Now that the 2022-23 NHL regular season has ended and the Vegas Golden Knights have taken home the most storied trophy in sports, it’s the perfect time to look back at the players who had the most improved seasons across all 32 teams. The only qualification for this rating was that the players had to play a decent amount of the 2021-22 season and this is based solely on the regular season performance for each player. You might recognize some names as big stars in the league, while others are players who you haven't ever heard of. Either way, these are who I believe are the most improved players of the 2022-23 season.
Anaheim Ducks- Frank Vatrano
After being traded from the Florida Panthers to the New York Rangers in the 2021-22 season, Frank Vatrano ended up in Anaheim when free agency opened up. And despite the Ducks having a disappointing season this year, Vatrano excelled. In 2021-22, he collected only 32 points between the two teams he was a member of. But in 81 games with the Ducks this season, Vatrano scored 22 goals and amassed 19 assists for a total of 41 points. He was two goals short of a career high which he scored in 2018-19 and set a new career high for assists, passing his previous best of 18 in 2019-20. With a young core at the heart of the Ducks team, Vatrano has a bright future and has a path to success if he continues to improve.
Arizona Coyotes- Clayton Keller
Clayton Keller has arguably been the star in Arizona since he was drafted there in 2016, but this season, he reached new limits like never before. Keller played all 82 regular season games for the first time since 2018-19 and collected a career high of 37 goals and 49 assists to give him a total of 86 points on the season. Keller tied Keith Tkachuk for the most points in a single season (1996-97) since the franchise relocated to Arizona. The season before, Keller had 63 points (28G, 35A) and still led the team in points but wasn’t as impressive. As Arizona continues to rebuild and looks to find success again, Keller will be at the helm especially with his recent improvement in his play.
Boston Bruins- Hampus Lindholm
During Boston’s historic season, many players stepped up and found a new level of improvement, but Hampus Lindholm stands out among them all. The defenseman played 80 games this season, the most he’s played since the 2015-16 season with Anaheim and set a career high in points by scoring ten goals and collecting 43 assists. He also led the league with the highest plus minus rating among all players at +49. After being traded last season and recording only 27 points, Lindholm has clearly adjusted to the Bruins’ style of play and is excelling in his position on the second defensive pair. The veteran was a big part of Boston’s success this season and will surely be an important player in this upcoming season as well.
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Buffalo Sabres- Tage Thompson
Tage Thompson was the center of attention this season and for good reason! The 25-year-old center recorded a whopping 94 point season by scoring 47 goals and 47 assists to set a new career high in all three categories. In the 2021-22 season, Thompson collected 68 total points which is still impressive, but he shattered those standards by a long shot. Thompson recorded four hat tricks this season which led the league and he’s a crucial part to the young core of the Sabres that are hoping to make a deep playoff run in the next couple of years. His improvement from last season can be seen in his elite level of play and the insane amount of points he produced this year.
Calgary Flames- Tyler Toffoli
Despite a disappointing season for the Flames, Tyler Toffoli was a constant bright spot for the team. This was Toffoli’s first full season after being traded to Calgary during the previous one and he was arguably the most impressive player on the roster. In his first 82 game season since 2018-19, Toffoli put up career high numbers across the board as he collected 34 goals and 39 assists to equal a total of 73 points. He led the team in goals and points this season which drastically shows his improvement. The forward only collected 49 points the season prior between his two teams, but with key pieces like Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdaeau on the roster, he seems to be flourishing in Calgary.
Carolina Hurricanes- Brady Skjei
Brady Skjei has been in Carolina for three full seasons now, but this year was a breakout year for the defenseman. The Hurricanes led the league in goals from defensemen in the regular season with a whopping total of 59 and Skjei was a large part of the surge which propelled Carolina to major success this year. The 28-year-old found the back of the net 18 times, blowing his previous career best of nine goals set in the 2021-22 season out of the water and was tied for third among defensemen in the league. Skjei notched 13 even strength goals, four power play goals and one shorthanded which was only the second of his career. He also set a career high in shots on goal with a total of 188 which also shows his improvement this season.
