1 Player from Each NHL Team Who Is Outplaying Their NHL 22 Rating

Franklin Steele@SteeleOnIceFeatured Columnist IIINovember 22, 2021

1 Player from Each NHL Team Who Is Outplaying Their NHL 22 Rating

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    It's easy to not consider the process that goes into a player's rating as you boot up your new copy of NHL 22. As fans, we have the luxury of experiencing what is, more or less, a finished product each October. Fresh features are generally rolled out on a yearly basis, but it all boils down to the joy of either creating our own superstar or controlling our favorite pros.

    Player rankings can and are updated through patches, but by and large, what we see is what we get when we first sit down to play the latest installment.

    Millions and millions of data points need to be (and are) considered when breaking the world of the NHL down into a highly customizable digital landscape. And, as it turns out, hockey is a pretty difficult game to realistically replicate in video games.

    At the heart of the experience, though, is one number: that's a player's overall rating.

    If you want your Be-A-Pro to go first overall, you better get that overall up. Want to take your dynasty team to the Stanley Cup Final? You need to acquire as much high-end talent as possible.

    EA Sports puts a ton of time and energy into getting these things right, but that doesn't mean that reality doesn't sometimes overshoot their projections. Here we're going to examine one player from every team who is outperforming their NHL 22 rating.

         

    Stats appear courtesy of Hockey Reference and Stathead unless otherwise noted and are accurate through games played on Nov. 20. And we used nhlratings.net as our baseline resource for all player rankings.

Anaheim Ducks: Troy Terry (OVR: 81)

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    We're going in alphabetical order for teams here, so it's just a coincidence that the most obvious choice for this list is also the first player we're going to discuss.

    To say that Troy Terry has been a revelation for the Anaheim Ducks this season would be an understatement. He recently saw his points streak reach 16 games and was named the NHL's third star of the week for the week ending on Nov. 14

    Go ahead and try to find an offseason prediction that had Terry playing at this level. He's on pace for more than 50 goals and 100 points, according to ESPN.com. That's bananas. Like, B-A-N-A-N-A-S bananas.

    It's highly unlikely that the former fifth-round pick (2015) continues to play at this torrid of a level, but he's clearly outperforming his overall rating of 81. The Ducks are hanging around the top spot in the Pacific Division and are defying all odds in doing so.

    Terry has been a massive reason why, skating on a line with Ryan Getzlaf, who apparently paid off Jaromir Jagr for the location of the Fountain of Youth this past summer.

Arizona Coyotes: Shayne Gostisbehere (OVR: 81)

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    The Arizona Coyotes don't have much going for them this season. They didn't win their first game until their 12th contest, which effectively torpedoed a year most expected to be lost anyway. Sometimes offseason projections can be wrong (see the Ducks), but in this case, they were spot on.

    Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic recently wrote that this team could turn out to be one of the worst of the salary-cap era, and gives Arizona an 80 percent chance to finish as the last-place squad by year's end...and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.

    But hey, at least offseason reclamation project Shayne Gostisbehere is dramatically outplaying his NHL 22 rating. Ghost has looked like, well, a ghost of his past self, turning back the clock to 2017-18 when he finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting as a breakout offensive star for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    ESPN.com has him on pace for more than 60 points. We don't see that happening, but if he stays healthy, Gostisbehere will have every opportunity to fill the stat sheet for Arizona as the year rolls on. A 10-plus goal, 40-plus point season is totally within reach for the blueliner, making this a potentially slick trade for a team that badly needs skilled skaters in the lineup.

Boston Bruins: Jeremy Swayman (OVR: 81)

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    We picked Jeremy Swayman as a betting underdog to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie this season, and so far he's made this prediction look solid. A couple of rookies in Detroit might have something to say about that particular piece of hardware, but the Boston Bruins netminder has undoubtedly outperformed his NHL 22 rating of 81.

    The low 80s seem to be EA's way of saying that this player is replacement-level. Swayman has been anything but in the contests he's started for the B's in 2021-22.

    Boston didn't come roaring out of the gates this season, and they haven't been able to win more than two games in a row as of Nov. 17. Swayman has been in goal for five of the team's eight victories, however. Only Sergei Bobrovsky has a higher quality-start percentage among goalies who've appeared in more than three games to this point, and Swayman has been a rock for Boston despite being just 22 years old.

