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The NHL's Best Undersized Players in the 2013-14 Season

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2013

The NHL's Best Undersized Players in the 2013-14 Season

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Size is beneficial in the NHL, but it is not a necessity for those who are going to be successful.

    Some of the most spectacular players in NHL history have been small of stature. Stars like Marcel Dionne, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer and Theo Fluery were all 5'9" or smaller.

    Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion is widely credited with being the first player to use the slap shot. Despite his 5'9" frame, he could terrorize opposing goalies with that shot.

    Smaller players continue to have an impact in the NHL. Here's a look at the seven of the most effective short (5'10" or smaller) players in the NHL this season

RW Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Size: 5'10" and 186 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 16 games; six goals, 11 assists, even plus/minus

    What makes him special: Jiri Hudler's creativity and offensive instincts are two of his best attributes, and they're why he has become one of the Calgary Flames' most productive offensive players this season.

    Hudler has the ability to zip into the offensive zone, go into a high-traffic area and come out with the puck. He does this with very little wasted effort or movement.

    Hudler is accurate in both his shooting and his passing. If he is in the offensive zone with time and space, he can put the puck where he wants it to go better than the large majority of his peers.

    Hudler is not the best defensive player, and he can get muscled off the puck from time to time. He has some excellent games where he's one of the dominant players on the ice, but he doesn't always play with the maximum effort needed to achieve that kind of game on an every-night basis. 

D Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Size: 5'10" and 180 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 17 games; two goals, six assists, plus-one

    What makes him special: Tobias Enstrom is a master with the puck on the power play.

    Enstrom can do it all when the Jets have the man advantage. He can carry the puck up ice, and he can evade defenders with his maneuvers.

    Once he gets into the offensive zone, he is an excellent decision-maker. He knows when to shoot the puck, when to pass it and his execution is quite proficient.

    He stays calm under all circumstances, and head coach Claude Noel can count on him to play big minutes if that's what the Jets need. He is averaging 22:58 of ice time through the Jets' first 17 games.

LW Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Size: 5'9" and 180 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 15 games; seven goals, nine assists, plus-12

    What makes him special: A perfect example of a player who is short but not small. St. Louis is capable of taking over any game with his quickness and sensational offensive talents.

    St. Louis is not afraid to go into the corner even though he is shorter than nearly every other player he will come in contact with. He does not shy away from the physical game if that's what is required.

    St. Louis has tremendous heart and desire and he will will do anything required to help his team win. He can start a breakout in an instant and he can make a pinpoint pass while on the move.

    St. Louis has the hands to go top corner from 30 feet away. He can get his shot away quickly, and he is almost always a major test for opposing goalies.

    St. Louis, 38, has not appeared to slow down very much, and he has given no indication that he is getting close to hanging up his skates.

RW Mark Arcobello, Edmonton Oilers

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Size: 5'8" and 166 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 17 games; two goals, 10 assists, even plus/minus

    What makes him special: Mark Arcobello is one of the hardest-working players on the Oilers. While his team has gotten off to a disappointing start, Arcobello has been quite productive as he is tied for second in scoring on the team, and he is averaging 17:25 of ice time per game.

    Arcobello earned a spot on the Oilers roster because he is willing to go into the corners and fight for the puck. Once he gets it, he is an excellent passer and knows how to set up his teammates.

    Arcobello has been more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, but he scored the first two goals of his career Nov. 6 in Edmonton's 4-3 overtime victory over Florida. The second of the two goals was the winner in the extra session.

    “I just tried to hit the net,” Arcobello told reporters, per the National Post, after scoring the winner. “It just topped off a good night and we had a big win.”

RW Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Size: 5'9" and 180 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 17 games; seven goals, three assists, plus-one

    What makes him special: Brendan Gallagher may be small, but he is a fearless player who is not afraid to compete with much larger opponents for the puck. He has already added 17 pounds to his frame in just a little over a year, and that makes him much tougher to knock off the puck.

    Gallagher has special skills and he has already shown in the last two seasons that he will score important goals for the Canadiens. Gallagher has a good shot and he can get rid of the puck quickly. 

    Gallagher has excellent offensive instincts and he is an accurate passer. He is a nice fit on Montreal's second line with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

    Gallagher said he has never been concerned with those who say he is too small to play at the NHL level. He told John Ciolfi of NHL.com that he is more interested in proving his supporters right.

    "I don't worry about the critics," Gallagher said. "People are always going to tell me I'm too small, or that I can't do something. It's going to happen. I don't worry too much about that. It's the people who help you get there and the people who support you along the way … those are the people you want to play for."

C Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

    Size: 5'10" and 186 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 17 games; two goals, 10 assists, plus-four

    What makes him special: Mikael Granlund has top hockey instincts and skills. He does not have the kind of speed or strength that will set him apart.

    That was a problem last season when he scored two goals and six assists in the lockout-shortened season and it looked like he might not turn out to be the player the Wild thought he would be when they drafted him with the ninth pick overall in the first round.

    Granlund appears to be a more confident player this season as he already has more points in 17 games than he did in 27 a year ago.

    Granlund is working well with red-hot Jason Pominville, who has already scored 10 goals.

D Torey Krug, Boston Bruins

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    Size: 5'9" and 180 pounds

    2013-14 stats: 15 games; six goals, three assists, plus-four

    What makes him special: Claude Julien wanted a defenseman who could carry the puck with speed and finesse so the Bruins could jump start their power play.

    Krug is that player. He served notice that he had that talent in last year's conference semifinal playoff matchup with the New York Rangers when he scored four goals in five games against New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

    Krug has started the season by scoring six goals for the Bruins and adding three assists. Three of his goals and two of his assists have come with the man advantage.

    Krug told Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe before the start of the season that he thought his power-play skills were the biggest reason he could play with the Bruins this season.

    That’s where I thrive,” Krug said. “That’s why I’m here. If I wasn’t playing on the power play, I don’t think they’d have much room for me up here with the big club. I’ve got to make sure I’m doing my best to help the power play succeed."

    Krug also takes a regular shift for the Bruins. He is averaging 17:53 of ice time per game. His lack of size could prove to be an issue when playing against bigger forwards, but Krug has good strength on his frame and will take and deliver hits when he has to.

     

     

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