One of the great things about working at The Hockey News and covering the league, as opposed to just one team, is you tend to take a broader view of the league and the season.
So, while many focus mainly on their favorite teams, we do our best to keep abreast of what is happening in all 30 cities. And unless you are fans of certain teams, you may be missing some great performances that have flown under the radar including:
Ryan Malone, Pittsburgh: OK, we know it’s the Crosby-Malkin Show in Pittsburgh, but did you know fourth-year left winger Ryan Malone is enjoying a career season? In the 21 games Crosby missed with a high ankle sprain, Malkin wasn’t the only one working to keep his team afloat. Malone managed 13 goals and 23 points in that span; including eight multi-point games – one of which was a three-pointer – and a hot streak of five multi-point games in six outings.
Chuck Kobasew, Boston: After dipping to just five goals in 50 games split last season between Calgary and Boston, the fifth-year center-winger is once again firing on all cylinders. Through 63 games Kobasew had 19 goals (one off his single-season high), 34 points and his plus-7 seven was third highest among Bruins forwards.
Owen Nolan, Calgary: OK, so he’s a ways off from being the 30-40 goal-scorer he was in his prime, but given the fact Nolan suffered serious injuries late in his career and was given up on by the Maple Leafs, you can’t help but be impressed by his 15 goals and 26 points in a third line role for the Flames this season.
Sergei Samsonov, Carolina: Sucked in Edmonton…Sucked in Montreal…Sucked in Chicago…somehow found new life in Carolina. Many people thought Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford was nuts when he acquired the little Russian left winger after he managed no goals and just four assists with Chicago through 23 games this season. But Samsonov has rewarded Rutherford with 11 goals and 21 points in 24 games.
Jason Williams, Chicago: Although injuries have limited his season to just 27 games, Williams has been spectacular with 10 goals and 28 points.
Niklas Hagman, Dallas: On a team that places a great emphasis on defense, Hagman has produced a career-best 25 goals through 69 games.
Tom Gilbert, Edmonton: After scoring one goal and six points in 12 games as a freshman last season, Tom Gilbert has 10 goals and 26 points in 67 games this year.
David Booth, Florida: The Panthers have great hopes for the future of the hard-working left winger who scored three goals and 10 points in 48 games last season. After a slow start this year, Booth has 19 goals and 32 points in 60 games.
Patrick O’Sullivan, Los Angeles: After a slow start to his pro career, including just five goals in 44 games last season, O’Sullivan is a big reason why there is all kinds of hope for the bright future of the Kings. He has 17 goals and 41 points in 68 games.
Mark Streit, Montreal: The versatile defenseman-forward for the Canadiens has a career-best in goals (12) and points (49).
Alexander Radulov, Nashville: When the Predators got rid of most of their star players, it was hoped their younger players would step up so the team could remain competitive. Radulov has answered the bell, jumping from 18 goals as a rookie to 24 (and counting) in 66 games.
Daniel Girardi, Rangers: It isn’t often you can say this about a player, but Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi is a better player at the NHL level than he was in junior. Undrafted, Girardi has eight goals and 25 points in 67 games after managing just six assists in 34 games with the Blueshirts last year.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix: Many thought this guy would be a scoring ace after he shot 18 goals in 52 games as a rookie with Colorado in 2001-02. But he didn’t hit that mark again until this year and now has 27 goals in 60 games for the Coyotes.
Torrey Mitchell, San Jose: While his name doesn’t get mentioned as a possible rookie of the year candidate, Mitchell is an excellent two-way energy player who has impressed with 10 goals and 19 points in 66 games. Two of his goals have come with his team playing a man short.
Paul Ranger, Tampa Bay: Not hard to stand out on this team for doing something positive. Ranger looks like a bona fide offensive defenseman as his 10 goals will attest to.
Nik Antropov, Toronto: The fact he has made it through the season without a major injury is a huge accomplishment. Add a career-high 24 goals to the mix and Antropov is one of the very few things Leafs fans have to smile about this year.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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