Five NHL Players Poised to Improve in 2023
Stan Szeto – USA TODAY Sports
As the 2022 calendar year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to a new and improved 2023.
Some NHL players are hoping the good times will continue after breaking out for the first part of the 2022-23 season, like Josh Morrissey, Tage Thompson and Linus Ullmark.
For these five players, the unofficial first half of the 2022-23 season was one to forget. All of these players listed are performing below their expected levels. However, there is hope for the new year. While each of these players have struggled so far, they all have something in their respective skills that offers a glimmer of hope in recovering their simmering stats. Here are the five biggest rebound candidates ahead of 2023.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Calgary
Huberdeau was one of the biggest names to move this offseason after being traded to Calgary in a trade that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Sunshine State. Huberdeau entered this season after enjoying a career-best 2021-22 season where he matched his career-high 30 goals and finished tied for second overall in the NHL with 115 points, behind Connor. McDavid. The Flames expected big things from the forward, signing him to an eight-year, $84 million deal in August. But things haven’t gone as planned for Huberdeau so far with Calgary. The winger has just 25 points in 35 games and just seven goals. Those numbers could change in the second half of the regular season if Huberdeau can develop more chemistry with his teammates and find a way to shoot the puck more. After averaging 2.78 shots per game last season in Florida, the 29-year-old is now averaging 1.66 this season.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Seattle
After having its best season yet in 2021-22 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Seattle Kraken thought they would acquire their next top scorer when they shipped a 2023 third- and fourth-round pick to Ohio in exchange for ‘Oliver Bjorkstrand. The 27-year-old Dane scored a career-high 28 goals and 57 points in 80 games last season, but has just four goals and 16 points in 34 outings so far for the Kraken. However, hope is not lost for Seattle general manager Ron Francis when it comes to Bjorkstrand’s falling scores. The winger still leads his team in shots, with 88 on the year. Bjorkstrand’s shooting percentage is a measly 4.6%, a fraction of his career average, which hovers around 11.5%. If Bjorkstrand can keep shooting towards the net at the pace he has done so far, it’s safe to assume he’ll have a much stronger second half in the goal department, crucial for a Kraken side. who looks set for a playoff push in just their second season.
Teuvo Teravainen, AG, Carolina
The 28-year-old battled injuries in the 2020-21 season before returning to form last year with 22 goals and 65 points in 77 games for the Hurricanes. His story this season resembles that of Bjorkstrand, where poor shooting luck was the main culprit for this year’s lack of production for the Finn. With just three goals on 61 shots, Teravainen is shooting just 4.9%, a far cry from his career 9.9%. Still averaging 2.35 shots per game, Teravainen’s fortunes are set to reverse as he still holds his place in the top six alongside Sebastian Aho, who is a more than capable playmaker. If Teravainen’s shooting fortunes start to turn, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him supplant Stefan Noesen in Carolina’s top power-play unit, which would only help him produce more goals.
Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago
With six goals and 26 points in 35 games this season, Kane is on pace in his first season under a points-per-game average since 2017-18, where he still had 76 points in 82 games. Kane is one of the biggest names in trade rumors as the Blackhawks continue to work hard in the NHL basement. Despite a season below his usual level, Kane still leads the Hawks in points and assists, playing for a mediocre offensive team where top scorers are Max Domi and Jonathan Toews, each with 11. The good news for GMs Interested in adding the 34-year-old Buffalo native is that the winger has scored just 4.8% of his 126 shots, which is also below his average. Kane’s game hasn’t gone anywhere, and his goalscoring should rebound like every other NHL forward with more shots on goal than Kane has more than twice as many goals as him.
Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis
The 32-year-old future center has the highest goal tally on our list with 10 in 37 games this season, but his six assists this year show just how many goals the St. Louis Blues have scored this season. season. Like Kane, O’Reilly’s name has been mentioned in trade talks as the Blues have faltered this year despite Jordan Kyrou continuing his strong play from last season. Apart from Kyrou and O’Reilly, the only Blues with 10 or more goals are Pavel Buchnevich (12) and Vladimir Tarasenko (10). O’Reilly’s point total is expected to rebound if Blues general manager Doug Armstrong decides to move the 2019 Stanley Cup winner in a trade to a playoff contender. O’Reilly just snapped a six-game scoreless streak after scoring in the Blues’ 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 27, so maybe it’s a sign of better things to come. come in the new year.