This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.
This week's article includes the No. 1 center on the Island, a pair of netminders from Thunder Bay, looking for some "Tuch" in Vegas, a "Rad" forward in Dallas and Big Buff sidelined.
First Liners (Risers)
Mathew Barzal, C, NYI – Barzal matched up against former teammate John Tavares on Saturday and more than outdid him head-to-head, notching a hat trick. After some rough patches, Barzal has picked up his game lately, tallying seven goals and eight assists in his last 11 games. After scoring 22 goals and 63 assists while winning the Calder Trophy last season, Barzal moved from the second to first line, replacing Tavares. Despite the stops and starts, Barzal now has 10 goals and 26 assists in 38 games, which is off last year's pace, but at least he's trending in the right direction.
James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI – JVR, limited to 21 games by injury, finally seems to be rounding into form, providing the Flyers with the production expected when they signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract last July. He now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last seven games, giving the New Jersey native five goals and eight assists in 22 games.
Alex Tuch, RW, LV – Tuch was traded from the Wild as part of a condition of the Golden Knights selecting Erik Haula at the expansion draft. The young forward played well in Vegas last year, potting 15 goals and 22 assists in 78 games while playing a key role with the man advantage. Tuch is building off his success from last year, posting 13 goals and 29 points in 33 games, putting him on pace to far exceed his rookie production while skating on the second line.
Alexander Radulov, RW, DAL – While Dallas' management takes shots at Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, Radulov continues to roll along. His two goals Saturday gave the 32-year old Russian 13 goals and 18 assists through 30 games. Radulov posted 27 markers along with 45 apples in his first season in Big D last year. The Stars are still in a playoff spot and their talent, including in goal and on the blue line, should help keep them in the race until the big boys figure it out.
Alexander Edler, D, VAN – Edler continues to post surprising production, notching his third multi-point game since Dec. 16 on Saturday. Those are his only points in the last two weeks, but he still has two goals and six points in the last six games. Despite missing 16 contests already, Edler, who has four goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season, remains on track to surpass last season's six goals and 34 points.
Victor Hedman, D, TB – Hedman notched two assists Saturday and one Sunday, giving the Swedish blueliner 14 in his past 15 games. After tallying 72 and 63 points the past two seasons, Hedman has four goals and 20 assists in 33 games, putting him behind pace of that prior output. But with the high-powered offense around him and his recent hot streak, seeing Hedman get close to a point-per-game the rest of the way would not be a huge shock.
Collin Delia, G, CHI – In his three games as a starter filling in for the injured Corey Crawford, Delia has gone 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA while stopping 111 of 116 shots (.957 save percentage). Prior to his promotion, Delia, who started two games for Chicago last season, went 7-5-4 with a 2.34 GAA and .933 save percentage in 17 minor-league appearances this year. While Cam Ward started for Chicago in the Winter Classic, Delia looks to be the Windy City netminder to own.
MacKenzie Blackwood, NJD, G – Blackwood, selected 42nd overall in 2015, picked up his first career shutout in his fifth NHL game Saturday, then added his second Monday against Vancouver. With Cory Schneider sidelined by injury and Keith Kinkaid struggling, Blackwood has quickly grabbed ahold of the goalie job in New Jersey. Following the whitewash Monday, Blackwood has an eye-popping 1.25 GAA and .963 save percentage. Look for the Devils to keep rolling out the 22-year old between the pipes nearly every game.
Others include Aleksander Barkov, Logan Couture, Phillip Danault, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Mika Zibanejad, Sean Monahan, Leon Draisaitl, Dylan Larkin, Ryan Johansen, Brayden Point, Sean Monahan, Jack Eichel (check injury status), Elias Pettersson, Paul Stastny, Dylan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sebastian Aho, Chris Kreider, Adam Erne, Brandon Pirri, Alex DeBrincat, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Blake Coleman, Mark Stone, Chris Kreider, Tom Wilson, Nick Ritchie, Mikko Rantanen, Jake Guentzel, Patrick Kane, Ondrej Kase, Ryan Poehling, Tyler Madden, Josh Norris, Grigori Denisenko, Vitali Kravtsov, Morgan Frost, Cody Glass, Philipp Kurashev, Emil Bemstrom, Erik Brannstrom (World Juniors), Patrick Kane, Johnny Gaudreau, Brandon Saad, Brady Tkachuk, Ryan Pulock, Kris Letang, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns (1,000 games), Matt Murray, Ben Bishop, Robin Lehner, Pheonix Copley, David Rittich and Jacob Markstrom.
