NHL teams are taking turns and strengthening their teams to bring home the next Stanley Cup. Let’s see which players are having a strong season and who can influence their teams before we reach the playoffs.
Note that we won’t look at the obvious scoreboard leaders but rather the players who’re a bit scandalous or get less attention than they deserve.
#1 Evander Kane
Kane received a long suspension for faking a COVID certificate, resulting in him switching teams. The ex-San Jose Sharks’ MVP was quickly added to the “For Sale” listing and Edmonton Oilers seized the opportunity to snatch him up.
Whereas Kane seemed rough around the edges at the start, he has picked up the pace – 6 points in the last 8 games. Oilers now have 7 wins out of the last 10 matches and Kane seems to have played an influential part in the turnaround.
In addition to guaranteed goals, Kane brings an aggressive “All-in” style of play with him – a good supplement to the overall softness of the team. Who knows, the Oilers might even start to realize their potential and not rely so heavily on McDavid and Draisaitl.
#2 Cale Makar
Colorado Avalanche’s young defender is currently red hot. Makar holds the lead in scoring for defencemen – 18 goals and 31 assists.
This isn’t surprising as he already picked up the Calder Memorial Trophy two seasons ago and played in the All-Stars Game in the last one. Makar and Devon Toews hold an impressive +/- stat, +32 and +37, respectively. With these two on the ice, Avalanche keeps on scoring and the opponents keep struggling.
#3 Alex Tuch
Next in line is Alex Tuch who unexpectedly had to switch teams in November, transferring from Vegas Golden Knights to Buffalo Sabres. Tuch – who grew up as a Sabres fan – has now recovered from his shoulder surgery and played 16 games for his new team.
Tuch is likely on his way to becoming the next Sabers’ captain as everyone plays better when he’s around. This makes his +8 rating even more mysterious as he only has Mark Jankowski besides him who is also on the plus side. It’s an honorable accomplishment for a team with a -36 goal difference.
#5 Patrick Laine
Laine isn’t a hugely popular choice in these rankings, but hear us out. After a splendid rookie season, many fans were left disappointed by his performances but Laine has managed to turn things around after being out with an oblique strain.
The Blue Jackets’ winger has gathered 31 points with 29 matches and we’re hoping that he will finally realize his potential in NHL.
#6 Liam O’Brien
It’s rather unfortunate that one of the league’s most exciting players plays for one of the saddest teams – the Arizona Coyotes. O’Brien has scored 2 goals this season, alongside 1 assist which still gives him a +3 rating whilst playing for the worst team in NHL.
The Canadian is also known for his passionate style of play – so far he has a total of 106 penalty minutes, which gives him 2nd place after Mark Borowiecki. But fear not – O’Brien takes 1st place in fights, already 10 this season!