    He's playing well enough to make some pundits wonder if he's seizing the Bruins' starting role away from big offseason signee Linus Ullmark.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Asplund (OVR: 78)

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    The Buffalo Sabres' top line didn't enter 2021-22 with any kind of expectations on them at all besides being ineffective. Over at The Athletic, Luszczyszyn projected their top unit to be the worst No. 1 group in the entire league

    This is saying something since the Seattle Kraken are an expansion team and the Coyotes have been actively trading away as much NHL-caliber talent as possible. But, as the saying goes: This is why they play the games.

    Rasmus Asplund has emerged as a top-line talent for the Sabres so far this year, and he's way, way outplaying his 78 rating with a 20-plus-goal pace through 15 games.

    It wouldn't be fair to characterize Buffalo's top trio as otherworldly, or even outstanding. They've been solid if unspectacular, but when the unit was literally supposed to be the most inadequate in the whole NHL, that's a step in the right direction.

    After putting up just 11 points in 28 games a year ago, Asplund wasn't supposed to be a difference-maker for the Sabres this year. Yet the former second-round pick has carved out a niche as a top-six forward on one of the most surprising teams to this point of the year.

    Who needs Jack Eichel when you have Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson and Asplund? (That's tongue-in-cheek; please don't @ us, Sabres fans.)

Calgary Flames: Oliver Kylington (OVR: 79)

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    It's tough to pick one player for the Calgary Flames here because they have a handful of skaters who are performing at higher levels than their NHL 22 levels would suggest.

    We have to go with defenseman Oliver Kylington, however. He's fifth on the team in points with 12 (three goals, nine assists) through 17 games and has finally started to capitalize on the skill that made him a second-round pick back in 2015.

    Dylan Fremlin of Yahoo did a fantastic deep dive into what has allowed Kylington to breakout so far this season, writing the following in mid-November:

    "Kylington won't continue to pick up points on 82 percent of the goals that are scored while he's on the ice, but it's still a testament to his involvement in the [offense] and the way he's pushing play. The defender has also been good at staying out of the box, taking only four penalty minutes with just two of them coming at five-on-five."

    These are the kinds of defensemen NHL teams need to succeed, and while he's not perfect in his own end, defensive partner Chris Tanev and the rest of the forwards have been able to cover for Kylington so far in 2021-22.

    He's outperforming his real-world projections, which in turn has made his sub-80 rating look like quite the oversight by EA Sports. His 88 rating in speed, in particular, seems to miss the mark, as Kylington can really fly out on the ice.

Carolina Hurricanes: Tony DeAngelo (OVR: 80)

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    When the Carolina Hurricanes signed Tony DeAngelo to a one-year deal this past summer, both analysts and fans alike were turned into Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson impersonators, eyebrows raised wondering what one of the smartest teams in hockey was thinking.

    They allowed Dougie Hamilton to walk as a free agent and then brought in the former New York Rangers defenseman to replace him. This is a player who was waived by the Blueshirts in February of 2021 and went unclaimed.

    Every team in the league had a chance to pick him up. And every team in the league effectively said, "Nah, we're good."

    We understand the red flags that have followed DeAngelo throughout his NHL career to this point. There's no denying he's punching way above the weight class that his 80 rating in NHL 22 would indicate, however. Only defending Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, seven-time All-Star Roman Josi and some guy named Victor Hedman have more points as defensemen than the Hurricanes' reclamation project this season.

    That's truly elite company.

    We aren't ready to call this a full-on face turn, even as Hurricanes fans chant his name at home games. But DeAngelo has made the Hurricanes' decision-makers look good with his play thus far, and his 80 rating seems much lower than it should be in hindsight.

Chicago Blackhawks: Alex DeBrincat (OVR: 88)

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    The first six players we've listed so far have vastly outplayed their ratings in NHL 22. As we arrive at the Chicago Blackhawks, it's tough to find anyone who's outperformed their rankings, as the team started off the season in quite the rut, going 1-9-2 before Jeremy Colliton was fired.

    There are a handful of underperformers. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't played up to his overall rating of 90, while Jonathan Toews' 86 seems generous, as he hasn't scored a goal and it's almost Thanksgiving. That isn't what this list is about, however.

    So maybe Alex DeBrincat might deserve a smidge more respect than his 88 rating indicates. That makes him the eighth-highest rated left wing and right wing in the game, but one could argue that he should be flirting with or at a 90.

