By Jan Levine, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week's fantasy hockey article includes COVID-related absences still rearing their ugly head, the No. 2 center in Colorado rolling, a winger taking another step forward in the Home of Hockey, Skjei it, Brady hot in Carolina, Kirill the Thrill sidelined and a Flame fizzling out in Calgary.
First Liners (Risers)
Nazem Kadri, C, COL
Kadri extended his scoring streak to 12 games by notching a goal and assist Monday. He has posted six goals and 15 assists during those 12 games to give Kadri 13 markers and 33 apples in 29 games. Kadri is on pace to obliterate the career-high 61 points he tallied in 2016-17 in Toronto. An unrestricted free agent after the season, Kadri is set up for a nice payday if he can remain on the straight and narrow, which has been an issue in the past.
Alex Kerfoot, C, TOR
Kerfoot exacted a bit of revenge against his former team Saturday, notching a goal and two assists to help Toronto defeat Colorado. It was a great homecoming for the former Av, who's on a three-game multi-point scoring streak (two goals, six assists). Kerfoot has produced in bunches this season, posting several multi-point efforts, while moving amongst the top three lines. He is up to six goals and 18 assists in 33 games and on pace to exceed the career-high 43 points he posted as a rookie in 2017-18 with the Avalanche.
Marcus Foligno, LW, MIN
Secondary scoring is a major key for any team in the NHL, especially so when that production comes unexpectedly. Minnesota is experiencing that this year from Foligno. He showed signs last year of stepping forward, posting 11 goals and 15 assists in 39 games after not tallying more than 25 points in any season. This year, with his marker Saturday, Foligno is already up to a career-high 14 goals with eight assists in just 33 games while moving between the second and third line.
Adrian Kempe, LW, LA
Kempe, drafted 29th overall in 2014, has seen his production slowly ascend year by year. He tallied four goals and an assist the last six games, giving the Kings' first-line left winger 16 tallies and six assists in 36 games. Kempe is one goal short of matching his career-high despite playing just 35 games, 46 less than he did when he scored 16 goals on the year. His assist numbers are a bit down, but he's emerged as an effective scorer and is breaking out in this his sixth full season in the league.
Torey Krug, D, STL
Krug extended his point streak, during which he notched two goals and four helpers, to five games Sunday. The 30-year-old is up to six tallies, 20 points (10 on the power play), 58 shots on net and a plus-14 rating in 31 games. Krug struggled last year in his first season as a Blue but has found his game this season, filling the role as the team's highest-scoring blueliner. St. Louis is playing well, driven partially by the fine play from the back line by Krug.
Brady Skjei, D, CAR
Trust me, the last name I likely ever thought would be on the Risers side of the ledger is the one named in the Let's Do That Hockey skit on "Saturday Night Live." But Skjei's recent play warrants mention and name recognition. His tally Saturday extended his goal-scoring streak to three, during which he has four of his five lamplighters for the season. In addition, he has posted eight of his 13 points on the year in the last five games. This scoring pace is an aberration, but Skeji averages a blocked shot and hit per game with a plus-12 rating, adding to his fantasy value.
Robin Lehner, G, LV
Lehner allowed two goals on 21 shots in a loss Saturday, ending his five-game winning streak. The loss dropped Lehner to 15-10-0 with a 2.92 GAA and a .906 save percentage through 26 games. Nonetheless, Lehner has hit the ground running after missing five games due to a lower-body injury and is locked in as the Knights' starter. Las Vegas has a solid offense, even with the absence of Max Pacioretty, which should improve following the eventual return of Jack Eichel. This bodes well for Lehner's success.
Frederik Andersen, G, CAR
All Andersen and the Hurricanes have done recently is win. Andersen notched his seventh consecutive victory Friday and is now 18-5-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .929 save percentage in 23 games. His career-high in victories is 38, set in 2017-18 with Toronto. Antti Raanta and others see the occasional action between the pipes, but if Anderson can stay healthy, he could challenge that victory mark. Even more impressive is that his goals-against average is a full goal less than last season when he struggled with the Maple Leafs.
