5 NHLers Who've Come from out of Nowhere, to Somewhere
As everyone who watches hockey knows, there's such a thing as a rollercoaster season and for some stick-handlers there's a roller coaster career.
One never can predict from one campaign to another who's going to be a star and who's going to flop.
Here's The Maven's list of five big-leaguers who once lived in the NHL's community called Nowheresville and have since gained a mortgage on center stage.
5. Mike Smith
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So low on the Lightning totem pole that GM Steve Yzerman dumped him altogether.
Smitty was signed as a free agent by Don Maloney and has since kept the Coyotes in the playoff hunt.
The Kingston, Ontario native already has set a personal win record and has been Phoenix's most important weapon during the homestretch.
4. Joffrey Lupul
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Toronto's Brian Burke wasn't sure what he got after dealing Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim for Lupul in February 2011.
Playing alongside Phil Kessel, Lupul has set a career high in points and has been the brightest light in an otherwise typically disappointing Leafs campaign.
3. Brian Elliott
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A total bust in Ottawa, this unusual goalie not experienced a turnabout, but a metamorphosis into super stardom.
Originally slated to be a St.Louis backup, Elliott climbed to the top of the NHL in goals against average and save percentage and sparked the Blues to a dandy season in the Western Conference.
2. David Clarkson
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Under Jacques Lemaire's stewardship, the Toronto native had been a grunt forward who managed a dozen goals over 82 games last season.
This year, playing for his former junior coach in Kitchener, Peter DeBoer — Clarkson has become almost as sharp a shooter as Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Devils would never be playoff contenders without Dauntless Dave.
1. James Neal
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Moving from Dallas to Pittsburgh has been the difference between being an understudy and a star.
With Sidney Crosby out for most of the year, Neal has emerged as a chief reason why the Penguins have been an elite team all season.
Neal already has set career highs in goals (30) and assists (32).