The NHL has their super stars like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Alexander Ovechkin. Mostly in Ovechkin's case, role players can play a major part in a team's success. They are key. It's best to look at them as the supporting cast in the film industry.
When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, two role players stood out - Andrew Ladd and John Madden.
Ladd was a guy who did the little things right. He applied pressure in both the offensive and defensive zone. A two-way guy like Ladd was a key for not only the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory, but the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup as well.
Madden brought a big body that could check and win face-offs. His numbers may not have been that impressive but a forgotten attribute of his was his knowledge of the game.
There are different ways to look at role-players. There are well-rounded players who can do a little bit of everything or a player that does one thing particularly well.
A very simple example of a player with one specialized role is Dan Carcillo. His sole purpose is to hit, check, fight and agitate. It is not a very good role because it is "goon hockey."
Other players can be a powerplay quarterback, defensive forwards, enforcer, and many more.
Those types of components are what define role players.
Teams who will be looking to improve can take a look at these guys to fill those key roles that are important to Stanley Cup winning teams.
A lot of these guys get overlooked or undervalued. Here's a list of the five most underrated role players who will be free agents in June.
Depending on a team's certain needs, signing one of these guys could make the difference in making a run at or deep in the playoffs.
David Jones - Colorado Avalanche
The right winger could be underrated because of his generic name. It also could be because the Avalanche are uncharacteristically not as good of a team as they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jones is a power forward who can crash the net and put rebounds in the net.
Over the last two years, Jones' numbers have increased dramatically. In his first three years in the NHL, Jones scored 20 goals and had 15 assists. He scored 20 goals this season and 17 assists this season, which was a little less than the previous year but he also played in five fewer games. In 2010-11, he scored 27 goals and had 18 assists.
Jiri Hudler - Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings has been a team full of well-rounded players. Hudler has been a Red Wing for his entire career. Super stars have been through Detroit so his name has not been mentioned a lot. Players like Henrik Zetterberg,Pavel Datsyuk, and Nick Lidstrom will overshadow a guy like Hudler. He is one of those guys who will score when you least expect it. This year he had 10 goals and 27 assists. Hudler has had double digit goals and assists in every season he has spent in the NHL.
Ruslan Fedotenko - New York Rangers
Two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have shown Fedotenko knows how to be part of a good team. Every team it seems that Fedotenko is on does well in the playoffs. He is a consistent guy for a team's second or third line. The Rangers are better than they have ever been this year and Fedotenko adds depth to a team that likes to block a lot of shots. Like Hudler, in every year of his 10 seasons that he has been in the NHL (except one), he has had double digit goals and assists.
Matt Carle - Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers defenseman has received a lot of criticism from fans. Of course Philadelphia fans in general, want too much out of their players. Every player has to be like Chris Pronger, Nick Lidstrom, or Shea Weber. Playing with Pronger helped Carle incredibly. A team woud be lucky to have him on their blueline. He is a crisp passer because of his vision. He is young and for the right price, Carle can bring some stability in a first or second blueline pairing.
Flyers fans may be happy to part with Carle, but that would be a mistake.
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