Chicago Blackhawks- Taylor Raddysh
Chicago might be depleted and fully embracing the rebuild now, but one player who actually showed improvement on the roster was Taylor Raddysh. Raddysh was traded to Chicago from Tampa Bay in the 2021-22 season which was also his first season in the NHL. In his first full year with his new team, Raddysh collected 20 goals and 17 points for 37 points which were all career highs for him. Although he wasn’t the “best” player on the team, Raddysh has proved himself a promising NHL player. As one of the youngest players still on the roster, Raddysh will also be a core piece in the rebuild for Chicago especially if they select Connor Bedard in the upcoming draft. It’s easy to see why Raddysh is the “most improved” badge for the Blackhawks.
Columbus Blue Jackets- Adam Boqvist
Columbus also didn’t have a great season since the team finished in the bottom three of the league, but some of their players are still playing their best hockey. One of the most obvious is Adam Boqvist who showed lots of improvement this year. The defenseman completed his second season with the Blue Jackets and collected a career high of 24 points by scoring five goals and recording 19 assists in just 46 games. The 24-year-old led the team’s defensemen in points which is impressive in itself and there is still plenty of room to grow as a player in the NHL.
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Colorado Avalanche- J.T. Compher
A big question entering the 2022-23 season for the Avs was who would fill in the empty second line center spot that Nazem Kadri left open after leaving the team during free agency. Enter J.T. Compher, a veteran member of the Avalanche. Compher filled the second line center position and had the best season of his career. The pending UFA played all 82 regular season games for the first time since his NHL debut in 2016-17 and hit the 50 point mark for the first time in his playing career by scoring 17 goals and collecting 35 assists. This was a noticeable jump from the 2021-22 season where Compher recorded 33 points. Compher’s stellar year got buried under the massive success that superstars Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen had this season, but his 52 points ranked fourth most on the team and he proved himself worthy of that second line position.
Dallas Stars- Jason Robertson
In his third NHL season, Jason Robertson was one of the most impressive players not only in the entire league, but on his team. Robertson notched his first ever 100-point season by scoring 46 goals and collecting 63 assists for 109 points in 82 games which also made him the highest scoring player in Dallas Stars team history! In the 2021-22 season, Robertson collected 79 points in 74 games which at the time shattered his career highs. But he set a new ceiling for himself this year and shows the major improvement he’s made from last season to this one. Many also believed that he deserved to be nominated for the Hart Trophy this year but was snubbed. At only 23 years old, Robertson is leading the Stars and remains a crucial part to the young core that the team has built over the recent years.
Detroit Red Wings- Dylan Larkin
Despite the slightly disappointing way the season ended for the Wings, their captain had an incredible year. Dylan Larkin led the team in goals (32), assists (47) and points (79) this year and either tied or set new career highs for himself in all three categories. He also scored 16 power play goals when he previously had never scored more than seven in a single season. In 2021-22, Larkin played nine less games and finished the season with 69 points which still led the team. But it’s obvious to see how Detroit’s captain has stepped up and improved in two years. Larkin also recorded his 400th point this season and signed an eight-year contract extension to stay with the Red Wings. As his play continues to improve with each passing year, it’s clear the future is bright for this team.
Edmonton Oilers- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Most people only think of Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl when talking about stellar players on the Oilers’ roster. But Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had an unforgettable season and is easily the most improved player on the team this year. RNH not only recorded his first career 100-point season, he more than doubled his points from the 2021-22 season! In 82 games, Hugent-Hopkins scored 37 goals and notched 67 assists to give him a total of 104 points which set new career highs for all three major categories. By recording over 100 points along with McDavid and Draisaitl, the Oilers became the first team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96 to have three players record 100+ points in the same season. The veteran clearly deserves the recognition for the massive improvement he displayed this season and there’s surely only more to come in the future.
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Florida Panthers- Brandon Montour
While the biggest star on the Panthers is Matthew Tkachuk, another member of the team that showed up this season was defenseman Brandon Montour. This season was only Montour’s second full one in Florida since being traded there in 2020-21 and he excelled like never before. Coming into this year, Montour’s previous career highs were 11 goals, 27 assists and 37 points. He crushed all of those this season by scoring 16 goals, collecting 57 assists and finishing with a total of 73 points! The 28-year-old led Panthers defensemen in both goals, assists and points during the 2022-23 campaign which demonstrates his massive improvement between seasons. Whether it be the strong team around him or personal growth, Montour is easily the most improved from the Panthers.
Los Angeles Kings- Gabe Vilardi
Gabe Vilardi not only took a step forward to remain an NHL regular this season after spending time moving up and down from the AHL last season, but he showed the great potential he has. You could say the 2022-23 season was Vilardi’s breakout year and it’s an entirely valid argument to make. Vilardi played a total of 63 games this season, the most he has ever skated in in a single season throughout his short career, and recorded 23 goals and 18 assists for a total of 41 points. He set new career highs this year and earned a spot on the Kings top line at various points throughout the season. Vilardi’s accumulated points ranked him seventh on the team this year when the season before he was ranked 23rd which also shows his strong improvement.
Minnesota Wild- Matt Boldy
The 2022-23 season might have only been Matt Boldy’s second in the NHL, but he stunned hockey fans around the world. After recording 39 total points in 47 games in the 2021-22 season, Boldy returned to the Minnesota Wild and avoided the illusive sophomore slump. He played 81 games this year and netted 31 goals along with 32 assists for a collective 63 points which are all new career highs. Boldy also went on a tear when star forward Kirill Kaprizov missed time due to injury and picked up two hat tricks within just eight days! The 21-year-old ranked third on the team in points this season and has shown exceptional growth already so the future is only going to get brighter for the young player.
Montreal Canadiens- Kirby Dach
Following three seasons in Chicago, Kirby Dach got his first chance with the Montreal Canadiens this year and the fit with this team seems to be perfect. Although Dach only played 58 games due to some injuries throughout the season, he set career highs in goals (14), assists (24) and points (38). And shockingly, he was second on the team for the most points, following behind only Nick Suzuki. The young center has never played a full 82 game season in his career yet, but he put up his best numbers and performance this season with his new team which is a clear demonstration of the improvement he’s shown.
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Nashville Predators- Thomas Novak
Last season, Tommy Novak was not an NHL regular. He started the season with the Predators before returning back to the AHL. In 2022-23, Novak played 51 games to help with the depleted roster due to major injuries and showed he deserves a spot on the roster. His improvement between the two seasons is massive. This year, he recorded 17 goals and 26 assists for a total of 43 points. The year before, he had only seven points (1G, 6A) in 27 games. He also averaged 14:39 in ice time which was three minutes more than the previous season. Novak’s point total from this campaign was the third highest on the team behind Roman Josi and Matt Duchene. The center will be a UFA after next season and still has plenty of room to grow so we’ll see where his career goes.
New Jersey Devils- Dougie Hamilton
The Devils had an incredible season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 and the most improved player on the team is easily defenseman Dougie Hamilton. In his second full season with New Jersey after being traded from Carolina, Hamilton set career highs in goals (22), assists (52) and points (74). He more than doubled his entire point production from the previous season where he collected only 30 points in 62 games and had seven game winning goals during the 2022-23 campaign which was the most among all defensemen in the league! Hamilton also ranked third on the team for the most points this season behind only Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. It’s obvious that Hamilton has majorly improved between the two seasons and has much more to prove.
New York Islanders- Brock Nelson
Brock Nelson has been the driving offensive force for the Islanders for several seasons now, but in 2022-23, he took it a step further. In his first full 82 game season since 2018-19, Nelson put up a career high 36 goals, 39 assists and 75 points. Prior to this year, Nelson had never even broken the 60-point mark in his career and he showed his improvement in play and point production by leading the team in points this season. His average time on ice also jumped to 18:26, almost a whole minute more than the previous campaign, which helped him get the opportunities needed to rack up the points he did. The solid second line center has proven he still has what it takes to be a contender and continues to lead the Islanders to regular season success.
