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NHL Playoffs: Five stars of the first round

The first round of the NHL Playoffs is still in full swing, however, we are already seeing a number of players make a name for themselves with standout performances. 

In some cases, it has been star players answering the call and stepping up their game on the largest stage. For others, it’s unlikely heroes that have emerged to help their team advance to the second round. 

Here are five stars from the first round of the 2023 NHL playoffs. 

Roope Hintz, F, Dallas Stars

When discussing the most underrated players in the NHL, Roope Hintz should be at the top of that discussion. The Stars center has been sensational in the playoffs, leading Dallas in its first-round series against Minnesota. 

Hintz is first among all skaters in points with 11, totalling four goals and seven assists in just five games. He’s recorded three or more points in three of those contests. 

The Stars are threatening to make a deep run, and if Hintz continues to produce like he has, then there’s a good chance we’ll see Dallas battling for the Western Conference title. 

Leon Draisaitl, F, Edmonton Oilers

Leon Draisaitl is averaging 1.64 points per game in his playoff career. There’s only one player in NHL history with a higher playoff PPG rate - Wayne Gretzky.

While Draisaitl is often seen as the second fiddle to Connor McDavid, he has been the far better performer in the playoffs. He’s back at it again in 2023, with 10 points through five games, including six goals, which lead the postseason. 

The German has been without a doubt the best player in the Oilers vs. Kings series. While McDavid has been quiet at times, Draisaitl is noticeable every night making an impact.

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Mikko Rantanen, F, Avalanche

In a season riddled with injuries for the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen has been consistently performing at an elite level. 

Rantanen is doing everything in his power to get the Avalanche past the Kraken in the first round. He has five goals through the first five games and has added two assists as well. 

With the absence of Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin, the Colorado offense is depleted. Only Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon have multiple goals in the series. The defending champs are on the ropes, but if the Avs come back to beat the Kraken, it’ll be because of Rantanen’s impact. 

Mitch Marner, F, Toronto Maple Leafs

All of the stars have been shining for the Maple Leafs, which is why they are on the brink of their first playoff series win since 2004. There’s four or five players that we could shout out, but like he did in the regular season, Mitch Marner continues to be the one of best Leafs on the ice. 

The Toronto winger is up to double digits in points, leading the postseason in assists with eight. Five of those have been primary assists, and all but one helper has come at even strength. 

He may not have a clutch goal yet like Auston Matthews or Ryan O’Reilly, but Marner has been a key cog for Toronto. The team needed him and his co-stars to show up in the postseason and they have big time. 

Taylor Hall, F, Boston Bruins

The Bruins’ depth is what makes this 2023 team so dangerous. Nothing exemplifies that more than Taylor Hall. 

The former Hart Trophy recipient is playing a third-line role for Boston, yet he’s been playing like his former MVP self. Hall is up to five goals and eight points through five games against the Panthers. 

What’s been most impressive is that his production is coming in limited ice time. While all the others on this list are averaging over or close to 20 minutes a night, Hall isn’t even playing 15. He’s been exceptional for Boston and this is arguably the best he’s looked as a Bruin. 

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