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Predicting Which Players Will Have the Most Hat-Tricks in 2013-14 NHL Season

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2013

Predicting Which Players Will Have the Most Hat-Tricks in 2013-14 NHL Season

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    It's not just about skill when it comes to hat tricks in the NHL.

    There's no doubt that it takes a lot of skill to score three goals in any game, but players who are going to accumulate hat tricks also need quite a bit of good fortune.

    It's tough enough to score one goal in an NHL game, let alone three. A sniper may whip off the perfect wrist shot from 25 feet, but if it glances off his teammate's hip, all he gets out of it is an assist. Sometimes a player needs to be the recipient of some luck in order to score a goal.

    Relentlessness, hunger and a clever pair of hands also will help a player get those three goals.

    Here's a look at the players we think have the greatest chance to lead the league in hat tricks this season.

    (Hockey-Reference.com provided the data for hat trick information from its game logs.)

8. Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators

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    Career hat tricks: Four

     

    2013-14 goals: Seven 

     

    Analysis

    Jason Spezza is clearly a talented player who has scored 20 or more goals seven times in his career and 30 or more goals three times. 

    Spezza is motivated in 2013-14 because he is the Ottawa Senators' new captain. Spezza took over that role from veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings.

    Spezza is off to a marvelous start and he has the powerful slap shot, the quick wrist shot and the skill around the net to jump on rebounds and snare artful deflections. 

    He has one hat trick this season and could get one or two more before the end of the year.

7. Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues

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    Career hat tricks: One

     

    2013-14 goals: 10

     

    Analysis 

    Alex Steen has gotten off to a scintillating start for the St. Louis Blues.

    While there is nothing to suggest in his track record that he will end up among the league's leading goal scorers—his career high is 24 goals—he has taken to that role early in the season. It seems quite likely that his teammates will continue to feed him.

    Steen has a powerful shot and quick hands. When he is on his game, he can unload his slap shot in an instant and he has the instincts to put himself in the proper position to jump on rebounds and tip home shots from the blue line.

6. Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings

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    Career hat tricks: Five

     

    2013-14 goals: Three

     

    Analysis

    Jeff Carter has a sniper's eye and one of the quickest releases in the league.

    Just look back at his numbers in 2013 to see how badly he wants to score goals. He tallied 26 markers in the lockout-shortened season and just seven assists. That tells you that Carter is looking to shoot first, second and third before he does anything else.

    That's not a dig at Carter as a selfish player, but he has excellent acceleration when he gets the puck on his stick and that allows him to create numerous scoring opportunities.

    Carter has scored a career-high 46 goals and has scored 20 or more seven times in his career.

5. John Tavares, New York Islanders

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    Career hat tricks: Three

     

    2013-14 goals: Four

     

    Analysis

    John Tavares is one of the league's elite players, and he has shown dramatic improvement through his first four seasons in the NHL and his fifth season should be more of the same.

    Tavares has an incredible work ethic, and he spent much of the 2013 season developing his defensive skills and working on faceoffs.

    What he found was the more he improved on defense, the better the opportunities were on the offensive end.

    Tavares has excellent skills with the puck and will usually look to pass first before shooting. However, he understands the Islanders are counting on him to score and he knows how to take advantage of his positioning and superb hands to score key goals.

    Tavares has scored 24 or more goals in each of his first four seasons and should be in a position to score goals in bunches this season for his improving team.

4. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Career hat tricks: Four

     

    2013-14 goals: Seven

     

    Analysis

    Phil Kessel is simply one of the most consistent snipers in the league. He may take a lot of abuse from the fans in Boston when he plays his former team on the road, but he has nothing to hang his head over.

    He has scored 30 or more goals in each of the last four non-lockout seasons, and that's not likely to change this year.

    Kessel scores his goals in bunches. He is a very fast skater and he puts a lot of torque on his stick when he leans into one of his wrist shots.

    Additionally, Kessel knows how to position himself to create time and space, the two most essential elements for all big-time goal scorers.

    The Maple Leafs gave Kessel a five-year, $27 million contract extension at the start of the year, and that ended any self-doubt that the right wing may have harbored. Look for a huge year with multiple hat tricks. He already has one this year.

3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Career hat tricks: Six

     

    2013-14 goals: Eight

     

    Analysis 

    There are a lot of haters out there who don't want to recognize Sidney Crosby as the best player in the game, but that's just what he is.

    He probably doesn't belong in the same class with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but he is just beneath them. He has proven time and time again that he can do anything he wants on the ice and he is a nearly unstoppable force.

    Crosby is quite likely to lead the league in scoring and he should get at least 35 goals or more as long as he can stay healthy. The reason he doesn't score more goals is that he's such a superb passer and he excels at setting up his teammates.

    Crosby will take it upon himself to score goals when he feels like he's getting hot or his team needs a surge. He is going to take advantage of his opportunities and he won't allow his unselfish gene to take over.

2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Career hat tricks: Six

     

    2013-14 goals: Eight

     

    Analysis 

    You can be all but certain that when the 2013-14 season has reached its conclusion, Steven Stamkos will have at least 50 goals.

    Stamkos, 23, has scored 50 goals or more in two of his last three non-lockout years, and the only season that he failed to reach that level he scored 45 goals. 

    Despite all that he has accomplished, Stamkos is just coming into his prime.

    Stamkos is perhaps the most skilled shooter in the game. Alex Ovechkin may generate more power, but Stamkos has a slap shot, wrist shot and a snap shot that he can rip off with equal success.

    Additionally, has a beautiful backhand release, and he may be the best in the league at tipping and deflecting shots.

    Stamkos has the full package, and the Lightning are depending on him to fill up the net. It would not be shocking if he were to get at least three hat tricks this season.

    Once he feels a hot streak coming on, his teammates will feed him until he lights the lamp multiple times.

1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

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    Career hat tricks: 12

     

    2013-14 goals: 10

     

    Analysis

    It was just a little over a year ago that much of the talk around the NHL had to do with what was wrong with Alex Ovechkin.

    He appeared listless in the early part of the season and had little resemblance to the player who had scored 50 goals or more in four of his first five seasons.

    Instead, Ovechkin was struggling to score goals from his familiar left wing position.

    However, when head coach Adam Oates moved him to the right wing, Ovechkin started scoring again, and he has not stopped. He finished the 2013 season with a league-leading 32 goals and is tied with Alex Steen for the league lead in 2013-14 with 10 goals.

    Nothing against Steen, but he should enjoy his lofty status while he can. Ovechkin and Stamkos may run away from him shortly.

    Ovechkin is motivated for a huge season as the Olympics will be held in his home country. Look for at least 50 goals from Ovie this year and four hat tricks.

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