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NHL Star Power Index: Maple Leafs' William Nylander piling up goals, J.T. Miller pacing red-hot Canucks


Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing — it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world’s attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they’re creating. We’ll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.

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It was quite the homecoming for William Nylander as he thrived during the 2023 NHL Global Series in Sweden over the weekend.

The Toronto Maple Leafs winger racked up two goals and three assists during his team’s two games in Stockholm. Nylander even scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Maple Leafs to a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Nylander’s game-winning goal was his 10th career overtime goal, which is the second-most in Maple Leafs history. 

Nylander is currently on a five-goal streak and has registered at least one point in every game this season. He is tied for the sixth-longest season-opening point streak in NHL history with Connor McDavid, Henrik Zetterberg and Dave Andreychuk. Nylander is also tied for fifth in points (27) among NHL players, while also being tied for sixth in goals (12).

The Maple Leafs star has racked up three goals and three assists over his last three games. Nylander’s most impressive performance came in Toronto’s first game in Sweden against the Detroit Red Wings, as he tallied a goal and two assists in a 3-2 comeback win over the Red Wings.

Nylander had quite the third period as he tallied all three of his points over the final 20 minutes. The 27-year-old scored the game-tying goal at the 13:03 mark of the final period. Teammate Mitch Marner was able to dig the puck free from behind the net, and Nylander buried the goal from the slot. 

Just 1:24 later, Nylander earned a secondary assist on John Tavares’ game-winning goal.

It’s hard to fathom how electric Nylander has been playing to start off the season. While he’s earned a point in every game thus far, Nylander has also registered seven multi-point games since the 2023-24 season began. For a player that is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Nylander has certainly picked a great time to be playing out of his mind.

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The Vancouver Canucks have absolutely taken the NHL by storm throughout the early portion of the 2023-24 season. With a ton of offensive producers, center J.T. Miller has become the latest to play at an elite level.

Miller has been one of the top offensive options across the NHL through the first two months of the campaign. The Canucks star has registered three goals and three assists over his last four games, while also embarking on an nine-game point streak.

Miller tallied his 12th goal of the year in a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. It marked his sixth goal across his last eight games.

At the 7:10 mark of the third period, Miller found himself in front of the net in the perfect place at the perfect time. After an initial shot was stopped by Sharks goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, Miller was able to deposit the rebound into the back of the net despite falling to his knees when he was shooting the puck.

Miller is currently second in the NHL in points (30), while also being tied for second in goals (12) and tied for fifth in assists (17). The Canucks center is currently on pace for 123 points (53 goals and 70 assists) this season. Miller’s career-high was 99 points (32 goals and 67 assists) during the 2021-22 season.

The Canucks continue to benefit from several different players providing offensive production. If Miller can stay anywhere close to this level, a career year could be in the cards for the American-born center.

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When it comes to the Vegas Golden Knights, it’s usually players like Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Mark Stone that are pacing the team in the points department. However, defenseman Shea Theodore has actually been one of the team’s most consistent players on the offensive end of the ice.

Theodore has already tallied 18 points (four goals and 14 assists), which puts the blue-liner on pace for 74 points (17 goals and 57 assists) this season. To put that pace into perspective, Theodore registered 41 points (eight goals and 33 assists) all of last season, and he has never recorded more than 52 points in a single campaign.

The Golden Knights defenseman is in the midst of a stellar month to the tune of a goal and seven assists. Even more recently, Theodore has registered six points (one goal and five assists) across his last three games.

Theodore is currently tied for second on the team in points with star forward Mark Stone. The Vegas defenseman’s 14 assists also lead the team.

Theodore has recorded multiple points in two of his last four contests, including a massive four-point performance in a 6-5 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16. In that particular game, Theodore finished with a goal and three assists.

The 28-year-old got into the scoring column thanks to some terrific puck movement from the Golden Knights. After receiving the puck from Stone, Eichel flipped the puck back out to Theodore at the point, and he was able to snap a shot past Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau on the power-play goal to tie the game at 4-4.

Theodore followed up that performance with a pair of assists in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Obviously, there are going to be periods where defensemen are going to disappear from the score sheet, unless you’re a Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes. However, Theodore is playing at a truly elite level as a member of Vegas’ top defensive pairing. If he’s able to give the Golden Knights performances like this on a somewhat frequent basis, it’ll go a long way toward Vegas repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

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Ilya Sorokin has established himself as one of the top goaltenders the NHL has to offer over the past few seasons. He was even tabbed by many as a potential Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goalie in 2023-24.

However, it’s been a lackluster start to the campaign for the New York Islanders netminder.

Sorokin currently has tallied just four wins to go along with a 3.21 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage. Over his last five games, the Russian goaltender has accumulated a hefty 3.43 goals-against-average, and the Islanders have lost four of those contests.

Sorokin has also yielded at least four goals in five of his last seven starts. In addition, Sorokin has given up at least four goals in seven of his 12 starts.

According to Money Puck, Sorokin has a .954 save percentage when it comes to stopping unblocked shots, which is good for just 17th across the league. 

The 28-year-old is coming off of his first win in nearly a month in a 5-4 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames. Sorokin did register 35 saves throughout that game, but surrendered two third-period goals that helped the Flames force overtime.

Sorokin hasn’t registered a goals-against-average above 2.40 in any of his previous three professional seasons, so this is certainly an alarming start for an experienced goalie. Still, there’s plenty of time for Sorokin to bounce back and become the elite goaltender many expected him to be this season.





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