Now that the halfway point of the NHL season has come and gone, I want to emphasize some of the talent around the league that fans need to be more aware about to this point because you probably won’t read about them anywhere else. By that I mean it’s time to take a look at the most surprising and TRULY UNDERRATED players. I’m sick and tired of hearing about Mats Sundin who has done nothing yet. I’m sick and tired of some of the terrible All-Star selections to players who do not deserve it. And I’m sick and tired of players who bust their butt, put up numbers and get no respect.
Someone has to write about these players, right? And I’m not talking about “Sophmore Stars” or “Comeback Kings” because everyone notices and aknowledges them. I’m talking about players who get absolutely no air time because they are overshadowed by those players, star players or play hockey in a Nascar market on a team 8 games under .500 that only 37 people seem care about.
Alright time to pimp out my players for you.
RW – Jiri Hudler (Detroit Red Wings)
The easiest thing to do is overlook second tier players on a team that is stacked with talent, and in this case one of those players is Jiri Hudler of the Red Wings. Hudler is 4th on his team in scoring, only 5 points behind 2008 Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg. How does Detroit find all these diamonds in the rough?
Stats: 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points
On pace: 32 goals, 36 assists, 68 points
C – Todd White (Atlanta Thrashers)
Many analysts (not me) predicted Todd White to have a breakout year last year signing on with the Thrashers to play on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk (in which he bombed). This year many analysts said Todd is just not the guy for the job in Atlanta (including me). Well, it looks like White is finally having that breakout year, so we’re all wrong. Perfect timing for him and bad timing for the Thrashers considering he’s in a contract year.
Stats: 13 goals, 28 assists, 41 points
On pace: 24 goals, 53 assists, 78 points
LW – Ryan Clowe (San Jose Sharks)
Another player who falls victim to overshadowing by household names. I’m proud to say I predicted Clowe to have a good year after a solid showing in the playoffs last Spring. All he needs to do is stay healthy and his production will remain solid on a highly charged offensive team.
Stats: 17 goals, 15 assists, 32 points
On pace: 34 goals, 30 assists, 64 points
RW – Rene Bourque (Calgary Flames)
The Flames in my opinion made the best bang for your buck off-season signing when Bourque put the pen to the paper in Calgary for 2 years @ 1.3 million per. The Flames will be looking to lock up the Alberta native for a few more years this off season, and rightfully so.
Stats: 15 goals, 14 assists, 29 points
On pace: 30 goals, 28 assists, 58 points
D – Kyle Quincey (LA Kings)
Coming in at #2 for the best bang for your buck pickup is Kyle Quincey @ 525,000 per year for 2 years. The Red Wings put Quincey on waivers before the season started because of salary cap issues. The Kings swooped him up and he’s been their best D-man thus far. It’s not like the Wings needed him, but talk about a lucky find for the Kings.
Stats: 3 goals, 20 assists, 23 points
On pace: 6 goals, 41 assists 47 points
LW – Loui Eriksson (Dallas Stars)
Talk about an All-Star snub. Where would Dallas be without an unexpected 21 goals from Loui Eriksson thus far? Most likely last place considering they are not an offensive juggernaut and they concede too many goals. Mike Modano should be sitting home for the All-Star game, not Eriksson.
Stats: 21 goals, 10 assists, 31 points
On pace: 43 goals 20 assists, 63 points
LW – David Booth (Florida Panthers)
David Booth is in my opinion the most underrated forward in the NHL today. Playing in south Florida on a usually uncompetitive team does not help, but the speedy winger will have a good case for a roster spot on Team USA in 2010 if he keeps his goal scoring up. Maybe than people will open their eyes.
Stats: 18 goals, 10 assists, 28 points
On pace: for 38 goals, 21 assists, 59 points
C – Matt Stajan (Toronto Maple Leafs)
One of the bright spots in Toronto this season is the emergence of Matt Stajan who is nearly a point per game on that team believe it or not. With newly appointed GM Brian Burke now at the helm, you will see a lot of cleaning house, but expect to see Stajan stick around for the future.
Stats: 10 goals, 22 assists, 32 points
On pace: 21 goals, 46 assists, 67 points
G – Scott Clemmensen (New Jersey Devils)
Is it the New Jersey Devils system or is Martin Brodeur that good? That’s what everyone wanted to know for all those years and now everyone is able to judge, or can they? We don’t know if Scotty is really that good because everyone is saying he has been that good and is that good to carry the load in the net. Either way, he has impressive numbers for a guy who has never played more than 13 games in an NHL season for his career, so give him his props.
Stats: 15-9-1, 2.38 GAA, .918 Sv%
On pace: 29 wins
LW – Tomas Fleischmann (Washington Capitals)
Tomas Fleischmann is quietly a young emerging talent out of Washington. Playing on such a star studded team it’s gonna take an awful lot for this 24 year old to make his name known, but that’s what the playoffs are for and he can get his chance there assuming the Caps get to the dance. His stats are not off the charts, but 14 goals in 35 games is very impressive when you consider who he has to play with and how many chances those guys are gonna get.
Stats: Goals 14, assists 7, points 21
On pace: 28 goals, 15 assists, 43 points