Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Off the top of my head: some players who aren't getting enough buzz

There are a few players who are putting together seasons that deserve more attention. Are they really "underrated"? That's not really the issue at hand. Let's take a look at some of the players we should be hearing more about. Players who get very little breathless praise outside of their markets.

Zach Parise
Why he deserves more attention:
tied for fourth in the NHL with 78 points; second behind Alex Ovechkin with 38 goals; +25 with 6 GWG; His contract is a steal with only a $3.125 cap hit through the 2010-11 season.

A couple of months ago, I discussed the best contracts in the Pacific division for Battle of California. There were some pretty big names with some cap-friendly contracts: Marc Edouard Vlasic, Dustin Brown, Ryan Getzlaf and others garnered a lot of votes. But Parise might give the Devils the best deal in the league.

Pekka Rinne
Why he deserves more attention: His numbers are really impressive: a 22-11-1 record; 2.27 GAA, 92.1 save percentage and 6 shutouts. He's also 6 foot 5.

While Steve Mason gets most of the Calder trophy attention, Pekka Rinne is putting up similar numbers with very little fanfare. Sure, he dipped his foot in the NHL pool before (2 games in 2005-06 and 1 game in 2007-08) but he's not exactly Chris Weinke out there.

Loui Eriksson

Why he deserves more attention:He's not quite "near-elite" but he's developing into an elite goal scorer with a shot at a 40 goal season (currently at 32 goals cored). He's also only 23 years old.

Eriksson quietly hit the 30-goal mark this season. He's just a natural goal scorer and should hover around 30 as long as he has centers like Brad Richards playing with him. Another Dallas Stars unsung hero is James Neal, who is having a splendid rookie season with 21 goals already.


Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list. Just a few guys who are better than their lack of publicity would suggest. What are some of your "unsung heroes" in the NHL?


Unknown said...

marleau has had a great rebound year with 34 goals also David Krejci in Boston as well

Kent W. said...

Im willing to bet Loui Eriksson will maybe score half as many goals next season as he manages this year. His SH% is 22 so far...a league high. No way that continues indefinitely.

I think David Booth deserves more attention myself.

jamestobrien said...

Didn't realize his shooting percentage was so high, but he tends to take "high percentage" shots. I think he still has Petr Sykora-type potential: intermittent 30 goal seasons.

David Booth is a silent sniper, too.

jamestobrien said...

@ Neil: I've heard the "Patrick Marleau is underrated" talk but I think he's just performing at his potential level. Which means last year he underachieved WILDLY. At least for a guy in his pay range. So the underrated talk kind of makes me giggle.

The one question I have for Krejci: is it a contract year thing? I could see a team overpaying him next season (will it be Boston or not?).

Kent W. said...

James - Eriksson's Sh% in his rookie season was 7.7 and last year it was 11.7. That's a big, flashing 'WARNING' sign for me.

Vance said...

I'll take Mike Frolik in this argument. I'd take his 17G, 17 assists at age 21 anyday.

jamestobrien said...

As with any flashing red flag/hot stoves, my method is to always forge on and touch that hot stove. This explains a lot, but not all, of my problems.

Laura (aka Hildymac) said...

I'm gonna have to give a shout-out to Kovy. He went from a horrible (for him) start for the season to being in 4th place for goals and probably well within striking distance for 2nd. Also, since he was named Cap'n on the 11th, no one has more goals or points than he does in the league.

But, he plays for the Thrashers, so neither he nor soon to be 30 goal scorer Bryan Little gets any attention at all. Sad.

jamestobrien said...

I think Kovalchuk gets about as much pub as a Russian playing in Atlanta could get. That being said, some people might not realize that he's truly one of the best snipers in the NHL so I guess he's, to a point, underrated. A little. Maybe.