10 Unknown NHL Players Who Have Stood Out Early in 2013
10 Unknown NHL Players Shining Early
Young players are what drives the NHL in today's market. People love to watch a player start his career with his or her team and then become a star. It is even better when it is unexpected.
This season has already seen some out of control games by some relatively unknown individuals. Every single night there is a new hero. The season is young and this may be too early to tell, but there are some players who are having a very good start to their campaigns.
While some of these players are indeed rookies, others are just players who took a long time to really hit their strides. Either way, it is a pleasant surprise to these teams' fans that they are producing in such a way so quickly. Most of these guys are still very young, but they are playing like veterans in the first two weeks of the season.
These ten players have the ability to go either way this season. They could be difference makers the entire year and really help their team hit their stride, or they could be part of the "remember when that guy had a good stretch, that was nice" group that includes so many NHL players throughout the years.
This season has started off with some of the most exciting hockey we have seen in a long time. The storylines are everywhere in the league. These ten players will no doubt continue to keep themselves in the headlines throughout the season.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also contributes to their NFL and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter here.
10. Mathieu Perreault
Mathieu Perreault seemed to be the odd man out when he was traded by the Washington Capitals just before the season started. It seems he got the best out of that deal. While the Capitals are struggling early in the season, Perreault's Anaheim Ducks are doing just fine. He is contributing with five points in five games. His biggest play of the season came against the Wild in overtime when he drilled one five hole to win them the game with five seconds left.
9. Lars Eller
There may have been a time where a gruesome hit was too much to come back from. Lars Eller was absolutely decked during the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators playoff series. He suffered a concussion, lacerations to the face and a few lost teeth in the collision. It seems that it has had zero ill effects on his play. Eller is better than ever, scoring at will with five goals already this season. He is a main part of the Canadiens' success so far.
8. Alex Killorn
It took Alex Killorn more time than expected to get to the NHL, but he is making a big impact now that he is here. He has six points in his first five games of the season, including a beautiful play that scored the game-winning goal in overtime against the Buffalo Sabres. It is hard to stand out on an offense that includes Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis, but he has found a way this season.
7. Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Marc-Edouard Vlasic has quickly become one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. That is starting to fade this season. The 26-year-old started the season with five points in as many games. He has been a rock for the undefeated San Jose Sharks. Expect him to be talked about more fondly when Norris Trophy consideration comes up.
6. Alex Chiasson
Alex Chiasson has had some rookie mistakes, but for the most part he has been an awesome player for the Dallas Stars so far this season. He has a knack for giving this team the lead, whether they keep it is a different story. He gave them their first win when he scored the game-winning goal against the Capitals. He has at least a point in every single game so far, and he may be in the running for the Calder Trophy when it is all said and done.
5. Josh Harding
The Minnesota Wild seem to be a team with a ton of talent every single year, but Niklas Backstrom can't seem to get them over the hump. That may not be an issue this season. Josh Harding may have taken the goalie job away with three very good appearances. With an improved defense in front of him, he could really flourish on this team. He has a .944 save percentage and has not allowed more than one goal in any of his appearances.
4. Tomas Hertl
This is the highlight of this early season. When Tomas Hertl beat Martin Biron with a shot through his legs to score his fourth goal of the game against the New York Rangers, he showed the world he was here. The Sharks have had everything go right this season, including Hertl. He shows that he can be a prolific scorer in this league. If he can continue this torrid scoring pace, then he can carry this team all the way to a Cup win. He is currently on pace for 115 goals. That is insane.
3. Ben Bishop
The Tampa Bay Lightning are another team that can score with the best of them but have been missing goaltending to help them out. The past two seasons they were 5th worst and last in the league in goals against. Now they are much better, and that is because of Ben Bishop. He is 3-0 with a .928 save percentage. If he can continue to win for this team, then they could be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference.
2. Sean Monahan
The Calgary Flames were predicted to be the worst team in the league. So far, they are tied for second in an extremely competitive Pacific Division. Sean Monahan is a large reason for their resurgence. He has scored a goal in the last four games, including the game winner with under three minutes left against the New Jersey Devils. The 19-year-old has been everything the Flames could have hoped for and more.
1. Nathan MacKinnon
It took five games, but Nathan MacKinnon finally scored his first NHL goal. Before that, he was doing a lot more to help this team. He was expected to be a prolific scorer, but he has five helpers in as many games this season. He has helped the Colorado Avalanche to a surprising undefeated record. If this continues, then the Calder Trophy already has a home.