The NHL announced it’s three stars for the month of January and they happen to be three bona fide NHL superstars. The first star is Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ cornerstone and captain, who recorded a whopping 13 goals as well as a pair of assists in just ten games. In doing so, Ovechkin passed Teemu Selanne, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Mark Messier to move into eight place on the NHL’s career goals list. At 695 career goals, Ovechkin is just five away from joining an elite group with 700 career goals and would need just nine more after that to pass Mike Gartner, the next name on the list. Career numbers aside, the 34-year-old is also tied for the league lead in goals this season with David Pastrnak and could be on his way to yet another Rocket Richard Trophy. The second star belongs to Leon Draisaitl, who has shown this season that he is far more than just Connor McDavid’s right-hand man. With 17 points in just nine games, Draisaitl led the league in per game scoring in January and overtook McDavid with a league-leading 79 points. Draisaitl and McDavid are currently on pace for 127 and 124 points respectively and have a chance at becoming just the fourth pair of teammates and the first since Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to each crack 130 points on the year. Finally, the third star went to Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. After a slow start to the season for both Vasilevskiy and the Bolts, January could not have gone much better. The team went 10-2-1 behind a 9-0-1 record from Vasilevskiy, who posted a stunning .948 save percentage and 1.58 GAA. All three marks from Vasilevskiy, as well as Tampa’s record, led the NHL this past month.
- One other player who has been hot of late is Detroit Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri. Fabbri, whose career with the St. Louis Blues got off to a fast start but had been derailed by injury and inconsistency over the past two years, has found new life since being acquired by the Red Wings back in early November. Fabbri has recorded 25 points in 35 games, trailing only Anthony Mantha for the team lead in points per game. Fabbri is on pace to shatter his offensive career highs across the board in his first season with Detroit and understandably would like to stay. He tells Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that he sees the upside in the young, rebuilding club and would like to be a part of it for as long as possible. Fabbri will be a restricted free agent this summer and will look to sign on long-term with the Red Wings if he can.
- Despite NHL interest, it does not sound as though KHL defenseman Nikita Nesterov is looking to return to the league just yet, if at all. The CSKA Moscow standout has been dominant both in the KHL and on the international stage since he last played in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens in 2016-17, transforming into one of the top defensemen in Russia. With his current contract coming to a close, there had been some speculation that he would try to use his success in the KHL over the past three years as a platform to return to the NHL, but it seems his career aspirations lie elsewhere. CSKA has shared a recent Q&A in which Nesterov claims that he is hoping to stay in Moscow. He acknowledges that the NHL is the best league in the world and that he enjoyed his time there and has at least considered offers to return, but in the end he feels his KHL career has been more meaningful. That is why, as he notes, he has instructed his agent to begin negotiations on an extension with CSKA with hopes of signing on for another five years. That lengthy term, even for a 26-year-old, could mean that his NHL days are over, but at the very least it will likely be some time before he ever returns to action in North America.