Fantasy Hockey Values: Is Carter Hart back to elite form?

By Jan Levine, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

In this space, we'll look at which NHL players are seeing their fantasy hockey values rise or fall on a week-to-week basis.

This week's article includes a first-overall pick getting hot in New Jersey, a fresh start working out well in Detroit, the return to form by a Cup-winning netminder, a top-tier defenseman injured again and a slumping winger in Vancouver.

First Liners (Risers)

Nico Hischier, C, NJ

The first-overall pick in 2017, Hischier has yet to produce at the level of some of his more well-known colleagues who were taken in the same spot. However, that does not mean he's been a bust or unworthy of a roster spot in most formats. Hischier set career-highs with 21 goals and 39 assists in 70 games last season and has gotten off to a strong start to this campaign. He is up to two markers and four helpers in five contests, benefitting from the attention Jack Hughes receives as the first line center in New Jersey.

Brayden Point, C, TB

When you think about all the stars in Tampa, Point sometimes gets lost in the mix. Point tallied a goal and an assist Saturday, giving the 26-year-old center four goals on the season, all of which have come in the past four games, along with a pair of helpers in six contests. With all the talent around him, Point might never approach the 92 points he posted in 2018-19, but a 70+ point season could be in the cards as he centers the first line alongside Nikita Kucherov.

Taylor Hall, LW, BOS

Hall resurrected his career to an extent last season in Boston, notching 20 goals and 41 assists in 81 games after struggling in the prior two campaigns. So far this year, he's showing that his return to form in 2021-22 was no fluke, potting three goals with a pair of assists in six games, punctuated with an overtime game-winner Saturday. Hall signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Bruins in July of 2021, and while he will likely never approach the 93 points he scored when he won the Hart Trophy in 2017-18 with the Devils, he's a solid, productive winger in almost all formats.

Dominik Kubalik, RW, DET

A 30-goal scorer in his rookie season with the Blackhawks in 2019-20, Kubalik's production has steadily decreased each of the past two years. In what would be his final season in Chicago this past year, Kubalik posted 15 goals, 32 points and a minus-16 rating in 78 games. The move to Detroit gave him a fresh start, and he's making the most of his second chance with three goals and five assists in five games while skating on the top six for the Winged Wheel.

Calen Addison, D, MIN

While Addison was scoreless Saturday, he's still off to a brilliant start with six assists in five games. Four of those helpers have come on the man-advantage, as Addison is the power-play quarterback on the first unit, replacing Jared Spurgeon and/or Matt Dumba in that role. As long as Addison retains that role, he should be primed for a solid campaign given the talent around him on that unit, albeit with little added in the hits and blocked shots categories.

Jake Sanderson D, OTT

Sanderson, the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 draft, signed his entry-level deal with Ottawa in late March following the completion of his season at the University of North Dakota. A hand injury prohibited Sanderson from making his NHL debut late in the year, but he broke camp with the team to start this season. Sanderson is skating on the second pair while manning the point on the second power play for the Senators. He's gotten off to a slow-ish start but tallied a pair of assists Saturday to give him three helpers and points on the year in six games.

Carter Hart, G, PHI

Hart, the Belle of the Ball his first two seasons in the league and especially in his sophomore campaign, saw his shine diminish heavily the next two seasons. He had a brutal 2020-21 pandemic season, and rebounded slightly (if you could call it that) by posting a 13-24-7 record, a 3.16 GAA and a .905 save percentage last year. In addition, Hart played just three of Philadelphia's final 17 games due to a lower-body issue.

John Tortorella was hired this past offseason and his attention to detail and a more defensive style have paid immediate dividends in the City of Brotherly Love. Hart's talent and skill have been on display early, winning his first three decisions with a 2.00 goals-against average and .943 save percentage (99 saves on 105 shots).

Jordan Binnington, G, STL

Binnington had a magical rookie campaign, helping rally the Blues from near the bottom of the standings to the Stanley Cup following his January promotion. Some cracks in the armor showed in those playoffs and he regressed slightly the following season, but he still posted 30 wins with a solid goals-against average and save percentage. The bloom was off the rose in 2002-21, and he was behind Ville Husso in the pecking order for much of last year, playing in just 37 games and posting an 18-14-4 record, a 3.13 GAA and a .901 save percentage. He was better in the playoffs (4-1-0 record, 1.75 GAA in five games) before a knee injury ended his year.

With Husso now in Detroit, Binnington is the unquestioned top netminder for St. Louis, and he's rewarded the team with a 3-0-0 mark, including a shutout of the Oilers on Saturday.

Others include David Krejci, Sidney Crosby, Kevin Hayes, Max Domi, Clayton Keller, Shane Pinto, Mason McTavish, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Motte, Andrei Svechnikov, Jesper Bratt, Mats Zuccarello, Valeri Nichushkin, Rudolfs Balcers, Jonathan Marchessault, Martin Necas, Roope Hintz, Oliver Wahlstrom, Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson, Brandon Montour, Justin Faulk, Janis Moser, Rasmus Dahlin, Nils Lundkvist, Rasmus Andersson, Neal Pionk, Jeff Petry, Linus Ullmark, Mackenzie Blackwood, Ilya Samsonov, Jack Campbell and Eric Comrie.

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Paul Stastny, C, CAR

Stastny, signed by Carolina to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in August, has gotten off to a slow start as a member of the Canes. After notching an assist in his debut, he was held off the scoresheet the next three games before adding a helper Saturday. Stastny is seeing time on both the third and fourth lines while also maintaining a spot on the second power-play unit. With just two shots on goal in his six games played, don't look for a marked increase in production unless he starts to put pucks on net.

Conor Garland, RW, VAN

Garland, signed to a five-year, $24.75 million contract with the Canucks in July of 2021, had a career-best campaign last year, notching 19 goals and 33 assists in 71 games. While his output was nice, his usage, both at even-strength and on the man-advantage, left a lot to be desired, preventing him from producing even more. This year has started off extremely poorly, as he's already been a healthy scratch for one game and there are whispers that Vancouver would like to move Garland and his big contract. Maybe the goal he scored Saturday will kickstart his game.

Matt Dumba, D, MIN

Dumba, whose power-play time on ice declined steadily the last three seasons, has seen his time with the man-advantage completely crater this year. From 2015-16 through 2018-19, Dumba notched 12 power play points every season, topping out at 2:43 PP TOI in the last year. That number dropped by just four seconds the following season, but the last two campaigns saw a drop to 1:59 and 1:45 per contest. This year, in five games, Dumba has seen a total of 21 seconds of playing time on the man-advantage. Move him down on your defenseman rankings.

Others include J.T. Miller, Alex Newhook, Tomas Hertl, Sam Reinhart, Kyle Palmieri, Patrick Kane, Teuvo Teravainen, Robin Salo, Roman Josi, Vitek Vanecek, Thatcher Demko and Spencer Knight.