As we head into the final leg of the NHL season the playoffs loom closer and closer. While some may have their eyes on certain teams to go far and possibly all the way, we’ve been keeping our eye on standout players. So we’re going all out and calling it early as we predict some of the top NHL stars heading into the 2017 playoffs.
Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s hard to believe that it was only one season ago where the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have a chance at the playoffs, then came the 2016/17 team. In short, this is a whole new team, not just due to the new players, but also the attitude. Take a look at how they’ve played in the last six games, fighting and clawing their way to a playoff spot. And of course, one would be remiss to mention the Leafs without giving Auston Matthews the credit he deserves.
What a rookie year he’s had. Yes, there’s been ups and downs, but overall he’s been a pretty solid player who seems to be adjusting to life in the NHL. Right now, he seems to be in a bit of a drought for points, so it wouldn’t surprise us if he breaks this very soon.
Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand is no stranger to the Boston Bruins fans, as he’s been on their radar for a while now – and all in a good way. He’s always been solid but this year he has really pushed himself and come out stronger than ever. It seems as though Marchand may finally be realizing his true potential, which is exciting for him, the Bruins, and the loyal fans.
Devan Dubny – Minnesota Wild
Devan Dubnyk may be seen as an interesting pick as far as players to watch, but he is deserving of making the list. This goaltender started out extremely strong, posting a .941 save percentage in December. Unfortunately, after December his save average started to dip a bit, but not by a ton. He’s still a strong goaltender who is looking to finish out the season on a high note.
Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
When it comes to standout players Erik Karlsson definitely makes the list. In fact, some are going so far as to speculate that he may be able to beat Brent Burns in points totals. It’s definitely going to be interesting to watch what Karlsson does in the final games of the season.
Show Your Love of the Game
Of course, there is no bigger way to be a super fan than to show love for the game by engaging in it yourself. Even if you’ve never played hockey, there’s no time like the present to get out there and buy yourself a pair of adult ice skates and see what the fuss is all about.
Sure to Be Some Surprises
Obviously there are a number of other players that would be worth mentioning, and depending how the last few games of the regular season play out there could even be some last minute surprises in the mix.