Indicator categories can help us identify players who might be lacking in fantasy value to date but could find a way to elbow into some value later. Any category that can shed some light on a player's usage could be considered an indicator, but there are some I like better than others.
Here are a few choice categories and some players who show up in the rankings that you might not have guessed would be there.
Chris Kreider, W, New York Rangers (15th in power-play time on ice): There are two ways to look at power-play ice time. It could be a bad thing to have a ton of it accrued, as it could be indicating that the power play isn't being very successful. That said, opportunity is opportunity, and more power-play time equals more opportunity to do damage. The second way to look at it is generally the better way, as you'll find most of the leaders in power-play points also lead in power-play ice time.
Kreider, however, has a lowly four power-play points, despite playing 115 minutes on the man advantage so far. He's only about two minutes behind teammate Artemi Panarin, who has 11 power-play points. As a team, the Rangers are just fine, sitting 12th in the league with a power-play conversion rate of 20%. So long as Kreider remains part of the first unit, I expect an increase in his production to be on the horizon.
Phillip Danault, C, Montreal Canadiens (tied for 15th in even strength points): While the power play is where we might expect Kreider to do some damage soon, that is not the hope for Danault. He sits 11th among the Habs in power-play ice time and isn't likely to come into any additional time soon. That said, Danault doesn't need it.
The Habs line of Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar is proving to be one of the best even-strength lines in the NHL this season. Danault and Gallagher have 22 of their 23 points this season at 5-on-5. The 14 players with more than they have are the who's who of the NHL. They have more even-strength points than Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov and Sebastien Aho, just to name a few.
What if the Canadiens decide it's time to give Gallagher and Danault a run on the power play?
Anthony Duclair, W, Ottawa Senators (tied for 33rd in power-play shots): The Senators have gone through a few different looks on the power play this season, but it's clear which three players they believe give them the best chance to score. Consistently, on all the different combinations for the top unit, there is Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot and Duclair. So far this season, Duclair has taken as many or more shots on the man advantage as Claude Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, Aleksander Barkov, Steven Stamkos and Patrik Laine.
Clearly, the opportunity is going to be there for Duclair to grow into a key role on offense for the Senators. They just need to find a combination that helps them crawl out of dead last in the NHL in conversion.
Tristan Jarry, G, Pittsburgh Penguins (first in even-strength save percentage): No, the league leader in even-strength save percentage with at least 10 appearances isn't Darcy Kuemper, Tuukka Rask or Connor Hellebuyck (though they are ranked second, fourth and fifth). It's the Penguins backup who was barely an afterthought at drafts heading into the season. In fact, Casey DeSmith was probably on more radars as an emergency handcuff if something happened to Matt Murray. But here we are with almost 600 minutes of Jarry and a .943 overall save percentage that spikes to .960 at even strength.
Don't look now, but the Penguins have noticed, too. Jarry has started six of the past eight games, winning five of them and earning shutouts in his two most recent appearances. If you haven't already handcuffed him, get on it. If the fantasy manager with Murray in your league hasn't handcuffed him, go ahead and swoop in.
Forwards on the move
Nino Niederreiter, W, Carolina Hurricanes (up 13 spots to No. 189): The Hurricanes made a couple of depth chart moves that could pay dividends for players who were slipping in fantasy value. Chief among them, Niederreiter was moved back up to the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen in place of Andrei Svechnikov. We'll have to see if it sticks, but Niederreiter is a fantasy-relevant play so long as he remains with this unit. I wouldn't worry too much about Svechnikov, either. He's still the club's points leader and still has a role on the top power play with the big guns.
Zach Parise, W, Minnesota Wild (up 18 spots to No. 192): The combination of Parise and Kevin Fiala on the wings of a line has been a boon for the Wild of late. After an October with just three points, Parise is coming off a November with 11 points in 13 games, and he already has three in four games in December. Although he isn't on pace to match his numbers from last season, he is still a fantasy play for goals and power-play points.
Defensemen on the move
Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks (up 61 spots to No. 114): With Alexander Edler officially sidelined, nothing can hold Hughes back now. Only Keith Yandle and John Carlson have more assists, and no one has more power-play assists than the rookie defenseman at this stage. He's clearing 20 minutes per game of ice time, with that total growing in the absence of an injured Edler. I had him ranked criminally low, so this is a massive jump, but it's more than deserved.
Neal Pionk, D, Winnipeg Jets (up 18 spots to No. 151): The Jets keep going back to the Pionk well for the power play. This particular power play is a sleeping giant. The Jets have struggled to stay above 10% conversion on the man advantage, a year after just missing a 25% conversion rate. Now, Pionk is no Dustin Byfuglien, but the crew up front is no different than it was a season ago. When the Jets start scoring more on special teams, whichever defenseman happens to be the quarterback of the day is going to launch with them. More often than not, Pionk has been in that role.
Goaltenders on the move
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers (up 16 spots to No. 141): Sure, it was only the Columbus Blue Jackets and struggling San Jose Sharks, but back-to-back (literally) solid performances by Bobrovsky were exactly what the doctor ordered. When healthy, Bobrovsky has a track record of closing out seasons with better second halves. Perhaps the new surroundings, new style of play and traditional slow start all combined to exacerbate Bobrosvky's early-season statistics. I get it if you've moved on this season, as it truly was a terrible two months. But I'm holding out hope that the Panthers' -- and fantasy universe's -- investment can still pay off. At this stage, the cost of acquisition might be low enough to take a chance on him, even if you don't believe.
Alexandar Georgiev, G, New York Rangers (enters ranks at No. 206): Looking back at the Rangers' "backup" the past couple of weeks, you can downplay some of the outings. Shutting out the New Jersey Devils before the coaching change? Meh. Beating the Blue Jackets and Canadiens with solid outings? That's not that impressive. But shutting out the high-flying Vegas Golden Knights on their home turf? Well, that's something else. I get that Henrik Lundqvist isn't going to disappear, but Georgiev is in position to earn at least a split of duties here. He's worth an add to see what develops over the coming weeks.
Carter Verhaeghe, who tore up the AHL last season, was given his first crack at a scoring line on Saturday. He responded to playing with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson by scoring twice and notching two helpers.
With Andreas Johnsson down for the foreseeable future, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a prime opening next to Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Pontus Aberg is getting first crack at it, but he has never managed to maintain fantasy relevance. Keep an eye on who else might get the chance to play here.
Obviously, the Vancouver Canucks' top line is now set in stone, but it's notable that Micheal Ferland got a role on the top power play in his return to the club. He replaced Bob Horvat on the first unit.