The NHL playoffs are one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s when the stars of the league get to shine like Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane and teams get to show what they are truly made of. Playoffs are also time for lesser-known players, like Justin Williams or Bryan Bickell, to make a name for themselves and flourish in the game’s biggest stage. We all look forward to what new stars like Conor McDavid and Auston Matthews will do. But here are some lesser-known players that had a breakout season and could also make an impact this playoff.
Conor Sheary – RW- Pittsburgh Penguins
Alexander Wennberg – C- Columbus Blue Jackets
Since Columbus has been one of the most surprising teams this season, any player would count towards this list. One player who hasn’t gotten a ton of attention this year is Alexander Wennberg. He has taken his game to the next level in his third season as the second line center. He has 59 points or 13 goals and 46 assists in 80 games. He may not be the most flashy player out there, but this playmaker has an important role to the Jackets. They’ll need him if they want to get past the Penguins.
Rickard Rakell – C – Anaheim Ducks
Only 26 skaters have scored 30 goals this season. An unlikely member of this list is Rickard Rakell. In fact, he has the same amount of goals as Malkin and Ovechkin for goals with 33. He has 51 points for the season. Rakell has gotten hot at just the right time. 17 points in the last 2 months, which is 19 games. This year, Rakell has helped add to the Ducks offensive regime and should make them even more dangerous in the playoffs.
Viktor Arvidsson – RW – Nashville Predators
Another surprise 30 goal-scorer is Viktor Arvidsson. Arvidsson had 61 points in 80 games. Now, a big part of his breakout season is his linemates, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. But he has been a good final piece for that line. Nashville faces the Blackhawks in the first round and will likely be eliminated but it will still be interesting to see what Arvidsson can do in the playoffs.
Mikael Granlund – C – Minnesota Wild
Although Granlund is the Wild’s leading scorer and he was drafted in 9th overall in the 2010 draft, he hasn’t been as widely known as he should be. Granlund has 69 points in 81 games. Who knows if this season is a fluke or not, but an indication of that would depend on if he has a good showing in the playoffs. Wild are anticipated to make a run this year and this would be a great chance for Granlund to show the world what he can do.
Marcus Johansson – LW – Washington Capitals
Alexander Radulov – RW – Montreal Canadiens
Radulov had an interesting path to the NHL. He was drafted by Nashville and played pretty well for them in his first 2 years. He’s been in the KHL longer than he has been in the NHL, by choice. Until this season, he signed to the Canadiens and had 54 points in 76 games. The Canadiens have struggled on offense for the past couple of season but the addition of Radulov should help the Habs in their quest for the cup.
David Pastrnak – RW – Boston Bruins
Pastrnak has been one of the Bruins bright spots this season, with 70 points in 75 games. The Bruins have had a weird 3 seasons, with barely missing the playoffs twice. However, Pastrnak has been one of the best players, when healthy for them. This year was when he really shined. The Bruins might not make it out of the first round, but Pastrnak will be a guy to look out for as he gets his first playoff experience under his belt.
Other players to watch: Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary), Alex Burrows (Ottawa), John Gibson (Anaheim), William Nylander (Toronto) and J.T Miller (New York)