One Non-Star Player from Each NHL Team Headed for Stardom
This famous goal scored by Bobby Orr is not immortalized outside of TD Garden for being the highlight of Orr's illustrious career, rather, it was a moment of his career that stands out among others.
That's what defines a star player. Showing up each night and being expected to score highlight reel goals or make game-changing plays when the team needs it the most.
Orr was one of these players in his day, and every team has their star players today. However, today's stars will eventually fade away, possibly into bronze time capsules of their own, and new ones will shine in their absence.
Certain players are already showing potential of being such guys and this slideshow will take a look at one player on each team that should be highlighting their roster in years to come.
Anaheim Ducks: Cam Fowler
The Ducks are currently headlined by names like Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry, but Cam Fowler will have his time in the spotlight before too long.
At 20 years of age, Fowler finished with the most points as a Duck's defender and 6th on the team overall with 5 goals and 24 assists. With the second most point producing blue liner, Lubomir Visnovsky, now in New York with the Islanders, Fowler will be looked to even more and should see more success as he matures in the league.
Boston Bruins: Tuukka Rask
The Tim Thomas era in Boston is over. Whether that is good or bad I'll let you decide.
Nonetheless, all eyes will now be on former backup Tuukka Rask as he assumes the starting position between the pipes for the B's.
In his 23 games played last season, the 25 year old posted a 2.05 goals against average and a .929 save percentage with 3 shutouts.
Should he be able to maintain those kinds of numbers while being the No. 1 goalie then the Bruin's faithful will grow to love him more and more over the years.
Buffalo Sabres: Tyler Myers
Finishing at 26th in shots-against-per-game and 19th in goals-against-per-game, the Sabres will need their defense to improve this season in order to find success.
At 22 years old and coming in at 6 feet 8 inches tall and 227 pounds, Tyler Myers should start taking some pages out of the Zdeno Chara book. If Myers can grow into his frame and use his size more to his advantage, then this young, big guy will be a star in years to come.
Calgary Flames: Mikael Backlund
With the core talent on the Flames starting to age, players like Mikael Backlund are likely to become the new faces of the team.
For as long as most can remember, Jarome Iginla has been the first player people think of when talking about Calgary, but being 35, he probably only has a handful of seasons left.
Currently being the youngest player on the roster at 23, Backlund was able to contribute four goals and seven assists in 41 games with the Flames last season. They will need him to be more of a factor in coming seasons as he has had decent seasons with Flames and their AHL affiliate in the past.
Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk
Like Tyler Myers, Justin Faulk is the kind of young defensive help that the Hurricanes will need over coming years. However, for different reasons.
Faulk does not have the size that Myers does but can contribute point production. The Hurricanes finished 25th in goals-for-per-game last season, but with the offensive upgrades they made they will look for more from their blue line. Carolina will need him to build on his eight goals and 14 assists from last season.
Faulk is only 20 years old and is already making waves for the Hurricanes. Look for him to be a household name in Raleigh very soon.
Chicago Blackhawks: Nick Leddy
Chicago's top defenders are, for the most part, still relatively young and they would like to keep it that way. Duncan Keith won the Norris Trophy recently and was their top defensive point producer last season.
The Blackhawks were good at keeping shots off the goalie, finishing 9th in shots-against-per-game. However, the shots they were giving up were quality chances as they still finished 22nd in goals-against-per-game.
Being only 21 years old, Nick Leddy finished second to only to Duncan Keith in terms of defensive point production and will strive to continue that streak. If he can just improve his plus/minus rating then he will became a force for the team.
Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog
Having just been named the newest captain of the Colorado Avalanche, and youngest player to ever don the "C", Gabriel Landeskog is sure to enjoy his first legal drink as a superstar in Colorado.
At just 19 years old, he finished third on the team in points with 52 and had a team-leading plus/minus of 20. With Landeskog now the face of this team's younger talent, expect more out of Denver in coming years.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Jack Johnson
With Rick Nash out of town, the Columbus Blue Jackets are now without a leader. They have been on a massive rebuild over the past couple of seasons and finally seem to be getting to a point where they could have the team they want.
Since acquiring Jack Johnson through trade last season, he expressed his eagerness to help this team get going on the right track. In his 21 games in Columbus so far, he produced 14 points and finished with a plus/minus rating of five.
With his kind of mentality and ability on the blue line, Johnson should be considered for the captaincy and will quickly become a fan favorite on this team.
Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn
Despite the Stars finishing 22nd in goals-per-game and not making the playoffs last year, Jamie Benn was still a force on the team.
In 71 games, Benn potted 26 goals and 37 assists with a plus/minus of 15.
