Team MVP // Braden Holtby
Runner ups // John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov
Big numbers, but has been very streaky. Three hat tricks is fantastic at face value, but it also means that he goes long times between hot streaks. He's been passing up some quality looks though, so his goal total could be higher if he was a little more selfish. He looks a lot faster and more explosive out there, and hasn't sacrificed anything from his improved defensive game.
He's also been streaky, but he's been generating a lot of offense. He looks comfortable playing with just about anyone, which is encouraging. Really good at entering the zone and cycling in the zone. Needs to improve in the faceoff dot, as well as other little things (forechecking, defensive positioning, etc.). He's been just as dynamic as usual, and if he finally starts shooting more, he could be a legitimate 90 point threat. I'm comfortable that he's our 1C of the future.
Really strong first couple weeks, but has tailed off recently. His game hasn't really changed a lot, but it looks like he's having some trouble finding consistency with his linemates. Hopefully know that he's back with Backstrom, he can get it going again. Great in front of the net and below the goal line. Still operating beautifully in the slot on the PP. I know what I'm getting with him for now, which is good. Only question is about that contract length, but that's a discussion for another time. Still lethal as always in the shootout.
It's tough to give Burky a fair evaluation, since he's been injured for the past few weeks. Before he got hurt, he was being the same old inconsistent guy. Slow start, and then all of a sudden he starts playing like he should be a 40 goal scorer. Hopefully when he comes back he can find some sort of consistency and become a true top 6 forward, because we need him to be that guy for us.
Backstrom has probably been the most disappointing guy for me so far in terms of production. He's a top 5 center in the league, yet he isn't getting on the scoresheet as much as he should be. He's been spending a lot of time in his own end defending, and he can't buy a goal right now. I'm not too worried about him, especially since he got moved back to playing with Ovi again.
I want this guy to break out so badly. He's shown flashes this season, but it almost seems like he hesitates to go for it. He's still a great checker, and if he finally figures out how to be consistent offensively, he can be a good 30 point scorer. He's played well with Ovi and Backy, so hopefully that jumps his offensive game.
Overall, Vrana has been good for us, but I was expecting a little more from him. He's fantastic at generating offense and carrying the puck from the wing, and I know he has a terrific shot, he just hasn't had the opportunity to show it off this season. At this point, I think we'd be content if he finished the season with 35 points. Hopefully the new Vrana-Kuzy-Oshie line works some magic and sparks his offense.
Eller has had a fantastic season as a 3C for us. If we had some better wingers for him, he'd be having a career year. He's played great two-way hockey as well as showing some flare on offense. He's on an expiring deal, so if we don't move him at the deadline he probably walks as a UFA, simply because we'd want to spend that money on Carlson.
Connolly still plays for us? The guy has been invisible. I was hoping he could repeat what he did last season, but that hasn't been the case so far. I don't know exactly how much he's playing, but it certainly seems like he's hardly playing.
It frustrates me to no end as to why Trotz doesn't play Walker. He's a great energy guy on the fourth line, and he provides a little bit of offensive punch. But for some reason, Trotz insists on healthy scratching him all the time. If he actually got in the lineup, he'd keep improving and he'd be one a fan favorite for us.
Dude doesn't get nearly enough credit. For my money, he's the most effective 4C in the game. He's our top faceoff guy, best penalty killing forward, effective checker, and he scores a lot for a fourth line center. I'd love to keep him after this season, but he may look for other opportunities to be a 3C somewhere. Hopefully he stays with us.
Coming into the season, I thought Stephenson didn't have a place in the NHL. Boy, was I wrong. He's played terrific hockey since he got called up from Hershey, and he should stick in the lineup. Really fast, good at generating speed through the neutral zone and carrying the puck in. He seems to do his best work when he gets the defense trailing him.
We've been trying to use Chiasson in a top 9 role, but it's clear that he's better suited to be on the fourth line. He's a good checker, doesn't provide a lot of offense, but can control possession fairly well. When at full health, he's a good 4RW option for us to use.
He was fantastic in the preseason, but he got hurt in his fourth game of the year, so we haven't gotten a real good look at him yet. But from what I saw, he's quick for his size and is good in the neutral zone. If we choose to let Beagle walk, he's probably the leading 4C candidate for next season. He's probably the guy I want to see more of the most.
I've always been a fan of him, and I was thrilled when he signed with us. He hasn't had any consistency with his linemates and has still been producing well for a guy getting limited minutes. He's provided energy, checking, good offense and does a lot of good work below the hashmarks. I'd have no issue seeing him play on the third line.
We all hate Orpik because of his contract, but he's taken a heavy workload this season and made the most of it. He does an excellent job of clearing bodies out of the crease, but he still needs to work on clearing loose pucks out too, especially when there's another forward coming in for it. Still not worth 5.5M, but it's not as bad as it looked last year.
When Nisky got hurt, we were giving up chances left and right. If it wasn't for Holtby, we may have given up on the season already. Now that he's back, we've been defending really well against some high powered offenses (Tampa and Toronto most recently). We need him to stay healthy, especially since defensive depth isn't necessarily a strength of ours.
If Orlov would stop making boneheaded turnovers in his own end and jumping into the attack at the wrong times, he'd be a fantastic player. He has a great slapshot and passing ability, plus he's a good 1v1 defender. Rierden really needs to work with him on when to jump into the play and when not to throw the puck up the middle. Once he does that, he's a stud.
Something I was really curious about entering the year was what to do with Carlson. Now I know we NEED to keep him. He's played heavy miuntes against top competition, and he's performed like a true #1 defenseman, especially in Niskanen's absence. He's the most important guy on the backend for us. He moves the puck so well, and he's on pace for almost 60 points this year. I have no issue paying him close to 7M, because he's earned it. We need him almost as much as we need anyone else on this team.
This guy is one of my favorites already. He's a good puck mover, and plays good defense for a smaller guy. Plus his name is hands down the best on the team. He just recently got hurt as well, so hopefully he gets back up to speed quickly and becomes a good second pairing guy for us this season.
At the beginning of the year, Chorney was downright horrible. Now, he's slightly less horrible. We aren't bringing him back after this season, and I have zero problem with that. I'd just trade him at the deadline for a 6th or something just to be a team's 8th defenseman in the playoffs.
Bowey was probably in Hershey for a season too long, but that's because he got hurt last year. But now he's here, and he's looked really good. He hasn't done anything flashy, but he does all those little things well, as well as jumping in the rush every now and then. I'd like to see him get time on the power play at some point.
He's our MVP. Holtby has stood on his head for the lackluster defense in front of him. If he played like an average goalie, we're probably behind a bunch more teams in the standings. I can't say enough good things about Holtby. Only issue I have is that he shaved his beard. Looks kinda weird.
I feel so bad for him. Whenever we play him, for some reason he gets zero support. He's been stellar for us, although his number don't show it. He finally won a game against Tampa, and he would've had a shutout if not for an unlucky bounce. He deserves to get the chance to be a starter elsewhere.
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