The Most Feared Players in Hockey Today

Mark PareCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2011

The Most Feared Players in Hockey Today

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    We are about two months into the 2011-12 NHL season and new players are emerging as stars to look forward to for the rest of the year.

    Some will flourish in the spotlight and continue to be a major player for their respective squads, guiding them to a playoff berth, and others will wither away, not doing much else and faltering behind a fast start.

    At this point, the majority on this list are not only on here because of their individual accomplishments, but for what those accomplishments are doing for their respective squads in the standings.

    There are teams that you wouldn't even think about two years ago when it came to division leads, conference leads or even playoff spots in general, and the players on this list are a major player in those abysmal team trends coming to a crashing halt at this point of time.

    There are 10 players on this list that are dangerous. So in no particular order, here are the 10 most feared players in hockey, and not feared like Milan Lucic running you over type of fear, the type of fear that is put into you because you know they can burn you on the score sheet if you even give them a hint of room on the ice.

Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)

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    Stats: 19 GP, 6 G, 17 A, 23 PTS, (+5)

    We start the list with the guy who did the most on the score sheet last season, the Art Ross Trophy-winning Daniel Sedin.

    Sedin hasn't dropped off much from what he did last season. He is tied for second in the NHL for points and tied for first in assists, so he is picking up some trends from his brother Henrik, who is usually the playmaker of the two.

    The fact that Daniel is making more of the plays at this juncture shows how much he has grown and become more of a complete player.

    That, and the maturity that goes into being a leader on a team that was so close to winning the Stanley Cup last June just goes to show that Daniel is a threat all the time.

Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Stats: 18 GP, 8 G, 13 A, 21 PTS (+14)

    In all respect to his fellow teammates, Hossa is on here as merely a representative of what the Blackhawks have done recently.

    They are tops in the league and as a unit, this team hasn't looked as solid since they won the Cup in 2010.

    Patrick Kane is only a point behind Hossa and could've easily been on this list, but if I were going to put two Blackhawks on here, then the rest of them would want to be on here, too. That isn't fair to the other teams, though, disregard this a few slides from now, as there is a specific reason for each player to be on here.

    Hossa is the team leader in points and his plus/minus is near tops in the league, which means when he is on the ice, he is there for scoring purposes and can play some defense as well, something that is worth that huge contract he signed a couple years ago.

Jaromir Jagr (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Stats: 17 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 PTS (+7)

    Who thought a year ago that we would be talking about Jaromir Jagr in the NHL?

    Anybody?

    Going once...

    OK, well, you get the point.

    After Jagr left the NHL for Russia, he was a shell of his former Penguins self, producing 71 points in 2007-08 with the Rangers.

    Yes, age becomes a factor, but we are also talking about a guy who once scored 62 goals and 149 points in 1995-96.

    Yes, that was long ago but still, Jagr is one of the more shocking players in the NHL.  He is on pace for 82 points and if he keeps going, he could top that total.

    The Flyers, a team that was almost left for dead after the trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, are emerging as a young, skillful team with a gritty veteran to steer the ship, one that has been through the trials of tough playoff series after tough playoff series and more importantly, has two Cup rings (Pittsburgh 1991, 1992) to his credit.

Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Stats: 17 GP, 11 G, 11 A, 22 PTS (+3)

    OK, the two teammates in a row thing mentioned earlier came up a bit early, sorry.

    Anyway, the Hearst, Ontario native has started this season as we expected he would.  Now that he doesn't have a Richards or a Carter doing all the scoring, he had to step up.

    Giroux sits fourth in NHL scoring (way ahead of Richards and Carter, by the way) and has proven that the Flyers are in great hands with a new, young leader at the helm in the forward position.

    Giroux and Jagr as a unit provides a voice for the team that is laced with confidence, experience, scoring prowess and a sheer desire to win.

    It's like yin and yang but with the same goal in mind, and both of them show that Paul Holmgren wasn't as senile as we all thought he was when he dealt his captain and leading scorer away within a week of each other.

    They got some great young talent in Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and it has allowed Giroux to get out of his shell and become the elite player we knew he could become with the right amount of time.

    He could still work on his defense a bit but in terms of pure goal-scoring centers, Giroux is a big threat in this league.

    The Flyers are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, two points out of first place with a record of 10-4-3.

James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Stats: 18 GP, 12 G, 8 A, 20 PTS (-2)

    Another one of those players that could benefit with some defensive prowess, but on a team like Pittsburgh, James Neal has already exceeded expectations at this point.

