Just like the rest of us, NHL superstars have good weeks and bad weeks. Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Steven Stamkos are all susceptible to the same ups and downs as us "normal" folks and can see their cold streaks develop into cold months and then cold years.
The best players figure out ways to snap out of these slumps—Datsyuk is still an awesome two-way forward when he's not scoring, Ovechkin will always draw defenders away from his teammates and Stamkos will always be a threat from the left circle in the offensive zone.
A player's career isn't defined by the streaks. Instead, it's defined by how the player handles that odd roller coaster of effectiveness and ineffectiveness.
Over the last three seasons some of the NHL's best players have struggled, only to bounce back and win MVP awards and Stanley Cups. Others have gone the opposite direction, trending downward with the weight of non-production weighing on them.
All statistics appear courtesy of Hockeydb.com.
While Evgeni Malkin hasn't been derailed by injuries over the last three seasons, he hasn't exactly been an iron man either. Since winning the Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies in 2008-09, Geno hasn't played a season without missing at least seven games due to injury.
There's no denying that while out on the ice Malkin is one of the best players in the world, but is he as deadly and feared as he was a few years ago? The answer to that question is a resounding yes, as evidenced by 109 points in only 75 games two seasons ago.
Injury bug aside, Malkin is still one of the top offensive talents in the NHL and requires constant respect from the opposition when he's in the lineup.
Stock Watch: Consistent
Eric Staal reeled off a 100-point season in 2005, catapulting him to the top of the NHL's young stars list and establishing himself as a monster scoring threat. Since then, his best season was in 2007-08, when he scored 82 points.
After those two outbursts, he settled in nicely as a 70-80 point guy, capable of leading the Carolina Hurricanes in scoring and in the locker room. At least that was the case until 2013, when Staal was on pace for perhaps another 100-point year and finished sixth in league scoring.
As the 'Canes continue to add talented pieces like Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal to the mix, E. Staal will only continue to add to his point total. He's only 28 years old and clearly has some outstanding hockey left in the tank.
Stock Watch: Up
There isn't a more dangerous goal scorer in the NHL heading into the 2013-14 season than Steven Stamkos. Not Alexander Ovechkin, not Jeff Carter or Phil Kessel or James Neal. None of them (save for maybe Ovechkin) strikes fear into the hearts of opposing goaltenders quite like Stamkos.
His skating is lethal. His shot is even more lethal. And forget about stopping that one-timer from the left circle.
Stamkos has scored 208 goals in only five NHL seasons and would have likely hit the 60-goal plateau for the second straight year had 2013 not been cut short by the lockout.
The most scary thing about the Tampa Bay Lightning sniper is that he's only 23 years old and will continue to improve over the next half-decade. Especially if Tampa Bay continues to tack on talented pieces via the draft like Jonathan Drouin.
Stock Watch: Up
2013 was a good year for Sidney Crosby in that he appeared to finally be over the effects of that lingering concussion. Poor Sid appears to have the same injury bug that has infested Evgeni Malkin, though, and missed the final 12 games of the season after taking a nasty puck to the face.
Despite missing so much time, Crosby was still the fourth leading scorer in the NHL and garnered serious consideration for the Hart Trophy—seriously impressive when considering that he missed a quarter of the season.
When he's not taking pucks to the face, there's really no question as to who the best overall offensive player in the league is. Crosby struggled a bit in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins, but that isn't enough of a strike to knock him from his perch.
Stock Watch: If it was down when he was injured, it's up now
While Pavel Datsyuk probably won't be winning the Lady Byng this year after his "I'm orthodox, and that says it all" comment in regards to Russia's anti-gay laws, he's still one of the most electrifying players in the NHL.
Crazy things happen when Datsyuk gets the puck on his stick and gathers some momentum through the neutral zone. He's a magnificent passer and could have hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in three years had 2013 been a normal 82-game season.
While he's 35 now and won't likely be improving upon his career-best 97-point season at this juncture, Datsyuk has yet to show any evidence of taking his foot off the gas moving forward. He bounced back from a bit of a down year in 2011-12 and returned to a point-per-game pace in 2013.
Stock Watch: Up
After five straight seasons of declining point totals (112, 110, 109, 85, 65), Alexander Ovechkin was considered a ghost of his former self. While the drop-off from 112 to 109 isn't brutal, the Great 8 hit an all-time low when he posted only 65 points in 2011-12.
