For five players in the NHL, this season provides an opportunity to prove their doubters wrong and further along their careers. Each player on this list has his own reasons to deliver at the highest level, and for each, nothing would feel better than a world class performance in 2013-14.
Seth Jones – Nashville Predators
After spending most of the 2012-13 NHL season at the top of the rankings as the #1 draft eligible prospect in the hockey world, Seth Jones slipped all the way down to 4th in the NHL Entry Draft. The Colorado Avalanche were faced with making the decision between Jones and highly touted forward prospect Nathan MacKinnon, and they chose Nate.
There is no telling why Jones wasn’t picked 2nd by the Florida Panthers or 3rd by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it probably had to do with a greater need for offence over defence within the Panthers and Bolts organizations.’ Not to mention, 2nd overall Aleksander Barkov and 3rd overall Jonathan Drouin are no slouches either. In the few weeks leading up to draft day many whispers arose suggesting either of the two could climb as high as 1st overall.
In Jones’ post draft interview with TSN‘s James Duthie, Jones was clear about a desire to prove wrong the three teams that overlooked him. This season he can begin that mission by outplaying Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov.
Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
The Boston Bruins pulled off a franchise altering move when they traded 21 year old rising star Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars on July 4th, of the 2013 NHL off season. Rumours began to surface about a possible Seguin deal after the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals came to an end, but it was one of those – i’ll believe it when I see it stories.
Much had been speculated about Tyler Seguin’s party life and immaturity in the weeks before the trade, and the months that followed. In this news article by Fox Sports, Tyler Seguin defends himself saying, “If I was out eating dinner and stayed around and had a beer on a Tuesday night when we played two days later, then it was said, ‘He’s a partier.”
Whether Seguin parties or not, he’s a superb talent with a tremendous opportunity to become a franchise player in the beautiful city of Dallas. He’ll look to have a career year and put the attention back on his playing career, as opposed to, his personal life.
Jason Spezza – Ottawa Senators
Spezza is a proven NHLer with a strong resume of success which includes 621 career points in only 611 games. He’s been one of the league’s top offensive players for years. For all he’s accomplished, however, Jason Spezza did not receive an invite to Team Canada’s 2014 Winter Olympic Orientation.
Does Spezza belong? Does he not belong? It’s hard to say. There is no one on the list of invited players who shouldn’t be there, so it could have been a simple numbers thing that prevented the Sens big centre from receiving an invitation. Spezza wasn’t too thrilled about not making the Camp, which was evident in his comments to The Ottawa Sun – “It definitely opens your eyes a little bit and puts a little bit of fire in the belly, when you don’t get named to something like that.”
Nazem Kadri – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs 7th overall draft selection from 2009 was unable to find a permanent home in the NHL until last year’s lockout shortened season, and he didn’t disappoint. The Leafs centre scored 44 points in 48 games, landing a spot in the top 20 NHL scoring leaders.
Nazem Kadri was one of this summer’s RFA holdouts, finally settling on a two-year bridge deal the night before training camp opened. Kadri’s new deal earns him $2.9 million a year over the next two seasons. If Kadri wants to make the big bucks when this short term contract expires he’ll have to elevate his game once again and prove that he can become a top scorer in the National Hockey League, year in and year out.
Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
You’d think the reigning Vezina Trophy winner doesn’t have all that much to prove to anyone, however, in Bob’s case, there are still some doubters.
The Russian net minder was very strong in 2012-13, posting a remarkable 2.00 GAA and 0.932 SV% as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can’t say Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t deserved of the Vezina and new found respect that came with it, but his success occurred in a very small size sample of 38 games. On top of that, the Blues Jackets failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If Bob’s best couldn’t get them into the post season, what does he need to accomplish this season?
Expectations are high for the newly signed multi million dollar Columbus Blue Jackets keeper and he’ll need to prove he is capable of another strong campaign or his Jackets’ may be right back where they started as a non threat to make the playoffs.