With NHL training camps opening later this month, hockey fans are starting to focus on their favorite team's chances for improvement in the coming season.
Most of the attention will be on established superstars in their prime such as the Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews. Fans will also be keen to see if older stars such as the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin can maintain their high level of performance.
Each team also has players who tend to be overshadowed by their better-known teammates. Some, however, could be poised to raise their profiles in 2022-23. One example would be Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Moore, whose two-way skills made him an invaluable part of his club's improvement last season.
Here are five underrated players every fan should know heading into the coming NHL season.
Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames topped the Pacific Division last season with 111 points. Much of that success was thanks to career-best performances by stars such as goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
Their efforts, however, overshadowed defenseman Rasmus Andersson's breakout season.
Skating with Noah Hanifin on the Flames' top defense pairing, the 25-year-old Swede more than doubled his previous career high of 22 points by netting 50 points in 82 games. That placed him fifth among Flames scorers and 20th among all NHL blueliners.
Andersson proved to be the Flames' best all-around defenseman. Logging a team-leading 22:40 of time on ice per game, Andersson saw plenty of power-play and penalty-killing time. He was also second among Flames skaters with 125 blocked shots.
Gaudreau and Tkachuk have been replaced by Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri. How well they'll fare with the Flames will be the story going into this season. Nevertheless, Andersson should emerge from their shadows if he builds upon his superb 2021-22 performance.
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators
An undrafted winger who spent four seasons with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, Tanner Jeannot signed an entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators in 2018. Called up midway through the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, his seven points in 15 games showed sufficient potential that the Predators re-signed him last July to a two-year contract.
Jeannot rewarded management's faith and patience with a solid performance in his first full NHL campaign. He led all rookies with 24 goals and 130 penalty minutes while also sitting eighth in rookie points with 41. He was fourth in goals, sixth in points and second in PIMs among the Predators, as he proved willing to step up and defend his teammates when necessary.
At 6'2” and 208 pounds, Jeannot uses his size and strength well to separate opponents from the puck and generate scoring opportunities. He averaged just 15:59 in time on ice per game but sat fourth among his teammates in shorthanded ice time (2:33) and led them with 318 hits. Jeannot also led their forwards with 64 blocked shots.
Jeannot hasn't garnered as much attention as better-known teammates like Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg because of his short time in the NHL. With more maturity and ice time, however, he could blossom into a solid power forward for the Predators this season.