Every year in the NHL, new players step up into that "unheralded guy" role. A player that has either little expectations at the beginning of a season, or a player that just doesn't get the kind of exposure no matter what he does, are the main criteria for the underappreciated team.
The projected stats are extrapolated to fit the number of games the player will play over the 82-game season.
The team fields six forwards, four defensemen, and two goalies.
Clicking on the players name will take you to a short highlight.
David Krejci, Boston Bruins
2008-09 Projected Stats: 25 G, 50 A, 75 PTS, +40
The 22-year-old centerman has had a major breakout season, and as a reward, he has seen more ice time, and power-play time. He hasn't disappointed either, shooting at nearly 17 percent. He has already destroyed his career highs in every statistical category, and remains to be a big reason for the Bruins success.
Michael Frolik, Florida Panthers
2008-09 Projected Stats: 21 G, 20 A, 41 PTS, +6
The 10th overall pick in 2006 has been a big time success for the Panthers thus far. His 17 goals tops much more heralded rookies like Steven Stamkos (13), Kris Versteeg (16), and Kyle Okposo (12). He is a tremendous young player that just goes out and performs every night, and continues to put up numbers despite seeing little power-play time.
Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
2008-09 Projected Stats: 40 G, 24 A, 64 PTS, +14
Eriksson had been improving at a steady level since he entered the league in 2006, but he has exploded in 2008. He already has as many goals (31) as he did points in his entire 2007 season. One of the bright spots on an otherwise depleted Stars lineup, Eriksson is also a very well-behaved player, committing a minuscule four penalties in 64 games.
Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
2008-09 Projected Stats: 23 G, 22 A, 45 PTS, +13
Burrows is again silently producing on a Vancouver team known for defense and opportunistic scoring. A player not historically known for putting the puck in the net, Burrows has added a scoring touch to his repertoire this season. He has also logged over 100 minutes of penalty time in both of the past two seasons.
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
2008-09 Projected Stats: 29 G, 38 A, 68 PTS, +1
It's ridiculous how under the radar this guy is for how good he's been. For a man playing his entire ice hockey career in a desert, Doan has done extraordinarily well for himself. Captain Coyote has consistently been in the area of 20-30 goals, and around 60 points for a season. He fights, scores, dishes, and is the ultimate leader.
Brad Boyes, St. Louis Blues
2008-09 Projected Stats: 32 G, 33 A, 65 PTS, -23
Despite being a first-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs, Boyes has played for San Jose and Boston before landing in St. Louis. He ran onto the fantasy stage in his first full season as a Blue, bagging an impressive 43 goals. This year, he is a little bit down from that, but he has learned to share the puck. For a guy who was dumped by three other teams, Boyes is a talented player in need of some serious recognition.
Cam Barker, Chicago Blackhawks
2008-09 Projected Stats: 5 G, 34 A, 39 PTS, -5
Barker isn't a flashy or big name defenseman, but he has terrific upside. He possesses a monster slap shot, and has supreme power-play talent. The former first round pick figures to be a force on the Blackhawks' blue line for many years to come.
Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild
2008-09 Projected Stats: 14 G, 26 A, 40 PTS, -14
The former sixth-round choice of the New York Rangers, Zidlicky didn't have much of a future in the Big Apple. He was traded to Nashville, and he immediately fit in. Now with the Wild, Zidlicky has again proved he is an offensive force to be reckoned with. Another excellent young power-play quarterback to keep an eye on.
Braydon Coburn, Philadelphia Flyers
2008-09 Projected Stats: 9 G, 21 A, 30 PTS, +7
Coburn is a young, versatile defenseman who is learning very quickly. He does basically everything; power-plays, penalty-kill, gets into fights, and he can score a few also. He has a big frame at 6'5" and 220 lbs.
Kyle Quincey, Los Angeles Kings
2008-09 Projected Stats: 4 G, 41 A, 45 PTS, +3
A year ago, Quincey was buried on the depth chart in Detroit, having only registered a point in two seasons. He was then shipped off to Los Angeles, where he has taken every advantage of a starting job. A primary assist man on the power-play, he also has a howitzer for a shot. He's also an underrated scrapper as well.
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
2008-09 Projected Stats: 29-13-1, 2.22 GAA, .923 SV percent, 8 SHO
Rinne has almost single-handedly dragged the Predators from the Western Conference basement into sixth place. His 2.22 GAA and .923 SV percent both top fellow rookie Steve Mason of Columbus. Having only started one game in his career previous to 2008, the eighth-round pick from Finland has been nearly invincible in overtime.
Yann Danis, New York Islanders
2008-09 Projected Stats: 9-12-3, 2.46 GAA, .924 SV percent, 2 SHO
Since Danis took over the starting job in mid-January, the otherwise dismal Islanders have been playing .500 hockey with him between the pipes. However, once Rick DiPietro returns, look for Danis to find a starting job elsewhere and make a splash in a full season of action.