The NHL has released their three stars for last week, and Nikita Kucherov finds himself on top once again. The Tampa Bay Lightning forward now has 94 points on the season to lead the entire league and has recorded at least two in each of his last four games. That gives Kucherov 28 multi-point games this season and makes him a near lock for his second consecutive 100+ point season. The 25-year old has become an almost unmatched offensive powerhouse the last few seasons and will likely be a finalist for (if not the outright winner of) the Hart Trophy this year.
Fellow Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko took home the second star for his ten-point effort, another reason why the St. Louis Blues are the NHL’s hottest team. Tarasenko was included in trade rumors at one point this season, but is now on pace to come close to his career-high in points of 75. Third place went to Sidney Crosby who is having another incredible season even without some of the usual fanfare. Crosby has 72 points in 56 games and will likely continue his streak of point-per-game seasons that has lasted his entire career.
- When Marian Hossa stepped away from the NHL in 2017 due to a mysterious skin condition, many struggled to accept his explanation. That was because it happened to coincide with Hossa’s salary dropping dramatically, meaning he wasn’t leaving very much money on the table by essentially retiring. Now, in an incredible interview with The Athletic’s Scott Powers (subscription required), Hossa opens up about the condition and how it affected his life and playing career. After a trade from Chicago, Hossa’s contract remains on the Arizona Coyotes books and will until 2021 when it eventually expires. He won’t be playing hockey again, but his health and life have returned to some level of normalcy.
- While Powers was busy releasing a feature on Hossa, Athletic colleague Scott Wheeler was releasing his midseason draft rankings (subscription required). Wheeler continues to have Jack Hughes as an easy choice in the top spot and doesn’t see it as “a 1A and 1B” draft with fellow top prospect Kaapo Kakko. Arthur Kaliyev, who scored two more goals today for the Hamilton Bulldogs to give him 47 on the season, sits at 13th and is the top OHL player available. As Corey Pronman of The Athletic points out on Twitter, Kaliyev is in rare (and impressive) territory in terms of draft eligible goal scorers from the OHL.