Now I don't mean to offend any serious fans by saying these are players you've never heard of. This is just my list of the top ten players in the league that no one talks about or appreciates but do their jobs the best. Every team has a couple of players that do things crucial to winning but don't show up on the score sheet so they don't get talked about.
10. Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins). If you don't live in the New England area, you may not have heard of Milan Lucic. This 6'4" 220 pound left winger is one of the most dominating forces on the forecheck. Lucic uses every pound he has to his advantage when taking opposing defenders to the board with force. Lucic disrupts play and causes hell for a defender trying to make a clean break out pass. This creates room for his very skill team mates like David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron to create scoring chances.
9. Travis Moen (Montreal Canadiens). Travis Moen is a big winger who is great along the boards. He works the ugly area's and isn't afraid to sacrifice his body for the team. Also, Moen is one tough customer. If you go after one of his team mates, be sure that you'll be hearing from Travis Moen. at 6'2", 215, he has a lot of size to throw around.
8. Brendan Morrison (Calgary Flames). Although this Calgary Flames center does have a decent offensive upside, he is not a prolific scorer by any means. Morrison is a fantastic penalty killer and very effective on faceoffs. Look for Morrison to have a great +/- before the end of the year because he is very responsible defensively and that leads to offense for him and his line mates.
7. Ryan O'Reilly (Colorado Avalanche). O'Reilly was a fantastic 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft. This young 19-year-old has maturity well beyond his years. He is one of the bets defensive forwards in the western conference. O'Reilly shuts down opposing forwards and almost never puts himself in a position where he can be exposed. Not only is O'Reilly effective defensively, but he's a safe bet to put out there because he isn't penalized very much.
6. Samuel Pahlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets). Sammy Pahlsson is one of the best center's in the faceoff circle. His success in the faceoff circle directly relates to his success on the penalty kill. A good penalty kill is key to a successful team and having a player like Pahlsson can win games for you in the special teams department.
5. Colin Fraser (Edmonton Oilers). Every team has grinders and some games come down to whose grinders work harder. Although the Oilers have been thrashed around thus far this year, Fraser has been a great pick up. Fraser won a cup with the Blackhawks last year and did it with a lot of wear and tear on opposing defenses. Fraser is a great fore-checker with a huge hunger to win. Even though the 7 goals he scored last season were the most of his career and not very impressive, Fraser comes to every game to play and reams havoc on defenders on the forecheck.
4. Jarret Stoll (Los Angeles Kings). Jarret Stoll is a great third and possibly even second line center. Stoll is a high energy player that has a notch for scoring clutch goals. Although he only scored 4 goals in the Oilers run in 05-06, they were very important goals. His one time is deadly so he can also be a threat on the power play. This year Stoll is putting up respectable numbers with a very good Kings team and has a great chance to have a career year for a 28-year-old.
3. Cal Clutterbuck (Minnesota Wild). Cal Clutterbuck is one of my favorite players to watch simply because you know every time he's on the ice there is a good chance of a big hit. Clutterbuck is annually in the top ranks among hitters in the league. He physically pounds on defenders so they're constantly worrying where he is on the ice and are more likely to make a mistake. Cal can also chip in on the scoring but is not gonna be putting up dazzling numbers outside of his hit compilation.
2. Blair Betts (Philadelphia Flyers). Blair Betts is, in my opinion, is in the top 5 for defensive forwards in the league. He is dominant in the faceoff circle, dominant on the penalty kill, and has developed some dangles of late. I feel incredibly safe whenever Betts is on the ice. He is disciplined as well having 24 minutes being the most penalties he's accumulated in a single season. This makes it easy for a coach to give a player more ice time, knowing he won't be hurting the team by taking penalties. Blair Betts also blocks a lot of shots. He always puts the team first.
1. John Madden (Minnesota Wild). Throughout his entire career, Madden has always been among the most dangerous penalty killers. He's almost more of a threat to score when his team is short-handed. He is an incredibly smart hockey player with great hockey sense. He reads plays very well and doesn't run around out of position. Madden is a player that every team would be lucky to have because of his grit, smarts, and work ethic. John Madden gives his team a chance to win every night with these qualities.