    We'd hear arguments for and against that as, again, this seems like a rating that EA Sports got right. But we wouldn't be too upset if he jumped into the top five left wingers available in NHL 22.

Colorado Avalanche: Nazem Kadri (OVR: 85)

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    Raise your hand if you thought Nazem Kadri would be the leading scorer for the Colorado Avalanche in the middle of November. You in the back, put your hand down. You're lying, and we see through you.

    Look, this is a team that's been decimated by the injury bug. They haven't been as ravaged as the Vegas Golden Knights or Pittsburgh Penguins, but it hasn't been particularly pretty in the early going for the Avalanche. 

    Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have all missed time with various issues so far in 2021-22. You'd think that missing that much skill on a nightly basis would be reason for Kadri's numbers to take a hit, but right now he's on pace for the best season of his 13-year career.

    We don't think he's going to maintain that 100-plus-point clip, but he could conceivably crack 60 for the first time in half a decade. That would indicate a center who may be better than an 85 rating would imply. That'd be a nice boost to an Avalanche team that should get better as the season rolls on.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Boone Jenner (OVR: 82)

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    We thought that this one would be a slam dunk for Elvis Merzlikins, but his overall of 85 seems pretty fair.

    In fact, most of the skaters for the Columbus Blue Jackets seem pretty spot-on, with potentially slept-on options like Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand getting enough love from NHL 22.

    What EA Sports couldn't have anticipated was Boone Jenner turning into prime Eric Lindros as soon as he was named captain of the Blue Jackets this past offseason.

    OK, so the 28-year-old will never be confused for Big E, but he's been Mr. Everything for Columbus so far this season. He's averaging more than 20 minutes a game, which is up there with some of the most heavily leaned on forwards in the NHL.

    He's on pace to score more than 50 times in 2021-22. Jenner isn't going to keep scoring on more than 17 percent of his shots as he has been, but he should crack 20 for the first time since 2015-16 while playing in all situations for a young, rebuilding Blue Jackets team. That makes his 82 look a bit on the low side.

Dallas Stars: Miro Heiskanen (OVR: 86)

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    The mid-80s are kind of the safe spot for top-pairing defensemen in NHL 22. Consider that Miro Heiskanen shares an 86 rating with 17 other blueliners. This batch of skaters includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Torey Krug and Ryan McDonagh.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a single NHL team that would take any of those aforementioned players over Heiskanen, indicating he should be rated higher. Perhaps much higher.

    According to NHL 22, Hedman is the high-water mark of NHL defensemen as he has the highest rating at the position with a 92. So that puts a bit of a cap on how much higher we'd be comfortable recommending the Dallas Stars blueliner go.

    But the 22-year-old has been involved in Norris Trophy chatter since the season began, is currently skating at a near-point-per-game level and is challenging for the league lead in this regard. We'd argue that this puts him at least in the same range as Kris Letang and Drew Doughty, who are both astoundingly listed higher at 87.

Detroit Red Wings: Lucas Raymond (OVR: 77)

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    Not only is Lucas Raymond outplaying his 77 overall in NHL 22, but he's also got some pundits wondering if his rating should be permanently bumped as he continues to score at a torrid pace. Not only is he leading all rookies in points and goals, but he's also inside of the league's top 10 in terms of points scored as well.

    The 19-year-old is precisely the kind of player the Detroit Red Wings have been looking for since their rebuild began "officially" in 2018. A forward with game-breaking capabilities and a boatload of swagger to boot.

    Not all points are created equal, but Raymond has been part of an exciting top line alongside Tyler Bertuzzi and center Dylan Larkin and has been in the thick of things almost every night. If there was a rating for giving a fanbase hope, the former fourth overall pick would be in the high 90s.

    Of course, the NHL season is a true grind, and there's plenty of hockey left to be played. Raymond will likely hit a rough patch at some point. Regardless, the Gothenburg, Sweden, native is outplaying his overall rating, perhaps more so than just about anyone else on this list.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid (OVR: 95)

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    Just hear us out, OK?

    Yes, Connor McDavid has the highest overall rating in NHL 22 at 95. And yes, he's two points higher than the next-best players in the game, as Nathan MacKinnon and teammate Leon Draisaitl both sport 93s. We just aren't sure that gap actually represents just how much better the Edmonton Oilers captain is than everyone else in the league.

