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The NHL’s 7 Greatest Surprises Halfway By the 2022-23 Season

Joe YerdonJanuary 12, 2023

The NHL’s 7 Greatest Surprises Halfway By the 2022-23 Season

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    Tage Thompson used to be right legal final season and now he's even greater.

    Tage Thompson used to be right legal final season and now he’s even greater.John McCreary/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    The unbelievable thing about any given season in the NHL is that there are constantly some unexpected events that cease us in our tracks.

    Whether or no longer it is far a glow up of the radioactive kind, a familiar face having a revival and even any individual exceeding expectations to a staggering level, surprises are a joy to gape. This season has equipped about a that grabbed us by the face and made us pay attention.

    A majority of those surprising first halves it is likely you’ll possibly well also in all chance explore coming in accordance to how these players performed final season, but there are others that whereas you said you knew it used to be going to occur, all people would call you a liar and repeat you to “enact greater.” Good day, pay attention, it occurs, and in all chance they must lighten up, am I factual?

    The fun of this assemblance of surprises map I have not got to reinvent the wheel to contain a case for any of those players—the outcomes talk for themselves—but I accumulate to play the characteristic of hype man fancy Flavor Flav but about hockey.

    There are seven players who stand out above all others, and whereas it is likely you’ll possibly well even dangle no longer paid attention, I purchased your abet. Let’s roll.

Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins

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    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Goaltender Linus Ullmark #35 of the Boston Bruins performs the puck in the third length throughout the 2023 Accumulate out about NHL Iciness Traditional game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos)

    Dave Sandford/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    It may possibly probably possibly well be not likely to no longer settle Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark as definitely one of many best likely surprises of the season. Heck, he may even be the best likely shock of the NHL.

    Ullmark has dominated our month-to-month goalie rankings, and for terribly legal reason. He’s bought the correct set apart share in the league (.938) and his 22-1-1 file is by far the correct among all goalies. The Bruins are the correct crew in the league, and rather a lot of credit rating for that goes to Ullmark.

    Ullmark had a glean first season in Beantown after signing from Buffalo. He went 26-10-2 with a .917 set apart share and used to be almost about equal with tandem-mate Jeremy Swayman. If he used to be doing that again this season, he’d silent be in the tip 10 of licensed goalies. That he’s playing fancy right here is unbelievable.

    Ullmark’s profession from Buffalo to Boston never no doubt hinted that he used so as to this roughly elite play. This is now not always no doubt to issue he used to be projected to be improper, factual that no person had him pegged to be the next Henrik Lundqvist. A pair of groups in the Eastern Conference are inching nearer to Boston’s level total, that map Ullmark will have to establish sizzling to protect the likes of Toronto and Carolina away from the tip space in the East. It be never too early to launch up enthusiastic about locking down dwelling-ice advantage.

Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - DECEMBER 31: Josh Morrissey #44 of the Winnipeg Jets skates throughout the game in the first length against the Edmonton Oilers on December 31, 2022 at Rogers Web remark in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Photos)

    Lawrence Scott/Getty Photos

    With how well defensemen fancy Erik Karlsson, Adam Fox, Rasmus Dahlin and Cale Makar are playing this yr, the possibilities Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey woukd be a prime-5 defenseman in scoring had been moderately low. And yet, there he’s in his seventh fleshy NHL season sitting factual in the abet of Karlsson in scoring.

    Morrissey’s outdated best likely scoring season came final yr, when he place up 37 components with 12 targets in Seventy nine games. His complete profession before that, he’d been a genuine 20-to-30-level blueliner, but the puck started finding the abet of the gain and the assists picked up. And now this season has taken it to an complete unusual level.

    By the first 41 games, Morrissey has seven targets and 46 components, striking him on tempo to better than double his output from final season. It be a wonderful trying revelation for the Jets and a welcome one as they conflict it out with the Stars atop the Central Division. He’s third on the crew in scoring in the abet of Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois, and his 39 assists on the midpoint this yr alone would be his unusual profession excessive in components.

    Because the Jets cry into the second half, having Morrissey as a weapon on the abet cease provides them a player to greater match up against the West’s other prime groups.

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

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    SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 22: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates throughout warmups before the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center on December 22, 2022 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos)

    Kavin Mistry/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    All people loves a legal callback, and all people loves a large comeback and Erik Karlsson is offering us with a no doubt welcome one.

    The 32-yr-vulnerable San Jose Shark is the NHL’s prime scoring defenseman this season and has a hearty lead on the second-space duo of Sabres defender Rasmus Dahlin and Morrissey. To give you an thought of how “abet” Karlsson appears to be like this season, deem about this:

    Over the previous two seasons, Karlsson had 57 components in 102 games performed. In 43 games this season, he has 56 components including 13 targets. Karlsson’s final season with 50 or more components used to be in 2017-2018, when he had 62 in his closing season with the Ottawa Senators. Yeah, it has been a whereas.

    Karlsson’s 82-game tempo this season would place him at 107 components with 25 targets, both of which may possibly be unusual profession highs. It be a blinding return to build for the player who no doubt impressed any offensively gifted defenseman to lean into those talents and dominate games from the blue line.

    For certain, there may be the total portion about the Sharks having a hideous season and Karlsson doing all this no topic that truth. I direct typically historic previous can repeat itself, because it is far a total callback to his days in Ottawa, even supposing those Senators groups may no longer dangle had as laborious a time as these Sharks are having.

Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres

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    BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 9: Tage Thompson #72 of the Buffalo Sabres assessments the time clock whereas skating throughout an NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 9, 2023 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, Unusual York. (Photo by Invoice Wippert/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos)

    Invoice Wippert/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    When Tage Thompson scored 38 targets final season—more targets than he had components in his complete profession before that (35)—it used to be fancy the blast from the second Loss of life Essential person. Nobody throughout the league knew his fleshy ability. Also, his slap shot goes as instant as a laser and destroys goalie’s shutout dreams.

    The query going into this season used to be whether or no longer or no longer Thompson may even attain moderately cease to doing it again. In spite of the total lot, his outdated profession excessive in targets before final season used to be eight. It used to be a sizable alternate.

    It appears to be like, Thompson reset the total expectations along with his sizable season because he’s long previous to an fully unusual level. In his first 39 games, he’s place up 31 targets to boot to 26 assists (57 components). Thompson is on tempo to blow by the 68 components he scored in 78 games final season moderately noteworthy before the season is over.

    From Thompson’s bomb of a shot to his unbelievable dangles round defensemen, at 6’8″ no much less, Thompson is a rather a lot of roughly aim scorer who’s popping into a superstar before all people’s eyes.

Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 3: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks traces up for a face-off throughout their NHL game against the Unusual York Islanders at Rogers Enviornment January 3, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos)

    Jeff Vinnick/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    Without reference to the total tumult in Vancouver, one thing stays constant thru it all: Bo Horvat can own the gain and rack up components at any time when he wants to. And he’s doing it in a ability this season that he’s never performed before.

    The upcoming unrestricted free agent’s outdated profession excessive in components for a season used to be 61 in 82 games abet in 2018-2019, and he had the correct aim-scoring season of his profession final season with 31 in 70 games. This season, on the opposite hand, Horvat is burying pucks at will with 29 targets and 45 components in 40 games. It does now not settle a science level to achieve he’s on tempo to role unusual highs in both categories.

    You never know what you are going to peek or accumulate from the Canucks on a game-to-game basis, but Horvat getting his pound of flesh is nearly about assured nightly. You may whine it is handy timing given his contract location and the chance Vancouver may have to alternate him by the closing date if he does now not re-brand with the Canucks.

    Otherwise it is likely you’ll possibly well also study factual whine the 27-yr-vulnerable chanced on his aim-scoring touch final season and has taken it to a peculiar level this season. This may possibly well even be the identical survey GMs throughout the NHL are taking whereas they deem about the chance of including him either in a alternate this season or as a free agent in the summer season. One thing looks particular, on the opposite hand, and it is that the targets and components will best likely climb elevated as the season rolls on.

Martin Jones, Seattle Kraken

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 30: Martin Jones #30 of the Seattle Kraken appears to be like on throughout the first length against the Edmonton Oilers at Native climate Pledge Enviornment on December 30, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Photos)

    Steph Chambers/Getty Photos

    Lift your hand whereas you belief Martin Jones would be prime-5 in wins this season.

    OK, you there in the abet, you are a liar, there may be no map you predicted that. Feel shame.

    Jones used to be added by the Kraken over the summer season to build up into the combo of their seemingly very in-flux goaltending field. Philipp Grubauer used to be coming off the worst season of his profession, and Chris Driedger dealt with a lower-body injure final season that saved him to 27 games after which a torn ACL suffered in September has him abet on the shelf this season.

    Expectations had been low for the Kraken coming in, and goaltending didn’t appear it may probably possibly well enact noteworthy to alternate that. Jones’ raw numbers don’t study enormous (.894 set apart share), but he’s 19-5-3 as the typical “provides his crew a chance to buy” goalie.

    Truth is, Jones has been about league common at even strength, and the Kraken penalty cancel has equipped him puny in the map of lend a hand. But in traditional Grant Fuhr-fancy fashion, all he does is buy, buy, buy. Wait, that used to be DJ Khaled. Wait, it is both of them and it is Martin Jones.

    The Kraken themselves are definitely one of many season’s best likely surprises, and Jones has had a serious impact on that by keeping the door so his teammates can ship opponents to Davy Jones’ locker.

Brandon Montour, Florida Panthers

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 06: Brandon Montour #62 of the Florida Panthers appears to be like down on the Detroit Pink Wings bench throughout the second length of an NHL game at Exiguous Caesars Enviornment on January 6, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. Florida defeated Detroit 3-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos)

    Dave Reginek/NHLI by arrangement of Getty Photos

    Apologies to Sabres followers for having to peek a second used player in this list, but those are the breaks.

    Montour has chanced on unusual life in South Florida with the Panthers. On a crew that already boasts Aaron Ekblad on defense, Montour provides a second wave of assault on the blue line that is even more unhealthy than the first, and this season he’s taken it to a peculiar level.

    Montour’s best likely scoring season came final yr, when he place up 11 targets and 26 assists (37 components) in 81 games. In 40 games this season, he’s bought seven targets and 27 assists (34 components) and is second on the Panthers in scoring in the abet of Matthew Tkachuk. Thinking about the season Tkachuk is having for Florida, that helps illustrate how legal Montour has been.

    At 28 years vulnerable, the seven-yr vulnerable has harnessed his talents as a puck-provider, bodily presence and all-round scorer and has change into the Panthers’ most unhealthy offensive player on the blue line. If Florida goes to scratch and claw its map into the wild-card disappear in the Eastern Conference, Montour goes to be definitely one of many guys leading the map to contain it occur.

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