There are several legends who have had outstanding careers in the NHL but never hoisted the Stanley Cup. Some of these players include Paul Kariya, Pat LaFontaine, Curtis Joseph, and Marcel Dionne. Given how hard it is to win the Cup, there will always be a few players whose successful careers are not highlighted by Lord Stanley but here are five players that are currently in the Stanley Cup Playoffs who deserve to win a Cup.
Alex Ovechkin is often recognized as the best natural goal-scorer. He has one of the most lethal shots in the NHL and is not afraid to showcase it. During his 12-year career, Ovechkin has averaged over 378 shots on goal per year and has reached the 50-goal mark seven times. There is no question that he is the powerhouse forward for the Washington Capitals. He has shined on the power play over his career; in fact, 212 of his 558 tallies (38%) have come while on the man-advantage.
Early in his career, Ovechkin was criticized heavily for his one-way style of play. Many critics argued that he was a selfish player who only cared about his offensive production. However, since being named captain in 2010, Ovechkin has matured as a player. Interestingly, his offensive production decreased since he was named captain as he developed into a two-way player who can play at both ends of the ice. Prior to 2010, the Great 8 averaged 1.29 points per game. Since 2010, he has averaged 0.959 points per game.
Ovechkin has made the NHL playoffs nine times but has never lifted the Stanley Cup despite him registering 89 points in 93 playoff games. The Capitals have just not found a way to win 16 games in a single postseason and will have to beat Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Penguins this year if they want to be labeled Stanley Cup champions. Oh, and before the playoffs started, we gave 5 reasons why this would be the year that the Capitals WILL win the cup.
2. Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson has blossomed into one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. He is one of the best skaters in the league, which allows him to carry the puck up the ice and jump into the rush while still being able to retreat defensively. He has been the quarterback of Ottawa’s power play since he came into the league and has generated 176 of his 456 points (38.5%) with the extra man.
Karlsson has made the NHL playoffs five times with the Senators, but he has not made it past the Eastern Conference finals. He has 27 points in 37 playoff games, which are strong numbers for a defenseman. Karlsson is enjoying a great playoff run with the Senators so far this year and was one of the major reasons his team ousted the Boston Bruins in the first round.
The Senators named Karlsson captain at the beginning of the 2014 NHL regular season and his strong character and leadership abilities have earned significant praise from his teammates. They have said that he does whatever it takes to get the job done, which is was a team needs in a captain. If he wants to win the Stanley Cup this season, he will need to continue producing and leading his team through another series against the New York Rangers.
3. Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko has become one of the most explosive forwards in the NHL. He has scored nearly 40 goals for the St. Louis Blues in each of the past three seasons, and this season he finished with a career-high 75 points. Tarasenko has 145 goals and 139 assists for a combined 284 points through his first five years.
He has also been fortunate to make the playoffs in each of his first five seasons with the Blues and has 31 points in 41 playoff games. However, the Blues have struggled in the playoffs under Ken Hitchcock and this year is only the second time that they have made it out of the first round. New head coach Mike Yeo has his team playing the right type of playoff hockey and it looks like the year that Tarasenko could lead his team over the hump and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Once there, he needs to have a strong performance to bring the Stanley Cup back to St. Louis.
4. Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler is one of the strongest two-way centers in the NHL. He has established a name for himself as a shut-down player who gets matched up against the opponent’s top line. Despite that role, he still scored 22 goals this season and had 36 assists for a total of 58 points; his best production since his 2010-11 campaign with the Vancouver Canucks. He also has one of the best faceoff percentages in the NHL with a career average of 55.6%.
Kesler has made the playoffs nine times in his career. He made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Canucks but eventually lost to the Boston Bruins. Through these playoff appearances, he has been his team’s workhorse, averaging over 21 minutes of ice time per game. Because Kesler is a two-way player, he also has respectable numbers in the hits, blocks, and takeaways categories.
Kesler will need to have one of his best playoffs series yet if the Anaheim Ducks are going to shut down the explosive Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in this second-round. Fortunately for the Ducks, playing under pressure is when Kesler has shined in the past.
5. Henrik Lundqvist
The list would not be complete without a goalie who is deserving of the Stanley Cup; Henrik Lundqvist is that goalie this season. Lundqvist has put together a tremendous career and has been a pillar for the New York Rangers since the 2005-06 season. Over that time, he has played in 742 regular season games with a 405-249-76 record. His career average Save Percentage is .920 and he has a 2.32 Goals Against Average. These numbers will give him a very good chance to one day be part of the Hall of Fame ballot.
Lundqvist has made the NHL playoffs in 11 seasons. He made the Stanley Cup finals during the 2013-14 campaign but lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. He holds a 59-63 record in the playoffs but has a strong Save Percentage and Goals Against Average with .922 and 2.27 respectively. He has also had 10 shutouts in his playoff career.
Lundqvist, otherwise known as “King Henrik”, is already 34 years old and likely will only play for a handful of more seasons. The New York Rangers have had a very good season and “The King” has been very solid so far in the playoffs, something that will need to continue to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Times Square this summer.