In some cases it's only one box score, but anything is worth pondering when it comes to new faces in new places. Let's check in on some our or trade deadline movers with some actual action under their belts with their new team.
Devan Dubnyk, G, Colorado Avalanche: Almost according to script, the Avs get the veteran backup tender and then immediately have to break the emergency glass when starter Philipp Grubauer hits the COVID protocol list for two weeks. It means Dubnyk and 25-year-old Jonas Johansson have to hold down the fort into May. Dubnyk's .921 even-strength save percentage since March 1 is quite respectable. It's also a lot easier to tend twine for the team with the NHL's largest Corsi advantage (and it's not even close). The Avs not only lead the league in SAT (shot attempts) for, but also lead the league in allowing the fewest SAT against.
The Avalanche will shut down until next Thursday, missing their games with the Los Angeles Kings this weekend, and with the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Monitor this situation closely.
Anthony Mantha, W, Washington Capitals: Early returns suggest this fresh start for Mantha is exactly what we needed. Two goals and an assist in two games with the Capitals has Mantha exploding on the fantasy waiver wire. Act fast, as he's gone from 60 percent rostered to more than 80 percent since Tuesday. He's skating with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie at even strength, but still not getting top power-play unit exposure (which could still come with time).
Nikita Gusev, W, Florida Panthers: Top-line duty with Aleksander Barkov and top power-play duty with Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist in his first game for the Panthers? Yes, please. It helps that the player he usurped the role from is on the sidelines for now, as Carter Verhaeghe is listed as week-to-week with an injury. But that immediate usage is good news for Gusev's fantasy prospects if you go out and pick him up for your team's stretch run.
Brandon Montour, D, Florida Panthers: That the Panthers were so willing to throw Gusev into the fire immediately and not Montour is a little concerning. Quarterbacking the power play does have more nuances than just being a part of the forward attack, so maybe he just needs a practice or two to get his feet wet. Either way, the Panthers can't keep rolling Keith Yandle out there and think the problem will solve itself, so we should expect Montour to get a chance sooner than later. Since Aaron Ekblad's injury, Yandle has the second-most power-play time in the entire NHL and has zero points to show for it.
Jakub Vrana, W, Detroit Red Wings: Skating on a couple of different lines in his Red Wings debut, Vrana did manage to sneak in a goal. While it's a positive start, the outlook remains dimmed due to the overall outlook for the Red Wings offense. It's not like they'll have a ton of four-goal nights (dead last in NHL with 2.27 goals per game) and there isn't a clear line Vrana needs to shooting for to be riding shotgun to scoring. File it away as a good first game and we'll plan to revisit Vrana's outlook next season, when the Wings have hopefully regrouped.
Jeff Carter, C/W, Pittsburgh Penguins: Skating with Jared McCann and Jason Zucker on the second line in his debut, Carter needs more than that to be a fantasy factor. He did not immediately get a chance on the top power-play unit, which would be the secret ingredient to him finding the score sheet until Evgeni Malkin is back. So, Carter can be ignored for now, but keep a close eye on the Penguins lineup to see if he replaces McCann on the power play with Sidney Crosby, as that would make Carter intriguing.
Taylor Hall, W, Boston Bruins: Two games, both skating with David Krejci and Craig Smith, have resulted in one goal and 3.3 fantasy points. In the context of Hall's season that is a massive win. In the context of him becoming an elite fantasy asset for the stretch run, the jury is still out. I'm thinking we will see an explosion from Hall next week as the Bruins visit the Sabres for a three-game set in four days.
Fantasy Forecaster: April 19 to April 25
A busy week, but a few times do have a lighter schedule. The Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals only play twice, while all other teams play three or four times. The Vancouver Canucks should be back in action again, after yet one more delay for this coming weekend. We'll see what happens but the impact would extend to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators if more changes are made.
For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense), which is on the left for each game, and "D" (defense), on the right, matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1 to 10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.
Dallas Stars: Much like the New York Rangers this week, the Stars get to pick on the same low-ranking team four times next week. Based on the early returns for the Rangers against the Devils this week (two shutouts), the formula is a successful one. The Stars play the Detroit Red Wings four times next week, so load up where you can. That includes Jason Robertson, available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues and currently scoring at an accelerated clip on a line with Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. It might be a week in which Jake Oettinger gets two of the four starts in the crease, putting him on the radar for spot fantasy duty.
Calgary Flames: It's been a minute since Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau were hanging out together at even strength. They've been together for the past three games now, but the sum total of their five-on-five ice time together this season is only 130 minutes (per NaturalStatTrick.com). The success they -- and Sean Monahan -- put together in the 2018-19 season has had me scratching my head all season as to why they were not put back together sooner. This time, it's Matthew Tkachuk as the third member of the line, but it's Gaudreau and Lindholm we are happy to see generating some fantasy goodness. Lindholm and Gaudreau each have four points in three games since getting together. Assuming all is back in order for the Canucks next week, the Flames have four games in which to do some fantasy damage. And, may we suggest for the first time in a while, that Gaudreau should be confidently locked into lineups.
Ryan Ellis, D, Nashville Predators: Just want to flag that Ellis is back in action. He's not always top of mind for fantasy, so his extended injury absence saw him dropped in a lot of leagues. He shouldn't be. His fantasy points per game are top 40 among defensemen, which puts him squarely in the range as an everyday contributor. Not a flashy one, but a solid one to help push your team through to the end that is available in 30 percent of leagues.
Mike Reilly, D, Boston Bruins: Would it interest you to know that the Bruins power play featured not one, but two new faces on Thursday? With Matt Grzelcyk still out of action (but with Charlie McAvoy there, mind you), it was Reilly holding down the blue line for Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall. He was also with the first unit on Tuesday. McAvoy is not the first choice for this power play when the team has other options, and I can't confidently state that Reilly would remain the choice with Grzelcyk healthy, but for the time being, Reilly is in play.