Others include Auston Matthews, Clayton Keller, Phillip Danault, Trevor Zegras, Ryan O'Reilly, Tomas Hertl, Nicolas Roy, Anthony Duclair, Ivan Barbashev, Jason Robertson, Mikko Rantanen, Brad Marchand, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Kyrou, Tanner Jeannot, Cam Atkinson, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pavel Buchnevich, Trevor Moore, Brady Skjei, Adam Fox, Brent Burns, Jordan Binnington, Sergei Bobrovsky, Kaapo Kahkonen, Thatcher Demko and Alexandar Georgiev.
Lawson Crouse, LW, AZ
Arizona lacks elite talent up front, presenting opportunities for several players to play on lines they normally would not. One such player is Crouse, who historically has been a bottom-six option and is why he may be overlooked in many formats. Crouse is making the most of his chance, however, notching four points in his last four games and 17 in 31 games this season. In nine games since the start of December, the 24-year-old has four goals, three assists and a whopping 36 hits. Crouse's production has mainly been limited to hits, averaging more than three per game. But he has shown the willingness to shoot and the ability to score, which should keep him in his current lineup spot.
Training Room (Injuries)
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, MIN
Kaprizov was hurt Thursday on a dangerous play along the boards, resulting in what looked to possibly be a shoulder injury. After scoring 27 goals and 24 assists in 55 games as a rookie and winning the Calder Trophy, Kaprizov leads the Wild with 40 points in 32 appearances. Due to COVID-related cancellations, Minnesota is off until Jan. 14, which might be sufficient of a delay for Kaprizov to return to the lineup. That said, there's no word as to the extent of his injury, so this might be wishful thinking for someone who has Kaprizov on several of his fantasy teams.
Others include players still on the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as Jack Eichel (underwent disk replacement surgery for his neck in November, could play this week), Joel Eriksson Ek (upper body, injured Dec. 20, returned to action this past week), Jakub Vrana (shoulder, had offseason surgery, could be back in February), Charlie McAvoy (lower body, missed second straight game Saturday), Elvis Merzlikins (lower body, missed last three games), Tuukka Rask (offseason surgery to repair torn labrum in right hip, starting conditioning stint with Providence in AHL) and Cam Talbot (lower body, injury suffered in Winter Classic, sat out Saturday's game).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Morgan Frost, C, PHI
With Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes manning the two-two center spots in Philly, Frost is relegated to third-line duty. Drafted 27th overall in 2017, Frost played 20 games in 2019-20 and two games last year and up to 16 games this season. Frost has been mildly productive with six points, though he has failed to take advantage of his uptick in ice time while Couturier has been sidelined. When the Flyers have their full complement of players, Frost might be the odd man out.
Nate Schmidt, D, WPG
Schmidt's overall numbers are still solid, though his production has waned. His last goal came on Nov. 11, a span of 19 games, and during that time, he has posted just seven assists and a minus-10 rating. Schmidt is averaging close to 21:30 of ice time a game while skating on the first pair, but as noted above, his offensive output has cratered. He is a decent source of blocked shots though, adding to his overall value in leagues that play with TOI and blocked shots as categories.
Ilya Samsonov, G, WAS
Samsonov is still the Caps' No. 1 netminder, though he has shown some cracks in the armor lately. He has allowed at least three goals in five of his last six starts, posting a 3-1-2 record along with an .889 save percentage. Vitek Vanecek is still dealing with a non-COVID illness while Zach Fucale is used infrequently between the pipes. Samsonov should right the ship, but the longer he struggles, the greater probability Vanecek will be ready to return and assume a portion of the play in the Washington net.
Others include Owen Tippett, Pavel Zacha, Rasmus Asplund, Jesse Puljujarvi, Nils Lundkvist, Keith Yandle and Mackenzie Blackwood.
Andrew Mangiapane, LW, CGY
Mangiapane has crashed back to earth as many expected since his red-hot start was unsustainable. After lighting the lamp 17 times in his first 25 games of the season, Mangiapane has just one goal — and point — in his last eight games. Due to COVID-related postponements and the holiday break, those eight games have taken place in a month span, leaving several games for the Flames to make up. Mangiapane will get back on the beam to a certain extent, just likely not to his previous high level.