Our own CJ Reo provided his two cents on the top five overrated players in NHL 17. Now it’s my turn. Here are the top five underrated players:
5. Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators – 92 Overall – Ranked 17th
Erik Karlsson scored 82 points in 2015-2016. Only three players eclipsed him: Benn, Crosby, and Kane (all of whom are forwards). Throughout his career, the lithe Swede has put up point totals that are obscene for a defenseman. A silky, smooth skater with deft hands, a booming shot, and blinding speed, Karlsson is the foremost of a growing group of defensemen who are reinventing the position. Brutish, lumbering towers who can swing a stick like a battle-axe used to rule the NHL. However, those types of blueliners are slowly finding that they can’t compete with this new breed of speed demons who anchor their game around puck possession and mobility. Karlsson is number one amongst these mobile puck-movers, and he is in a class above most of the league when it comes to skating and playmaking. So, why the heck is he only rated 92 overall? Ryan Suter and Shea Weber are rated higher. Really? I’ll admit that Karlsson’s plus-minus isn’t exactly pretty, but he has spent his career playing in Ottawa, where team defense is a foreign concept. This two-time Norris Trophy winner is a point producing machine who always has the puck on his stick and munches up tough minutes. One word describes Karlsson: Beast.
Amended Rating: 94 Overall
4. Roman Josi – Nashville Predators – 90 Overall – Ranked 38th
Here is a guy who doesn’t get nearly enough attention. What Roman Josi is doing in Nashville is nothing short of spectacular. After breaking out with a 55 point season in 2014-2015, Josi followed that up with a 61 point campaign in 2015-2016. He may not rack up points like Karlsson, but Josi sure plays like him. The Swiss blueliner is an incredible skater with top tier stick skills, a wicked shot, and acute hockey sense. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Josi is so dominant; Nashville has always produced world-class defensemen. Josi lost his partner and mentor Shea Weber this summer to a trade, but coming back the other way is an explosive talent who has a similar skill set and playstyle to Josi. Assuming they are paired together, it should be very interesting to see what Josi and P.K. Subban can do as a unit. Josi should have no trouble reaching at least 60 points again this season.
Also, for anyone interested, here is a video of Roman Josi making Erik Karlsson look foolish:
Amended Rating: 93 Overall
3. Cory Schneider – New Jersey Devils – 91 Overall – Ranked 29th
Cory Schneider is one of the most underrated athletes in the NHL, period. He plays for a young, rebuilding team in New Jersey, and he doesn’t get the same praise as the Careys and the Henriks of the league. However, he deserves to be in the same conversation. Vancouver trading Schneider to New Jersey back in 2013 has proved to be one of the dumbest trades of the last decade. Schneider has emerged as one of the best in the game, putting up sparkling individual numbers despite poor team performance. 91 overall is too low.
Amended Rating: 93 Overall
2. Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins – 90 Overall – Ranked 40th
Another defenseman cracks the list. Kris Letang is underrated both in NHL 17 and in real life because of his history with injuries. Letang hasn’t played a full season since 2010-2011, and the last few years have been rough for the blueliner to say the least. At age 26, Letang suffered a stroke, and many wondered whether he would ever play hockey again. Well, he did, and despite further problems with concussions and other injuries, when he has been healthy he has dominated. Letang was on almost a point-per-game pace in 2015-2016, which is incredible for a defenseman. He has produced at a similar pace in past seasons as well. The only other defenseman in the NHL who does that with such consistency is Erik Karlsson. The two have often been compared, for both their scoring abilities and their elegant skating. Letang was the rock solid foundation of a Stanley Cup winning Penguins team this spring, providing not only offense but a steady and reliable presence in the defensive zone as well. In terms of pure talent, Letang is one of the best there is, and 90 overall is far too low. For NHL 17 players worried about his durability, just turn off injuries and watch him work his magic with impunity.
Amended Rating: 93
1. Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins – 90 Overall – 35th Overall
At 31, Patrice Bergeron remains the best two-way forward in the NHL. I recently did a rundown of the top 10 centers in NHL 17, and I was appalled to discover Bergeron was not on that list. Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward three times. He is tied with legendary Russian Pavel Datsyuk in this respect, and only the great Bob Gainey has won the award more times. Not only is Bergeron’s play without the puck masterful, he is a potent offensive weapon as well. This year Bergeron scored 68 points, just five shy of his career high that came back in 2005-2006. The Quebec native has bled Bruins Black and Gold for over a decade now, and he was the heart and soul of their Stanley Cup Championship run back in 2011. However, Bergeron’s most courageous moment may have been in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final when he played with a pierced lung. This guy is one tough SOB, and he has the heart of a lion. Skill, strength, and spirit, Patrice Bergeron has it all. 90 overall is a travesty.
Amended Rating: 94
What do you guys think of the NHL 17 ratings? Who is too high and who is too low?