It happens to every hardcore hockey fan. Every now and then, you’re going through the game summaries or team-by-team scoring and you come across a name you’ve either never seen before, or never thought that player was in the NHL.
They’re players who either slipped through the NHL draft or went unnoticed among the 300 players who are profiled annually in our Future Watch.
So while top rookies such as Patrick Kane, Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews and Tobias Enstrom deservedly get the publicity, there’s a group at the other end of the spectrum who barely registers on the radar.
This spotlight is for you.
Here are 10 players you may not have heard about and some background on each. (Statistics are games, goals, assists, points, penalty minutes and ice time on average per game.)
10.Chris Conner, RW, 24, Dallas (22-3-2-5-6, 11:59 ice time). The Michigan Tech grad from Westland, Mich., signed with Dallas in 2005 and played 11 games with the Stars last season, as well.
9. Jeff Giuliano, LW, 28, Los Angeles (18-0-1-1-8, 11:40 ice time). The Boston College grad, from Nashua, N.H., played 48 games with the Kings in 2005-06, but has been a mainstay in Manchester (AHL) the past five seasons.
8.Tanner Glass, LW, 24, Florida (18-0-0-0-17, 3:53 ice time). A late Panther draft pick in 2003, he flew in under the radar from Dartmouth after a couple years in Penticton (BCHL). Born in Regina.
7. Matt Hunwick, D, 22, Boston (13-0-1-1-4, 10:36 ice time). A late pick of Boston’s in 2004, this native of Warren, Mich., played four seasons with the Wolverines and was on two U.S. national junior teams.
6. Quintin Laing, LW, 28, Washington (18-1-3-4-2, 11:56 ice time). An eighth-year journeyman pro from Harris, Sask., he previously played in Delisle (SAHA), Kelowna (WHL), Jackson (ECHL) and Norfolk (AHL) and broke into the NHL with Chicago (three games) in 2003-04.
5.Cody McLeod, LW, 23, Colorado (13-3-1-4-40, 9:46 ice time). A 2006 free agent signing from Binscarth, Man., he spent four years with Portland in the WHL and later played in the UHL and ECHL.
4. Rod Pelley, C, 23, New Jersey (44-2-3-5-12, 9:21 ice time). The Ohio State grad is from Kitimat, B.C. and played nine games with the Devils last season. New Jersey signed him in 2006.
3.Rick Rypien, C, 23, Vancouver (9-1-1-2-20, 7:54 ice time). From Coleman, Alta., he played three seasons with Regina (WHL) before signing an amateur tryout with Manitoba in 2005. Previously played seven games with the Canucks.
2. Vladimir Sobotka, C, 20, Boston (15-0-2-2-10, 7:19 ice time). The Trebic, Czech Rep., native was a fourth-rounder in 2005. He has two WJC tournaments under his belt and has scored at every level of the game.
1. Denis Tolpeko, RW, 22, Philadelphia (24-1-5-6-24, 8:39 ice time). An undrafted Russian from Moscow, he played with Seattle and Regina (WHL) before signing with Philadelphia in 2006.
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