16 Rising NHL Stars from the Month of October
While there were many great team performances during the month of October in the NHL, there were also individual players stepping up and making a name for themselves.
These players scored highlight-reel goals, played shutdown defense and made key saves at the right time to keep their teams in close game. They let the league know they were on the scene and are hoping to be there to stay.
Fans and opposing players need to get used to hearing these players' names as the season wears on.
Here are 15 rising stars in the NHL.
Sean Couturier, Center, Philadelphia Flyers
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Couturier was the Flyers' first-round pick in the 2011 draft, being selected eighth overall. He went straight into the NHL after spending the last three years with the Drummond Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, where he had back-to-back 96-point seasons.
So far this year, he is fifth on Philadelphia in scoring with eight points in 14 games. He is also second with a plus-nine rating and third with five goals.
Couturier has won 42.8 percent of his faceoffs, good for third on the team, and is seventh with 13 hits while ranking ninth with 10 blocked shots.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Center, Edmonton Oilers
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Nugent-Hopkins was the first overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, and he's already been a key contributor on an Oilers team that is currently in third place in the Western Conference and leading the Northwest Division.
He has 12 points in 13 games to lead NHL rookies in scoring and tie with Ryan Smyth for the team scoring lead. In addition, he has posted a hat trick, two power-play goals and one game-winning goal.
Nugent-Hopkins has even shown some skill on defense, as he is tied for fifth on Edmonton with 12 blocked shots.
Marcus Johansson, Center, Washington Capitals
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Johansson played 69 games with the Capitals last year and finished with 27 points along with two power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and two game-winning goals.
This year, he already has seven points to tie for fifth on the Caps in scoring. He is also second in the NHL and first on the team with three game-winning goals. He is tied for second on Washington with five goals in 11 games.
Johansson ranks eighth on the Capitals with seven blocked shots and seventh with 1:43 of ice time on the power play.
Gabriel Landeskog, Left Wing, Colorado Avalanche
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Landeskog, the second overall pick of the 2011 draft, is another one of the most recent draft picks who has been quick to make an impact on his new team.
He is tied for fifth on the Avalanche in scoring, with seven points through 14 games, and is tied for second with four goals. He ranks eighth with 1:23 of ice time on the penalty kill.
In addition, he has shown a physical edge in his game, as he is currently second on Colorado with 30 hits.
James Neal, Left Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
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Neal has been a consistent 20-goal scorer for the last three seasons, but with Sidney Crosby still out of the Penguins lineup, he is standing out in a pack of talented scorers around the NHL.
After scoring just one goal in 20 games with Pittsburgh last season, Neal has already put up nine points to rank second in the NHL. He also has 14 points in 15 games and is fifth in the league with three power-play goals.
He is currently leading the Pens in scoring and has three points in the Pens' first two November games.
Matt Read, Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
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Read, who went undrafted out of Bemidji State University, played 11 games last year with the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers' AHL affiliate. He posted 13 points and a plus-nine, making a quick transition to the pro game.
He has stuck with the Flyers this year and has seven points in 11 games to rank fifth among rookies in scoring.
Read also ranks fifth on the team with a 41.7 percent faceoff win percentage.
Tyler Seguin, Center, Boston Bruins
Although the Bruins struggled to start the year and are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, Tyler Seguin has been a bright spot.
The second-overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, Seguin has 14 points and a plus-10 rating this year, as well as one power-play goal and one game-winning goal. He is first in the NHL in plus/minus rating and leads the Bruins in scoring.
On Saturday night, he scored his first career hat trick as the Bruins blew out the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 7-0.
He ranks sixth on the team with 2:49 of ice time on the power play.
Craig Smith, Center, Nashville Predators
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Smith, the Preds' fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft, spent two years at the University of Wisconsin before making the Preds out of training camp this year.
He is currently second on Nashville with 10 points in 13 games and is third with four goals. Two of those goals have come on the power play. His totals rank him third among NHL rookies in scoring.
In addition, Smith is sixth on the team with a 49.1 faceoff win percentage and 2:47 of ice time on the power play. He is also seventh with 12 hits.
Smith has already established himself as a dependable player as the Predators look to make the playoffs once again.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Defenseman, Phoenix Coyotes
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Ekman-Larsson played 48 games with the Coyotes last year and had 11 points and a plus-three rating.