He is only 23 years old and will need to continue to grow on those numbers with Mike Ribeiro now in Washington D.C. Dallas will need that kind of production out of Benn again to make a run for the postseason.
Detroit Red Wings: Darren Helm
While the current lockout could cost many of Detroit's aging superstars another year of playing time, one of the players that might benefit from extra time off is Darren Helm.
Helm is the fastest skater on the team and quite possibly the hardest working one as well. He seems to have taken a few pages out of the old "Grind Line's" book as he is just constantly a hound on the forecheck.
Head coach Mike Babcock contributed many of Detroit's postseason flaws to Helm's absence, saying that the Wings won games because, "our third line was flat out better and wore down the other team and kept coming."
Helm is only 25 years old and if he can get totally healthy before the season starts, the Red Wings will be much better with his services.
Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
This team has a young core of offensive players that all deserve to be on this slide. However, Jordan Eberle finished with the most points on the teams by a fair margin with 34 goals and 42 assists for 76 points. The next closest on the team was Taylor Hall with 53 points.
Being able to work with Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and now Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle is bound for greatness. The Oilers are right on the verge of becoming a powerful team in the league again with all the young talent they have.
Florida Panthers: Jacob Markstrom
With the goaltending situation getting kind of messy in Florida, one of the simpler solutions could be to bring youngster Jacob Markstrom up and see what he can do.
The Panthers are looking to bring back Roberto Luongo from Vancouver but are likely unable to do so until a new collective bargaining agreement is worked out. In the wake of all the CBA troubles, Luongo has said he will play in Vancouver again if that is how things play out.
Nonetheless, Markstrom will make his way up to the Panther's starting lineup before too long and should establish himself quickly at the pro level.
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty is a huge reason why the Kings will be raising their first championship banner during their next game at the Staples Center.
Among defenders, he finished first in points with 10 goals and 26 assists. During their 20-game cup run, Doughty contributed four goals, 12 assists and a plus/minus of 11.
He is only 22 years old and will be a key part of the Kings' bid for a repeat this season.
Minnesota Wild: Jared Spurgeon
With Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, and now Zach Parise leading the way up front, it would be challenging to make your name as a forward on this team.
As a defender, things are a little different. Especially for Jared Spurgeon.
Spurgeon, 22, finished atop Minnesota blue liners with three goals and 20 assists for 23 points. Pair that with the fact he'll be paired up with newly acquired defender Ryan Suter and his numbers will most certainly grow.
If nothing else, he'll get his name out there simply by being paired with Suter.
Montreal Canadiens: Max Pacioretty
The Montreal Canadiens had a bit of a rough time last season. They finished in the cellar of the Eastern Conference in large part due to their lack of offensive production.
Young forward Max Pacioretty did his part, though. He finished on top of the team in points with 65 in the form of 33 goals and 32 assists. The 23 year old will look to continue to grow on those numbers if he wants to help his team get back to playing in the Spring.
Nashville Predators: Roman Josi
The departure of Ryan Suter left a void in the top defensive pairing with Shea Weber. Roman Josi is predicted to fill that void and the two have reportedly already been working on their chemistry.
If Josi can fill out his 6' 2" frame a little bit more, he and Weber will be a tough duo to play against. Much like Jared Spurgeon of the Wild, simply playing alongside a big name defender, like Shea Weber, will pay dividends for this 22 year old.
New Jersey Devils: Adam Henrique
With former captain Zach Parise now with the Wild, Adam Henrique becomes the standout youngster on the Devils.
During the season he contributed 16 goals and 35 assists and was a key part of their Stanley Cup Finals run by adding five more goals and eight assists in 24 games.
Being only 22 years old, Henrique's production should grow as he sees more ice time now that Parise is gone.
New York Islanders: Michael Grabner
With P.A. Parenteau out of Long Island, young speedster Michael Grabner will be asked to step up his role offensively for the Islanders.
Grabner finished with decent numbers last season, totaling 20 goals and 12 assists. Having won the speed skating competition during the 2011 all-star weekend, he is also the fastest skater on the Islanders and will likely see his production improve with more experience and responsibility.
New York Rangers: Chris Kreider
During the playoffs, Chris Kreider came up and surprised everyone with his instant contributions. He holds a bit of a distinctive honor among NHL players: he is the only player in league history whose first two goals were playoff game winners.
At the conclusion of the Ranger's playoff run, Kreider had totaled five goals which gives him another record for most playoff goals scored before playing in his first regular season game.
Being only 21 years old, he should thrive given the chance to start a full season with the Rangers.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson
Already being a bit of a star, Erik Karlsson should be the face of the Senators defense throughout his career.
