Jesper Bratt among top 5 surprise NHL players this season
One of the most fun parts about hockey is seeing players come out of nowhere and capture all the headlines early in the season. These “surprise” players generate a lot of buzz and excitement that make every NHL season unique. This season, it feels like there are more surprise players than ever before that have turned the NHL upside down and backward so far through early November.
Top 5 Surprise NHL Players
Logan Thompson is the best storyline in the NHL this season. Everyone wrote Vegas off when they announced Robin Lehner would be out for the season with a hip injury. The 25-year-old netminder was just playing for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL right before the pandemic. Fast forward to 2022, and he is the front-runner to win the Vezina trophy through the first week of November. He has the Vegas Golden Knights in second place in the entire league and first place in the Western Conference. Thompson has posted outstanding numbers so far with a 6-2 record, .934 SV%, and a 2.01 GAA.
The New Jersey Devils might be the most fun team in the league to watch this season with their speedy and young talent on the rise. At the forefront of that movement is Jesper Bratt, who is off to a monster start. Bratt officially arrived on the scene last season posting a career-high 73 points in 76 games. He has turned it up another notch this season with an 11-game point streak totaling 17 points. His name is being thrown into the early season MVP conversations with the likes of Connor McDavid and David Pastrňák. If Bratt and the Devils can continue this pace, look for him to be in the top 10 in scoring by the season’s end.
Unlike the first two names mentioned on this list, Karlsson has found the fountain of youth and looks like the prime Erik Karlsson we all know from the early 2010s. Karlsson has a historic 10 goals in only 14 games so far this season. To give you an idea of how historically good Karlsson has been so far, the last time a defenseman had 10+ goals in their first 13 games to start a season was 1937. He also leads all defensemen in the NHL in points with 18. Connor McDavid is the only player in the NHL with more goals than Karlsson right now.
4) Rasmus Dahlin
Swedish defensemen are making their mark on the NHL this season, and if it weren’t for Karlsson stealing all the headlines, Dahlin would be. He has been magnificent this season for the Buffalo Sabers and is truly becoming must-watch television. Dahlin ranks second amongst NHL defensemen in points (only behind Karlsson) with 15. The Sabers are one of the best teams in the league right now in large part due to Dahlin quarterbacking the power play and leading the league in power-play goals amongst defensemen.
The Philadelphia Flyers were largely looked at as one of the likely teams to be in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes at the end of the season. To everyone’s surprise, the Flyers are off to a respectable start and in the middle of the pack in the Metropolitan standings in large part due to Carter Hart. Hart is 6-0-2 this season and has been carrying the Flyers on his back up to this point. He ranks top 10 amongst goalies in SV% and GAA and is the main reason the Flyers have not become bottom feeders yet this season. With arguably the worst roster in the league in front of him, Hart has been nothing short of spectacular and has earned his way into early-season Vezina conversations.
Honorable mentions: Shane Pinto, Gabriel Vilardi, and Martin Necas.