This is THN.com’s Three Stars of the Week, an ongoing feature in which we look at the past seven days of NHL action and pinpoint the league’s very best performers. Let’s get to it:
3. Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina
The Hurricanes’ third-string goalie played like a first-stringer this week, posting a league-best 3-0-0 record, as well as a 2.11 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in three games. The 23-year-old Russian’s excellent week – one that saw him beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Los Angeles Kings – pushed his individual numbers higher, and he now has a .919 SP and 2.27 in nine appearances this season.
At a time when injuries to goalies are troublingly commonplace in the NHL, depth matters more than ever, and Kochetkov has risen to the challenge and helped Carolina climb into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
He is likely to take a backseat to Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta when they’re fully healthy, but if he stays this hot, Carolina GM Don Waddell will have to make a choice as to which two of the three goalies should stay.
But it seems that Kochetkov – who signed a four-year, $8-million contract extension on Nov. 23 – has carved out a place for himself in the future of the Canes’ goaltending picture.
2. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota
The Wild are on a three-game winning streak right now, and one of the chief reasons why is the offensive wizardry of Kaprizov.
In three games this week, the 25-year-old generated three goals and seven points, while averaging 21:39 of ice time.
Kaprizov now leads Minnesota this season in goals (15), assists (16) and points (31), and he’s on pace to put up a 53-goal, 111-point season – totals that would top his previous career-bests of 47 goals and 109 points (both set last season). He also split his points between even-strength time (where he had four points) and the power play (where he amassed three points).
It’s hard to imagine, but this is only Kaprizov’s third year in hockey’s best league. He improved significantly after his rookie campaign – nearly doubling his goal totals in his sophomore season – and this year, he’s elevating his game to an even bigger degree.
If the Wild have any hope of making the post-season, they’ll need Kaprizov to have an MVP-type season. He’s certainly started the year that way.
Update: This doesn’t even take into account his goal on Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Stars, which ties two Minnesota Wild records for the longest goal streak at six games and longest points streak at 12 games.
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton
This is the second time this season that McDavid earned the first star of the week, and you can’t say he hasn’t deserved it either time.
This past week, the 25-year-old Oilers superstar amassed a league-best five goals and 11 points in only four games. Without his offensive production, the Oilers wouldn’t have been winners of three of four games this week.
McDavid almost evenly split his point totals this week between even strength (where he had three goals and six points) and the power play (where he had a pair of goals and five points).
At present, he is second in the league in goals (21) and first in the league in assists (26) and points (47) in only 25 games. That puts him on a phenomenal pace of 69 goals and 154 points in a full season.
Really, what more can you say about him? McDavid is the best player on the planet, and he’s still relatively young.
Even if he doesn’t maintain the pace he’s currently on, he’ll still likely win his fifth Art Ross Trophy (and his third in a row) as the NHL’s top point-producer and be the odds-on favorite to win his third Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
This probably won’t be his last Three Stars appearance, either.
- NHL Three Stars: McDavid, Kaprizov and Kochetkov Show Off
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