10 Underappreciated NHL Players That Fly Under the Radar
It's no big secret that Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are arguably the two prominent faces of the National Hockey League. What about those talents that often go underappreciated?
Whether it be because of a relatively poor hockey market or just being overshadowed by more premier talents within their respective team, here are 10 players that don't receive as much attention as they should.
Martin Havlat (San Jose Sharks)
Over the course of his career, Martin Havlat has steadily been one of the quietest point-per-game producers the league has seen. Though frustrating injuries have set him back throughout his career, he's an unbelievably dangerous top-six forward.
However, in the past three seasons, Havlat has played 232 regular-season games, nearly complete seasons. His 62 points in 78 games with Minnesota was good enough to tie for the team lead with playmaking Fin Mikko Koivu. It's interesting to note that, while on a dominant Chicago team during the 2008-09 campaign, Havlat notched 77 points in 81 games. Now that he is once again with a powerhouse team, look for Havlat to quietly post some outstanding numbers.
Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)
Henrik Zetterberg far too often goes unnoticed when Pavel Datsyuk receives most of the offensive attention surrounding the team, something that shouldn't happen for a guy that has 556 points in 588 career games.
Datsyuk is underrated in his own right, too, so Zetterberg is undoubtedly one of the top players who deserves more credit than he gets. He may not throw as many flashy dekes, but his ability to make plays when it appears there are none to be made is invaluable to the Red Wings.
Chris Stewart (St. Louis Blues)
Chris Stewart is quickly blossoming into one of the league's premier power forwards. After making a big splash with the Avalanche in 2009-10, posting 28 goals and 64 points in 77 games, he was shipped to St. Louis in a blockbuster deal involving former first overall pick Erik Johnson being sent to Colorado.
Now, Stewart has been placed in a top right-wing role on a dramatically improved Blues team where he will surely thrive. His big body presence will help lead the Blues into the playoff hunt this season.
Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers)
The newly anointed "Captain Cally," Ryan Callahan, does all the little things a team needs to be successful on a nightly basis. He blocks shots, finishes his checks, battles along the boards and backchecks as hard as he forechecks. Oh yeah, and did I mention he scored 23 goals and 48 points in just 60 games?
Callahan, 26, may not flare any fancy dekes or dazzle you with his speed, but he will amaze you with his work ethic and they always say "Hard work pays off." You shouldn't think it's any different here with the young Rangers captain.
Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche)
Paul Stastny, son of great Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, has been a consistent producer with the Avs since 2006. Though he had a slightly down year last season (22 goals and 57 points in 74 games is no bad season by any means), Stastny knows he needs to take a more proactive offensive charge.
Now that Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog have arrived, some of the pressure can be taken off of Stastny to be the go-to guy. The Avalanche had some immense struggles in recent years, but that's no reason to overlook such a premier talent like Stastny.
Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars)
Since the departure of Brad Richards and James Neal, many are questioning whether or not Loui Eriksson will be able to maintain his high level of production. Many are wondering where the offense will come from in Dallas this season.
Look no further than Jamie Benn. Benn, a 22-year-old winger, has racked up 22 goals in back-to-back seasons, but only in 69 games last season as opposed to a full 82-game season in 2009-10, his rookie campaign. Now entering his third season, Benn, the Victoria, British Columbia native, will only grow into a more powerful presence in the Lone Star state. With the Stars' ownership in turmoil and the team failing to find success in recent years, Benn may not receive the amount of attention he merits.
Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
When your team boasts a cast that stars Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Drew Doughty, there's a good chance that no other players will garner much attention in the media.
Dustin Brown, the 26-year-old Ithaca, New York native, is known as a hard-hitting power forward, but akin to the aforementioned Ryan Callahan, he can also produce offensively.
Each season, Brown will be good for around 30 goals, 60 points and a boatload of headaches for the opposition. He's a player that does all the little things right in order for a club to be successful, both on and off the ice.
Jack Johnson (Los Angeles Kings)
In Los Angeles, Drew Doughty is the unanimous No. 1 defenseman. His partner in crime, Jack Johnson, is a force to be reckoned with in his own right, especially on the power play.
Since 2007 when he broke into the league, Johnson's production has steadily been on the rise. While Drew Doughty receives all the attention, Johnson flies under the radar as a top-two defenseman in a blooming L.A. hockey market. As they continue to improve and inch deeper into the playoffs for seasons to come, Jack Johnson will be an enormous asset for the Kings on the blue line.
Nathan Gerbe (Buffalo Sabres)
This speedster may literally fly under the radar. Listed at 5'5", Nathan Gerbe is the smallest player in the league, but don't bother telling him that.
The 24-year-old former Boston College Eagle notched 34 points in 61 games last year in Buffalo, but it's his shifty, speedy style that the Sabres' brass especially salivates over. On top of that, he's not afraid to get his nose dirty. Look for Gerbe's production to rise even more this season, building off a successful first full season.
Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers)
Hampered by injury in recent seasons, it's easy to forget about Ales Hemsky. But boy, after watching him in a game, you won't forget about him anytime soon after that.
Finally healthy and ready to return for the Oilers in a full season, Edmonton will be getting a much-needed boost to start the season, as Hemsky is easily a point-per-game player when he's at 100 percent.
A big difference that Hemsky hasn't had in recent years is more skilled players around him. Hemsky will likely be playing with Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff most of the time, making up the "H-H-H" line.
On a young Oilers squad with stars like Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the 28-year-old Hemsky might not attract all the attention that the youths will, but he'll let his talents keep doing the talking.