It's been far too long since we've recapped the successes that our former Badgers are having in the best league in sports, the National Hockey League. The Badgers have seen 19 former players wear NHL sweaters this season, which is the most amongst college hockey programs.
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Rene Bourque-Calgary Flames: Started the season on fired but has slowed considerably since. Although he has scored twice in his past four games. Bourque is fifth on the Flames in scoring and second on the squad in goals.
Adam Burish-Dallas Stars: Burish, who was playing in an expanded role this season has been out with injury since February 3rd. Burish was placed on injured reserve after suffering facial injuries in a fight against Boston earlier this month. His 7 goals and 11 points this season are both career highs.
Jake Dowell-Chicago Blackhawks: Finally in a full time NHL role the Eau Claire native is making the most of his opportunity. He's reached career highs in games (53), goals (5), assists (12), and points (17). He's also on pace to surpass his 23 points he scored in the AHL last season. His plus 9 rating is good for 6th amongst all NHL rookies this season.
Davis Drewiske-LA Kings: Davis, who is in his first year of a three year guaranteed contract with the Kings is experiencing the rocky road of professional sports. After being hit in the face with a puck in practice which according to reports caused significant blood loss and required stitches has had a tough time finding his way back into the every night lineup. The Hudson native has recorded five points in 36 games for the Kings this season.
Robbie Earl-Minnesota Wild: Earl, who is not currently on the roster with Minnesota was called up for six games earlier this season but was quickly sent back to Houston of the AHL. Earl is second on Houston in scoring, only one point behind the team lead despite playing 11 less games than the leader. Earl, who is a restricted Free Agent after the season needs to find a home with an NHL team willing to give him more than 8 minutes a night.
Brian Elliott-Ottawa Senators: Elliott has fallen victim of the worst thing that can happen to a goaltender, being on a terrible hockey team. The Senators are the worst team in the Eastern Conference and are making a run at the #1 pick in next summers NHL draft. The Senators have recently been alternating between Elliott and rookie Robin Lehner between the pipes although Elliott has started over 2/3 of the games this season.
Brian Fahey-Washington Capitals: Fahey, like Earl is no longer with the big club. The former Badger defenseman has been called up by the Capitals numerous times this season but has only seen action in seven games. Finally breaking through to the NHL at age 29, Fahey will no doubt look for a team to provide more minutes for him next season when he is an unrestricted free agent.
Tom Gilbert-Edmonton Oilers: One of the hero's of the 2006 NCAA title team, Gilbert is making the best out of a bad situation in Edmonton. The Oilers, who are one of the youngest teams in the league are brutal and it shows in Gilbert's numbers. Gilbert's 15 points in 56 games have him on pace for a career low. Despite being out of the race Gilbert is still willing to sacrifice his body as he's 9th in the league in blocked shots.
Dany Heatley-San Jose Sharks: He may not be having a Heatley type year but it's not a terrible year for the recently turned 30 year old. Heatley's 47 points this season pace the Sharks and have him amongst the top 25 scorers in the game. Heatley leads all former Badgers in total points.
Jamie McBain-Carolina Hurricanes: The former WCHA Player of the Year is enjoying the perils of his first full NHL season. McBain's 17 points rank him fifth amongst NHL rookie defenseman. McBain was recently invited to participate in the NHL's rookie skills challenge which was hosted by the Hurricanes.
Ryan McDonagh-New York Rangers: The most recent former Badger to see time in the NHL, McDonagh has seen his playing time skyrocket in recent days. Averaging just over 10 minutes the first six or so games of his call up McDonagh earned more ice time with is play and has been rewarded with about 20 minutes per game over the past 10 games. Expect the former Cretin Derham Hall star to have a Ryan Suter like career in the NHL.
Joe Pavelski-San Jose Sharks: The Polish Prince continues to be a point producing machine. Despite missing eight games this season Pavelski is still on pace to break his career high of 59 points. Pavelski has been hot since returning from injury recording 13 points in his past 12 games.
Brian Rafalski-Detroit Redwings: The wily veteran from Dearborn, Michigan is at it again. The 37 year old has 36 points which is good enough for fifth on the wings in scoring despite playing more than 10 games less than the leaders due to injury. He trails only Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, and Franzen for the team lead.
Steven Reinprecht-Florida Panthers: 29 games into the 2010-2011 hockey season the Florida Panthers and Reinprecht decided to go their separate ways. The Panthers placed Reinprecht on waivers and Rino has found a home overseas in Germany with the Mannheim Eagles.
Jack Skille-Florida Panthers: Most of you are already aware but for those of you who aren't, Jack was traded last week by the Chicago Blackhawks basically in exchange for Michael Frolik. A change of scenery might have been the best thing for Jack who has yet to live up to his reputation as the 7th overall pick in the 2005 draft. He has set career highs in games (51), goals (7), assists (10), and points (17) this season.
Derek Stepan-New York Rangers: One of the biggest surprises amongst Badgers in the pros this year has been the play of Stapan. The rookie has put up 32 points for the blue shirts which leaves him in third place on the team in scoring and sixth amongst rookies in scoring, only 4 points from second. Stepan, like McBain was selected for the NHL rookie skills challenge. I think it's safe to say his decision to sign this off season was the correct one.
Ryan Suter-Nashville Predators: Suter continues to set the standard for what the NHL looks for in a defenseman. Teaming with Shea Webber to form one of the best back ends in hockey, Suter has recorded 26 points in 45 games for the Pred's this season.
Kyle Turris-Phoenix Coyotes: Back in the NHL once again after spending a full year in the AHL Turris is enjoying every moment of NHL life. While not yet living up to his third overall selection in the 2007 draft, Turris is back on the right track with 18 points in 46 games for the Coyotes. His 18 points are actually pretty remarkable when you realize that he's averaging less than 12 minutes per night.
Brad Winchester-St. Louis Blues: Winchester knows his role and he plays it well. The St. Louis Blues tough guy is second on the team in penalty minutes and has still found time to put up 9 goals this season.
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