So far in 2011-12, he has five points in 13 games. Of his three goals, one was on the power play and one was a game-winner. He is third among Coyotes defensemen in scoring.
He is sixth on the team with 19 hits and 10 blocked shots. His 18:23 of ice time per game is ranked eighth, while he is ninth with 1:26 of ice time on the power play.
Nick Leddy, Defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks
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Leddy currently leads Hawks defensemen in scoring with eight points in 14 games, and he also has a plus-three rating. That's already an improvement over his totals in 2010-11, when he had seven points and a minus-three in 46 games.
He is third with 20 blocked shots and 20:46 of ice time per game. His 2:06 of ice time on the power play is ranked ninth, while he is eighth with 13 hits.
If Leddy can keep up his solid play, he'll join Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as another force to be reckoned with in Chicago's defensive corps.
Yannick Weber, Defenseman, Montreal Canadiens
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In 41 games with the Habs last year, Weber posted 11 points and an even rating.
This year, he is coming close to last year's points totals, as he has five points through the Canadiens' first 13 games. He has already improved on his plus/minus rating, as he has a plus-four.
He is currently second among team defensemen in scoring, and both of his goals have come on the power play.
Weber ranks fourth on Montreal with 19:46 of ice time per game and 3:14 of ice time on the power play. He is also ninth with 1:55 played on the penalty kill.
Michael Del Zotto, Defenseman, New York Rangers
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Del Zotto was limited to 47 games with the Rangers last year after playing 80 games in 2009-10. He finished the 2010-11 season with 11 points and a minus-five rating, as well as two power-play goals.
This year, he has six points and a plus-six rating in 13 games. He is tied for second among Rangers defensemen in scoring and tied for first on the team in plus/minus rating.
In addition, he is tied for second with 27 hits and second with 4:53 of ice time on the power play. He is fourth with 21:49 of ice time per game and sixth with 10 blocked shots.
Brian Elliott, Goaltender, St. Louis Blues
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St. Louis Blues starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak has struggled this year, as he has a record of 1-6 in seven games while posting a .856 save percentage and 3.35 GAA.
Fortunately for the Blues, who just hired Ken Hitchcock as their new head coach, Brian Elliott has stepped up as Halak has tried to find his game.
Elliott had a down year last year himself, as he had a record of 15-27-9 and three shutouts in 55 games with the Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators. He also had a .892 save percentage and 3.51 GAA.
However, he has been reliable this year, as he is 5-1 in seven games with one shutout. He is fifth in the NHL with a .941 save percentage and a 1.72 GAA.
Jhonas Enroth, Goaltender, Buffalo Sabres
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Enroth performed admirably in 14 games with the Sabres last season, as he had a 9-2-2 record with one shutout, as well as a .907 save percentage and a 2.73 GAA.
This season, Enroth has earned a full-time roster spot and has continued where he left off in 2010-11. In five games, he is undefeated with a 4-0 record and is third in the NHL with a .952 save percentage and a 1.41 GAA.
He is also first among rookie netminders in wins, GAA and save percentage.
The Sabres have to feel good knowing that if starter Ryan Miller falters or get injured, Enroth can come in and still give them a chance to win the game.
Josh Harding, Goaltender, Minnesota Wild
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Harding has spent his entire career with the Wild but had not been able to post a winning record during his first three full NHL seasons.
After missing all of 2010-11 with a knee injury, he has bounced back in a big way.
In five games, Harding is 4-0-1 and is first in the league with a .965 save percentage and second with a 1.18 GAA.
Thanks to Harding's strong play, the Wild are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 7-3-3 for 17 points.
Jonathan Quick, Goaltender, Los Angeles Kings
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After posting 30-win seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11, Quick is off to another strong start this season and continuing to prove that he should be in the conversation of the NHL's elite goaltenders.
This season, he set Kings franchise records by posting three consecutive shutouts and maintaining the longest shutout streak by a Los Angeles goalie. He didn't allow a goal over a 202:11 stretch of play.
He has a record of 6-2-3 with three shutouts to start the 2011-12 campaign and is fifth in the NHL in wins, as well as in save percentage (.941). He is also fourth with a 1.68 GAA and is first in the league in shutouts.
Quick was ninth in the NHL in 2011 with 35 wins, sixth with a 2.24 GAA and tied for sixth with six shutouts. His GAA and save percentage have improved every year he's been in the league, and those totals should be better come April 2012 if he can keep up his consistent play.