Make Or Break: 15 NHL Players That Need To Prove Themselves This Upcoming Season

In the world of professional team sports, there is one thing that is true when going into a new season, the fact that there are always certain players that need to prove themselves, whether they play in the NBA, NHL, MLB, or NFL. There are several reasons why players need to prove themselves, with some examples being that they are coming off of an injury plagued or overall dismal season, they have just signed a huge contract, or they are trying to come out of retirement. Whichever happens to be the case however, does not really matter, what does matter though, is that they are able to prove themselves to the critics and fans that they are indeed capable of still playing their sport at a high level.

In its nearly one hundred year history, the National Hockey League has seen hundreds of players come through the ranks, whether they be high scoring superstar forwards, solid defensmen, outstanding goalies, or just average everyday players. This past offseason in particular though, has seen many players change teams, either through trade or free agency, and several of these players are believed not to be worth the contracts they are signed to, which is why they specifically have a lot to prove next season. Since the 2016-17 season is just around the corner, it seems fitting to mention some of the players who need to have a fairly big year, so here is a list of 15 NHL players that need to prove themselves this upcoming season.

15 Eric Staal

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

14 Nathan Mackinnon

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

13 Loui Eriksson

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

12 Jimmy Howard

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

11 James Reimer

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

10 Milan Lucic

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

9 Frans Nielsen

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

8 David Backes

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

7 Thomas Vanek

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

6 Kyle Okposo

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5 Andrew Ladd

Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

4 Auston Matthews

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

3 P.K. Subban

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

2 Shea Weber

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

1 Alexander Radulov


At the top of this list is Alexander Radulov, and based on his last stint in the NHL, he has the most to prove this upcoming season, because if things do not go well for him in Montreal, he will likely not get a shot with any other team in the league again. Radulov was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2004, and made it onto the main roster during the beginning of the 2006-07 season, and for the remainder of that season, as well as the following one, he was without a doubt the team’s best forward. During the 2008 offseason though, Radulov decided to leave Nashville and signed a multi-year contract with a team a Russia, even though he was still under contract with the Predators for one more season. He spent the next four years playing in Russia, and when his team’s 2011-12 season came to an end he decided to return to Nashville where he joined the team on their playoff run. During that postseason run, Radulov and other teammates were scolded for breaking the team’s curfew to go out drinking, which is why the team chose to not re-sign him that offseason. As a result, no team wanted Radulov, and the winger went back to Russia for another four years, where he was one of the leading scorers in the country’s league each season. Radulov made it clear he wanted to return to the NHL next season, and it was Montreal who took a shot at him with a one-year deal, and unless he shows next season that he has changed his ways, he will not stay in the league very long again.

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Make Or Break: 15 NHL Players That Need To Prove Themselves This Upcoming Season