The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are right here, and the very best hockey gamers on the earth might be battling for the game’s final prize. There are sure gamers who can have an particularly massive influence on how this postseason performs out, and we’ve got highlighted plenty of them.
Superstars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are taking part in at an elite stage, and they’re hungry for his or her first Stanley Cup. Those two have already proven that they will placed on a present within the postseason, however a few key gamers might be making their playoff debuts.
Jack Hughes and Jack Eichel have by no means suited up in a playoff recreation, however that’s about to alter. It might be attention-grabbing to see whether or not these gamers can get the job achieved when the strain is at its highest.
Here are some essential gamers to observe within the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jack Eichel | C | Vegas Golden Knights
This is Jack Eichel’s eighth NHL season, however will probably be his first postseason look. After eight seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, the staff dealt Eichel to the Golden Knights previous to the 2021-22 marketing campaign. Surgery pressured Eichel to overlook over half of final season, and Vegas wound up lacking the postseason for the primary time in franchise historical past.
For the primary time shortly, Eichel has been absolutely wholesome for many of the season, and he has led the Golden Knights to first place within the Pacific Division. Eichel leads Vegas with 65 factors, his highest complete since 2019-20, and the staff controls 52.0% of the anticipated targets with him on the ice at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick.
The query now’s whether or not Eichel can proceed that success within the postseason. The Golden Knights acquired him — and paid him $10 million per 12 months — to win a Stanley Cup. All eyes might be on Eichel as he takes the ice for the primary time within the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Connor McDavid | C | Edmonton Oilers
I might get cute right here and go together with Stuart Skinner or Mattias Ekholm, however when the Oilers are taking part in, there is just one participant who can do one thing jaw-dropping at any second.
Connor McDavid has established himself as the very best participant on the earth with a season the NHL hasn’t seen in nearly three a long time. He leads the league in targets (64), assists (88) and factors (152), and he is the one the sixth participant in NHL historical past to achieve the 150-point membership. The final participant to dominate the NHL like that was Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. McDavid is just on one other stage, and he’s able to carrying his staff to the Stanley Cup Final, even when he won’t have to do this this season.
In the 2022 postseason, McDavid led the NHL with 33 factors regardless of taking part in simply three rounds. He placed on a present each night time, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do for an encore with a stronger supporting solid round him.
Alexandar Georgiev | G | Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche are loaded with expertise, however their largest query mark getting into the playoffs might be Georgiev. After Darcy Kuemper signed with the Washington Capitals final offseason, Colorado acquired Georgiev to function his substitute within the staff’s quest to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Throughout the common season, Georgiev has achieved a superb job taking on for Kuemper. He has saved 27.27 targets above common whereas posting a high-danger save proportion of 85.4%. Georgiev has settled in properly behind a deep Avalanche roster, however will that change within the playoffs?
Georgiev has by no means began a playoff recreation, and he has solely appeared in two, taking over mop-up obligation a few instances final 12 months for the New York Rangers. If Georgiev can maintain the momentum of his robust common season going within the playoffs, Colorado might be robust to beat, however that’s one thing we’ve not seen from him but.
Miro Heiskanen | D | Dallas Stars
Miro Heiskanen has been probably the greatest defensemen within the NHL for a number of years now, however he has elevated his recreation in 2022-23. On high of being a superb shutdown defender, Heiskanen has added fairly a little bit of offensive punch this 12 months.
The Stars have a plus-17 aim differential with Heiskanen on the ice at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick, and Heiskanen helps them fill the web. Heiskanen has new profession highs in targets (11), assists (60) and factors (71). He is a bona fide Norris Trophy contender, and he might be vital to the Stars’ postseason success.
Heiskanen’s offensive output has helped make the Stars a extra well-rounded staff, and a scarcity of depth scoring has been their Achilles’ heel previously. As lengthy as Heiskanen retains making performs in all three zones, the Stars might be a thorn within the facet of each playoff opponent.
Filip Gustavsson | G | Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild have had some bother discovering the again of the web at instances this season, however they have not needed to rating very a lot, due to Filip Gustavsson.
