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Fantasy hockey rankings: Rises, falls and notable names to watch

William Nylander's recent scoring surge has him just three goals shy of tying his career high of 22 in 2016-17. Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

There are a bunch of names that do not appear in these rankings that I want to highlight this week, so we'll dive into a few tidbits before getting into the rankings.

Ilya Kovalchuk, W, Montreal Canadiens: Adding Kovalchuk here is intriguing. He's getting old, no doubt, but he's far from over the hill for NHL purposes. There's at least an argument to be made about whether it was the chicken or the egg for Kovalchuk and the Kings: Was his play so poor that they didn't use him much, or did they not use him, so he played poorly? I'm definitely intrigued (and admittedly a bit nostalgic) to see what he can do on my bench, especially with Brendan Gallagher's concussion leaving a gaping hole on a scoring line and the Habs' power play being among the hottest in the league.

Michael Frolik, W, Buffalo Sabres: The name is a placeholder, so if it's Jimmy Vesey or Conor Sheary or Rasmus Asplund or someone else, just substitute the name for Frolik. What we are seeking is ancillary access to Jack Eichel in lieu of Victor Olofsson hitting the sideline for the next five or six weeks. Frolik makes the most sense for the next couple of weeks, though. He's a good fit as a supplementary winger on a scoring line, and that's just what the Sabres need for Eichel.

Ivan Prosvetov, G, Arizona Coyotes: Like the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Coyotes are a great team for which to play goaltender. Once again, I'm going to look at the advanced stats from Natural Stat Trick. Although the Coyotes rank poorly for facing a lot of shot attempts (30th in the league in Corsi against), not a lot of them are high-danger chances. Looking at high-danger chances as a percentage of total shot attempts, the Coyotes rank ninth in the NHL, with just 17.7% of all those shot attempts considered "high danger." That means it's a lot of work to be in the crease -- but not necessarily as perilous as some other creases. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks are the only team with more shot attempts against this season, and in their case, 21.0% of them are "high danger."

Who is Prosvetov? Well, with Darcy Kuemper still slowly recovering and Antti Raanta removing himself from the Coyotes' most recent game due to an injury, Prosvetov has been summoned to the NHL. He's leading all rookie goaltenders in goals-against average in the AHL this season, and he sports the third-best save percentage in the league.

Barrett Hayton, C, Arizona Coyotes: There's no official word on what the Coyotes are going to do with Hayton, who was one of the heroes in Canada's win at the World Juniors. Hayton has played exclusively in the NHL this season, and his entry-level deal has been triggered. But he is still eligible to go back to the OHL. That said, the Coyotes are in win-now mode with the trade for Taylor Hall, and Hayton gives them the potential scoring-line center they currently lack. Derek Stepan has been ho-hum, Clayton Keller isn't clicking with the right wingers, and Christian Dvorak is better served as a two-way player. It would be intriguing for fantasy to know that the Coyotes are indeed keeping him around in the NHL, as there is potential for chemistry with Hall and/or Phil Kessel.


Forwards on the move

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins: (up 17 spots to No. 22): With Crosby ready to travel with the Penguins again, his return should be expected in the next week. He returns to a team without his main scoring buddy, as Jake Guentzel is finished for the season due to a shoulder injury. I know it sounds a little desperate at this stage, but maybe -- just maybe -- adding Crosby to the mix will give Galchenyuk another chance (despite his most recent chance on a scoring line lasting barely two games). The Penguins don't have a lot of other options on the wing, and it's tough to project for fantasy who might succeed besides Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Heck, maybe we'll see a Crosby-Malkin combo at even strength, which is something the Penguins haven't done for years. Either way, Crosby finds a way and needs to be considered among the league's fantasy elite, regardless of his supporting cast.

William Nylander, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (up 11 spots to No. 89): It's always nice when there is a consolation prize center who is also a superstar. Nylander was separated from Auston Matthews but is now playing with John Tavares. The change has actually been a positive one for Nylander, who sports multipoint efforts in four of his past five outings. Plus, he's still rocking a role on the top power-play unit, so he could keep climbing the ranks.

Alex Killorn, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (up 29 spots to No. 154): Although his placement on a scoring line is something that ebbs and flows, Killorn is a lock for the Bolts' top power-play unit -- and that's a role we shouldn't overlook. Whenever the Lightning power play has a big game, Killorn will be there. He likely still has availability in about one-third of fantasy leagues.

Defensemen on the move

Shea Theodore, D, Vegas Golden Knights (up 30 spots to No. 106): In his age-24 season, Theodore is finally breaking through and making good on the power-play quarterback potential that we've long waited for. He's on pace to approach 50 points, and his power-play points have already matched his previous career high of nine. Lock him down now if you are in a shallower league, as he might still be available.

Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars (down 17 spots to No. 107): The signs of a breakout season from the 20-year-old defenseman have faded into memory over the past month. Since Dec. 10, Heiskanen has just one assist in 11 games, despite playing close to 25 minutes per game. That isn't a huge shocker, as 20-year-old defensemen don't typically have success in fantasy, but Heiskanen looked to be bucking that trend early. I think it's OK to cut bait if things don't change in the coming weeks, especially with John Klingberg currently sidelined.

Goaltenders on the move

Jacob Markstrom, G, Vancouver Canucks (up 23 spots to No. 73): He's actually outside the top 10 in wins, save percentage and goals-against average, but with so many creases being shared and so many big-name goaltenders floundering, Markstrom's consistency and workhorse status make him invaluable to fantasy teams. Of the 21 goalies to play at least 1,500 minutes so far this season, Markstrom is fifth in save percentage and seventh in GAA.

New to the rankings

Elvis Merzlikins, Chris Driedger, Boone Jenner, Cam Fowler, Tyler Toffoli, Adam Boqvist, Craig Smith, Filip Hronek

Just missed

Ondrej Kase, Andreas Johansson, Erik Haula, Alexander Kerfoot, Blake Coleman, Jared Spurgeon, Robert Thomas, Barrett Hayton, Frank Vatrano, Drake Batherson, Ivan Prosvetov, Alex Nedeljkovic, Igor Shesterkin, Veini Vehvilainen, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Galchenyuk

Dropped out

Jordan Eberle, Justin Faulk, Jake Guentzel, James van Riemsdyk, Jeff Carter, Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton, Connor Brown