It's hard to think about leveling up at a time when hockey is sinking into an abyss of positive tests, postponed games and a best-on-best Olympic tournament that will exist only in our daydreams and video game simulations.

So let's remember the good times, shall we? Here are 10 players and teams that took the leap, found the next gear and achieved higher levels in 2021 -- and what might await them in 2022.

Adam Fox, New York Rangers

Here's a good reminder about how 12 months in a pandemic can feel like 12 years. In December 2020, Fox was coming off an impressive rookie season that saw the 22-year-old finish fourth for the Calder Trophy behind well-hyped fellow defensemen Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes and forward Dominik Kubalik.

But fourth is great! That portends good things would eventually happen for Fox -- "eventually" in this case being the first half of the following year, when Fox owned the 56-game 2021 season and became only the second defenseman to win the Norris Trophy in his second season.

The other was Bobby Orr.

This season, Fox is tied for the league lead in points with Victor Hedman and would have played his way into a lead role on Team USA had the NHL gone to Beijing. There's leveling up, and then there's a meteoric rise like that of Fox.

In 2022: Fox leads the Rangers to their first proper playoff berth since 2017.

Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche

I was thinking the other day why Kadri being third in points per game (1.58) behind Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid hasn't been talked about nearly enough. There have seemingly been more stores about when the bottom is going to drop out of his season -- "Should you fade Nazem Kadri's point streak?" and "Cash out on Nazem Kadri?" for starters -- than how incredible it is that Kadri has a 5.2 points per 60 minutes average.

Maybe it's because the Avalanche aren't a .732 points percentage team like last season. Maybe people have just become accustomed to players blowing out their stats in a contract year. Whatever the case, Kadri isn't disappearing. Well, at least until his inevitable postseason suspension.

In 2022: Kadri gets paid. By someone. Hopefully Colorado.

Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks

In the span of a year, Zegras went from making his pro debut with the AHL's San Diego Gulls to finding sporadic success with the Ducks in 2020-21 to becoming a rookie sensation in 2021-22 with 25 points in 30 games -- one of them coming as an assist for one of the most memorable goals of the last 20 years in the NHL.

He's done news conferences with Baby Yoda strapped this chest. He's done more goofball, endearing interviews than Tom Holland. He was last seen being majorly frightened by Kevin Shattenkirk in a bear suit, and he's just the best: