This is the time of year for friends and families to come together, indulge in large portions of food, and enjoy each other’s company. During this time, it is also common to reflect about what you have in your life and give thanks.
Like the people of the world, every NHL franchise has at least one player they are extremely grateful to have on their roster this season. Most of the players on this list made it based on their on-ice performance this season. However, it is hard to ignore some seasoned veterans that may be close to the end of their careers but have dedicated their body and mind to one organization for many years.
So in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I present to you one player that each team should give thanks for.
Anaheim Ducks: Corey Perry
Considered favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup before the season began, the Ducks have not quite got off to the start they had planned. Anaheim is currently sitting close to the bottom of the Western Conference. Like his team, Perry did not come out of the gate very hot but has started to turn things around. He currently leads his team in both points and goals, while sporting the second best assist totals. In order for the Ducks to regain success, they are going to need Perry to be at his best for the rest of the season. This is something we are all aware he is capable of.
Arizona Coyotes: Shane Doan
Doan may not be leading the Coyotes in any statistical category this season. However there is no denying that the 20-year veteran of this organization (Winnipeg, Phoenix/Arizona) deserves the title “Player to Be Most Grateful For”. At 39-years-old, Doan continues to be a valuable asset on a squad demonstrating a higher level of performance than most people expected.
Boston Bruins: David Krejci
As the month of November comes to a close, Krejci finds himself having a very good season. He currently leads the Bruins in both points and assists while still being one of the teams best goal scorers as well. In addition, Krejci sits amongst some of the top point scorers in all of the NHL. Points on the stat sheet may not be everything but it is necessary to add wins to a team’s overall record.
Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel
The Buffalo Sabres the best they possibly could last season to be big losers in the hopes of scoring either Eichel or Connor McDavid. Although some may argue that they would have been more satisfied with McDavid, Eichel is turning out to be quite the consolation prize. He has had an immediate for the Sabres and promises to be a leader on this team for years to come. There is no denying how grateful Buffalo is to have the future star Eichel pulling their sweater over his head.
Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau
After an impressive 2014-2015 season, things have not been going quite as smoothly this time around. However, there is no denying that Gaudreau is the most loved player on the Flames roster by both ownership and the fans.
Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk
Faulk is proving to be one of Carolina’s most valuable assets on the ice. He currently leads the Hurricanes in both points and goals scored. The fact that he is a defender is not saying much for the teams group of forwards. The most amazing thing about Faulk so far this season is his impact on the power play. All of his goals have been scored with at least a one man advantage.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane
Putting all off-ice issues to the side, Patrick Kane has not only been the most valuable player to the Blackhawks; but the best team in the entire league. The current point leader in the NHL, Kane could be looking at walking away with both the Hart Memorial and Art Ross trophies this summer.
Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
The Avalanche are another one of those teams that are currently not living up to expectations. The first quarter of the 2015-2016 season has not gone the way they had planned at all. However, Matt Duchene is still putting up strong numbers even with his name circling through the rumor mill. Colorado would be crazy t let a player of this caliber go.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Brandon Saad
After a rough start, things seem to be slowly turning around in Columbus with John Tortorella running the show. Through all of the chaos, the Blue Jackets can at least sleep a little easier knowing that they made the right move acquiring Brandon Saad from Chicago. He is a key contributor on the ice and will be a valuable asset to the Jackets for many years to come.
Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin
The Stars are straight up killing it right now. As they sit atop an extremely strong Central Division, it looks like all of that talent they have acquired the past couple of years is paying off. It can be argued that Jamie Benn is the player that Dallas is most grateful for but we will give it to Seguin because of his slight edge in points.
Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg
After thirteen years with the Detroit Red Wings, Zetterberg is continuing to demonstrate his enormous value on the ice as a producer and leader. The 35-year-old is still among the team’s leaders in points and is spreading his knowledge of the game to the youth that will hopefully keep this organization one of the best the NHL has to offer.
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
This one might be unfair due to the fact that McDavid has been out with an injury for quite some time now. However, no player has had this much hype surround since Sidney Crosby and the Oilers are extremely lucky to have him as a part of their organization. If McDavid lives up to the high expectations that have already been placed in front of him, Edmonton should be sitting pretty for a long time to come.
Florida Panthers: Jaromir Jagr
At 43 years of age, Jagr is proving that he is truly the ageless wonder. The guy leads the Panthers in points and demonstrates no signs of slowing down. At the rate, we will be talking about Jagr playing hockey until his 50th birthday.