What a difference a year—plus consistent coaching and a position change—can make for a player.
Ovechkin bounced back in a massive way in 2013 and could have possibly approached the 70-goal plateau for the first time in his career had the season been 82 games long. Still, 32 goals in 48 games is a scorching pace by today's standards, and it will be interesting to see how Ovechkin performs during the upcoming season.
Stock Watch: Cautiously Up
Hockey fans keep waiting for Martin St. Louis to lose a step and a fraction of his game as he approaches 40. If 2013 was any indication, they'll be waiting for at least another year or two.
The longtime Tampa Bay Lightning forward led the NHL in points scored and was consistently one of the best players throughout the season. Paired with Steven Stamkos, the duo drove the third best offense in the league.
While the team clearly needs some help on the back end, the Lighting will provide goals in bunches as long as St. Louis continues to produce at more than a point-per-game pace.
Stock Watch: Up
What a year for one of the most embattled NHL superstars in recent memory. Patrick Kane became a man before our very eyes in 2013, showcasing an unprecedented amount of focus for a player who had the reputation as a bit of a frat boy.
Kane shed that image this year and had one of his best seasons ever as a result. He led the Chicago Blackhawks in scoring during the regular season and finished fifth overall in the NHL in points. Had the 2013 season been longer, it's very possible that Kane would have set a new career high in points scored.
Then there's the whole winning the Stanley Cup thing. And the Conn Smythe. While it wasn't an easy year to be Kane, it surely was a good one.
Stock Watch: Up
Is Anze Kopitar a 70-point player or is he a guy that is capable of consistently breaching the 80-point barrier? He might have scored 80 points for only the second time in his career had there been 82 games in 2013, and he was a central cog in L.A.'s run to the Stanley Cup in 2012.
An inconsistent performance during the postseason in 2013 is cause for concern, however. The Kings needed more from Kopitar than nine points (only three goals) in 18 games as they tried to defend their title.
All told, the year must be considered a wash for him. There were higher expectations than just a solid regular season—the Kings were a team with championship aspirations, and Kopitar's struggles coincided with the team bowing out in the Western Conference Final.
Stock Watch: Down
It seems like a long time ago, but during this time between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, us pundits were wondering aloud how Zach Parise would bounce back from missing almost all of the 2010-11 campaign. While it was a far cry from the 94 points he posted in 2008-09, Parise had a successful comeback year with the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12.
He posted 69 points and would go on to sign a 13-year, $98 million pact with the Minnesota Wild (according to Capgeek.com) as a free agent.
A contract like that comes with huge expectations, and while Parise didn't fall flat in 2013, he didn't dominate either. We're willing to cut him some slack since he really didn't have a chance to learn the Wild's systems prior to the season launching, but is 18 goals in 48 games enough for Minnesota?
That pace would have put him in the 35-goal range, which has been a safe bet for Parise since his ridiculous 2008-09 season.
Stock Watch: Consistent
Jonathan Toews is no longer an underrated two-way player, as he was acknowledged for his commitment to the 200-foot game in 2013 with his first career Selke Trophy. Like Pavel Datsyuk, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks is able to impact games even when he isn't hitting the score sheet.
There weren't many games that Toews didn't factor in as an offensive contributor in 2013 though, as he was better (barely) than a point-per-game for the year.
Those numbers hold up almost perfectly with his last two years, where he was nearly a point-per-game guy as well. Toews dealt with plenty of adversity in the playoffs, especially in the second round against the Detroit Red Wings.
He was able to lead his team to the Stanley Cup though, and found ways to break through no matter who was harassing him throughout his shift.
Stock Watch: Up slightly after the Selke win
There may not be a more quiet goal-scoring threat than Phil Kessel. He'd posted four straight 30-goal seasons prior to the truncated 2013 season. Kessel put up 20 markers in 48 games though and would have almost certainly posted his fifth consecutive 30-goal year through a full 82-game season.
Production doesn't get much more steady than that in an NHL that constantly sees players rising to great heights and falling to new lows.
Knock the guy for being unassuming. Don't forget that he's been the most consistent goal-scoring threat over the last half-decade while you do it though.
Stock Watch: Consistent, but should be up