Who were the biggest surprises of the 2022-23 NHL season?
The National Hockey League is almost never predictable. As has been established time and time again over the years, just about any team can win any game on any night. Nothing is ever easy.
Naturally, not all players follow the same trajectory. Some guys come out of the top development leagues in the world and immediately establish themselves as stars at the highest level; others take more circuitous routes to success.
In Friday’s edition of Daily face-to-face live, Matt Larkin and Steven Ellis have made their picks for the biggest upsets of the 2022-23 NHL season so far. Here’s what they had to say…
Matt Larkins: Looking west last night Steven, the Canucks with a big win and Andrei Kuzmenko have a big night. He gets his 35th goal in what could be called his rookie season, not eligible for the Calder Trophy, so it’s debatable if he’s officially broken a record. Pavel Bure’s rookie record with the Canucks is 34 goals. Kuzmenko beats it, I guess, but technically it’s not a record if you really want to break it down to the smallest detail. But it kind of got me wondering: is there a bigger surprise this season than Andrei Kuzmenko? A pretty amazing story, you never know what you’re going to get with a KHL import. So, for you, if not Kuzmenko, which player this season has surprised you the most?
Steven Ellis: A few years ago, I was really excited when the Boston Bruins went over there and picked up Linus Ullmark. At the time, I felt like in Buffalo he was a good goaltender who just didn’t get shaken well. The team was never good, he had to do a lot of heavy work. Then he goes to Boston, a team that was still in playoff contention. Straight away it wasn’t easy: Jeremy Swayman came in and looked great, Tuukka Rask was there for a short time, let’s not forget that. And then it was like, okay, now let’s see what you can do. Last year he was certainly not guaranteed to be No. 1.
This year you look at the stats, both at box level and forward, it’s been one of the best seasons we’ve seen from a goalkeeper in a long time. It feels like a Brodeur-type season in the mid-2000s, or a Miikka Kiprusoff – guys who go out and be off, every night. You look at how the Bruins have been this year, and you have to look at their goalie.
Watch the full episode here: