4 big surprises in the first quarter of the NHL season
Matthew DeMille, Staff Writer
One quarter of the 2022-23 NHL season is officially in the books as almost every club in the league has completed at least 20 games. With 25 per cent of the season in the books, performance trends for both teams and players are starting to show, giving us a relatively accurate picture on how the rest of the season will shake out.
While some trends are of no surprise to anyone, there are a few storylines that have shocked the hockey community early into the season.
Here is what stood out to us, as of Dec. 1.
Devils reign supreme
The New Jersey Devils are taking the NHL by storm. This has been, without question, the biggest storyline of the season, as nobody expected a performance of this caliber by the club.
At the time of writing, the Devils boast a record of 19-4-1 and are currently sitting atop the entire NHL at 39 points. Along with their impeccable record, the club also tied their franchise record for most wins in a row with 13.
Generally, it takes teams a handful of seasons to build their rosters into potential contenders for the championship, not a single offseason. The Devils seem to be the incredibly odd exception, especially considering their dreadful outing in the season prior.
One explanation for New Jersey’s remarkable start is how their team is built.This Devils roster is a fairly young group that uses speed to their advantage. Hockey is transitioning from a game of strength and power to speed and craftiness, and the New Jersey Devils may have cracked the code.
Kraken rise from the deep
While the Devils are the kings of the east, the Seattle Kraken may be the princes of the West. Seattle was expected to spend another season as a bottom feeder club vying for the first overall selection in the 2023 NHL Draft, but it seems they have other ideas.
The quarter-mark of the season saw the club rise from the bottom of the standings to the top. Currently sitting third in the Western Conference with a record of 15-5-3.
Offseason acquisitions go a long way in this league, and the Kraken made the most of their recent additions. Free agency signings Andre Burakovsky and Martin Jones are paving the way for the club. On one end of the ice, Burakovsky leads all Kraken in points with 25 in just 23 games, while netminder Martin Jones has had no issues defending his net with a record of 12-4-2.
Return of King Karlsson
It’s been an exciting start to the season for San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, as he currently leads all NHL defenseman in points, with 32. The former Ottawa Senator and two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner — was traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2018, where he faced a drastic drop off in production mainly due injury related setbacks.
Prior to this season, Karlsson’s career had been considered a wash and many believed he may never return to an elite level defender again. Not only is Karlsson an early favorite to win his third Norris Trophy this season, he also became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to record a hat-trick at the age 32 or older.
Robertson shines bright for the Stars
The Dallas Stars have found a considerable amount of success in the early portion of their season and a lot of it stems from 23-year-old Jason Robertson. While Robertson has already proved to be a point-per-game player for the Stars, his output levels are off the charts to start this season.
At the time of writing, Robertson has recorded 22 goals and 17 assists in 24 games, leading the entire NHL in goals and sits solely behind Connor McDavid for points. Although early, Robertson has already made himself an incredibly strong candidate for the NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the Most Valuable Player as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.