Introducing... Ryane Clowe
If last season was The Year of the Rookie, perhaps we can designate 2006-07 as that of the unknown player.
Even in just the past month, there've seemingly been a dozen or so players called up or given more ice time who have flourished, and I can't think of a better example than San Jose's Ryane Clowe — a player who had been buried on the team's minor system until a few injuries and the demotion of Steve Bernier opened up a scoring role for the St. John's native.
Picking up some time on the power play alongside Joe Thornton, Clowe has eight goals and one assist in five games since being recalled Jan. 4. (UPDATE The Mercury News has a nice story on Clowe's emergence today.)
Here's a look at 10 other players making an unexpected impact at the midway point:
Jozef Stumpel. Streaky Florida veteran has been red hot playing with youngster Rostislav Olesz, and has 20 points in his last 16 games.
Yanic Perreault. The unlikely all-star from the Coyotes has six goals and 12 points in his last 12 games.
Chris Kelly. Unheralded Senators has gotten a chance on scoring lines during Ottawa's resurgence and has 14 points in his last eight games.
Kevin Bieksa. Vancouver defenceman is about as unheard of as can get, but they're calling him Jovo Jr. out West after posting 10 points in his last 10 games.
Rostislav Olesz. Former seventh-overall pick is making good for Panthers with 12 points in his last 14 games.
Dan Cleary. Detroit has gotten a ton of mileage out of this player more than one team had already given up on. Cleary has slowed down the past handful of games but was on a tear from early November until late December in which he had 17 goals and 27 points in 24 games.
Johnny Pohl. Injuries on the Maple Leafs have thrown him into a power-play role, where Pohl has 12 points in 13 games after posting three points in his first 32 games.
Tomas Plekanec. 12 points in his last 16 games for this Canadien on the rise.
Joe Pavelski. San Jose rookie has posted nine goals and 18 points in 23 games since being recalled from Worcester where he was tearing up the AHL.
Mark Giordano. Calgary's rookie defenceman has seven points in his last eight games.