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick
The Kings are currently the leaders of the worst division in hockey. The team does not look like a legit contender to this point but we all know that things can change as the season progresses. If Los Angeles is going to transform into a true contender, it is going to be on the back of elite goaltender Jonathan Quick. No matter how the rest of the team is playing, the Kings can always count on a solid performance from their man between the pipes.
Minnesota Wild: Ryan Suter
During the 2012 offseason, the Wild spent a lot of money on both Suter and Zach Parise. It is nice to see that spending paying off as Suter proves to be a leader both on defense and offense.
Montreal Canadiens: Mike Condon
Now before I go any further, I would like to explain to Habs fans that Carey Price is clearly the most valuable player in Montreal. However, things could have turned bad for the Canadiens when Price went down with an injury. Condon provided close-to-dominant performances while filling in for Price which kept Montreal at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne
Most teams in the NHL would kill to have a goalie like Rinne on their roster. Dominant goaltending that is consistent is a very difficult thing to find. The Predators have lucked out and must feel the most grateful about their net minder.
New Jersey Devils: Cory Schneider
As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing more valuable in hockey than great goaltending. So far this season, Schneider is providing just that for a Devils team that is surprising the league with their solid start.
New York Islanders: John Tavares
Where would the New York Islanders be without Captain Tavares. There are other key pieces to this team but it is realistic enough to say that the Isles would not be competing for a playoff spot in the competitive Eastern Conference. The success of the blue and orange normally depends on how number 91 is playing. Luckily for them, Tavares is one of the best players in the entire NHL.
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist
Since coming into the league in 2005, Lundqvist has been the most reliable and valuable member of the New York Rangers. Whether his teammates score seven goals or only one, he still puts them in the position to walk away victorious every game. In all honesty, the blue shirts would be nowhere near as good as they have been if King Henrik was not between the pipes.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson
Karlsson is the leader and face of the Ottawa Senators franchise. As a defenseman, it is truly remarkable to see what he is able to accomplish of the offensive side. He currently leads his team in both points and assists, and we can expect more of the same from Karlsson as the season rolls along.
Philadelphia Flyers: Claude Giroux
The orange and black are in short supply of things to be thankful for so far this season. The offense has trouble producing with any consistency, and the defense and goaltending have been shaky more often than not. Luckily, the Flyers can always count on their captain to put forth his best effort on the ice. Even when he finds himself in a slump, Giroux finds a way to be a powerful presence on the ice.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
Sidney Crosby is hands-down the most loved man in the city of Pittsburgh. However, he has a very disappointing start to the season. In fact, the entire team has been struggling quite a bit. Fleury has been able to provide solid goaltending to keep this team afloat while the players around him try to turn their game around.
San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones
In his seventeen games played, Jones has been killing it in net for the Sharks this season. He is currently sporting a 11-5-0 record with a 2.02 GAA and .929 save-percentage.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
The Blues wouldn’t have locked up Tarasenko to a big contract over the summer if they did not expect him to become the most valuable asset to their organization’s future. The young man is not disappointing this season as he currently leads the team with 22 points and 13 goals.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos
There has been plenty of news surrounding Stamkos and the Lightning lately. Unfortunately it has had nothing to do with his on-ice performance, as we are all fixated on whether or not number 91 will remain in Tampa. However, Stamkos is providing a great deal of offense on a team that is currently struggling to put the puck in the back of the net. His eleven goals is close to double the amount of the second best goal-scorer on the roster.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Babcock
Wait, Babcock isn’t a player! You are right my friends! I had to go a little outside the box for the Maple Leafs because they are a pretty bad team all-around. The Leafs organization is putting their faith in their coach to turn this organization around in the next few years. It all starts with tanking for Auston Matthews this season.
Vancouver Canucks: The Sedin Twins
Sorry, I couldn’t pick just one! When you think of the Canucks, it is hard to think of anybody else but Daniel and Henrik Sedin. They are the best this team has had to offer for quite some time now.
Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin
This one is a complete no-brainer, NEXT!
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler
Like Tampa Bay, most of the publicity surrounding the Jets involves whether they will be able to re-sign their star players before the offseason. However, Wheeler is quietly having himself a nice start to the season. In 22 games played, he has recorded 22 points, 8 goals, and 14 assists. The Jets will be fighting for those bottom playoff spots and are going to need Wheeler at the top of his game all season.