Ethan Moreau is starting to get a lot more credit in the media but not many people realize that he has now scored 20 goals. He has been without a doubt the Oilers MVP and has had a better season than Ryan Smyth thus far..
To nominate someone from my team, two guys come to mind.
Martin Erat: After a solid rookie campaign, he was sent down early into his sophomore year. He played very well for Milwaukee that season and has come back with a vengeance. He has 14 goals and 30 assist in 70 games. He has been a high energy, high skill player for the Pred. He's done all this without seeing a ton of PP time (around 2:30 a game) and under 15 minutes a game. His game is still raw, but he's certainly bounced back from a bad year last year.
Mark Eaton: His nickname used to be 'Question Mark', but towards the midpoint of last year, he bumped Delmore from a regular spot on the lineup. He finshed up last year strong, but not spectacular. After gaining around 15 pounds in the offseason, he has emerged as Nashville's best defensive Dman (and IMO our best Dmen). His positioning is awesome; his skating is really good, and his awareness is excellent. Could use a few more pounds of muscle, but, in my opinion, is the best defensive Dman the Preds have ever had (and that includes Skrastins). He's been our best Dman all year long and leads the team in +/- with a +10. He's one of only 4 year long regulars in the plus and is doing so while almost always being paired against the other teams top line.
They probably won't win any awards for 'most under the radar player', but there are those out there who have never heard of them or think they are AHLers (especially Eaton).
Brisebois is still considered by most people on these boards as a defensive liability... which is not true anymore. He's really keeping his game simple, and has found some way to be good offensively and defensively at the same time. He's a team-leading +19 and 2nd in points for Habs defensemen with 30pts (4-26-30).
He's definatly an "under the radar" kind of player this year.
Pierre Turgeon. 3rd On the Stars in points per minute and one of their best forwards all year..
Ah crap did I say Turgeon for the Stars? Make that the last Don, Don Swenano has been stellar. He's been nothing short of the godfather of our defense. A reliable, flawless, hard hitting defenseman that plays a simple game. He trully made his words true when he said "What's left in the tank, they are going to get".. There's even a part of the family that feels he's been our best defenseman. Definitely Don Swenano for me..
Brent Sopel. Leads all Canuck defensemen in scoring. He's a reliable defensively and has a big offensive upside.
Not to burst your bubble, but Sopel is all but reliable in his own end. Reliable is that you sit back in your chair when you're getting an odd man rush against, knowing [fill in reliable player] is on the ice to stop them with succes. Reliable is a consistant defenseman that you trust with your eyes closed, reliable is no single brainfart. Sopel is far from reliable. I do agree that he has looked better defensively than last season, but that isn't all that of a task, to be honest. And yes, I think he's underrated offensively, but he doesn't has any offensive upside left, let alone a big one. He's 27 and is on pace for a mere 4 point upgrade over last season's totals. I think Sopel has gotten fair credit..
Jason Blake--another 20 goal season, playing a good bag of PK time, and is getting his nose dirty doing so. I'll rest when he gets his deserved Selke nomination this season.
Cale Hulse--He isn't anything flashy, but I remember when he was picked up by the Yotes in the offseason, many touted him to be nothing better than a #6 or #7. I'd say he's played better than most expected.
Steve Staois--He was under the radar last season, and I'd say this season also to a lesser extent. He's been just as good as Jason Smith with a little bit more offensive presence as far as I've seen this season. Also a great leader and standup guy. His gritty game makes him a very desireable playoff permormer. I like the aforementioned Ethan Moreau in this thread as well.
Ok ok, gotta put at least one Av in this mix too...
John-Michael Liles--Made Martin Skoula and Derek Morris both expendable within his first 60 NHL games. He's got 8 goals and 30+ points despite having little powerplay time the first half of the season, and averaging under 20 minutes per game this season on a whole. Sure he's little, but it doesn't stop him from still playing physical. He can pin guys into the boards, and has a great hipcheck for a guy who is reported as 5-10 (debateable). Heck, ask Gary Roberts--last night JM muscled Roberts to the ice in the corners.
speaking of ducks, joffery lupul has impressed me every time i've seen him.
I've liked what I've seen from him, but I dunno about him flying under the radar. His All-Star performance kinda elimates him from this list. That said, I still say he's going to be at the very least a consistant 20+ goal scorer in this league no matter what team or situation he's put into.