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.
Even after all these years, there's no player that is creating more excitement across the NHL than Alex Ovechkin.
Entering the 2021-22 season, Ovechkin was the talk of the league as he rose up the all-time goals list. The Washington Capitals star quickly passed Marcel Dionne for sixth place on the all-time list, then recently passed Brett Hull for the No. 5 spot earlier this month. As impressive as it is that Ovechkin is rising up the list, that's not the main reason that he's creating so much buzz around the NHL.
At 36, Ovechkin is on pace for a career year. Through 24 games, Ovechkin already has 37 points (19 goals and 19 assists) and is on pace for 130 points (65 goals and 65 assists), which would be career highs.
The talented winger's most impressive season came during the 2007-08 campaign in which he won the Hart Memorial Trophy. Even in that sensational season, Ovechkin registered 112 points (65 goals and 47 assists) and it was his only NHL season in which he scored 60 goals.
Right now, Ovechkin is averaging just south of a goal per contest. While that pace may not be attainable over an 82-game regular season, it's been downright insane that Ovechkin is putting up these kinds of goal numbers at his age. During this past Friday's game against the NHL-leading Florida Panthers, Ovechkin's talent was on full display as he registered a hat trick in a 4-3 Capitals win.
It's not even that Ovechkin is just putting the puck in the net. As impressive as his goal-scoring prowess has been through a quarter of the season, Ovechkin's playmaking ability has been just as sensational. He's currently tied for sixth in the NHL in the assists department and his 18 helpers have already tied the total that he achieved during his 45 games last season amidst the shortened campaign.
Ovechkin is creating the most buzz this season, but Connor McDavid is right behind him.
At this point, it's not even about the numbers (which are insanely impressive) when it comes to McDavid. It's about the fact that McDavid pulls off highlight reel goal after highlight reel goal. McDavid has managed to navigate his way through an entire defense in separate efforts against the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets.
The goal against the Rangers certainly felt more impactful, given that the game was hanging in the balance. The Oilers were down 5-4 in the final three minutes and McDavid's superhuman individual effort brought them back to tie it up. Ultimately, Edmonton ended up winning the game 6-5 in overtime.
Personally, Alex Ovechkin's falling down goal against the Arizona Coyotes back in 2006 will most likely never be topped. For a player to find the puck on the ice while falling down, that's pure insanity. However, I do believe that McDavid's goal has a place in the top 10-15 goals of all-time considering that he had to weave his way through an entire defense and stilled deked the goaltender.
McDavid is one of those players where he can make your jaw drop and it's not even that surprising. His stick-handling is some of the best that I've personally ever seen and he's just as gifted as a passer as he is as a goal scorer.
It's not hard to see why McDavid has established himself as arguably the sports' biggest star. This also likely won't be the last time that we see the Oilers star make a jaw-dropping play -- or see him appear in this Star Power Index.
Brad Marchand has been the talk of the NHL this week and it's not exactly for a great reason. The forward recently received a three-game suspension for slew-footing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The incident took place during the first period of this past Sunday's game, which the Bruins won 3-2.
Marchand didn't receive a penalty for his actions and Ekman-Larsson fortunately wasn't injured on the play. The Bruins winger will be eligible to return on Dec. 8 when the Bruins are set to face the Canucks again, ironically enough. It appeared that Marchand did drive his right leg through and upended Ekman-Larsson. It certainly wasn't the dirtiest play that's ever been seen on the ice and officials obviously agreed since no penalty was called on the play.
However, Marchand is the type of guy that is going to get the benefit of the doubt. After all, this is the seventh suspension of Marchand's NHL career and he's slew-footed opposing players in the past.
It's been no secret that the Calgary Flames have been one of the most impressive teams so far this season. Jakob Markstrom is a big reason why.
This is a team that missed the postseason in a pandemic-shortened season then really didn't make any huge splashes in the offseason. But a quarter of the way through the 2021-22 season, the Flames are tied for the most points in the Western Conference and currently sit atop the Pacific Division.
Markstrom currently is second in the NHL with a 1.76 goals-against-average, which only trails Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Jack Campbell. The Flames goaltender has produced an NHL-best five shutouts this season and has allowed two goals or less in 11 of his 18 starts.
Simply put: Markstrom has looked like a brick wall at times and has really been the true difference maker for the Flames. This is a team that scores 3.2 goals-per-game (eighth in the NHL), which is decent, but also isn't an elite clip.
Markstrom has definitely established himself as one of the frontrunners for the Vezina Trophy through the early portion of the season. If he keeps up this high level of play, he'll be in that conversation and could catapult the Flames into contending for a Stanley Cup
It was quite 24-hour period for Jack Hughes earlier this week.
The New Jersey Devils star returned to the lineup for Tuesday's game against the San Jose Sharks after missing 17 games due to a dislocated shoulder. If that wasn't enough of a reason for celebration, Hughes also signed an eight-year contract extension to remain with the Devils.
Hughes' new deal carries an average annual value of $8 million. The former top pick was scheduled to become a restricted free agent following the 2021-22 season.
In two games prior to the injury, Hughes registered two goals and an assist. During the 2020-21 season, Hughes scored 11 goals and recorded 20 assists in 56 games. Hughes has accumulated 55 points (20 goals and 35 assists) in his three professional seasons.
The hockey world was certainly buzzing following the news of Hughes' lofty contract extension. Hughes has yet to play a full NHL season, so the move is not without risk, but it was a necessary one for the Devils. Hughes has blossomed into the face of the franchise alongside fellow forward Nico Hischier. There have definitely been moments in which Hughes has produced jaw-dropping plays, including one earlier this season in which he scored a highlight-reel overtime game-winner against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hughes is a remarkable talent that could become one of the most exciting players that the NHL has to offer. Hopefully we'll get to see many more eye-popping goals this season from him and for many more years to come.