January 2 — Dark Horses, Creators & Celebrity Clones

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

ANOTHER GO FOR JOE: Joe Pavelski ushered in the new year with a one-year contract extension with the Dallas Stars worth $3.5 million, plus performance bonuses. Currently in his 17th season, Pavelski has 12 goals and 37 points at 38 years of age.

ERIK THE GREAT: Erik Karlsson’s two assists during the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks extended his point streak to 13 games, which is a franchise record. He has two goals and 19 assists for 21 points during his run while amassing 51 points in 38 games this season, continuing to lead all NHL defensemen. 

GREEN MONSTER ENERGY: David Pastrňák is taking all the sights at Fenway Park and incorporating them into his equipment. For today’s 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins forward is rocking custom skates and sticks that feature the Green Monster, baseball stitching, and an homage to Red Sox legend David Ortiz. 

WJC QUARTERFINALS SET: Preliminary play wrapped up on Saturday, as the Americans and Team Canada both won to improve their pool standings. Canada beat Sweden 5-1 to finish second in Group A with nine points and will face Slovakia (3rd place, Group B) at 6:30 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Team USA took care of Finland 6-2 to finish first in Group B for the second year in a row and will face Germany (4th, Group A) at 4:00 p.m. ET. Games will air on TSN in Canada and the NHL Network in the US. 

2023 Breakout Candidates

If you’re a fan of the rise of new stars in NHL circles, 2022 was probably a pretty satisfying year. Cale Makar emphatically announced his ascent to superstardom with a Norris Trophy, a Conn Smythe Award, and a Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres saw Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin emerge as foundational players, and the Dallas Stars rose on the backs of Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger

These young breakout stars went from relative unknowns at the start of the year to household names. Now that 2023 is upon us, here’s a look at who might be part of the next class of hockey breakouts.

Gabe Vilardi, LAK

Gabriel Vilardi (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There has long been speculation in Los Angeles over who might be the first of the Kings’ loaded prospect pool to deliver at the NHL level. While most of the focus has centered on Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev, it is 2017 first-round pick Gabe Vilardi who seems to be showing glimpses of a star turn in Hollywood. The 23-year-old leads the team with 16 goals despite sitting just eighth among Kings forwards in ice time. Vilardi might be just a couple extra shifts and a top-six promotion away from that next leap.

Matt Boldy, MIN

Just six days into 2022, Matt Boldy made his NHL debut in front of family and friends in Boston, less than an hour down the road from his hometown of Milford, MA. Boldy scored that night, one of an impressive 27 he ultimately amassed for the calendar year. Without much fanfare, he suddenly ranks fourth on the team in points (27) and goals (12) at just 21 years of age. With another step forward, that fanfare will come.

Kent Johnson, CBJ

Kent Johnson Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Sitting a distant last in the Metropolitan Division is far from where the Columbus Blue Jackets had hoped to be this season, but that might be for the best—and not just for the Connor Bedard lottery odds. The other silver lining through the dark cloud of Columbus’ season to date has been the opportunity for rookie Kent Johnson to grow and develop out of the spotlight. Johnson’s eight goals and 16 points are modest, but playing alongside Johnny Gaudreau and fellow breakout candidate Kirill Marchenko offers every chance to bring those numbers up and tap into what makes the 20-year-old special.

NHL Players’ Hollywood Counterparts

On the “OverDrive” podcast by TSN, hosts Bryan Hayes, Jeff O’Neill, and Jamie McClennan discussed Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson with TSN hockey analyst Mike Johnson. O’Neill commented on Roberston, comparing him to comedian Pete Davidson by hilariously saying, “We call him Pete Davidson. We call him that because he’s not the fastest skater, he doesn’t have the fastest shot, but man, is he dialed.” To which Johnson replied, “He just gets it done!” This conversation had us thinking about NHL players compared to some of the hottest celebrities of late. Here are our picks! 

David Pastrňák as Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay is one of the most beloved chefs, restauranteurs, and TV personalities in showbiz, as he is constantly whipping up a viral recipe or an entertaining reaction to something. Boston Bruins forward David Pastrňák is in a similar boat. Whether it’s his stickhandling or signature moves like an impossible backhander goal, the man nicknamed “Pasta” is always cooking up something in the Bruins kitchen, as he is the team’s leading scorer with 50 points in 36 games, helping to keep his team best in the league.

Auston Matthews as Elon Musk

Plenty of billionaire entrepreneurs have made headlines, but no one more so than Elon Musk after he acquired Twitter in October. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world, with a $219 billion net worth. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews can say the same but in an NHL stance. According to Forbes magazine, he was tied with Sergei Bobrovsky for the fifth-highest NHL player of 2022 by making $11 million. Like Musk, Matthews embraced his entrepreneurial persona, with Forbes mentioning he became the first active NHL player to sign with a betting company (Bet99) as a sponsor. 

Victor Hedman as Will Smith

It’s the “slap heard around the world” as one of the most prominent Hollywood moments of 2022 came when actor Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was channeling Will Smith’s slap when he won the “Hardest Shot” contest at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, as his shot came in at 103.2 MPH. 

Ovechkin & McDavid as Taylor Swift

When tickets went on sale for Taylor Swift’s “Era Tour” in November, Ticketmaster became public enemy number one as they canceled sales a day before opening, leaving many fans angry and leading to lawsuits in its aftermath. This season Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin are putting on a show. McDavid has 72 points in 37 games and is on pace to reach 160 points for the first time since Mario Lemieux hit that mark during the 1995-96 season. Ovechkin made NHL history when he became second all-time in scoring in December. He has 806 career goals and 13 in his last 15 games. You can imagine hockey fans are crashing ticket sites to get a chance to watch these two superstars continue to break NHL records! 

Spotlighting Team’s Social Media Content Creators

The start of a new calendar year is a perfect time to set goals and introduce yourself to new things. In this special edition of our player spotlight, we switch gears to highlight the content creators from teams you may follow on social media. Hockey fans are always looking to see the players’ personalities off the ice, and Instagram and—more specifically—TikTok are great places to see some behind-the-scenes tidbits involving your favorites. Here are some social media channels you should be following in 2023 and the kind of content you can expect this year!

Dallas Stars

How Would You Like to Spend NYE? On the Couch or at a Party?:

  • Jake Oettinger: At a party
  • Scott Wedgewood: On the couch with family
  • Colin Miller: On the couch
  • Mason Marchment: Party

New Jersey Devils

Favorite Pre-Game Music?

  • Tomáš Tatar: EDM
  • Miles Wood: Kygo
  • John Marino: Rap
  • Mackenzie Blackwood: Classic Rock or Country

Chicago Blackhawks

Who Was Your First Pick in Fantasy Football?

  • Taylor Raddysh: Josh Allen
  • Seth Jones: Derrick Henry
  • Patrick Kane: Ja’Marr Chase
  • Caleb Jones: Dalvin Cook

Boston Bruins

If Zdeno Chara Was? (According to Brad Marchand)

  • Animal: Giraffe
  • Color: Gray
  • Season: Summer
  • Feeling: Intense

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule