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The 10 Best Role Players in the NHL

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IApril 13, 2013

The 10 Best Role Players in the NHL

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    Everyone knows who the stars in the NHL are and they get their fair share or recognition, but there are players often referred to as the glue guys who fill many roles for a team.

    These forwards are usually bottom-six grinders, penalty killers, agitators and other players who are underrated members of various NHL teams.

    These veterans don't often get the recognition they deserve despite putting their bodies on the line and working their hardest year after year.

    The little things these players do make a big difference. Here are the 10 best role players currently in the NHL.

Vinny Prospal, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Vinny Prospal has been an NHL journeyman throughout his career, and he has been a great role player for many teams.

    He is a versatile player who can skate at each forward position. He can kill penalties, be effective on the power play and contribute some big minutes for his team.

    Prospal is also a great teammate and glue guy who surprisingly has not won a Stanley Cup yet.

Steve Ott, Buffalo Sabres

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    Steve Ott is a player who has done his job well with the Sabres this year, and he was a fan favorite with the Dallas Stars.

    Ott is an energy player and an agitator who can really get underneath an opponent's skin. He is also a pretty solid bottom-six forward who can draw penalties, play physically and help shut down players on the opposition. 

Brooks Laich, Washington Capitals

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    Brooks Laich is one of the league's top complementary role players,and he is the heart and soul of the Washington Capitals.

    The Capitals have had star players over the past few years that include Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Ribiero, Mike Green and assorted others, but Laich has been the player doing all the little things.

    He is a player who is a great leader, and it was very surprising when he wasn't named team captain.

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Wayne Simmonds was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers along with Brayden Schenn when Mike Richards was sent to the Los Angeles Kings, and he has been one of the most productive pieces from that trade.

    Simmonds is a player who acts as a quasi-enforcer from time to time. He is really effective at getting underneath the skin of his opponents and he is a tough physical player.

    The Flyers winger also has been a solid offensive contributor, and he is a versatile role player for the Broad Street Bullies.

Curtis Glencross, Calgary Flames

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    Curtis Glencross has been a very underrated player for the Calgary Flames while stars like Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Michael Cammalleri have taken the spotlight.

    Over the past few years Glencross has been a 20-plus goal contributor. He has been solid on both ends of the ice and he has been strong on special teams.

    He is a great complementary player, and one who will be an important part of the Flames going forward.

Dave Bolland, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Dave Bolland has been one of the most underrated of Chicago Blackhawks players over the past few seasons.

    Throughout his career with the Blackhawks as a bottom-six forward, Bolland has been a 0.57 point-per-game player. He has been a faceoff specialist, an effective energy player and a solid glue guy.

    He came up big for the Blackhawks during their Stanley Cup season, and he is a player who doesn't get enough recognition.

Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings

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    Johan Franzen is a 33-year-old forward for the Detroit Red Wings who is known by his nickname "The Mule."

    Franzen is a player who is one of the better role players in the league, and he is a forward who plays the game hard and is physical along the boards.

    He has a career point-per-game average of 0.57, and that is pretty solid for a secondary contributor. Franzen does a lot for the team, and as his career continues he could become the team's new Tomas Holmstrom.

Craig Adams, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Craig Adams is a veteran forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a player who has been a key part of two Stanley Cup teams.

    Back in 2005-06, Adams was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes and he was a physical bottom-six player who effectively brought energy to the lineup.

    His shutdown play helped the team win the Stanley Cup.

    In 2008-09, Adams played a similar role but he also was able to contribute some limited offense that really came at crucial moments throughout the playoffs.

    Adams is still a member of the Penguins, and he is a key glue guy on the team and in the dressing room.

Chris Kelly, Boston Bruins

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    Chris Kelly has been an effective role player since entering the league, and his contributions for the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins often go unnoticed.

    Kelly was a key cog during the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup season, and it was a year in which he came through in the clutch.

    After getting trade to the Bruins in February of 2011, Kelly went on to have an amazing playoffs in which he had 13 points in 25 games.

    Kelly followed up with 39 points in 82 games the following season. The Bruins center was injured a few weeks ago, and his loss created a big hole in the lineup.

Steve Sullivan, New Jersey Devils

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    Steve Sullivan is another journeyman player who has filled many roles throughout his career.

    He was once a great offensive contributor for the Chicago Blackhawks, but as his career continued he became a versatile bottom-six player who could slot in on the second line if his team needed him.

    Throughout his career he has been able to kill penalties, play on the power play and be a valuable complementary player.

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