In a season marked by dazzling rookies (the Lightning's Brad
Richards and the Senators' Martin Havlat, to name two) and
resurgent old-timers (most notably the Penguins' Mario Lemieux
and the Stars' Brett Hull), a handful of others, who are neither
rookies nor thirtysomethings, have raised their games as well.
Here are five players who have taken strides towards stardom,
with their stats through Sunday.
RW MARIAN HOSSA, 22, Senators (18 goals, 29 assists). In third
season, he has diversified his dangerous offensive arsenal and
developed a tough defensive game.
RW ALEXEI KOVALEV, 27, Penguins (21 goals, 27 assists). Dazzling
puckhandler has emerged as a consistent finisher. With all eyes
on Lemieux, Kovalev could be even more productive in the second
C PATRICK MARLEAU, 21, Sharks (17 goals, 10 assists). Second
pick of 1997 draft leads San Jose in goals and has become such
an accomplished two-way performer that he has played on
LW FREDRIK MODIN, 26, Lightning (21 goals, 14 assists). Speedy
former Maple Leaf with a booming shot has become, along with
Richards, half of unexpectedly dynamic duo on Tampa Bay's No. 2
RW STEVE SULLIVAN, 26, Blackhawks (19 goals, 23 assists).
Plucked off waivers last season, 5'9", 160-pound speedster has
been bright light during Chicago's dreary season.