    And he seems to outperform that lofty rating every time he's out on the ice.

    There's no one in the NHL who can do what he does on a consistent basis. MacKinnon and Draisaitl are both special players, and the latter is even the top scorer in the league. Points don't always equate to skill, however.

    And in terms of raw skill, McDavid is already one of the best ever. He seems to create something from nothing on every shift and is a real-life cheat code. He's scored two once-in-a-lifetime goals this month alone. That 95 rating is high, but we've seen higher as recently as 2016 when then-best-player-alive Sidney Crosby sported a 96.

    McDavid is playing at least at that level, and his 95 just doesn't seem to do him justice.

Florida Panthers: Anthony Duclair (OVR: 83)

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    Playing on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau is partially responsible for Anthony Duclair's eye-popping stat line to this point in the season (9-7-16). He flirted with the league lead in goals for a few weeks to start the year, and while he's slowed down a bit with one goal in his last seven games, he's still been an effective top-line wing for one of the NHL's best and most consistent teams.

    That isn't really reflected by his overall rating of 83.

    We understand why EA Sports would have given him this number ahead of 2021-22. He's six years removed from his career high in points, which was 44 back when he skated for the Arizona Coyotes. He's still been more impactful than his overall would indicate, however.

    Duclair is on his sixth team in eight years already but seems to have settled in nicely with the Florida Panthers. His power game complements his linemates well and figures to continue to be an important component of this team's success.

Los Angeles Kings: Alex Iafallo (OVR: 82)

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    The first several weeks of the 2021-22 season have been littered with surprises. It's been a down-is-up, left-is-right campaign so far, with few of the offseason favorite teams playing up to their ceilings. As such, the Los Angeles Kings have been solid, hanging around in the Pacific Division's murky playoff picture.

    It's unclear if they'll be able to maintain their current pace, but Alex Iafallo has continued to evolve as a go-to threat for the Kings. Los Angeles is sporting a bottom-10 offense, but that hasn't prevented the New York native from continuing to evolve as an offensive threat.

    Skating on the team's second line with newcomer Phillip Danault and Andreas Athanasiou, the trio has been able to dominate possession, and that shows in Iafallo's numbers. He's second on the team in points and has vastly outplayed his mediocre 82 overall rating.

Minnesota Wild: Ryan Hartman (OVR: 80)

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    Like Duclair in Florida, Ryan Hartman is a journeyman who has caught on with a possible contender. Top-six centers aren't easy to come by, especially ones who can flex out onto the wing if needed. They generally have to be drafted or overpaid in free agency. The Minnesota Wild did neither when they secured the services of Hartman in 2019.

    Now armed with a three-year extension, the former first-round pick of the Blackhawks is leading the Wild in goals. His career high in lit lamps is 19, and that came back in 2016-17, so we aren't sure if we're buying his 38-goal pace. 

    Still, Hartman has been red-hot for the Wild, and as such has outplayed his 80 overall rating by a pretty good stretch. He's been solid in all three zones as evidenced by his sound possession numbers, can be trusted to play in just about any situation and has been a Swiss Army knife-type forward in Minnesota. 

Montreal Canadiens: Josh Anderson (OVR: 83)

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    Some of these selections are tough. Like a few other teams we've looked at so far, the digital version of the Montreal Canadiens is much better than the actual Montreal Canadiens have been this season. We knew that another run to the Stanley Cup Final was unlikely, but man, things have been ugly for the Habs.

    Almost every player on the roster is underachieving to some degree. Only the Coyotes, who are actively trying to tank for high-end picks, the expansion Seattle Kraken and underwhelming Ottawa Senators have been worse than Montreal.

    So we'll go with Josh Anderson, we guess?

    He's got four goals on the year, which ties him for the team lead. And he's hit a bunch of people, which is kind of his thing as evidenced by his 87 in physicality, his highest trait in NHL 22. We aren't sure if that means he's outplayed his 83 overall rating or not, but he's closer to doing so than anyone else on this roster that EA Sports appears to have overrated in general.

Nashville Predators: Matt Duchene (OVR: 83)

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    Matt Duchene hasn't played this well in years. His seven-year contract has looked like a black hole for the Nashville Predators since the moment it was signed, as his point totals have collapsed since arriving in Tennessee.

