NHL critics, especially Mike Milbury, are extremely difficult to please. They are quick to find the smallest flaws or blemishes in an NHL players' game and always will address and attack it. Although at times these claims are warranted, it is not always the truth. In fact when they are filled with biased passion, they are often exaggerations made by the hockey media. When it comes to these situations, it is up to the NHL players to show how they are going to react.
With this list, we will be looking at fifteen NHL players who will look to prove Mike Milbury and the other critics completely wrong this upcoming season. Each player is wrongly being criticized for a number of reasons, such as old age or their style of play. Yet at the end of the day it is clear that they will be looking to show the NHL that they are far better than how they are being portrayed by the pundits.
With that, here is the list of the players motivated to prove Mike Milbury wrong.
15 Brad Marchand
Brad Marchand had a career year this past season with the Boston Bruins and displayed that he very well is a franchise player. However there is definitely a bit of doubt that he will be able to repeat the success he had for the upcoming season. Marchand will look to show that it was not a fluke and that he is the real deal.
Marchand is a player who gets a lot of heat because he is a pest on the ice and plays dirty, but he still is a remarkable hockey player. The Bruins are very lucky to have him on their roster and he is quickly becoming the heart of the club. Marchand having another season like last year is definitely not out of the question and he will prove it.
14 Auston Matthews
This is a strange name on the list, but Matthews is a player who still receives criticism even though he carried the Maple Leafs to the playoffs this past season. Some believe that he is too much of a one-dimensional player and has even been classified as overrated. People who make these claims simply do not understand that he is the future of the Maple Leafs.
Matthews is a player who absolutely will not go through a sophomore slump. His goal totals may drop off a little bit, but realistically, that is not bad if he continues to play at the level he is. Matthews is only going to get better from here and that ultimately will be a scary thought for the opposition.
13 Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett was drafted 4th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, but so far has had a fairly lacklustre career. That does not mean that Bennett is a bad hockey player, but he has yet to make the big jump as a superstar in the NHL. This will be the year that Bennett tries to show the league he is the real deal.
Bennett has already been labeled as a bust by very passionate critics, but realistically, it is way too early to deem him that. He has yet to be given a top-6 role with the Flames and when he finally gets one, his points will skyrocket. This year Bennett will look to prove critics like Mike Milbury wrong and show the NHL he is a star in the making.
12 Aaron Ekblad
Aaron Ekblad burst onto the scene as a spectacular defenseman for the Florida Panthers, but had a down year in 2016-17 because of injury. Critics have said that he is on a downward spiral and that his injuries are ultimately going to ruin his career, but that is simply attention seeking journalism.
Ekblad has all the tools necessary to reinvent his game and will be a star again this season. He is still a young star in the NHL and is the main factor behind the success of the Panthers. Ekblad will look to turn his game around this yearand it should not be much of an issue at all for him.
11 Evander Kane
Evander Kane is always going to be a player who stops himself from being the elite talent he truly can be. Ever since his days with the Winnipeg Jets, Kane has been noted as a negative factor in the locker room and that he does not try. However, this year should be the year that he proves Milbury wrong and shows the league he is the real deal.
For a player who has an atrocious reputation in the NHL, he definitely has shown the league that he is a legitimate talent. Whenever he actually focuses on his game, he is a dominant force on the ice and a true top-6 forward. If he can get his act together this season, it could be a year to remember for him.
10 Patrick Marleau
The Toronto Maple Leafs shockingly signed Patrick Marleau to a three year deal worth over $6 million per season and it has seen quite a bit of criticism. To be perfectly honest, I myself am a bit skeptical of this deal. However, with all the criticism that he is facing, it is easy to believe that Marleau will use it as motivation to try to show he has more left in the tank.
Marleau has seen his numbers drop off gradually over the past few seasons, but he is still a productive NHL player. He is not necessarily worth the money he is making, but he could do very well in Toronto with the amount of offensive talent they have there. Marleau will look to show the NHL his worth and improve on the Leaf's past season.
9 Troy Brouwer
Troy Brouwer had a down season this past year and he received a lot of hate for it. Brouwer just signed a four year, $18 million deal with the Flames so they expected him to become a true top line forward for them. However, Brouwer only managed 25 points and clearly showed signs of a player on the decline.
