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Ryan Callahan: The 27-year-old Rangers captain scored a career-high 54 points last season including 29 goals and 25 assists. However, Callahan’s contributions to his club stretch far beyond tangible numbers.
His consistent willingness to sacrifice his body by blocking the ferocious shots of opposing defensemen, including and especially those of hardest shot record-holder Zdeno Chara, is just one example of Callahan’s impassioned style of play and is the reason why he is widely regarded by the Rangers' faithful as the heart and soul of the Blueshirts.
Adam Henrique: Adam Henrique burst onto the NHL scene last season, as he posted 16 goals and 35 assists for 51 points. Henrique’s statistical contributions and exceptional penalty-killing ability earned him a Rookie of the Year nomination.
Based on the 2011-2012 regular season and playoffs, the 22-year-old Henrique, whose game is highlighted by an undeniable clutch gene and sound two-way hockey, has the potential to be one of the NHL’s next big stars.
James Neal: James Neal had himself a career year in 2011-2012, as he finished seventh in the NHL in total scoring with 81 points and fourth in goals scored with 40.
Neal needs at least one more season of this type of production before he cracks the top 10, but if Penguins coach Dan Bylsma decides to keep him on a line with Evgeni Malkin as his center, Neal certainly holds the potential to establish himself as a consistently dynamic offensive force in the Atlantic Division worthy of a higher ranking.
Daniel Briere: Danny Briere may have scored just 49 points last year, but the fact of the matter is that consistency counts for a lot—especially consistency regarding stellar playoff performance.
Briere is not a point-per-game player during the regular season in his career. However, when winter turns to spring and the grueling second season begins, Danny Briere finds another level. In 108 total playoff games played, he has scored 109 points, including a Philadelphia Flyers playoff record 30 points during the 2010 postseason.