    He went from nearly a point-per-game player in 2018-19 with Columbus and the Senators, to a 0.64 during his first year in Nashville. Things got worse for Duchene a year ago, when he managed just six goals and seven assists across 34 games for the Predators.

    As such, we understand why EA Sports handed him his middling 83 overall rating.

    The 30-year-old seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch, though. He's leading the Predators in goals with 12 and is one of the reasons Nashville has been so hot over its last 10 games (6-3-1). This is dope because when he's healthy and at his best, Duchene is one of the most entertaining players in the NHL. 

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha (OVR: 83)

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    You could pick any of the four players who are leading the New Jersey Devils in scoring and we wouldn't argue with you here. Andreas Johnsson, Jesper Bratt and Dawson Mercer have all been playing at least a little above their ratings. This has been a score-by-committee team so far this season, without any one particular skater surging to the top of the leaderboards. 

    Instead, it's been players like the aforementioned trio and Pavel Zacha who have been getting it done in New Jersey. The former sixth overall pick has never really lived up to the expectations that come with being selected that high. Entering his age-24 season, however, he seems to be figuring it out.

    Zacha found the back of the net 17 times in 50 games last year and has continued his strong play through the first month-and-a-half of 2021-22. So much so that his 83 overall rating isn't aging particularly well. We'll have to see if he can keep up his near point-per-game pace through the entire campaign, but he's been great up to this point.

New York Islanders: Oliver Wahlstrom (OVR: 81)

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    Teams need production from young players on cheap contracts. This is just the reality of the salary-cap era. That's exactly what the New York Islanders have been getting from 21-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom, who appears to be building off his 12-goal campaign from a year ago.

    Posting 21 points across 44 games in his first full season gave the New York Islanders a glimpse at the kind of difference-maker Wahlstrom could evolve into. New York hasn't had a lot of bright spots so far in 2021-22, but Wahlstrom's continued evolution as a finisher has been just that. Sure, the former 11th overall pick has some work to do in his own end, but that's the case with most young snipers.

    His shooting percentage is likely a tick too high, hanging at over 15 percent, so he may not crack 30 goals as he's projected to right now. He scored on nearly 13 percent of his shots last season, though, so he may be just two or three big nights away from breaking that barrier.

    Players who've only been able to legally consume alcohol in the United States for half a year don't typically push toward that kind of plateau, which means Wahlstrom has been outperforming his 81 rating, despite having no assists.

New York Rangers: Chris Kreider (OVR: 84)

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    This is the kind of season the New York Rangers have been waiting for Chris Kreider to have since 2012. He's been an effective top-six forward during his decade with the Blueshirts, but it always seemed like there was another gear in there somewhere.

    Entering his age-30 season, the 6'3", 217-pound forward appears to have to found that extra gear. Just two years removed from notching a career-best 28 goals, Kreider is on pace for more than 50. While it'll be a tough ask for the left wing to continue at this kind of pace, there's no reason to believe that he won't be able to set new career highs across the board. 

    His play makes us believe that he should be in contention for a spot on the United States' Olympic roster, and he's outplaying his 84 rating by a decent margin. The game might even underrate Kreider's physicality, of all things, giving him just an 86 there.

Ottawa Senators: Drake Batherson (OVR: 83)

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    If not for the Habs, we'd probably be looking at the Ottawa Senators as this season's "how can they be this bad" candidate. They were never going to challenge for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and weren't considered to be a playoff team by anyone besides general manager Pierre Dorion, but few saw this horrific 4-10-1 start coming. 

    Only four teams are scoring fewer goals per game than Ottawa, which makes Drake Batherson's 7-9-16 stat line even more impressive. He's been involved in almost half of all of the goals the Senators have scored to this point (36) and was named the NHL's second star of the week in early November.

    The 23-year-old's points have been coming in bunches, yet he's still playing at a higher level than his 83 overall rating would imply. Batherson is hanging around the league's top 20 scorers, which would be a fantastic step forward for the former fourth-round pick.

Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart (OVR: 83)

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    The Philadelphia Flyers are another team that EA Sports pretty much nailed. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier have been the squad's top players, while skaters like Cam Atkinson are pitching in as expected.

    After a so-so start that saw him go 2-2-1 with a .915 save percentage in all situations, Carter Hart has been coming on strong as of late. He earned his first shutout of the year against Arizona on Nov. 2 and has a .946 save percentage over his last six appearances.

