Wednesday, October 10, 2018
One player to look out for this season on every NHL team
There are 31 NHL teams. Each dress 18 skaters a night, which means that at least one player has to be overlooked. Every team has that player. The one that sneaks by the press and fans night by night, just doing his job. Today, we look at those players, just one from every team.
Anaheim Ducks: Marcus Pettersson
Pettersson played in a short, 22 game stint with four points in 2017-18, en route to a starting gig to open 2018-19. At just 22, Pettersson has never scored more than two goals in a season in his professional career, but he's a defensemen. Out with a concussion, Ondrej Kase is a player that could be here.
Arizona Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza
Featured in an attempt by the Blackhawks to get rid of Marian Hossa's contract this offseason, Hinostroza made the Coyotes this year. In his final season in Chicago, Hinostroza pulled out 25 points in 50 games. It isn't really top six stuff, but good for the third line. Another player acquired by the Coyotes in that July 12th, 2018 trade, Jordan Oesterle is someone that could be here.
Boston Bruins: Matt Grzelyck
Besides having a hard name to spell, Grzelyck impressed some with a 15 point, 61 game stint last year, which led to a full-time position. The Bruins brought in John Moore, who could take a lot of time away from Grzelyck, but the Bruins don't have many underrated players, so Grzelyck it is.
Buffalo Sabres: Evan Rodrigues
Rodrigues is in a similar position as Hinostroza is. In just 48 games last year, Rodrigues scored 25 points, and is now the 4th line center alongside veteran Jason Pominville. Rodrigues will get overlooked, with the young firepower the Sabres have.
Calgary Flames: Austin Czarnik
Czarnik was one of the more intriguing free agents this year, as he drew a lot of similarities to Jonathan Marchessault. A small, undrafted forward that played a lot and dominated the AHL before a rough NHL start. Czarnik fled Boston to sign with the Flames, where they are hoping that potential will show. This is one of the more interesting ones on this list.
Carolina Hurricanes: Valentin Zykov
Despite being a healthy scratch in the Hurricanes' most recent game at the time of this writing, Zykov scored seven points in 10 games after leading the AHL in goals with 33 in 2017-18. Like Czarnik, Zykov is an underrated player who has dominated the AHL, and is now given a big chance.
Chicago Blackhawks: Erik Gustafsson
Playing on an aging Blackhawks team, Gustafsson is a 26 year old looking to play in his first full season this year. In 2017-18, Gustafsson played in 35 games, but scored a solid 16 points. That was enough to lead the Blackhawks defensemen in points per game, with .45 points a game. Yes, it is a small sample size, but he was still 4th in points. Gustafsson has scored 32 points in a 79 game career, which is a solid defensive season.
Colorado Avalanche: Matt Nieto
Nieto was a waiver pickup by the Avs midway through their historically terrible 2016-17 campaign. In his first full season in the Rocky Mountains, Nieto put up 15 goals in 74 games. He could put those numbers up again this year, if given the right amount of ice time.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Markus Nutivaara
In just 61 games kn 2017-18, Nutivaara's 23 points and seven goals were both third among Blue Jackets' defensemen, behind the dynamic duo of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. That came in a season where Ryan Murray was hurt again, and David Savard under performed. Decent stuff.
Dallas Stars: Tyler Pitlick
Pitlick is coming off a season where he was sixth on the team in goals, with 14, after just making the team. With the Stars' weak winger depth, Pitlick has a big opportunity. Pitlick could easily just hit 20 goals this year.
Detroit Red Wings: Tyler Bertuzzi
This one was hard to pick, as just 20 players scored a goal for the Wings last year. Bertuzzi was one of them, netting seven. He scored 24 points in just 48 games, which earned him a top-six spot. Bertuzzi may be their most underrated player.
Edmonton Oilers: Matt Benning
Benning tied for second in Oilers defensive points with Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell, and was just five points behind Darnell Nurse for the lead. Benning isn't usually mentioned when talking about their mediocre defense, but should be. The nephew of Jim Benning, Canucks GM, Benning could hit 30 points this year.
Florida Panthers: Denis Malgin
At just 21, Malgin recorded 11 goals and 11 assists in 51 games. Tied for eighth on the team in goals, Malgin could put up 20 goals in a full year.
Los Angeles Kings: Adrian Kempe
Kempe ended up finishing 4th on the team in goals with 16, and is one of the better players on this list. Alex Iafallo finished with 25 points, but I decided to go with Kempe instead. 37 points at age 21 was pretty impressive.
EDIT: The article got cut off, something got messed up with my computer, I posted the rest of the players (without descriptions) on Twitter (@Carterhudblog).