After a gradual begin from Marc-Andre Fleury this season, Gustavsson emerged because the Wild’s most suitable choice in aim. Gustavsson has performed his means into the Vezina Trophy dialog, and he ranks third within the NHL in targets saved above common with 32.22. With Gustavsson between the pipes, the Wild have a official likelihood to win each recreation they play. If there’s any concern about Gustavsson it is that this might be his first postseason.
Head coach Dean Evason hasn’t introduced a Game 1 starter but, however Gustavsson has achieved greater than sufficient to earn that chance. Fleury has a formidable resume, however Gustavsson has merely been the higher goaltender in 2022-23.
Auston Matthews | C | Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews could not have put up 60 targets like he did a season in the past, however anticipate the Maple Leafs star to show it on when the lights are the brightest. The Toronto heart can produce jaw-dropping performs at a second’s discover, however he really hasn’t wanted to all that always since teammate Mitch Marner had such an enormous 12 months.
Matthews did register 9 factors (4 targets & 5 assists) in final 12 months’s seven-game sequence in opposition to the Lightning, and the 2 groups are set to do battle but once more.
If the Maple Leafs lastly need to escape the narrative of being unable to get out of the opening spherical, Matthews goes to need to be one of many staff’s high offensive producers.
Jack Hughes | C | New Jersey Devils
The Devils have spent the final a number of years stockpiling their roster with a bevy of younger expertise. Now they’re seeing the fruits of their labor with considered one of their most prized possessions being star heart Jack Hughes.
Throughout the primary few seasons of Hughes’ profession, the story grew to become how good he could possibly be if he was capable of keep wholesome. That potential was realized because the 21-year-old registered a career-high 97 factors (43 targets and 54 assists) this season. Hughes has blossomed into one of many league’s high stars, and he does not even must do all of it himself as a result of staff’s addition of Timo Meier on the commerce deadline.
Hughes is an absolute sniper that may rating from nearly anyplace on the ice. He’ll be relied upon fairly closely to guide the offensive cost for New Jersey all through the postseason.
Patrick Kane | RW | New York Rangers
The Rangers have been lengthy linked to Patrick Kane previous to the commerce deadline, and the franchise wished him for this time of the 12 months.
This is a Rangers staff that’s coming off a season through which they reached the Eastern Conference Final earlier than falling in six video games by the hands of the Lightning. In order to place them excessive, New York went out and purchased Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane on the deadline.
Both will play an integral position, however Kane is the participant that would actually rise to the event on the massive stage. Kane hoisted three Stanley Cups throughout his 16 years with the Blackhawks, and he even received the Conn Smythe Trophy because the playoff MVP in 2013. The star winger is absolutely beginning to settle in together with his new staff, and it could not come at a greater time.
David Pastrnak | RW | Boston Bruins
The Bruins got here out of nowhere to win the Presidents’ Trophy this season. On high of that, the Bruins notched an NHL-record 133 factors on the 12 months. It’s been well-documented simply how spectacular goalie Linus Ullmark has been in between the pipes.
However, Bruins winger David Pastrnak had a profession 12 months through which he tallied the primary 50-goal season of his NHL profession and completed with 60 targets for the marketing campaign. Pastrnak shouldered a ton of the offensive burden to begin off the season when Brad Marchand was out of the lineup as he recovered from double-hip surgical procedure.
For a man that has 74 profession playoff factors, it is not going to be an enormous shock if Pastrnak thrives as soon as once more late within the 12 months.
Sebastian Aho | C | Carolina Hurricanes
It’s clear that the Eastern Conference is suffering from gifted forwards that may put the puck within the web.
Sometimes, Hurricanes heart Sebastian Aho could even be an afterthought, however he definitely should not be. Aho led the Hurricanes in targets (33) all through the common season and is without doubt one of the extra dynamic scoring threats round. The star heart goes to want to have much more of a knack for locating the again of the web than in earlier postseasons.
The Hurricanes are with out forwards Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov for the rest of the 12 months, so a variety of the strain goes to fall to Aho.
Leave a Reply