Top 6 in 6 Days - Who Will Lead the NHL
With the 2013 National Hockey League season being only 6 days away, The Slapshot is naming its top 6 players (one player per position). Players are determined by previous season stats, projected stats, etc.
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
Last season, New York Ranger's goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, won his first career Vezina (trophy for goalie who is "adjudged to be the best at this position") after carrying the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals. Additionally, Hank had the third highest save percentage in the league, as well as the third highest amount of shutouts and wins. At the end of his first practice with the team, Henrik stated that "I'm gonna put a lot of pressure on myself to get back as soon as possible". Henrik is arguably the current greatest goalie in the league, and he hopes to win his first cup with the New York Rangers this year.
Defense: Drew Doughty (LAK)
During the King's run towards the Stanley Cup last spring, Drew Doughty played a crucial role to his teammates, racking in the most play-off assists out of anyone in the league. During his offseason, Doughty has been working to fix a weight problem that has been holding him back recently. Drew Doughty told the L.A Times that "I probably weigh about 205 right now, which is a little bit down from what it was last year, so I'm feeling good." With his new healthy lifestyle, as well as countless hours of training with the team this and last week, Doughty is promisingly going to be one of the key players for the Los Angeles Kings' hopeful repeat of winning the Cup.
Defense: Zdeno Chára (BOS)
Zdeno Chára is famous for being one of the scariest guys on the ice, having been investigated my Montreal police for criminal charges after putting Canadien's Max Pacioretty in the hospital. In 2012, he won the Norris Trophy (for the best defenseman) for the second year in a row, following his 2011 well-earned Stanley Cup, as captain of the Boston Bruins. Chára says that his team is "one of the better teams that had most of the guys involved and playing." In this coming year, Chára aims to win another Stanley Cup and go for the Norris for the third consecutive year.
Right Winger: Marian Gaborik (NYR)
Marian Gaborik was in the hot seat last year for having the third highest amount of goals, leading the Ranger's offense to the Eastern Conference Finals. Gaborik is a fan favorite in New York City, being responsible for nearly 20% of all goals scored for the Ranger's in the 2011-2012 season. Gaborik had a surgery done on his shoulder, repairing it from damage done during the 2012 playoffs, but in a recent interview with the New York Times, Gaborik said that "I feel good; My shoulder feels fine," and added "Everyone came back to work, especially to make up for where we fell short last year" with regards to the Ranger's close encounter with the cup.
Left Winger: Ilya Kovalchuk (NJD)
Ilya Kovalchuk brought his team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, being responsible for the highest amount of 2012 Playoff goals of all players. After being traded to the Devils in 2010, Kovalchuk signed a 15 year deal with the franchise, and he is there to stay and play. In his first three years with the Devils, Kovalchuk has earned 170 points, and is expected to be named the 2013 captain, replacing former captain Zach Parise. Although there was some controversy about whether or not Kovalchuk would be retiring from Russia this season, the winger said that he was "Here to stay" and aims to bring his team right back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Center: Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Future Hall-of-Famer, Evgeni Malkin swept the 2012 NHL awards, winning the Hart Trophy (League MVP), Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player) and the Art Ross Trophy (Regular Season Scoring Leader). Malkin had the most points out of any player in the NHL in the 2012 season, racking in 109 points. He also finished of with an astonishing 50 goals and 59 assists. Malkin, as well as Penguins Captain Crosby, are sure that this is their year, and Malkin aims to devote all possible efforts to brining the cup back to Pittsburgh. Malkin also wishes to defend his title as #1 forward in the league.