5 Underrated NHL Players You Need to Know Heading Into the 2022-23 Season
With NHL training camps opening later this month, hockey fans are starting to focus on their favorite team's chances for improvement in the coming season.
Most of the attention will be on established superstars in their prime such as the Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews. Fans will also be keen to see if older stars such as the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin can maintain their high level of performance.
Each team also has players who tend to be overshadowed by their better-known teammates. Some, however, could be poised to raise their profiles in 2022-23. One example would be Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Moore, whose two-way skills made him an invaluable part of his club's improvement last season.
Here are five underrated players every fan should know heading into the coming NHL season. Feel free to let us know if you agree or disagree with this list in the comments section below.
Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames topped the Pacific Division last season with 111 points. Much of that success was thanks to career-best performances by stars such as goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
Their efforts, however, overshadowed defenseman Rasmus Andersson's breakout season.
Skating with Noah Hanifin on the Flames' top defense pairing, the 25-year-old Swede more than doubled his previous career high of 22 points by netting 50 points in 82 games. That placed him fifth among Flames scorers and 20th among all NHL blueliners.
Andersson proved to be the Flames' best all-around defenseman. Logging a team-leading 22:40 of time on ice per game, Andersson saw plenty of power-play and penalty-killing time. He was also second among Flames skaters with 125 blocked shots.
Gaudreau and Tkachuk have been replaced by Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri. How well they'll fare with the Flames will be the story going into this season. Nevertheless, Andersson should emerge from their shadows if he builds upon his superb 2021-22 performance.
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators
An undrafted winger who spent four seasons with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, Tanner Jeannot signed an entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators in 2018. Called up midway through the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, his seven points in 15 games showed sufficient potential that the Predators re-signed him last July to a two-year contract.
Jeannot rewarded management's faith and patience with a solid performance in his first full NHL campaign. He led all rookies with 24 goals and 130 penalty minutes while also sitting eighth in rookie points with 41. He was fourth in goals, sixth in points and second in PIMs among the Predators, as he proved willing to step up and defend his teammates when necessary.
At 6'2” and 208 pounds, Jeannot uses his size and strength well to separate opponents from the puck and generate scoring opportunities. He averaged just 15:59 in time on ice per game but sat fourth among his teammates in shorthanded ice time (2:33) and led them with 318 hits. Jeannot also led their forwards with 64 blocked shots.
Jeannot hasn't garnered as much attention as better-known teammates like Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg because of his short time in the NHL. With more maturity and ice time, however, he could blossom into a solid power forward for the Predators this season.
Mason Marchment, Dallas Stars
Mason Marchment was another undrafted forward on our list who enjoyed a breakout performance in 2021-22. After managing 11 points in 37 NHL games over the previous two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers, he tallied 47 points in 54 games last season to finish eighth among Florida scorers.
A big forward with solid two-way abilities, the 6'4", 209-pound Marchment was fifth on the Panthers with 114 hits. His overall stats would've been even better had he not missed 28 games because of injuries and illness. The Panthers missed his energetic, physical style in the postseason, as they were swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Salary-cap constraints prevented the Panthers from re-signing Marchment, who inked a four-year contract with the Dallas Stars worth an annual average value of $4.5 million. That's quite a raise over the $800,000 he earned on his one-year deal last season with the Panthers.
Marchment was often overlooked during his short tenure with the star-studded Panthers. He could garner more recognition this season if he fits in well with the Stars, who should appreciate his aggressive style of play.
Trevor Moore, Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings exceeded expectations last season, as the rebuilding club reached the playoffs for the first time in four years. Among the reasons for their improvement was the strong two-way play of Trevor Moore.
Yet another undrafted forward on our list, the 27-year-old Moore began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Kings in the trade that sent Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford to the Leafs. After showing some promise with 23 points in 56 games during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, he had 48 points in 81 games in 2021-22.
Skating at left wing on the Kings' second line with Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson, Moore saw more playing time and responsibilities last season. He finished fifth in points and takeaways (30) among Kings skaters and saw action on their power-play and penalty-killing units.
Moore also proved an opportunistic scorer on the penalty kill. He led the Kings with five goals and six points in shorthanded situations and tied for the league lead with the Ottawa Senators' Alex Formenton in both categories.
Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues
It seems odd to label a player who enjoyed a breakout 77-point performance last season as underrated. And yet, St. Louis Blues center Robert Thomas' efforts were often dwarfed by better-known teammates such as leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, captain Ryan O'Reilly and emerging star Jordan Kyrou.
Thomas, however, was no passenger on this Blues club. After struggling through inconsistency and injuries in his first three seasons, the young center reached the level expected of him when the Blues selected him 20th overall in the 2017 NHL draft.
The 23-year-old finished second in points among Blues scorers, with 60 of his 77 points coming at even strength. He also netted 14 points with a man advantage and three in shorthanded situations. Thomas also played a responsible defensive game, leading the Blues with 60 takeaways.
Blues management was sufficiently impressed by Thomas' performance, signing him to an eight-year extension worth an average annual value of 8.1 million, on July 13 cementing him as an important member of this roster's core.