NHL Top 5 Overachieving Point Producers

NHL Top 5 Players Bound to Hit a Wall at Some Point in 2015-16

As we draw near the halfway point of the 2015-16 NHL season, there’s still a handful of players producing well above career averages. Sometimes it’s a rookie who comes flying out of the gates, or an aging veteran showing resurgence after two or three years on the decline. 

It happens every year, but, maintaining that consistency over the course of an 82-game season can prove difficult over a grueling seven months of hockey. Today, we’re going to countdown the NHL top 5 players most likely to hit a wall at some point in 2015-16.

This is not an evaluation of overall player performance. It’s strictly based on the scoresheet, and the numbers produced.

Honorable Mentions:

Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins – 34pts 38gp

After several sub-par seasons with Boston following the Tyler Seguin deal, Eriksson sits just 13 points shy of his 2014-15 total. His numbers were never expected to meet the 70 point range from Dallas, but, the 60-65 pace of 2015-16 is where he should have been in the past few years. Players who only show up to play in contract years are useless. GM Don Sweeney would be wise to sell high on Loui Eriksson as a trade deadline rental. 

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes – 30pts 40gp

He’s coming off a 2014-15 campaign that saw him post 49 points. Half of his 30 points this season have come on the powerplay, suggesting that theme isn’t likely to continue (at least not at the pace he’s producing now). The Hurricanes may be faced with a difficult second half of the year, so expect Faulk’s numbers to dip slightly, and finish around last year’s totals.

Lee Stempniak, New Jersey Devils – 28pts 40gp

A career nagged by injuries, Stempniak continually struggles to stay healthy. He was fortunate to earn a spot with New Jersey on a PTO, and is scoring at a pace not seen since his early years nearly a decade ago. The last time he had a fully healthy season was 2010-11 with Phoenix, where he produced 38 points. His career-high is 52 in 2006-07 with St.Louis, but is yet to come close to matching that total. He’s on pace to surpass the 52 points, just don’t expect it to happen. Whether it be an injury, or a stretch of inconsistency, Stempniak is bound to hit a wall somewhere.

NHL Top 5 Overachievers

5. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers – 32pts 31gp

Dec 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) controls the puck in front of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle (22) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers defeated the Oilers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Give the kid credit, he stepped up in a big way when Edmonton lost their phenom superstar to injury. After being demoted to the AHL to open the season, it seemed like there was much uncertainty surrounding Draisaitl.

Next to Patrick Kane, Draisaitl is the next hottest player in the NHL right now.

With Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid due to return from injury in the near future, Draisaitl’s role and minutes could be somewhat diminished. Coach Todd McLellan is likely to find a way to keep rewarding Draisatil upon their return, but it shouldn’t take long for phenom Connor McDavid to once again steal the spotlight.

The only way Leon Draisaitl continues his torrid pace is if one of McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, or Draisaitl slides to the wing, which isn’t likely to happen.

4. Mike Cammalleri, New Jersey Devils – 35 pts 38gp

Dec 15, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Mike Cammalleri (13) makes a pass during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most wildly inconsistent player in the modern-day NHL from a game-to-game basis. Cammalleri has the ability to disappear for long stretches during a season. That hasn’t been the case in 2015-16, as it’s been very much the opposite. Showing consistency we haven’t seen since his 82-point campaign with Calgary in 2008-09.

He’s on pace for 70 points this year, something he’s only exceeded twice (early) in his career. Cammalleri struggles to produce more than 50 points in any other season.

Whether it’s self-inflicted, or a case of New Jersey finally struggling, make no mistake, it’ll be near impossible for Mike Cammalleri to continue this pace.

3. Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild – 32pts 39gp

Jan 2, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now here’s a guy that seemed to hit a wall at age 30, showing a slight decline over the past couple seasons. His totals dipped to 48 points last year, capping one of his worst NHL seasons thus far in his career.

The emergence of Michael Granlund is what pushed Mikko Koivu down the depth chart, but he’s found a resurgence in 2015-16. Re-claiming his role on the top line, Koivu is seeing an increase in production this year.

Don’t expect it to last, as a lot of the credit is due to his linemates. He’s on pace to near match his career-high totals, but a slow stretch could quickly see Mikko pushed down the depth chart in favor of Granlund.

2. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets – 40pts 40gp

Dec 21, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (26) skates with the puck against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes a second-line player forced to log top-line minutes yields good results. But it’s not a formula for success over the long-term.

Wheeler has exceeded 60 points just three times in his career, with a high of 69 points in 2013-14. He’s certainly capable of a career-high season, but it’s difficult to imagine him tallying the 82 points he’s on pace for.

It’s great to get this productivity from Blake Wheeler, but Winnipeg needs more guys to step up. A first line of Drew Stafford, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler isn’t going to take you deep into the playoffs.

1. Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs – 27pts 37gp

Jan 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov (47) during the pre game warm up against the St. Louis Blues at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

He’s already surpassed his 2014-15 total of 26 points in just 37 games. At one point (still may be true), only Leo Komarov and Jamie Benn led their team in hits, while producing double-digits in goals.

Currently, there are just five players with more than 100 hits in 2015-16, putting up more than 10 goals:

Leo Komarov TOR – 169 hits, 15 goals
David Backes STL – 141 hits, 10 goals
Alex Ovechkin WAS – 110 hits, 21 goals
Boone Jenner CLB – 103 hits, 14 goals
Justin Abdelkader DET – 103 hits, 12 goals

Leo Komarov is a dynamic power forward that plays a gritty style that’s difficult to find nowadays. He’s probably not capable of the 54 point pace that he’s on, but, he’s still early enough in his career to show this type of growth. Toronto will be faced with tough decisions over the next couple months on whether or not to keep him. There’s no need to force a trade, as he can stick around with the Maple Leafs rebuild plan. However, if a desperate team is willing to overpay, Komarov is easily expendable.