This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.
This week's article includes COVID still wreaking havoc on the league's schedule, Stephenson rolling again, a hot Bratt in New Jersey, a somewhat unknown in Music City, Pacioretty out long-term and a big name winger struggling in the Hub.
First Liners (Risers)
Chandler Stephenson, C, LV – Stephenson, profiled earlier in the year, gets another mention as he continues to rack up points. He extended his point streak to four Friday, giving him two goals and 12 assists in 12 December games. Stephenson is up 10 goals and 24 helpers in 34 games, putting him one point shy of the career-high 35 points he tallied in 51 games last season. Stephenson will continue to operate as the Knights' first-line center until Jack Eichel returns from his surgery, at which point he could shift down to pivot the second trio.
Robert Thomas, C, STL – Thomas has taken advantage of the injury to Brayden Schenn to center the Blues' second line. His two assists in the Winter Classic gave Thomas three points in a pair of games after missing seven contests with a lower body injury. Thomas only has three goals but has notched 22 apples in 26 games, putting him on pace to exceed the career-high 42 points he notched in 2019-20. When Schenn returns, Thomas likely will slide down a line, but should still see ice time on the second man-advantage unit.
Jesper Bratt, LW, NJ – Bratt built on his solid 2021-22 campaign