Everyone needs a change of scenery from time to time. Here's a look at 10 players who have made the most of changing uniforms before or during this season.
|Power forward Guillaume Latendresse has been in the center of things in Minnesota. (Getty Images)|
Craig Anderson: A journeyman backup for most of his career, Anderson showed the potential to be a No. 1 goaltender last season in Florida. But he wasn't about to displace Tomas Vokoun, who was locked into an expensive contract. So he moved on to Colorado as a free agent and is the biggest reason the surprising Avs are headed to the playoffs. Anderson has been a workhorse and is among the statistical leaders in all major goaltending categories.
Mikael Samuelsson: He was productive in a limited role for several seasons in Detroit, and ultimately that made him too expensive for the salary cap-challenged Red Wings. Still Samuelsson has been a bargain for the Vancouver Canucks, who signed him to a $2.5 million contract and have seen him turn into their leading goal scorer so far. Samuelsson has already set career highs with 30 goals and 53 points and still has more than a dozen games to go.
Maxim Afinogenov: After nine sometimes tantalizing and often frustrating seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Afinogenov struggled to find a job for this season. The Thrashers took a chance and signed him for less than $1 million near the end of training camp, and Afinogenov has made it worth their while. With Ilya Kovalchuk gone, Afinogenov has become one of the team's go-to guys. He leads Atlanta in goals scored and is on track to set a career high.
Michael Leighton: One of the league's best feel-good stories this season, Leighton was reunited with former coach Peter Laviolette when the Flyers claimed him on waivers in December. Leighton has spent much of his pro career in the minors, but with a season-ending injury to Philadelphia starter Ray Emery, he has filled the void and helped lift the Flyers into a playoff race they seemed out of when he arrived.
|Change is good|
|Stats through March 15|
Lee Stempniak: What a difference a couple of weeks make. Stempniak was described by a high-profile national broadcaster as a 'failure' when the Maple Leafs traded him to Phoenix at the deadline. Granted, Stempniak didn't exactly distinguish himself with Toronto, but then again few players did on a team that will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive time. But since being traded for the second time in as a many seasons, Stempniak has exploded offensively for the upstart Coyotes.
Vaclav Prospal: He had issues at times with coach John Tortorella when they were together in Tampa Bay, but the two have found a comfort zone with the Rangers this season. Prospal has spent most of his season playing on a line with Marian Gaborik and that helps, but he has been a steady and productive contributor in his own right and already has surpassed the points total he had last season with the Lightning. Barring injury, Prospal will finish with more goals this season as well.
Benoit Pouliot: Sometimes trades do work out for both teams, and Pouliot has made it so for the Canadiens. He came to Montreal for Latendresse, and while he hasn't scored quite as many goals, Pouliot has been productive and shown flashes of why Minnesota drafted him fourth overall in 2005. Pouliot couldn't crack the Wild's regular season lineup in his first three seasons as a pro and struggled early this season, but since joining the Canadiens has become a top-six forward and has been part of Montreal's resurgent drive to a playoff spot.
Matt Moulson: At 26 years of age, Moulson has made the most of his first real shot at a regular NHL job. Moulson had a couple of brief stints with the Los Angeles Kings, but seemed destined for a career in the minors until the Islanders signed him as a free agent, in large part because he was inexpensive and grew up in the same town as first overall pick John Tavares. But Moulson has made a name for himself in New York by leading the team with 25 goals.
Antero Niittymaki: He didn't have bad numbers in Philadelphia, but the Flyers wanted to overhaul their goaltending so Nittymaki was cut loose and ended up with the Lightning. His numbers this season are in line with his career, but his play has been better than his stats suggest because Tampa Bay is a playoff bubble team at best. Still Nittymaki is one of the reasons the Lightning are even challenging. He went 8-2-1 leading up to the Olympic break to get them back in the race.