NHL’s biggest surprises early in 2023-24: Emerging stars, disappointing starts and more

As the first calendar month of the NHL’s 2023-24 season comes to a close, there have been plenty of surprises along the way. Preseason favorites like the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers are struggling, and even the hyped Pittsburgh Penguins power play has hit a snag. But perhaps the biggest surprises have come from unexpected sources.

One player who has exceeded expectations is Frank Vatrano of the Florida Panthers. Last season, Vatrano had a slow start before picking up his game in the second half of the season. This year, he has already scored five goals, including an overtime winner against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vatrano has always been a volume shooter, and it seems he has found his groove early on.

On the other hand, Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks has had a disappointing start to the season. Despite his high potential, Zegras has only managed one assist so far and was even benched for a game. It remains to be seen if he can turn things around and live up to his potential.

In Arizona, defenseman Sean Durzi has become a standout player for the Coyotes. Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in June, Durzi has quickly become the team’s top defenseman, averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game. He has also contributed offensively with four points, including two power-play goals.

Another young player making a name for himself is Matt Poitras of the Boston Bruins. Initially expected to return to junior hockey after a few preseason games, Poitras has impressed the coaching staff and has secured a spot on the team. He has already scored three goals and has allowed the team to utilize Charlie Coyle in a more suitable role.

In Buffalo, Jordan Greenway has emerged as a top-six forward for the Sabres. After joining the team at the trade deadline last season, Greenway has fully recovered from a shoulder injury and has become a key player for the team. He has excelled on the penalty kill and has contributed offensively as well, with solid underlying statistics.

Unfortunately, not all surprises have been positive. The Calgary Flames, known for their strong defense, have struggled early in the season. They have allowed the seventh-most goals per game in the league, and their transition to a zone defense has not gone smoothly. It’s surprising to see a team that excelled defensively last season struggle in that area this year.

The Carolina Hurricanes, who had the best penalty kill in the league under coach Rod Brind’Amour, have seen their penalty kill take a significant dip. They currently rank 29th in the league, allowing opponents to score power-play goals in five of their first seven games.

In Chicago, Lucas Reichel, a key player for the Blackhawks’ future, has had a slow start to the season. After a promising rookie campaign, Reichel has been held pointless through the team’s first seven games. The team has tried different line combinations to spark his offense, but so far, it has been a struggle.

Not all surprises have been negative, though. The Colorado Avalanche’s penalty kill has been outstanding to start the season, with a 93.1% success rate. They have allowed only two power-play goals and even have more short-handed goals than power-play goals allowed. This is a significant improvement from last season and bodes well for the team’s success.

In Columbus, Jack Roslovic has made a surprising comeback after a rocky start to the season. Initially relegated to the fourth line and even a healthy scratch, Roslovic has turned things around and has become the Blue Jackets’ best player. He has a four-game point streak and has earned a spot in the top six.

On the other hand, the Dallas Stars’ power play has struggled mightily. Despite having a talented group of players, they have had trouble gaining zone entries and maintaining possession. Their power play currently ranks 27th in the league, and they have even allowed three short-handed goals.

Finally, Shayne Gostisbehere has been a major factor in the Detroit Red Wings’ early success. The team boasts an impressive 38.7% power play percentage, and Gostisbehere has been a key contributor. He is tied for the most points among defensemen in the league and has made a significant impact on the team’s success.

Overall, the first month of the NHL season has been filled with surprises, both positive and negative. It just goes to show that anything can happen in the dynamic world of hockey.


Denial of responsibility! Being Sportsfan is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
DMCA compliant image

Leave a Comment