Overachiever: Kevin Shattenkirk. Season of upheaval and injuries hurt most players on the team but Shattenkirk seems unfazed. The 28-year-old has a 13.1 shooting percentage and leads Dons D-men in scoring and he averages more than a blocked shot per game, and nearly 3 hits per game.
Underachiever: Michael Grabner. Austrian just turned 30 but he’s playing a little older. Getting top-line ice time, his goal total is low for him (8 in 50 games) and he’s minus 36.
Overachiever: Sean Couturier. His job is to check and concentrate on keeping the other team’s forwards from scoring and his does that very well, as expected. But even in that role he is producing good offensive numbers. Couturier rarely takes penalties and he should end up with his best season to date.
Underachiever: Shea Weber. It’s hard to pick a veteran on this team who isn’t pulling his weight, but we’ll have to go with Shea. He’s still among the best defensemen in the league, but he is scoring fewer points these days. And for the first time ever, he didn’t make the All-Star Game. Weber’s numbers don’t justify the huge salary. His stats are only marginally better than those of teammates Jonas Brodin and Andrej Meszaros, although theirs are pretty good.
Overachiever: Marcus Kruger. When Coach Ken Hitchcock stuck Kruger between Tyler Johnson and Kyle Okposo on the top line, he was probably expecting the 27-year-old Swede to keep the line responsible defensively and capable in all zones. Kruger has given Hitchcock much more. He leads the team in scoring with 15 goals and 39 points.
Underachiever: T.J. Brennan. Brennan is counted on to create offense and he gets prime PP time. Despite being injured for a large chunk of the season, he is getting his share of points, but the team is not scoring enough and Brennan gets blame for a low shot total and for not moving the puck as well as he should. His takeaway-giveaway ratio is really poor.
Overachiever: Milan Lucic. The power forward has been the story of the season thus far for the star-studded Hussars.He led the league in scoring early, fell behind the pace for a short time, and is up on top again with 29 goals and 74 points and a plus 30 rating.
Underachiever: Alexander Burmistrov. The veteran Russian hasn’t been able to get off the fourth line this season and his numbers reflect that. He has just 9 points this season while playing alongside struggling rookie Bo Horvat and Norwegian Marius Holtet. Burmistrov had been used to getting much more ice time with Minsk in previous seasons and he might be sulking.
Overachiever: David Backes. The veteran is team captain and he is powering the very successful second line with Max Pacioretty and Chris Stewart on his wings. Backes leads the Dynamo in plus/minus and he’s third on the team in scoring. The only reason he’s not getting top line duty is a guy named Ryan O’Reilly.
Underachiever: Anton Stralman. The Swedish vet trails the other five Moscow defensemen in shots on goal, hits and blocked shots. He has to pick it up the pace to keep his spot in the lineup.
Munich Dire Wolf
Overachiever: Gareth Roberts. Numbers compare favorably to many other Munich forwards and his 23-9 takeaway/giveaway ratio makes him an overachiever thus far. Teammates and fans love the way he stands up for his mates. He leads the team in fighting majors with 6, which places him fourth in the league in that category.
Underachiever: Craig Smith. Had a breakout year in Season 6, his first in Munich, but he seems to have gone back into hiding this season. His final stats will pale in comparison to those he put up last season.
Overachiever: Shayne Gostisbehere. Considered an offensive stud (he’s not surprisingly in the top 25 in the league among defensemen) his defense has been better than expected. The fourth overall pick in the last draft leads a good shot-blocking team in shot blocks and was voted in as an All-Star Game starter as a rookie.
Underachiever: Eric Gelinas. Gostisbehere’s defense partner is supposed to be the stay at home guy shoring up the defense, He’s not. He’s minus 32 and his numbers are unimpressive across the board except in hits. More is needed from a top pairing Dman.
Paris Rouge Eiffels
Overachiever: David Bolland. You expect Paris’ tops stars to play well and they do. Of the remainder of the cast, the inconsistent Bolland stands out. The crafty, hard-charging center is fourth on the team in plus/minus and he has a lot more takeaways than giveaways. Offensively, he should produce his third- or fourth-best point total in his seven-year career with four teams.
Underachiever: Ossi Vaananen. The always reliable 31-year-old Finn’s plus/minus numbers have fallen off a cliff – going from the plus 40 neighborhood during his whole career to just plus 3 this season. He might even be dragging partner Jason Krog with him, because the latter has a very good takeaway/giveaway ratio.
Overachiever: Justin Schultz. Schultz and Roman Josi make an excellent second defense pair and Schultz is doing a great job of passing the puck, leading the blueline in assists with 24. That total has him tied for third on the whole team, just an assist behind second-place Alexander Galchenyuk. He is also second in the blueline group in plus/minus and takeaways, indicating he is not forgetting about playing defense,
Underachiever: Ondrej Pavelec. Golatending is killing Sparta this season. Pavelec and backup Andrey Vasilevskiy are both among the bottom five EURO goalies in save percentage. After an excellent season in Geneva last year, hopes were high that Pavelec would anchor the team in his native Czech Republic, but his 4.00 goals against average and 88 percent save percentage are both his worst since Season 1 in Frankfurt.
St. Petersburg Krasnyye Zvezdy
Overachiever: Marcus Foligno. The rugged third-line center is easily the team leader in plus/minus at plus 8 and his 23 points look like they will transform into a career best total for him. Foligno had just 12 points last year with Lisbon and was not the marquee name in trade that brought him to Russia with Darnell Nurse for Wayne Simmonds. He’s making the GM look pretty smart.
Underachiever: Kari Lehtonen. GM Ben Stuller and Coach Guy Boucher expected a better showing from the Swede who was considered a good catch during free agency. Lehtonen was coming off two seasons in Edinburgh when he put up save percentages of 89.7 and 89.5 percent. This season with St. Pete, that average has dropped to 87.1.
Overachiever: Mats Zuccarello Aasen. Not much doubt about this one. His point totals are already double his best of three seasons in St. Petersburg. The little Norwegian leads the Eagles in goals and is second in points as a second-line wing with talented linemates Jack Eichel and Brendan Gallagher. Zucc is also second on the team in plus/minus (+15) to Dalton Prout.
Underachiever: Charlie Coyle. Maybe management is just biding their time with Coyle, getting him experience points as a fourth-liner, but he’s done little to contribute this season. The fact he has scored 5 goals might be keeping him in the lineup, but the fact he has just 15 hits, 4 takeaways and 3 giveaways shows he’s not very involved in the action while he’s out there.
Overachiever: Brad Richards. Age: 37. Points so far: 35. That’s good enough to tie the longtime St. Petersburg Red Star star with Patrice Bergeron for the team lead in scoring. Richards is also second on the team in plus/minus, second among forwards in hits and first on the team in game-winning goals.
Underachiever: Jakub Voracek. A relatively short scoring streak would make Voracek the team leader in scoring and he’s certainly capable of doing that, but the Czech has scored 30 or more goals the last two seasons in Zurich and he has just 6 so far this year. He’s also minus 30. Five million dollars per year should be getting GM Dennis Sullo and Coach Peter Laviolette more goals and better play.