NHL Star Power Index: Sebastian Aho scoring at unreal pace, Claude Giroux turning back the clock
Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of players who control substantial buzz in the league. When a player is included on this list, it may not be a good thing – it means he captures a lot of attention from the hockey world.
These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz they create. We’ll be revisiting the Star Power Index weekly throughout the regular season.
The Carolina Hurricanes are one of the hottest teams as they are riding a six-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break. Star striker Sebastian Aho is arguably the main reason for the team’s recent surge.
Aho is on a five-game goal streak and has scored multiple goals twice during that streak. Since Jan. 12, Aho has recorded an NHL-leading nine goals as well as two game-winning goals. The Hurricanes center recently kept his scoring streak alive in heroic fashion, as he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 on Tuesday.
It was Aho’s fifth win of the 2022-23 season and second in the last five games.
Aho has just wrapped up his best month of the season by far with 11 goals and six assists in January. His eight goals in the last five games have been nothing short of sensational.
Clearly, Carolina received a brutal blow earlier this month when star forward Max Pacioretty was lost for the season with another Achilles injury. But even with the stroke of bad luck, the Hurricanes still seem to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
When the Ottawa Senators signed Claude Giroux last offseason, he was expected to be a veteran in the locker room and help take a struggling franchise to the next level. It works, as the Senators are just six points off a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
However, the veteran winger seems to have found the fountain of youth and is producing at a remarkable level.
Giroux is currently on a four-game winning streak and the Senators star has five goals and three assists in the team’s last four games, putting them all in the win column. His most impressive performance came in Saturday’s 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in which he scored two goals and added an assist.
Going into the all-star break, Giroux currently has 48 points (20 goals and 28 assists) this season. He’s on pace with 79 points (33 goals and 46 assists) and if he hit those numbers, it would be his best production since the 2018-19 season.
The Seattle Kraken hit the lottery when they managed to catch Vince Dunn in the 2021 expansion draft. Dunn became a top-four defenseman and really helped anchor Seattle’s blue line.
Dunn currently ranks 12th among NHL defensemen (36), but is coming off a month in which he led all NHL defensemen with 17 points. He was also tied for the league lead among all skaters with a +18 rating, which helped the Kraken take first place in the Pacific Division with an 11-3-1 record in January.
Dunn nearly doubled his goalscoring tally in his first 34 games of the 2022-23 season. In those first 34 games, the 26-year-old had 19 points (four goals and 15 assists), but was able to record points in 11 of his 15 games since that point.
Dunn’s 36 points already tied his career high, which was reached in the 2018-19 campaign when he had 35 points with the St. Louis Blues in 73 games. Over the past week, Dunn has registered a pair of assists. These two assists earned a 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks last Wednesday. His elite presence on Seattle’s blue line has made all the difference for the team this season. If the Kraken find themselves in the playoffs, their prowess at both ends of the ice will be even more paramount.
After being in the shadow of Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin, Alexandar Georgiev finally has the opportunity to show his talents. When defending champion Colorado Avalanche let Darcy Kuemper walk in free agency, they acquired Georgiev in a trade. He has since enjoyed being the team’s primary goalie, something he never got to do in New York.
Georgiev currently ranks eighth in wins (20), 12th in goals-against average (2.60) and is tied for seventh in save percentage (.920) among NHL goaltenders. He has a pair of shutouts to his credit. In his last four games, the 26-year-old is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.
The Avalanche goaltender has stopped 125 of 131 shots he has faced during that streak and allowed two or fewer goals in those four starts. In eight starts in January, Georgiev posted a 2.39 goals-against-average and only allowed more than three goals on one occasion.
Georgiev continues to make the most of his opportunity as the number one goalkeeper. If the Avalanche want to defend their Stanley Cup from a season ago, he will play a big role in the team’s success in the playoffs.