After two years of Covid-infected seasons and some shortened formats, we should get a chance to return to the first full hockey season since 2018-2019. Furthermore, we can now enjoy games on ESPN and TNT, as NBC Sports will soon go away. Here are five players who could definitely outplay their current rankings in drafts.
1.) Jack Hughes. C, NJD. Hughes was a highly touted prospect coming into the league in 2019, having been selected 1st overall in the draft. His older brother Quinn was taken one year prior at 7th by Vancouver and produced strong results in his first seasons across the University of Michigan and a handful of games in the NHL. Jack struggled out of the gate, scoring no points in his first six NHL games. He finished the season with 21 points across 61 games. His second season improved, with him scoring 50% more goals and finishing with 31 points in 56 games. To be fair the Devils have not provided much hope, as a lowly team in the NHL prior to and since his draft. But Hughes is proving himself capable of being a playmaker and a top 25 player given cultivation and maturation.
2.) Tim Stutzle, LW, OTT. Similar to Hughes, Tim had a slow start to his NHL career with just one point across his first five games. He would go on to have 29 over his next 48 games, changing his ratio from .2 PPG to .6 PPG. Similar to Hughes, this is a team that is rebuilding and he will continue to be in shortage of lines of elite talent. That said, he has a quick release and an accurate shot, he was T-15th last year in the league in snap shot goals—given a chance, he can produce.
3.) Cole Caufield, RW, MON. As a whole I am not optimistic about the Canadiens this season. I think they got hot at the right time and made a formidable run through the playoffs...but as a regular season team, they are likely average this year. That said, Caufield is the real deal and is about to make Cale Makar strides in his first full season. Do not be surprised when he scores 30 goals this season and 50 points en route to a Calder case.
4.) Vince Dunn, D, SEA. His expansion draft move has put him in potential running to be on the top defensive line, pairing with Adam Larsson as well as serious power play time. His time with the Blues has not been bad, he’s put up at least 20 points each of the last two years, putting him among the top 60. Only two players had more points than him while playing fewer minutes (19:15 TOI per game) last season (Justin Schultz and Keith Yandle). He is primed to boost his numbers with the added ice time.
5.) Carter Hart, G, PHI. Rebound city, here we come. In his third season Carter had an ATROCIOUS time in net. His stock has plummeted and now is the time to buy. During the offseason the Flyers invested in defensemen: Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle, and Ryan is the important piece there as a strong positional stay-at-home defender. Carter can produce top 10 goalie results and you can get him outside the top 20. Numerous goalies over the years have hit a snag among their first few years:
Rookie Year: 3.35 GAA; .875 SV%
2nd Year: 2.93 GAA; .892 SV%
Rookie Year: 3.68 GAA; .897 SV%
2nd Year: 2.93 GAA; .897 SV%
Rookie Year: 2.59 GAA; .915 SV%
2nd Year: 3.02 GAA; .899 SV%
Rookie Year: 3.64 GAA; .896 SV%
2nd Year: 3.25 GAA; .898 SV%
3rd Year: 2.83 GAA; .906 SV%
Rookie Year: 2.01 GAA; .935 SV%
2nd Year: 2.12 GAA; .936 SV%
3rd Year: 3.06 GAA; .913 SV%