NHL Star Power Index: Artemi Panarin is off to a ridiculous start, Rasmus Dahlin continues to make history

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.

No player has been more dangerous on the offensive end of the ice than Artemi Panarin through the opening two weeks of the 2022-23 season. In eight games, Panarin has registered an NHL-best 12 points (four goals & eight assists), including goals in three of his last five contests. The New York Rangers star winger has also registered at least one point in six of his eight games this season.

Panarin has been insanely productive on New York’s second line, despite playing with a new center in offseason acquisition Vincent Trocheck. The chemistry has been unmistakeable as Trocheck has assisted on two of Panarin’s goals and Panarin has returned the favor on both of Trocheck’s goals.

The Rangers star forward has also been unreal as a part of the team’s top power-play unit. Panarin has one power-play goal and five power-play assists. While it’s been impressive to watch Panarin develop chemistry with Trocheck, seeing Panarin continue to thrive playing alongside Mika Zibanejad on the man-advantage has been downright special.

After having a career-high 96 points last season, eclipsing that mark is certainly in the cards based on how hot Panarin has been out of the gate. If the Rangers want to make another run at the Stanley Cup, he’ll be one of the biggest reasons why.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin placed himself in the NHL record books.

Dahlin began the 2022-23 season on a five-game goal streak, which is the longest goal-scoring streak to begin a season by a defenseman in NHL history. His impressive streak finally came to an end when he failed to find the back of the net against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.

However, Dahlin did register an assist against the Kraken, which means that he’s recorded a point in all six of Buffalo’s games this season. His six-game point streak makes him the fourth active NHL defenseman to begin a season with a streak of at least that length, joinging the likes of Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins (six in 2019-20), Morgan Reilly of the Toronto Maple Leafs (six in 2018-19) and Alex Goligoski of the Minnesota Wild (seven in 2010-11).

For his terrific stretch, Dahlin has named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week ending on Oct. 23. Entering Thursday, Dahlin currently leads all NHL defenseman in points (9) and goals (5). 

The Swedish native did register a career-best 53 points (13 goals & 40 assists) during the 2021-22 season and appeared in his first All-Star Game a season ago.  He’s off to a tremendous start this season and having another career year certainly wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities giving his scalding hot start.

The Colorado Avalanche were dealt some brutal news last week when it was announced that captain Gabriel Landeskog would miss 12 weeks as he recovers from knee surgery. With Landeskog out of the lineup, Colorado’s top six forwards would need to pick up the offensive slack.

Well, winger Valeri Nichushkin clearly got the message.

In seven games, Nichushkin is tied for the NHL lead in both points (12) and goals (7). The Avalanche forward has registered at least one point in every game while tallying four multi-point contests. Nichushkin has scored at least one goal in six of Colorado’s seven games on the season. 

However, the area in which Nichushkin has really excelled in has been on the power-play. He already has a mind-boggling five power-play goals on the season, including one in the Avalanche’s 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers. Nichushkin has thrived playing on the team’s top power-play unit alongside Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and company.

Nichushkin finally broke through last season with a career-high 52-point campaign (25 goals & 27 assists). He was rewarded with a eight-year, $49 million contract extension in the offseason and is clearly a huge part of the team’s future. While the Avalanche obviously are going to miss Landeskog’s presence for the majority of the first half of the season, seeing Nichushkin continuing to step up has been a welcome sight. 

Few goaltenders have been more impressive than Jake Oettinger through the early going of the 2022-23 NHL season.

The Dallas Stars netminder owns the second-lowest goals-against-average (1.41) and third-lowest save percentage (.953) in the league. In five starts, Oettinger has allowed a grand total of seven goals, including three games in which he’s only yielded one goal.

Since becoming a permanent fixture at the NHL level in 2021, Oettinger has showcased all the makings of a franchise goalie. Prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, the Stars signed Oettinger to a very team friendly three-year, $12 million contract extension and making him their goaltender of the future with such a commitment.

Oettinger is looking to build off of a 2021-22 campaign in which he produced a 30-15-0 record to go along with a 2.53 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage. It’s obvious that he’s continuing to become even more of a dominant force in between the pipes. He’s registered at least 24 saves in each of his five games this season and has shown that he can be the workhorse for a Stars team that has lofty aspirations.

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