NHL: 15 Studs You’ve Never Heard Of
The NHL is quite possibly more driven than any other sport or league in the world by the image of its teams than that of individual players. In large part this is due to the fact that a hockey game can truly can not be decided from only the efforts of only one person, but instead each game is a team effort between everyone from a team's top scorer to a fourth line grinder. This reliability on team depth is what makes hockey so great, as each and every player in the league is willing to give out there bodies in the name of their team.
But even despite this image of the team coming first there are still a host of hockey players who the general fan could recognize by name. After all, despite this ability of fans to recognize that hockey is the ultimate team sport, professional sports are ultimately star driven leagues and are marketed as such. NHL executives know this fact and use it to market their team's best players to local fan bases. This is the reason why any hockey fan with a brain can recognize Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Zdeno Chara or whoever their team's top players are.
But as a result of this attention going to a somewhat narrow group of individual players there are a number of players that are left out in terms of garnering even the slightest bit of perception. These players often are amongst the younger players in the league or the veterans who do the dirty work that wins games that goes unrewarded both on the stat sheet and local radios.
We have come in to fill this gap and inform you of 15 tremendous hockey players that you have never heard of but should be paying attention to.
During the last five seasons Frans Nielsen has quietly moved into the role of second line center for the New York Islanders, posting between .50 and .62 points per game. Nielsen has not been recognized for this consistent level of production both because his Islanders teams struggled up until the 2012-2013 season and because star John Tavares has stolen most of the limelight on Long Island.
The 2012-2013 season was Mika Zibanejad's first in the NHL, and he performed admirably for the Ottawa Senators. Zibanejad posted 20 points in 48 games as the Senators' second line center, but he was overshadowed by veterans Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar.
Despite the fact that Filip Forsberg has only played in five NHL games, he is somebody that you want to know. The former first round pick will go into the 2013-2014 season as possibly the Nashville Predators' biggest scoring threat and could be the next big star in the NHL.
Viktor Fasth posted a 2.18 GAA in 25 games during the 2012-2013 season, his rookie season, for the Anaheim Ducks. This remarkable rookie season made Fasth one of the best backup goaltenders in all of the NHL and has many people calling for him to replace Jonas Hiller during the 2013-2014 season as the number one goaltender.
During the past three seasons Jason Garrison has served as a top four defenseman for both the Florida Panthers-from 2010 to 2010- and the Vancouver Canucks during the 2012-2013 season. From 2010-2013 Garrison has posted 67 points and a +22 plus/minus rating in 197 games, in the process proving that he is a top level defenseman even if he isn't recognized as one by the media.
Vladimir Tarasenko made his NHL debut during the 2012-2013 season, and after putting up 19 points in 38 games for the St. Louis Blues it was clear that he is a very good player. Tarasenko is incredible with the puck on his stick, and at the age of 21 will likely only be improving in future seasons. It appears likely that this improvement could result in him becoming one of the best scorers in the NHL before long, which will surely garner the attention Tarasenko deserves.
During the 2012-2013 season Dalton Prout served as a very valuable defenseman for the Columbus Blue Jackets, posting seven points and recording a +15 plus/minus in 28 games. These contributions were vital as the Blue Jackets attempted to fight back from the depths of the Western Conference to make the playoffs but ultimately went unnoticed because of this failure.
The 2012-2013 season was Damien Brunner's rookie season, and it could not have gone much better. Brunner posted 26 points in 44 regular season games for the Detroit Red Wings and added nine more points during 14 postseason games. Despite these impressive totals Brunner has not received respect from either fans or other NHL teams, as he is currently fighting to make the New Jersey Devils on the back of a pro tryout contract.
During his three year run with the Montreal Canadiens, Lars Eller has gone from a young and promising forward to a real scoring threat. Eller posted 30 points during the shortened 2012-2013 season, improving on totals of 17 and 28 points that came during the full 82 game schedules of the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. It would be no surprise this total to go up even further in 2013-2014, which would go a long way towards Eller finally receiving widespread acclaim.
Since the 2010-2011 season P.A. Parenteau has been a very efficient scorer for both the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche but has been hurt nationally by both teams struggling during his great play. From 2010-2012 Parenteau put up 120 points in 161 games, but the team was dreadful in both seasons. After the 2011-2012 season he then moved on to the Avalanche and posted 43 points in 48 games as the team recorded the second fewest points in the NHL.
During the first six seasons of his career Jiri Tlusty performed somewhat poorly for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes but had a true breakout season in 2012-2013. In the 2012-2013 season Tlusty contributed 23 goals and 15 assists in 48 games to the Hurricanes, in the process announcing to the public that he is the real deal. Unfortunately not much of the public was paying attention to an anemic Hurricanes team that finished with the third worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Tomas Fleischman has been overshadowed throughout his career by playing on great teams and awful teams. The Czech right winger spent the first five and a half years of his career with the Washington Capitals, where attention went to stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He later went on to move to a struggling Colorado Avalanche outfit midway through the 2010-2011 season before finally landing with the Florida Panthers prior to the 2011-2012 season. During the 2011-2012 season Fleischmann led Florida with 61 points as they advanced to the playoffs but still failed to receive widespread recognition in part because of the franchise's small fan base. He will head into the 2013-2014 season fresh off of another team leading point total and still looking for recognition.
During the last three seasons Teddy Purcell has quietly became a real threat for the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting 152 points in 210 games. This total was the second most points for any Lightning player during this period, but unfortunately the two players above him on the list are Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Stamkos and St. Louis just happen to be two of the best scorers n the NHL and have resulted in Purcell becoming very under appreciated.
Since coming to the New York Islanders prior to the 2009-2010 season Matt Moulson has quietly become one of the best pure scorers in the NHL. During this time he has scored 30 or more goals each year the league played an 82 game schedule and has helped to serve as a mentor to his friend John Tavares. Unfortunately for Moulson it has been his best friend and protege who has stolen the limelight in New York.
At 6-foot-3, 205-pounds Andrew Ladd is a hulk of a human being and has used this size to quietly become one of the top power forwards in the NHL. During his eight season career the Winnipeg Jets captain has won two Stanley Cups -- in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes and 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks -- and has only missed one game in the last five seasons. Meanwhile, his offensive production is not too shabby either, as during the 2012-2013 season Ladd posted 46 points in 48 games. He may not be very flashy and plays in a small Canadian market, but Ladd is the real deal.