    Overall, he sports a top-10 save percentage in all situations among goalies with more than four starts and has been one of the NHL's best at even strength. This is all wonderful news for the Flyers, who have been looking for a bona fide high-end No. 1 goalie since Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi was in theaters. With all due respect to Flyers fan favorite Ron Hextall, of course.

    NHL 22 had Hart ranked as the 30th-best goalie in the league; he's clearly outplayed his 83 rating and then some.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Evan Rodrigues (OVR: 79)

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    Just hold on.

    That was the Rose-to-Jack-on-an-iceberg mission statement for the Pittsburgh Penguins as 2021-22 opened. They were without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for their season opener, and back in October, it wasn't exactly clear when this dynamic duo would be back in the lineup together.

    Crosby made his return on Nov. 14, while Pittsburgh is still waiting for Malkin to suit up for the first time this year. With important players in and out of the lineup for a variety of reasons, the Penguins needed depth skaters to step up.

    This is exactly what Evan Rodrigues has done. He's been doing it all since the season opened and is taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to him with Nos. 87 and 71 on the shelf. He's second on the team in points (6-5-11) and has helped keep the Penguins afloat as they try to get healthy.

San Jose Sharks: James Reimer (OVR: 83)

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    We aren't exactly sure what happened to the courier who was supposed to deliver preseason expectation memos to the Pacific Division. They must have run into some fallout: New Vegas-style problems because nothing is going the way we expected it to out West.

    Even the division-leading Oilers have been way more dominant than anticipated. Tack on a surging Ducks team and a San Jose Sharks squad that is playing around .500 hockey when they're supposed to be bottom feeders, and it's been strange in the Pacific a month and a half into the campaign.

    James Reimer wasn't supposed to be a difference-maker in San Jose, but through nine games played, he's giving up less than two goals per contest. He's also among the league leaders in save percentage in all situations, meaning that he's outplaying his 83 rating pretty significantly.

    The 33-year-old hasn't had a bad start yet, and while his 4-3-1 record isn't stellar, that's more reflective of the team in front of him than his level of play.

Seattle Kraken: Brandon Tanev (OVR: 81)

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    We're going to get a little abstract here since the Seattle Kraken haven't been particularly good in their inaugural season. Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz have produced as expected but aren't really playing above their ratings—84 and 85, respectively.

    Instead, we're going with Brandon Tanev, who has already established himself as a cult hero, as Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com recently wrote. It's important for fans to have players they can latch onto and identify with.

    It's what has made seemingly endless losing seasons in Detroit and Buffalo so unbearable for so long. You can almost hear those fanbases asking who are we supposed to cheer for? Losing is one thing. Being unfun to watch and losing is what makes those L's so difficult to swallow. There's just no sugar.

    There's no doubt who fans of the Kraken are getting behind, as Tanev's sweater continues to fly off the shelves despite his career high in points being 29 (14 goals, 15 assists in 2018-19). He defied expectations in a different way, and it's been fun to watch his career take this turn in Seattle.

St. Louis Blues: Jordan Kyrou (OVR: 83)

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    It's kind of ironic that when the St. Louis Blues are playing well, they're doing so quietly without drawing much attention. They don't get much notice on a national level, and as such, their top players tend to fly under the radar a bit.

    This is why you might be surprised to learn that forward Jordan Kyrou has been among the NHL's top point producers in this young season. He's hanging around names like Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos and has been a big reason why St. Louis is one of the top teams in the Central Division.

    Both his eight goals and 18 points lead his team, with fellow youngster Robert Thomas also raking in the points with 16. This is the next wave of skilled Blues players, and if the last six weeks or so have been any indication, the future is bright in St. Louis.

    Kyrou is outperforming his 83 overall rating, and finishing the season as a point-per-game player isn't out of the question for the former second-round pick.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn (OVR: 83)

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    After dropping four of their first six games, the Tampa Bay Lightning had this sort of slumbering giant vibe to them. They've since woken up to the tune of a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games, surging toward the top of the Atlantic Division they were projected to win this offseason.

    Missing Nikita Kucherov for another long stretch is partially to blame for Tampa's slow start. Alex Killorn, who's played better than an 83 overall, has done all he can to pick up that scoring slack. Along with Stamkos, who looks five years younger, he's given Tampa scoring depth from the second line.

