No matter what age, level or ability a player may have, there’s no set skill that makes one player more likely to score a highlight-reel than the next, and over the past year the greatest goals have come from all types of leagues all across the world.
Sure, there are some players who one would expect to see on the list who’ve made it — namely Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane, who are two of the most brilliant talents in the league — but this year’s list of great goals is largely composed of players who have only just begun their NHL careers or haven’t yet had the chance to grace the ice in the world’s best league.
Here are the 10 best goals of the past year, scored by everyone from high school players to European journeymen:
10. Second effort earns Damir Zhafyarov an outstanding tally
The first entry on this year’s list is also the lone goal to come from the KHL this season. At first blush, it doesn’t look like much, but pay attention to the second effort on this one by Zhafyarov. The 22-year-old KHLer scored just six goals during the 2015-16 campaign, but one of those tallies required enough skill and will to earn its way onto this list.
9. Anthony Duclair pulls off one-handed beauty
Duclair was one of the centerpieces of the trade that sent Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers, and in his rookie year, Duclair showed that he’s got more than enough skill to be an impact player. The one-handed move was a beauty, and despite his struggles this season, knowing he can pull this kind of thing off has to have the Coyotes hopeful that he can turn things around.
8. Connor McDavid splits the defense with ease in return
Ho-hum. Here’s McDavid, casually splitting two defenders en route to a highlight-reel tally. The scary thing is this doesn’t seem like it’s really all that difficult for McDavid, whereas your average Sunday beer league player would need reconstructive surgery just thinking about attempting to pull this off.
7. Patrick Kane scores while soaring through the air
Deke by a defender? Check. Falling to the ice? Check. Releasing the shot while actually soaring through the air? Check. Kane has scored dozens of beauties in his career, but this might top the list. But here’s the thing: Kane shouldn’t be on this list. Not because the goal isn’t outstanding — it really, truly is — but because the play should have blown dead before he had the chance.
6. Drake Caggiula dances defender for video-game goal
Caggiula’s impact at the NHL level has been minimal thus far as he’s netted just one goal and four points in 19 games in his rookie campaign with the Oilers, but watching him dance around a check like he’s schooling his little brother in one of EA Sports’ NHL games makes it awfully evident why he was a hot free agent coming out of the NCAA.
5. Jagger Williamson pulls off sweet move from his knees
Williamson almost certainly didn’t enter the zone thinking he was going to pull off a falling, spinning, between the legs move to beat the defender. That said, no one is about to argue with results. He must really like that spin move, too, because he uses something similar to pry himself out of the celebratory hug with teammates.
4. Nikita Korostelev makes two defenders look foolish
The first move is nice, the second move is better and the finish is what makes this one of the best. The two moves that preceded Korostelev’s goal were gorgeous, but finishing this off with a rocket of a backhander back across his body into the top corner is what makes this spectacular.
3. John Quenneville scores high-speed, top-shelf Marek Malik-esque goal
Marek Malik is synonymous with the between-the-legs goal. That’s a fact. However, not even in Malik’s wildest dreams could he imagine pulling the move off at high speeds. Quenneville’s goal came on a big stage, too, at the Memorial Cup.
2. Jake Morissette bats a no-look backhander home
Morissette has spent the past four years in the EIHL and he’s one of the more consistent scorers in the league. There’s no goal he’s ever scored that has been quite as nice as this one, though. After a shot ricochets off the glass behind the net, Morissette bats this one brilliantly between his legs.
1. Michigan high schooler dazzles with 360 deke to between-the-legs tally
— JAKERHOADESYY (@jakerhoadesyy) December 3, 2016
Hands down the best goal of the year. Jake Rhoades is still in high school, but this is a big league move. Watch his heel drag 360 to between the legs move then go out and faceplant trying it yourself!
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