Robert Thomas, C, STL – Thomas, selected 20th overall in 2017, has showed signs of being the scorer St. Louis hoped it was drafting. The 19-year-old could be playing in the IIHF World Junior Championship that's currently underway, but he has remained with the Blues and has notched 12 points in 32 games. With St. Louis in rebuild mode, Thomas should slide into the top-six before long and get even more chances to produce up front.
Training Room (Injuries)
Dustin Byfuglien, D, WPG – Byfuglien, injured Saturday night, will sit out until at least after the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 28. The injury occurred when Big Buff rolled his left ankle in the third period, forcing him from the game. Prior to the injury, Byfuglien had 29 points – 16 on the power play – in 32 games while averaging 24:30 of ice time. In his absence, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey take on larger roles.
Others include Vincent Trocheck (ankle, could be back in early February), Taylor Hall (lower body, missed third straight game Monday, placed on IR), Viktor Arvidsson (thumb, returned from a 21-game injury Thursday), J.T. Miller (upper body, placed on injured reserve Saturday, week-to-week), Alex Chiasson (knee, placed on injured reserve), Kevin Shattenkirk (shoulder, missed seven straight games, played Monday versus Blues), Thomas Chabot (upper-body injury, out three weeks), Max Pacioretty (undisclosed, on injured reserve, missed fifth straight game Saturday), Colin Miller (undisclosed, placed on injured reserve Saturday), Brian Elliott (lower body, could return in three weeks), Frederik Andersen (groin, day-to-day) and Craig Anderson (concussion, placed on IR on Thursday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn, C/LW, DAL – It's never a good sign when team management and ownership blast the squad's two highest paid and most prominent members. In Seguin's case, he has 11 goals and 22 assists through 38 games, while Benn has posted 16 goals and 15 assists in 39 games. For both, the concern is that each is not meeting the standard of a player in the midst of an eight-year deal worth at least $76 million. "It's not about how much money. I don't resent the money," Lites said. "It's about what we expect the money to be. You just can't win if your best players aren't your best players." The duo combined for a goal Monday, which is a great response, and it'll be interesting to see what happens.
Jakob Silfverberg, LW, ANA – Silfverberg has always tantalized with his talent but has never been able to combine his defensive and offensive skills. The seventh-year pro notched 39 points two straight seasons before seemingly taking that next step forward with 49 points in 2016-17. Unfortunately, Silfverberg regressed to 17 and 40, respectively, in 2017-18, as he was adversely impacted by starting 60.3 of his shifts in the defensive zone. With 10 goals and seven assists in 36 games, Silfverberg might match the 40 points he tallied last season, but that 49-point output may prove to be his career best.
Scott Mayfield, D, NYI – Remember earlier this season when Mayfield was the belle of the ball and I recommended adding him? Good times. That production looks like a gross aberration, as Mayfield was scoreless in his last 12 games, having failed to score since Dec. 1, before notching an assist Monday. Mayfield is much better known for his own-zone play, so this "slump" likely shouldn't be viewed as a surprise. If you hopped on the bandwagon, get off as fast as you can.
Carter Hutton, G, BUF – Hutton has hit the skids a bit lately, failing to win since Dec. 13 (a span of six starts). With Buffalo in third place in the Atlantic Division and visions of a playoff spot firmly in their minds nearly halfway through the season, the Sabres will be aggressive to maintain their position. If Hutton, who has a 2.65 GAA and .916 save percentage, doesn't right the ship soon, Buffalo might quickly pivot to Linus Ullmark, who has been coined the team's goalie of the future. As such, closely watch playing time in the second half, as Hutton could be in line for a bit of a reduction.