    On a team that's biggest story continues to be what isn't on the ice, the Penguins have sure showcased their depth and are sitting in the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

    They've only lost three of their last 10 games and Neal has been at the forefront of a lot of the success, not Malkin, not Jordan Staal. It's the man they grabbed at the trade deadline last season and the man who sits second in goals (first in PPG's) and seventh in points.

Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars)

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    Stats: 17 GP, 5 G, 14 A, 19 PTS (+6)

    The Dallas Stars a are surprising story so far.  After losing Brad Richards in the offseason, the Stars sit first in the Pacific Division and amongst the team, a young asset has emerged as a dangerous player for their squad—Jamie Benn.

    In only his third year in the NHL, the man who was selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft has become the hidden gem that teams look for in the later rounds.  He has already recorded 20-plus goals in his first two seasons and he is on pace to pass the 80-point plateau, well over his career high of 56 that he set a season ago.

    It's another case of a young talent stepping up to become a dangerous threat with the absence of a veteran who once occupied a lot more of the ice time.

Ryan Smyth (Edmonton Oilers)

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    Stats: 17 GP, 10 G, 7 A, 17 PTS (+2)

    The prodigal son returned to northern Alberta, and he lit a fire under some of the young guns as well.

    Ryan Smyth was traded by the Oilers in the spring of 2007 and when it came down to it, the Oilers suffered after it, becoming cellar dwellers for much of the period following the trade.

    In the process of it all, the Oilers have drafted and developed quite the core of young players, most notably, the first overall picks of the 2010 and 2011 drafts, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

    Smyth was traded by the Los Angeles Kings for Colin Fraser and a seventh round pick and thus, Captain Canada returned to the city he held dear to his heart.

    He has come back with a vengeance, leading the team in points and despite a speedy, young Oilers core, Smyth may just be the most dangerous out of all of them, showing that even at 35 years of age, he still has plenty of game left and brings a good amount of experience and leadership that this Oilers team desperately needs.

    It seems to be working as the Oilers sit in seventh place in an always competitive Western Conference.

Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers)

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    Stats: 17 GP, 1 G, 16 A, 17 PTS (+6)

    Brian Campbell is starting to show why the San Jose Sharks paid so much to get him at the trade deadline in 2007-08.

    He is not that known for his goal scoring, as his 12-goal career high will attest to, but the ability to create space and chances for his team are what got him his eight-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008.

    He has a Cup ring and is starting fresh with a new team.

    Florida was one of the big buyers this past offseason and the trade for Campbell was to take in a load of salary more than anything.

    Campbell is the highest-paid player on the team at this point and the Panthers are getting their money's worth with great selfless play and great poise.

    Campbell currently holds the assists lead in the NHL, and a plus-six is not much to shake a stick at when it comes to a team that is excelling from previous years.

Tyler Seguin (Boston Bruins)

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    Stats: 16 GP, 11 G, 9 A, 20 PTS (+15)

    After winning the Stanley Cup in his rookie season, Tyler Seguin has emerged as one of the league's best young players.

    He can do it all: score goals, come back on defense and he remains disciplined, staying out of the penalty box.

    Despite the Cup hangover that plagued the Bruins at the beginning of the season, Seguin has brought the team out of that funk by helping them win seven of their last 10 games.

    Seguin is tied for third in goals and is 11th in points.

    That's not too bad for the player they gave up to get the pick to choose Seguin.

    Now who was that player again? Oh yes, the next slide.

Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)

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    Stats: 18 GP, 13 G, 12 A, 25 PTS (+9)

    The roller coaster ride that is the Leafs' season can be attributed to one man: Phil Kessel.

    Night in and night out, win or lose, Kessel finds a way to pad his stats and make the players around him better.

    He is tops in league scoring and is almost halfway to his career-high 36-goal total he got in his final year with the Bruins.

    He has yet to miss a game with the Leafs after he debuted in November 2009 and is showing no signs of slowing down. He is also tops in goal scoring in the NHL and for a Leafs fanbase that is looking for something to cheer about, this is a great start.

    If Kessel can keep up this great pace, the Leafs could be set to make their first playoff appearance since before the lockout.

    Brian Burke was widely criticized for the Kessel trade, but if all goes according to plan, the trade may not have been so bad after all.

    The Leafs are getting back to the form they once knew in the Mats Sundin days and with Kessel continuing to be a threat every time he hits the ice, it's sure not to end soon.

    What do you think?

    Remember, it's a hockey discussion, so be respectful and add to the conversation, don't tear suggestions down based on your own opinion.

     

    Mark Pare is a Toronto Maple Leafs Featured Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.