Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, etc, etc, etc.
These are just some of the names you expect in this day and age to appear at the top of your NHL.com stats page year after year.
However, each year players surprise you, over-achieve so to speak, and rise above the reasonable expectations placed on them before the season began.
As there is each year, 2013-14 is no different, with its own share of unnoticed gems chugging along here in early April.
Someone has to give these guys their due, so here it is.
There were a healthy amount of options, but these were the five that landed in the top five most quietly productive seasons in the NHL this year (in no particular order).
Ryan Johansen (C) – GP 74 G 30 A 25 P 55 (+1) TOI 17:34
The 6’3 223 pound Vancouver Native has emerged as go-to guy in Ohio, one they desperately needed after long-time Jacket Rick Nash was traded to the Big Apple before the 2012-13 season. At only 21 years old, the ceiling got a whole lot higher for Johansen after this breakout year, despite not having much to work with on his wings. Interesting to see how management builds around the centre in the upcoming years.
Mark Giordano (D) – 57-13-31-44 (+12) TOI 25:07
Top ten in the NHL in goals, points, and ice time per game for defensemen on one of the least talented rosters in all of the league. That’s all that Flames Captain Mark Giordano has accomplished this season, despite only playing 57 games thus far. The late push for his inclusion on Team Canada in Sochi speaks to what the hockey minds think of him. The rugged defensemen deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done for this young Flames squad, who would undoubtedly be a lot worse off without him.
Jaromir Jagr (RW) – 75-24-40-64 (+14) TOI 19:21
Jagr is a rare exception in the NHL. He remains a guy who defies the steretypes of age and just continues to get it done even though it seems like he’s been around forever. Number 68 has bounced around in recent years, but always seems to find his way onto the score sheet wherever he has been. This year has been no different with the playoff bubble New Jersey Devils, where he sees himself leading a team in scoring once again at the ripe old age of 42.
Matt Niskanen (D) 75-10-32-42 (+34) TOI 21:17
The 27-year-old former first round pick of the Dallas Stars has thrived in Pittsburgh this season, thanks in part to an increased role and subsequent ice time due to the depleted d corps the Penguins have endured. Niskanen boasts a +34 rating – good for third in the league and first among defensemen – while also tallying a career high in goals, assists and points in being the only Pens defensemen to play in every game so far this season. Contract year for him too has the American due for a hefty raise this summer.
Gabriel Landeskog (LW) – 73-24-37-61 (+21) TOI 18:38
After a 52 point rookie season was followed by an ugly lockout shortened campaign, many didn’t know what to expect from the Avalanche Captain entering his third NHL season with the young Avalanche squad. Well, Landeskog has answered those questions by being Mr. Everything for Patrick Roy’s group this year. Responsible defensively, penalty killing, points, timely goals you name it, has the young Swede trending upwards with his best years to come over the next decade.
Victor Hedman (D) – 68-12-35-47 (+3) TOI 22:32 – Why he wasn’t selected to team Sweden in Sochi we’ll never know. Career year offensively finally justifying the second overall selection in 2009.
Brian Little (C) – 76-22-39-61 (+5) TOI 20:07 – Little hasn’t quite progressed as rapidly as Jets/Thrashers fans had hoped after his 30 goal season in 2008-09, but looks to be back on track after very quiet 60 point campaign.
Blake Wheeler (RW) – 76-27-37-64 (+2) 18:37 – Third straight quality season for the 6’5 speedster who likely finds himself in for a big raise come contract time, heading into the prime years of his career.
Andrej Sekera (D) – 73-11-33-44 (+1) TOI 23:40 – Not many players on Carolina get much attention so it comes as little surprise that Sekera, and his top 10 point total among defensemen of 44, haven’t been league wide chatter.
Keith Yandle (D) – 75-8-43-51 (-21) TOI 24:07 – Plays against the opposing teams best lines each night playing close to 25 minutes a game. Plus minus suffers from this, but 51 points and league leading 30 power-play points among defensemen certainly makes up for that.
Valtteri Filppula (D) – 70-25-32-57 (+6) TOI 19:59 – After career year of 66 points in 2011-12, Filppula had disastrous year last season with 17 points and 41 games. Has rebounded nicely off of his fresh contract and is giving Steven Stamkos’ Lightning the secondary scoring they’ve lacked.
Jaden Schwartz (LW) – 72-23-30-53 (+27) TOI 17:24 – The 21-year-old sophomore NHLer is putting together a great campaign on the cup contending St. Louis Blues, currently finding himself on one of the best lines in the league with Olympians David Backes and Alex Steen. One of the most underrated young talents in league.
Kyle Turris (C) – 75-25-30-55 (+21) TOI 18:43 – The Senators have had problems all season with a number of issues, but one they haven’t had encountered is their secondary scoring and second line as a whole led by former Phoenix Coyotes third overall pick Kyle Turris. The 24-year-old has nearly doubled his career high total of 29 points and the +21 speaks to the overall evolution of the centres game at the defensive end too.