Underrated players are athletes who just don’t get the stardom they deserve. They are players that fans and analysts think are not playing like they should be. But hockey is not just about goals and assists. It is also about leadership, passion and what goes on in the dressing room. I have decided to put together my list (with reasons for) of the NHL’s most underrated players.
Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets. This 8 year veteran and current captain of the Jets takes every game seriously. Ladd had a career high 59 points in 10/11. The 6’2″ 200 lbs. left winger may not be your typical 4th overall draft pick but will always play his hardest and put the puck in the net.
Dan Girardi, New York Rangers. Girardi is an undrafted defenseman who is having a great career so far. Dan is averaging just over 27 minutes a game, that leads the NHL. This 6’1″ 210 lbs. d-man made his first All-Star appearance in 11/12. His best work was in 10/11 when he had a career high in points (31) and assists (27). Girardi will always use his long shifts to play solid defense and smart hockey.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes. You don’t hear a lot about this Czech right-winger. He quietly is having a great year. Vrbata is 24th in the league in scoring and only 4 points off of his career high 56 in 07/08. Vrbata has his first 30 goal season this year in 11/12 and will only get more. Radim has played for 5 teams over 12 years. Drafted way up in the 7th round in 1999 he is living up to standards. He is 6’1″ 195 lbs and playing like never before even though he is 31.
Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres. Welcome to Pominville! This 6’0″ 185 lbs. right-winger is the captain of the Sabres, but when you think of Buffalo, names like Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford come to mind but Jason Pominville is having a better year than any of those guys. He is 15th in scoring this year with 59 points. This 30-year-old is an 8 year veteran and plays whistle to whistle and can always be relied on to play his heart out.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens. Max is still young but putting together a fantastic year. The 4 year left-winger is leading his Habs in scoring with 46 points. It is Pacioretty’s first year scoring over 20 goals and 20 assists. At 6’1″ and 203 lbs. Max is always willing to get his hands dirty and try to get his Canadiens out of last in the Eastern Conference.
Matt Moulson, New York Islanders. This guy actually is a Molson Canadian. Born in North York, Canada, Matt is having a career year with 26 goals and 26 assists being third on his team in scoring only behind first place John Tavares by 8 points. Moulson almost has his career high in goals, he is only 4 away. The 6’1″ 210lbs left winger was drafted in 2003 in the 9th round by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 9th round doesn’t even exist any more! Moulson who is currently in his 5th season has a long career ahead of him and is sure to be one of the upsides to a gloomy Islander team.
Kris Vesteeg, Florida Panthers. Versteeg who has been traded between 4 teams in a short 6 year career seems to have found a home in the sunshine state. Vesteeg is fairly short at 5’11” 185lbs but still has a wicked shot and leads his Panthers with 48 points. Versteeg hasn’t reached his career season in Chicago yet. That year he had 53 points, but Kris is on pace for 66 points this year. Vesteeg needs to just take a few more shots and he will be way up there in the scoring charts. Vesteeg has a Stanley Cup ring and is hunting for another one with his Panthers team.
Ryan O’ Reilly, Colorado Avalanche. Ryan is 1 of 3 O’s on the Avalanche. There is O’Reilly, O’Brien and O’Bryne. But O’Reilly is the better out of the 3. At only 21 Ryan is an offensive center who plays the gritty goal scorer. He currently leads the Avs in scoring. The second place Paul Stastny is 7 points behind at 39. Ryan is only in his third year and already played 216 NHL games. O’Reilly is 6’0″ and 200 lbs. and is on pace for 60 points, a career high. Ryan only has 10 penalty minutes this year and plays smart, confident hockey.
Jason Pominville Andrew Ladd