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NHL: Five Standout Moments of 2022

There have been several memorable stories in the NHL over 2022 which has included a sea-change in the appointments of GMs and their assistants, but few individual moments have eclipsed the following five. 

Avalanche find a way 

The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third time in their franchise history just five years after finishing last in the NHL standings. 

In doing so they ended the Tampa Bay Lightning’s bid to three-peat as champions and overcame a mental block which had seen them exit at the second-round stage for three years straight when expectations were much higher. 

A major addition of depth helped the Avalanche get over the hump with Josh Manson providing a rugged edge on defence, Darren Helm and Andrew Cogliano adding know-how to the forward group and Artturi Lehkonen scoring the championship winning goal. 

Generational talent Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, and he was just one of Colorado’s superstars to dominate in the post-season. 

Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Captain Gabriel Landeskog were all outstanding and Nazem Kadri (now of Calgary Flames) overcame several career post-season flash points to play a pivotal role. 

The Avalanche are +700 to repeat their success this season and Makar an +160 favourite to win the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman again. 

Matthews hits 60 

Auston Matthew became the first Toronto Maple Leaf and American born player to score 60 goals in a single NHL season on 27th April. 

The 25-year-old centre was the first played in over a decade to reach the milestone, after Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos in 2011/12. 

Matthews was the 21st NHL player, and third active, to score at least 60 goals in a season (doing so in 73 games). The other active players are Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals (65 in 2007/08). Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky share the NHL record for most 60-goal seasons with five each. 

For his efforts, Matthews was awarded the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in the regular season and he is +2000 to repeat that success this season. 

Gaudreau stunner 

In one of the most jaw-dropping free-agency moves of all-time forward Johnny Gaudreau moved from Stanley Cup contenders Calgary Flames to the re-building Columbus Blue Jackets over the off-season, stating his desire to move closer to his New Jersey home. 

After a career-high 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) last season, Gaudreau called time on his 11-year Flames career which while wasn’t totally unexpected, his destination certainly was. 

Under coach Daryll Sutter, the Flames have been on an upward trajectory and made the second round of the playoffs last season while the Blue Jackets have been absent from the post-season for two years. 

Gaudreau signed a seven-year, $68.25-million contract with Columbus and while he has made a good impression by leading the team with 34 points (ten goals, 24 assists), far more is clearly needed for the Blue Jackets to make any noise, currently sitting bottom of the Metropolitan Division and 30th in the overall standings with a 10-21-2 record.   

The Flames, meanwhile, remain in playoff contention with a 16-12-7 record which places them fourth in the Pacific Division and in possession of a Wild Card spot into the playoffs. 

Columbus are +450 to finish the season with the worst record in the NHL while the Flames are +2000 to win the Stanley Cup.

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Canadiens select Slafkovsky

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the NHL draft on 7th and 8th July and after winning the draft lottery to have the first pick, shocked the hockey world by selecting Slovak Juraj Slafkovsky over Canadian Shane Wright who was long projected to be number one. 

Slafkovsky shot to fame at international level in the 2022 Winter Olympics where his seven goals lead all players, and he was awarded the tournament MVP helping Slovakia to their first ever bronze medal. 

Standing 6'3" the Canadiens believed the 18-year-old ready to come straight into the NHL and he has played 30 games with ten points (four goals, six assists). 

Wright fell to fourth and to the Seattle Kraken who has two points (one goal, one assist) over his eight-game introduction to the NHL this season. 

Slafkovsky is +8000 to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year, with Wright's teammate Matty Beniers (11 goals, 14 assists) of the Kraken the favourites at +200.

Ovechkin passes Howe 

Alex Ovechkin celebrated Christmas by passing Gordie Howe for second on the all-time NHL goal scoring list. 

With two goals on 24th December, 37-year-old Ovechkin reached 802 goals, matching and surpassing Howe's 801 and now the chase is on to become the greatest goal scorer of all time by catching Wayne Gretzky’s 894. 

With 22 goals in 36 games this season, Ovechkin is again on course to reach 50 goals which would be his tenth 50-goal NHL season and break the league record which he shares with Gretzky and Mike Bossy. 

The Russian holds the record for most Rocket Richard Trophy wins as the league's top scorer (nine) and he is +1800 to topple Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid who currently leads the league and is +100 to win the award. 

Ovechkin was mobbed by teammates on beating Howe's record and many tributes have followed since. Gretzky's record once appeared untouchable, but the 'Great-8' is showing few signs of slowing down and is quickly closing the gap.

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