1) Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby has always excelled when one of his wingers could skate like the wind. General manager Jim Rutherford tried to capitalize on this strategy and acquired Jason Zucker to fill the void. The winger cashed in twice in the Penguins’ 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens, while Crosby assisted on both tallies. If Zucker thrives on Crosby’s wing, his contract will start to look like a bargain for the next couple of years. The Penguins have survived an extraordinary amount of injuries this season, but Zucker’s emergence would provide a necessary boost.
2) Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
On one hand, Jeff Gorton has to be pleased that Kreider is acting as his own salesman ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. However, the thought of trading a premium talent instead of re-signing the forward is dangerous for any general manager. Kreider picked up a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York collected its fourth consecutive win. The Blueshirts are not ready to take the next step but the upcoming decision about Kreider could shape the next few years in a positive or negative way.
3) Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets came up one goal short against the San Jose Sharks Friday, but Connor’s second-period tally was a thing of beauty. The 23-year-old received a pass to the left of the Shark’s goaltender then slid the puck and his stick between his legs to even the game at 1-1. Connor is one goal shy of scoring 30 for the third consecutive season and continues to be one of the more underrated forwards in the NHL. The Jets will continue to rely on their high-powered offense as they look to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.
Highlights of the Night
Described above, Connor stole the show with this impressive maneuver.
Nikita Gusev stepped around Jaccob Slavin and Travis Zajac set up Mirco Mueller for the easy tap-in.
Kreider scored the go-ahead goal when he hammered a one-timer from the slot.
Stats of the Night
Sidney Crosby factored on a @penguins game-winning goal for the third time in four victories and the 197th time in his career – the third most among active players, behind Joe Thornton (247) and Patrick Marleau (217). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/cFA4m9q2QH
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 15, 2020
Zack Kassian has now been suspended for a combined 47 games over the last 10 years (NHL/OHL/AHL/IIHF)
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 15, 2020
New York Rangers 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 1
San Jose Sharks 3, Winnipeg Jets 2
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Montreal Canadiens 1
Carolina Hurricanes 5, New Jersey Devils 2
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.