    Killorn has always been a consistent 40ish-point threat who's going to bring two-way acumen to the ice every night. He's looked like the player he was in 2019-20 when he scored 26 goals, though. This gives the Lightning another top-six scoring threat.

    ...Like they needed another one of those.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Jack Campbell (OVR: 82)

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    Halloween was over weeks ago, yet here's Jack Campbell still masquerading around town doing his best Patrick Roy impersonation.

    He's leading the NHL is just about every goaltending category besides shutouts, where his three rank second only to Jacob Markstrom's five. His microscopic 1.66 GAA is bonkers considering he's already appeared in 16 games. 

    Campbell is also rocking—and we mean rocking—a ridiculous 13.8 GSAA. If he continues to play at this level, he could run away with the Vezina Trophy. Sergei Bobrovsky or Markstrom have also emerged as early-season favorites, but netminding was supposed to be a weakness for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Entering a contract year, we figured the 29-year-old might play at a slightly elevated level. Campbell has been on one through the first six weeks of the year, though, and kept Toronto in games while the expensive forward core figured out how to score again.

Vancouver Canucks: Nils Hoglander (OVR: 81)

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    The bottom has totally dropped out from underneath the Vancouver Canucks. Some of the most level-headed analysts in the sport are calling for general manager Jim Benning to be fired, and it's not difficult to see why. 

    Vancouver is saddled with bad contracts and underperforming young players. If there's a recipe for disaster in today's NHL, this is it. A beacon that every other GM in the league should avoid. It's been almost all bad for the Canucks in 2021-22, and we aren't sure if they have the skill needed to climb out of the 6-10-2 hole they find themselves in.

    But hey, at least Nils Hoglander has not been disappointing.

    The 2019 second-round pick is one of the shiftiest players in the game, able to cut across the ice at an elite level. Despite his driving play at a high-end level, head coach Travis Green has decided to roll him out for under 15 minutes per night on average.

    That's a pretty Vancouver thing to do. Regardless, Hoglander is better than his 81 gives him credit for and is one of the most fun players to control in NHL 22.

Vegas Golden Knights: Chandler Stephenson (OVR: 82)

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    The Vegas Golden Knights centers don't get a lot of respect around the NHL. They have elite wings, stellar defense and strong netminding, but their perceived weakness has always been down the middle. Hence the trade for Jack Eichel.

    That's reflected perfectly in NHL 22's overall rating for top-line pivot Chandler Stephenson. When you generally skate on a top line with players like Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, it's only natural to be overlooked. 

    Both of those wings have taken their turns on the injured reserve this season, but that hasn't stopped the 27-year-old from posting gaudy numbers. Despite both Stone and Pacioretty missing time, he's still managing to lead the team in points while also scoring five goals.

    You probably don't want to build your digital dynasty around Stephenson, but the Golden Knight should be set at center once Eichel recovers and debuts.

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin (OVR: 92)

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    Alex Ovechkin is tied for the fourth-highest overall forward in NHL 22, so it isn't like EA Sports slept on him and his talent. Still, a 92 overall for the Best Goal Scorer of All Time just seems low. The NBA2K series isn't made by EA Sports, but consider that Steph Curry carried a 96 into the 2021-22 season.

    Curry and Ovechkin are similar in that they are both generational talents and the argument can be made that they are both the best shooters in their sports' history. 

    What The Great 8 has managed to do so far this year is nothing short of magical. He's got the Washington Capitals looking like a Stanley Cup threat, and he could very well pass Jaromir Jagr for third all-time in goals scored. 

    It's tough to give a fair overall rating to a skater who is one of the best ever, but Ovechkin has been breaking the game of hockey since he was a rookie back in 2005. 

Winnipeg Jets: Kyle Connor (OVR: 88)

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    Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images

    We're going to bang this drum all season long, so just get used to it: Kyle Connor should be appointment television for everyone, the same way that McDavid and MacKinnon are. The Winnipeg Jets forward isn't quite as electric as those two, but he's close.

    And it's inarguable that he doesn't get the attention he deserves in the United States because he plays in Winnipeg. Just know that we see you down here, Kyle. We think you're going to be on the top line of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and maybe then you'll get the attention you deserve.

    The 24-year-old wing has 12 goals in 17 games and is one of the few forwards in the NHL who can generate scoring chances from thin air. That EA Sports doesn't have him listed as at least a 90 overall is a disservice to the game and to Connor.

    Seriously, he's that good.

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