He is only 22 years old and has already claimed a Norris Trophy. The first of which is sure to be many more for him.
Also, Karlsson finished second on the team in points last season. He missed only one game and contributed 19 goals and 59 assists while having a plus/minus rating of 16.
Through his first three seasons in Ottawa, Karlsson has produced 149 points. That is only eight shy of what another Swedish defender that you may have heard of did in his first three seasons: Nicklas Lidstrom.
Philadelpdia Flyers: Jakub Voracek
It's at about this point that the Columbus Blue Jackets wish Jakub Voracek was still with them. He had some success in Columbus and has continued to do so in Philadelphia.
Last season, he finished fifth on the team in points with 18 goals and 31 assists. Also, in the Flyers playoff run, he contributed two goals and eight assists for ten points in eleven games.
The 23 year old right wing will continue to grow as he gets older and as his teammates improve around him. With rising superstar Claude Giroux there to help him out, Voracek has nowhere to go but up.
Phoenix Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Having just come off his first full season in the league with the Phoenix Coyotes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson showed that they have a promising young defender on their hands.
He was able to tally 13 goals and 19 assists and did not miss a single game all year.
With Shane Doan coming back and Keith Yandle still being around, Ekman-Larsson has some of the best veteran leadership to learn from and is sure to become a fan favorite in the desert in no time.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Simon Despres
Although the Penguins would like to add another top winger, they really already have the offensive firepower needed to succeed in this league.
As far as defense goes, Simon Despres is likely to be one of the standout players for this team.
He spent most of his time with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins of the AHL last season, but was able to play in 18 games with Pittsburgh. Despres totaled 19 points between the two teams and had respectable numbers while playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL in recent years.
San Jose Sharks: Logan Couture
As Joe Thornton starts to enter the back end of his prime, younger players like Logan Couture will be counted on to increase their production.
At 23 years old, Couture finished second on the team twelve points behind Jumbo Joe with 65 in total.
Do not let the fact that he was drafted last at the 2012 All-Star draft be any indication of his potential... he still made it to an All-Star team and that says a lot about this young Shark as he continues to develop.
St. Louis Blues: T.J. Oshie
The Blues were somewhat of a surprise last season as they claimed the Central Division crown.
A large part of their success can be contributed to the evenness of point production among the team. No one player dominated the point charts, but rather they all contributed which gave every line the potential to be a scoring threat.
However, T.J. Oshie ended the season tied for the most points on the team with 54 in the form of 19 goals and 35 assists.
Being only 25 years old, Oshie is likely to continue his development and see his numbers increase in years to come.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Anders Lindback
While Anders Lindback has spent his first two years in the NHL playing backup to Pekka Rinne, he will now get his chance to show what he has in Tampa Bay.
He only started in ten games for the Predators last year in which he posted a .912 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average.
He is expected to split the goaltending load in Tampa Bay with Mathieu Garon but will most certainly be able to get a lot more playing time than he is used to and have a chance to prove himself.
Toronto Maple Leafs: James Van Riemsdyk
One of Toronto's newest acquisitions, James Van Riemsdyk, is expected to contribute from the second he takes the ice for the first time in blue and white.
The Leafs finished 24th in shots-per-game but still managed to end up 10th in goals-for-per-game. If Van Riemsdyk is able to help them put the puck on net more, they should climb higher in the goal column and start seeing some success.
Vancouver Canucks: Cory Schneider
The Luongo drama continues to barrel along in Vancouver, in part, because of the stalled collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
The expectation for this summer was that Luongo would be traded and Cory Schneider would assume the starting position in net.
At 26 years old, Schneider was able to post a 1.96 goals against average and a .937 save percentage in 33 games played last season. He is just getting into the prime of his career and will make an excellent starter for years to come.
Washington Capitals: John Carlson
Now that Dennis Wideman is with the Flames, young John Carlson is now the reigning points leader on the Capital's defense.
The offense already has its stars for the next several years in Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and will look to its blue line to put points on the board as well.
Carlson contributed nine goals and 32 assists for the Capitals last year and should be sharing the defensive spotlight with Mike Green as he is ready to start the season healthy and ready to go.
Winnipeg Jets: Evander Kane
Having just played their first season back in Winnipeg, the Jets still have room for players to establish themselves as "star players", and some are already off to a head start.
Evander Kane was second in point production on the team last season, potting 30 goals and 27 assists for 57 points.
Having recently just signed on for another six years, Kane will undoubtedly build upon the reputation he already has in Winnipeg and will be a fan favorite as long as he stays. At 21 years old, he looks ready to be considered among the stars of the league as soon as the puck drops on the next season.
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