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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.

Auston Matthews
TOR • C • 34
G50
A37
+/-+11
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There's few players around the NHL that have been as hot as Auston Matthews as of late.

In Thursday's 7-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, Matthews scored his 50th goal of the season on an empty-netter. In the process, Matthews became the first Maple Leafs player since Dave Andreychuk 1993-94 to record 50 goals in a single season. Matthews also now holds the league lead in goals as he has a one-goal advantage over Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl

Matthews has scored at least one goal in 10 of his last 11 games. Additionally, the Maple Leafs center has recorded multiple points in seven of those 11 contests. He is one of the biggest reasons that the Maple Leafs have won three of their past four games. It's almost been impossible for opposing teams to keep Matthews out of the scoring column over the last month.

Cale Makar
COL • D • 8
G24
A51
+/-+39
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Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar has proved to be an offensive savant early in his NHL career. On Tuesday, the Avalanche defenseman joined some very elite company in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

Makar recorded his 50th assist of the season on a power-play goal from teammate Valeri Nichushkin. In the process, Makar joined Steve Duchesne and Ray Bourque as the only Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques defensemen to register at least 50 assists in a single season.

Duchesne recorded 62 assists during the 1992-93 season with the Nordiques while Bourque racked up 50 assists in the 2000-01 season with the Avalanche. Considering that there's 15 games still to go in the regular season, Makar certainly has a chance to top Duchesne's top mark of 62 assists. Right now, the 23-year-old defenseman is currently on pace to finish the 2021-22 season with 90 points (29 goals and 61 assists).

Makar has enjoyed a sensational month of March in which he's recorded 12 assists. The Avalanche star has also registered at least one assists in nine of his 14 games this month while dishing out multiple assists in three of those contests. He has blossomed into a terrific two-way defensemen that can make jaws drop with some of the plays that he makes in the offensive zone. Coming down the home stretch of the regular season, Makar definitely has to be considered one of the favorites to win the Norris Trophy along with Nashville Predators star Roman Josi.

Evgeni Malkin
PIT • C • 71
G17
A18
+/--3
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The Pittsburgh Penguins are battling for one of the top playoff spots in the Eastern Conference and have won four of their last six games. One of the reasons for that success has been the steady play of star center Evgeni Malkin, who made a little bit of history in Thursday's win over the Minnesota Wild.

The Penguins and Wild were tied 3-3 after three periods of play, which meant that overtime was needed to settle the score. Malkin ended up scoring the game-winning goal as he tucked the puck past former teammate and recently acquired Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. It marked the 78th game-winning goal of Malkin's career, which tied him with Jaromir Jagr for the most game-winning in franchise history.

Malkin has registered at least one point in six consecutive games while recording multiple points in three of those contests. The Penguins are one of several teams that are looking incredibly dangerous as the postseason draws closer. If Pittsburgh continues to get production from its stars, there's no reason that this group can't make a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Aleksander Barkov
FLA • C • 16
G31
A37
+/-+28
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It's been no secret that the Florida Panthers have looked like the most dominant team in the Eastern Conference this season, so it's hard to believe that the Panthers got even better at the trade deadline with the addition of star forward Claude Giroux.

However, as spectacular as Giroux has looked since arriving in Florida, center Aleksander Barkov has really been anchoring the team's top line. Barkov has scored a goal in four of his last five games while registering a staggering 20 shots-on-goal during that time. Most recently, the 26-year old produced a two-goal outing in a 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. 

Barkov opened the scoring against the Blackhawks as he weaved his way through the defense to put the puck in the back of the net. This came after a previous Panthers goal was disallowed due to the puck being kicked in. Teammate Gustav Forsling found Barkov cutting towards the net and Barkov displayed sensation patience as he waited for Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia to open up his five-hole. Once he did, Barkov was able to slide the puck past Delia for his 30th goal of the season.

Barkov also added a power-play goal in the third period, which ended up being the final Florida goal on the night.

While his goal-scoring acumen was on full display on Thursday, the Panthers star has also been dangerous as a facilitator throughout the bulk of the season. In fact, Barkov has registered 13 assists during the month of March, including four multi-assist performances.  With a group of top six forwards that include Barkov, Giroux, Jonathan Huberdeau and and Sam Reinhart, the sky is the limit for how far the Panthers can go when the playoffs roll around. As a team, the Panthers lead the NHL in goals (268) and goals-per-game (4.1) while also converting 23.0 percent of their power-play opportunities.

This is as lethal of an offense as any team around the league. If goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky does his part in the postseason, Florida certainly could be hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup.