If you ask a hockey fan, or even a non-hockey fan, who the best players in the NHL are, the players usually associated with that title are:
Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid, Carey Price, and there’s probably more players you guys can think of that I can’t name off the top of my head.
So you know the best players. But what about the underrated ones? What about the players who put up point after point every night? We tend to forget about the guys who aren’t “big name” players. To that, here’s a completely unbiased opinion of who I believe are the ten most underrated players in the NHL.
10. Andreas Athanasiou – Detroit Red Wings
Career: 78 GP – 23 G – 10 A – 23 P
16-17: 41 GP – 14 G – 5 A – 19 P
For a player who’s barely been in the league for a year, he sure has made an impact. Athanasiou is only 22 years old, but is a big part of the Red Wings’ future. His numbers aren’t really a huge sample, but some of the goals he scores are just crazy, like this one against the Penguins.
Tell me that’s not one of the best goals you’ve ever seen? Oh, that wasn’t that good? Well, just take a look at all of the goals he scored in the 2015-2016 season, why don’t you?
Alright, my point stands. This kid is nuts.
9. Anders Lee – New York Islanders
Career: 238 GP – 71 G – 56 A – 127 P
16-17: 53 GP – 21 G – 13 A – 34 A
Earlier this year, I had the chance to see this guy play live. And let me tell you, he’s quite the player. He’s a big body that can skate, and dance around almost anyone on the ice. Lee is first on the team in goals and third in points. At 26 years old, he’s one of the best forwards the Islanders have. He can score timely goals any time, any where, like this one against the Stars.
Yeah, I know it’s against Dallas. Just let it be, okay?
8. Elias Lindholm – Carolina Hurricanes
Career: 264 GP – 42 G – 84 A – 126 P
16-17: 43 GP – 5 G – 22 A – 27 P
In general, I think Carolina is an underrated team. They have so many quality players and prospects to build for the future, but they’re just not quite there yet. However, 22-year-old Elias Lindholm is due to break out sometime soon. His point totals don’t really show much, but he can make some crazy good plays and score some crazy good goals, like this one on Carey Price.
Oh my, what a shot that was. Is that not good enough to prove how good he is? Well, take a look at this shootout goal against Colorado.
Yeah, yeah, it’s against Colorado. Whatever.
7. JT Miller – New York Rangers
Career: 252 GP – 55 G – 67 A – 122 P
16-17: 56 GP – 18 G – 28 A – 46 P
I might be a little biased here, considering the fact that I’m a Rangers fan. But that means I get to watch JT Miller play every single game. And the more I watch him, the more I think about how lucky I am to have him on my favorite team. His career started off pretty slow, and Alain Vigneault was constantly making him a healthy scratch and trying to find a place for him. But Miller came into his own last year after some criticism from his head coach with a career high in goals (21), assists (22), and points (43). He’s already surpassed two of those three this season, with crazy passes like this:
And sweet goals such as this:
Yes, both of those aren’t from this season. But do you see where I’m coming from?
6. Cam Atkinson – Columbus Blue Jackets
Career: 355 GP – 113 G – 101 A – 214 P
16-17: 27 G – 22 A – 49 P
The first thing you think when you see Cam Atkinson is, “Wow, he’s short.” Yes, that’s definitely a fact, but that doesn’t keep him from being an excellent hockey player. He’s already tied his career-high in goals, and is well on his way to establishing highs in assists and points, as well. The 27-year-old is first on the team in goals and points. He’s got a wicked shot, as you can see here:
He also pretty fast, which can lead to breakaways, like this one:
I don’t know why I put that in there. Seeing anyone score on Henrik Lundqvist makes me sad.
5. Alec Martinez – Los Angeles Kings
Career: 392 GP – 46 G – 90 A – 136 P
16-17: 55 GP – 7 G – 21 A – 28 P
Alec Martinez needs more love in this world. No one appreciates him enough. When you initially look at his stats, he doesn’t seem all that great. But then you realize he’s a defenseman, and you double-check to make sure those numbers are actually real. And he doesn’t get enough credit for being as solid as he is at 29 years old because he’s on a team with a Norris Winner. That’s Drew Doughty, in case you forgot. For those of you who don’t remember, Martinez scored the OT winner in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
Yeah, so that happened. Let’s move on.
4. Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers
Career: 200 GP – 57 G – 64 A – 121 P
16-17: 54 GP – 20 G – 18 A – 38 P
If there’s one player who was a no-brainer for me to put on this list, it was Vincent Trocheck. Fans tend to overlook him. But he’s been the best player for the Panthers this season. Trocheck leads the team in goals and points. Last season, he established a career high in goals (25), assists (28), and points (53). With all of the injuries the Panthers have had, Trocheck is helping lead the Panthers to a hopeful playoff spot this season. He was part of Team North American during the World Cup of Hockey. You probably didn’t notice him much, but if he made that team, that means that he’s kind of good, right?
Let’s hope this compilation of his goals from last season convinced you that he deserves to be on this list.
3. Roman Josi – Nashville Predators
Career: 381 GP – 61 G – 157 A – 218 P
16-17: 47 GP – 9 G – 19 A – 28 P
In my honest opinion, Roman Josi is one of the best defenseman in the National Hockey League. There’s a whole group of defenseman who are considered the best of the best (i.e. Karlsson, Weber, Doughty, Keith, Ekblad, Burns, Suter), and he should always be associated with them. Most fans especially those who are female, appreciate him for his good looks, but the 26-year-old really is an outstanding hockey player. Just look at his point totals. Now I know he’s played with Shea Weber in the past, and he’s got PK Subban on his team this season, but that doesn’t mean that he’s bad without him. He leads all defenseman on his team in goals, points, and assists. Admire these two goals he scored against the Stars a couple of days ago.
And now admire his face.
2. Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
Career: 238 GP – 76 G – 92 A – 168 P
16-17: 56 GP – 16 G – 19 A – 35 P
This kid is nuts. At 22 years old, Filip Forsberg sits third on the Predators in goals and points. He hasn’t had the year he wanted to, coming off of his incredible 2015-2016 season in which he scored 33 goals. Yet, he’s still proving to be an elite NHLer. The way he’s able to manuver through opposing players is mesmerizing. And he can score incredible goals. Example A:
Just look up his highlights on YouTube for more.
1. Mikael Granlund – Minnesota Wild
Career: 295 GP – 47 G – 135 A – 182 P
16-17: 55 GP – 16 G – 34 A – 50 P
The final player on this list. 24-year-old forward is quietly leading the Minnesota Wild in assists and points this season. He’s having a career year, and he’s only going to get better. And no one realizes that he was the 9th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Did you know that? Because I certainly didn’t. Granlund is one of those guys that you don’t really notice on the ice. He’s sneaky with his speed, and ability to creep up on players to steal the puck. Here’s a crazy goal he scored against the Avalanche:
I really don’t know how he did that. And I don’t know how he did this either.
Showoff much? Jeez, you’d think he’d be a little more subtle about how good he is.
Juliana Nikac – Feature Contributor