Yet, Brouwer will look to show the NHL that it was a fluke of a season and show that he is still a talented hockey player. Brouwer saw his role with the Flames take a dive, but he will look to become a top forward for them again. The 2017-18 season will be a big one for him.
8 David Backes
David Backes did not necessarily have a bad season with the Bruins this past season, but he did drop off in production a little bit. His point totals did not match the output of a $6 million per year player, so he received a lot of criticism for his play. Backes openly stated that he is going to work hard to turn it around this year.
The Bruins are a team that needs Backes to improve his game because each season they either just make the playoffs or miss by a few points. Backes will look to show the NHL that he is still the player who captained the St. Louis Blues just two seasons ago.
7 Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux had a down year for his standards this past season and he received a lot of criticism around the league for his drop in play. Giroux has been in a number of trade rumors as well, so if he wants to keep his place in Philadelphia, he needs to turn it around right now.
Giroux still believes that he is an elite player in the NHL and anyone who watches hockey knows that is the case. He is still young enough to be a superstar in the NHL so commentators who criticize him will absolutely be proven wrong this season.
6 P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban has drawn a lot of critcism from Mike Milbury for his pregame antics. Since joining the league, Subban has been a very emotional guy and has received a lot of animosity for it. Even after leading the Predators to the finals, it still was not good enough for him to stop the negativity.
Subban will continue to destroy his critics with his amazing play as one of the NHL's top defensemen. He may never stop being criticized, but he will likely lead Nashville to glory soon enough. Statistically he had dropped off compared to other years, but it is easy to believe that he will turn it around in the upcoming season.
5 Shea Weber
SheaWeber is the victim of circumstance because he receives criticism for being part of the P.K. Subban trade. It is apparent that his contract is ridiculously high and that it will end up hurting the Canadiens in the long run. Yet, Weber is still a superstar right now and deserves far more respect than he receives.
Weber had a great season with the Canadiens this past year, but still did not receive much love from the Montreal faithful because they miss Subban. Weber will use this as motivation to put together another strong season with the club and ultimately try to continue to win the respect of Montreal fans.
4 Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo is still one of the better goalies in the NHL, yet he often does not receive the respect he deserves from the NHL. Luongo has been in the NHL for almost two decades and he still is a goalie that any NHL team would love to have, if not for his atrocious contract.
Luongo has never fully redeemed himself with the media since he lost the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship with the Canucks, though realistically he deserves to. He has been a solid goalie for the Panthers since returning to the team and has made them far more competitive. Luongo will only continue to thrive to prove everyone wrong.
3 Loui Eriksson
Loui Eriksson had an abysmal first season with the Vancouver Canucks, but all is not lost for the veteran winger. Although he signed a contract that looks like a mistake by the Canucks, he still can prove them wrong and be a solid player. Eriksson is just two seasons removed from a 30-goal campaign so nothing is impossible when it comes to his potential.
Eriksson is the type of player who needs time to adapt to new surroundings, as he had similar problems with the Boston Bruins at first. Eriksson will look to show Vancouver that he can be a superstar for their team and that he is in fact, still a productive NHL player.
2 Andrew Ladd
Like Eriksson, Andrew Ladd struggled immensely in his first season with the New York Islanders and will look to change that. Ladd signed with the Islanders for seven seasons, so he absolutely needs to show them that the signing was not a mistake. He has been noted as a player on the decline, but he will look to show the league otherwise.
Ladd also will look to have a spectacular season because he could end up being the xfactor that keeps John Tavares in New York. Tavares has noted that he wants to play on a contender, so Ladd is a player who needs to show that he still can be an elite force.
1 Alex Galchenyuk
After spending the entire offseason on the trading block, Alex Galchenyuk ended up re-signing with the Montreal Canadiens. Galchenyuk needs to show Montreal they made the right decision because it is clear that this is his last chance to be a member of their team.
Galchenyuk has been ridiculed by the media because he did not replicate his thirty goal season from the year before. He has been noted as a player who is not a true center, so he needs to become that player for Montreal to keep him around. Montreal wants him to be one of the faces of their franchise and he ultimately needs to become one to stay there.
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