Nobody’s shocked that Sidney Crosby leads the NHL scoring race with 12 points in six games, or that Martin St. Louis is second with 10 points in six games. However, the following five guys have been pleasant surprises early in 2013-14:
Tomas Hertl (7G, 2A): You may have heard about this guy already. No player has more goals this season than the Sharks’ 19-year-old rookie. While his shooting percentage is rather high (33.3%) and unsustainable, it’s not so inordinately high to suggest he can’t keep producing at a decent rate. The challenge will be handling the NHL schedule, which is far longer and with far more travel (especially out of San Jose), than he played in the Czech league.
Mason Raymond (4G, 4A): Quite the bargain for $1 million. The speedy Raymond is a former 25-goal scorer whose production fell off the past couple of seasons in Vancouver. He’s been a timely addition for the Leafs though, especially after David Clarkson was suspended for the first 10 games of the season and Nikolai Kulemin ran into injury problems.
Teddy Purcell (4G, 4A): The Lightning winger did have 65 points in 2011-12, so we can’t be too astounded he’s off to a hot start. But there’s no question he’s easy to overlook on a team that also has Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. In addition to his point totals, another Purcell stat that jumps off the page is his average ice time — just 14:01 per game. Among the top 30 scorers, he and Hertl (14:31) are the only ones below 15 minutes.
Jason Garrison (2G, 5A): Second in scoring among NHL defensemen, behind only Montreal’s PK Subban (2G, 6A). Garrison is seeing considerably more time on the power play under new Canucks coach John Tortorella than he did last season, his first in Vancouver, under Alain Vigneault. But that doesn’t explain his increased production; actually, he’s only got one PP point, with two of them coming shorthanded. No Canuck has played more than Garrison this season. The 28-year-old with the booming shot logged a big 28:29 last night in Philadelphia, picking up a second assist on the game-tying goal by Chris Higgins.
Jiri Hudler (2G, 5A): Coming off a frustrating 27-point campaign in 2013, the 29-year-old former Red Wing leads the surprising Flames in scoring after five games. In fact, he hasn’t been held without a point yet. “The way we play, it’s a lot of fun,” he said Saturday, per the Calgary Sun. “Every game is exciting. Everybody’s buying in, playing hard. Of course, we’re going to make mistakes, it’s going to happen and totally normal, but you can tell the bench, everybody’s in.”