A Brief Blaze of Glory: The NHL’s Decade of One-Season Standouts

Hockey player Conor Sheary on the ice.

As we delve into the annals of NHL history over the past decade, we encounter unique narratives of one-season wonders. These are the players who, often unpredictably, rose to remarkable heights for a single season, etching their names in the record books before returning to more typical performances. Though their brilliance may have been fleeting, the impact they left is indelible.

The Criteria for a Standout

In identifying these one-season standouts, we relied on a set of criteria:

  • The player had to have a season significantly more successful than any other in their NHL career, setting new personal records.
  • This season should clearly stand out in their performance history, characterized by statistics considerably higher than their career averages.

The Standouts’ Stories: An Overview

To better appreciate these players’ accomplishments, we present an overview of their standout seasons.

Player NameTeam(s)Standout SeasonPeak Performance
Conor ShearyPittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals2016-1723 goals, 53 points
Andrew HammondOttawa Senators2014-1520-1-2 run, .941 SV%, 1.79 GAA
William KarlssonVegas Golden Knights2017-1843 goals, 78 points
Cory ConacherTampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators2012-1324 points in 35 games
Will ButcherNew Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres2017-1844 points
Joe ColborneCalgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche2015-1644 points
Justin SchultzPittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Kraken2016-1751 points
Anton KhudobinDallas Stars2019-20.930 SV%, 2.22 GAA
Keith KinkaidNew Jersey Devils2017-18.913 SV%, 2.77 GAA
Jori LehteraSt. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers2014-1544 points

Delving Deeper into the Standouts’ Stories

Each of these players followed a unique trajectory to their standout season. Here, we explore their paths in greater detail.

  • Conor Sheary became a crucial asset to the Penguins during their 2016-17 championship run. His 23 goals and 53 points were career highs, and his role in the Penguins’ success was invaluable.
  • Andrew Hammond, an undrafted goalie, became an overnight sensation in the NHL during the 2014-15 season. His remarkable 20-1-2 run carried the Senators to the playoffs, captivating fans and commentators alike.
  • William Karlsson was a key figure for the Golden Knights during their inaugural season. Scoring a career-high 43 goals and 78 points, he played an instrumental part in leading Vegas to the Stanley Cup Finals.
William Karlsson in Vegas Golden Knights uniform.

Beyond the Standout Season

After their one-season wonders, these players returned to more typical performances. Nonetheless, they continued to contribute to their teams and the league in different ways:

  • Conor Sheary continued to be a solid contributor for the Penguins and later the Capitals, though he was never able to recreate his standout performance.
  • Andrew Hammond, following his incredible season, faced a series of injuries that hampered his progress. However, his “Hamburglar” run remains an iconic piece of Senators history.
  • William Karlsson continues to be a key player for the Golden Knights, serving as an integral part of the team’s offense even after his standout season.

Reflections on One-Season Wonders

The fleeting glories of these one-season wonders bring forth intriguing narratives, demonstrating the unpredictability of success in professional sports. Despite their brief period of exceptional performance, their names have been etched into the annals of NHL history, reminding fans and players alike of the exciting volatility inherent in the sport. These stories serve as lessons about the transient nature of success and the unyielding quest for consistent excellence.

The NHL’s one-season standouts illuminate the multifaceted nature of the sport. Their extraordinary seasons offer glimpses of potential that can be seized and capitalized upon, and their stories following their standout seasons show the challenges of maintaining such high-level performance. As we continue to watch the league’s ongoing sagas unfold, the past decade’s standouts remain as fascinating chapters in the NHL’s rich history.

Hockey Expert
reviewed by: Jeremy Karamen (Hockey Expert)

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