FIVE NHL Players who need to do better

Sometimes you have a good seasons, sometimes great seasons and other times absolutely terrible ones.

We’ve had a look at a few of the NHL players whom it feels like night and day from last season to this one and it’s clear that they have some work to do if they’re to return to form.

Jonathan Huberdeau – Calgary Flames

December 27, 2022: Calgary Flames center Jonathan Huberdeau (10) and Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) fighting for position during a face off during the first period of an NHL game at FLA Live Arena on Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sunrise, Fl. (Credit Image: © David Santiago/Miami Herald via ZUMA Press Wire)

It felt a bit like night and day for Huberdeau. He’d been traded to Calgary Flames from the Florida Panthers in August, leaving behind an impressive record in the 2021/22 season.

From 80 games, he scored his personal best of 30 goals, 85 assists and collected 115 points (just 8 points shy of Connor McDavid). His shot percentage was 13.5% per game, just slightly lower than the 16.4% in the previous season.

With Flames, he’s only 25 points in 36 games, shooting 1.66% and scored only 7 goals so far.  

There’s still time to come back to form for Huberdeau though.

Oliver Bjorkstrand – Seattle Kraken

Columbus Blue Jackets’ Oliver Bjorkstrand, of Denmark, smiles after scoring against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Sunday March 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Here’s another player who was traded and hasn’t quite found his skates with the new team.

Bjorkstrand joined the Seattle Kraken after a stellar 2021/22 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and he’s yet to impress.

That’s especially seeing as the Kraken gave up on 3rd and 4th round picks to Ohio so that they could have him.

This season he’s managed only 5 goals, 12 assists and collected 17 points from his 36 appearances with the Kraken. That’s compared with the NHL career high of 28 goals, 29 assists and 57 points gathered last season.

Likewise, his shooting average has dropped over 50%, from 13% to 5.3%.

Perhaps it’s just a rough patch? The Dane needs to get his mojo back and rekindle his shooting spirit, especially if the Kraken are looking for a place in the Playoffs.

Teuvo Teravainan – Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes’ Teuvo Teravainen (86) is checked by Edmonton Oilers’ Adam Larsson (6) during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday October 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Finn’s story with the Carolina Hurricanes echoes that of Bjockstrand, with his shooting being off this season. Teravainan too, had a great last season, coming back from injuries in the 2020/21 season to deliver 22 goals, 43 assists and 65 points in 77 games.

He was averaging 10.9% shooting average last season and this season it’s only 4.7%, over half (9.9% overall).

It may well be a blip. His play-maker team-mate Sebastian Aho is still on form so this could help him get back to form.

He’s also currently 6th on the Power Play Goals this season but could he overtake Stefan Noesen in the rest of the season?

Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks

May 23, 2021: In this photo from April 23, 2021, Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) handles the puck in the first period Nashville Predators at United Center in Chicago. (Credit Image: © TNS via ZUMA Wire)

It looks like a repeat of the 2020/21 season as Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane has another slump of a first half in 2022/23.

Currently he has 7 goals, 20 assists and 27 points in the last 37 games, marking his first season below his point-per-game average since the 2017/18 and 18/19 seasons.

Despite this slump, he remains top of the Blackhawks’ leaderboard with team-mates Max Domi and Jonathan Toews in 2nd and 3rd.

Blackhawks have themselves been having a very lousy season. Currently they have 8 wins against 23 losses, leaving them bottom of the Western Conference.

Can Kane get his goalscoring gear back in time to help the Blackhawks or will it be a right off?

Ryan O’Reilly – St Louis Blues

March 30, 2022, Vancouver, BC, CANADA: St. Louis Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly looks to make a pass after getting past Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn during second period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022. (Credit Image: © Rich Lam/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press)

O’Reilly currently sits with 10 goals in the last 37 games and 16 points. He has a lot to do if he’s to get back to the levels of last season.

It’s probably a wider issue with the St Louis Blues’ efforts to score this season and not just one player’s contribution.

Perhaps the best thing for the Center, is to be traded over to a team with a greater chance of reaching the playoffs. We don’t know the chambers of Doug Armstrong’s mind though.

The question is… are these players just in a rough patch of their careers or is it something to do with the teams they’re playing with?

Would a trade (like a possibility with O’Reilly) to another team or back to where they were comfortable, help them improve?

Posted on: 05 Jan 2023