Some players have careers that remind us of a yo-yo. Constantly hitting highs and lows. The top five NHL comeback players have taken their games to levels we have not seen in quite some time. Some are coming off injury-plagued seasons in 2015-16, and others are setting new career highs. One of these players could walk away with the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication in hockey.
Top Five NHL Comeback Players This Season
Sam Gagner – Columbus Blue Jackets
This player should come as no surprise to hockey fans on this list. After playing in only 53 games for the Philadelphia Flyers last season, in which he registered 16 points, he signed a one-year, $650,000 contract with Columbus. In 36 games this season he has tallied an impressive 28 points, and has been a integral part behind the success the Blue Jackets have found. Gagner has never had a 50-point season in his ten-year career, but is well on his way to doing so in 2016-17.
Kyle Turris – Ottawa Senators
After an injury kept him to just 57 games last season, Turris has had a remarkable first half to his 2016-17 season. The eight-year veteran had his best season back in 2014-15 where he tallied 64 points with 24 goals. That is the lone season in his career in which he has eclipsed the 60-point mark. But in 37 games this year he has registered 25 points already, and has returned from his high ankle sprain at a new level.
Eric Staal – Minnesota Wild
The 32-year-old is playing in his 13th NHL season. The former second overall pick of the 2003 draft, has put together a remarkable career with 814 points in 966 games. After a down year between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers last year, in which he tallied a mere 39 points, it looked like his career was on the down swing. Jump ahead to this year and he is showing otherwise with 33 points in 37 games. He signed a three-year, $10.5-million, deal in the off-season and is earning every penny. His last 70-point campaign came back in 2011-12, but could be on his way to reaching that number this season.
Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks
A player who notched 53 points just one year ago, does not generally jump out as a comeback player. But Kesler looks to be returning to the version of himself when he notched back-to-back 70-point seasons as a member of Vancouver Canucks in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Since then he has struggled to surpass 55 points, but with 34 points in 41 games this season, the 13-year veteran could be on his way to this third 70-point campaign. He leads his team in scoringm and if the Ducks aim to stay atop the Pacific Division, he will need to continue to play at that level.
Radim Vrbata – Arizona Coyotes
In his 15th season, Vrbata is one of the few bright spots on the Coyotes roster. Taken 212th overall in the 1999 draft, he is a prime example of what turning determination and opportunity into a career can be. He signed a one-year, $3.25-million, deal with the Coyotes in the off-season, making him an expandable option at the trade deadline. With nine goals and 24 points so far, he is putting together what may be his best season to date. He has had only two 60-point seasons in his career, but a strong second half may lead him to his third in the 2016-17 season.
This group is putting together impressive 2016-17 campaigns. They are are blossoming into the stars they were imagined to be, or having a major resurgence to a career that looked to be dwindling down in a dismal manner. Keep an eye on these five as they will all look to keep their teams on the path to a playoff berth and run to the Stanley Cup.