hopefully this is the combination to get him back to the dominant winger we saw with the Sharks.

John Klingberg, D, Minnesota Wild (1.2 FPPG with Min; 1.6 FPPG with Ana): Losing Kirill Kaprizov just three games into his Wild debut certainly doesn't help Klingberg make a case for himself in fantasy. The narrative for his success was that the Wild's advantage thrived with Klingberg on the point, but Kaprizov is the catalyst for the unit. With the likelihood that Kaprizov is out until the twilight of the season, Klingberg isn't a must-roster for the stretch run.

Max Domi, C/W, Dallas Stars (0.8 FPPG with Dal; 1.7 FPPG with Chi): Maybe Domi would still be finding a way to turn in fantasy points if the two linemates he settled with didn't end up getting hurt, but both Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment have ended up on the sidelines. With the emergence of the Johnston-Benn-Dadonov line, Domi is a bottom-six player with the Stars.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Carolina Hurricanes (1.4 FPPG with Car; 1.9 FPPG with Ari): It was a hot start for Gostisbehere with the Hurricanes, but things have cooled off and his ice time is way down. From 22:30 with the Coyotes to just 16:52 with the Hurricanes, Gostisbehere is a specialist without a specialty, as Brent Burns hasn't ceded the top unit power-play time.

Jakob Chychrun, D, Ottawa Senators (2.1 FPPG with Ott; 2.3 FPPG with Ari): It's only a slight fantasy dip for Chychrun, but he is lifting all boats around him. His defense partner, Travis Hamonic, has become suddenly fantasy relevant while playing with Chychrun, and Jake Sanderson is getting a boosted power-play role with the Sens confident to keep Chychrun and Thomas Chabot on the second unit.

Jake McCabe, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (1.3 FPPG with Tor; 1.8 FPPG with Chi): Why just mention McCabe? The Leafs blue line is certainly more formidable than it was before the deadline, but it's the place where depth fantasy defensemen go to die. McCabe, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson had modest fantasy appeal prior to the deadline -- McCabe and Schenn for their counting stats and Gustafsson for his power-play role. All of that is gone now as the three players have assumed depth roles for their new NHL club.