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
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
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
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
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
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).
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