New York Rangers- The Kid Line
Although this isn’t just one player, the famous “Kid Line” deserves the recognition of being the most improved on the Rangers. The Kid Line is made up of youngsters Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere who all had career years this season and proved they remain important to the roster while showing their continuous growth. Chytil, who signed a four-year contract extension, put up career highs in goals (22), assists (23) and points (45) which ranked sixth most on the team. Kakko played his first full 82 game season and also posted career highs as he scored 18 goals and collected 22 assists for a total of 40 points. And although Lafreniere’s improvement wasn’t a huge jump, he still recorded 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points on the season which is also a new career best. The Kid Line showed solid improvement and remained a staple to New York’s success.
Ottawa Senators- Claude Giroux
The 2022-23 season was Claude Giroux’s first full year on a team that isn’t the Philadelphia Flyers. After playing in his 1,000th game last year and then being traded to the Florida Panthers, Giroux signed with the Ottawa Senators in the offseason and seems to be a perfect fit with the team. Giroux had his best year since the 2018-19 season where he posted 85 points. This season, the veteran scored 35 goals (a new career high) and accrued 44 assists for a total of 79 points which was more than a 10 point difference from his total the previous year. As one of the largest veteran presences on the team, Giroux has shown clear signs of improvement and is obviously benefitting from the young core around him which has helped bring his game back to its prime.
Philadelphia Flyers- Owen Tippett
Owen Tippett was traded to the Flyers during the 2021-22 season, so this year was his first full campaign in Philadelphia. And wow, did he impress. Tippett’s previous career highs were 10 goals, 11 assists and 21 points which he set just last year between two teams. In 77 games in the orange and black, Tippett found his game like never before and put up 27 goals, 22 assists and 49 points! He ranked third on the team for most points and led the Flyers with eight power play goals this season. Tippett got ample playing time on the top line and seemed to thrive with his linemates who were usually Noah Cates and Kevin Hayes. As a part of the young players that will surely be the future of this team, Tippett showed his improvement and he will be an asset to the Flyers' future.
Pittsburgh Penguins- Sidney Crosby
Now, I know this is probably who many expected to be picked for the Penguins, but there’s a good reason captain Sidney Crosby earned the most improved honor among all players on the team. Crosby’s last 100 point season was in 2018-19, but he came real close to hitting the milestone again this year. In his first full season since 2017-18, Crosby put up 33 goals and 60 assists for a total of 93 points. The prior season, he collected 84 so the jump wasn’t major but enough to demonstrate that one of the most iconic, and best players in the game, is still improving with each passing year in the league. Crosby led the team in points for the third year in a row and remains the heartbeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins team. At 35-years-old, Crosby simply just keeps getting better and better.
San Jose Sharks- Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson might be the biggest proof of improvement among this entire list of players. Nominated for the fifth Norris Trophy of his career, Karlsson not only massively improved from the season before, but brought his level of play to new heights. The veteran defenseman is unfortunately on a team that isn’t very good, but has somehow found a way to thrive there. In the 2022-23 season, Karlsson became the first defenseman to record 100 points in a single season since Brian Leetch did back in 1992. Karlsson’s previous career high in points was set in 2015-16 when he was still a member of the Ottawa Senators and collected a total of 82 points. This season, he shattered all his career bests and set new ones in goals (25), assists (76) and points (101). In 2021-22, Karlsson only played 50 games and finished the year with 35 points.
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Seattle Kraken- Jared McCann
Seattle might still be the newest team in the NHL, but most of the players on the roster have plenty of experience which makes Jared McCann the pick from the Kraken as the team’s most improved player. In 79 games, McCann posted 40 goals and 30 assists for a total of 70 points which were all career highs. And not only did he record 40 goals for the first time in his eight year career, but he also became the first player to do so in franchise history. He led the Kraken in goals, points, power play goals (7) and short-handed goals (3) this season. His plus minus rating also improved from -26 in 2021-22 to +18 in 2022-23! Although he isn’t considered a “star” player around the league, the argument can be made that McCann is improving with each passing year and is becoming a solid part of the Kraken franchise.
St. Louis Blues- Sammy Blais
The Blues lost many big players at the trade deadline this season, but also gained one back. Sammy Blais returned to the Blues and after putting up a lackluster performance with the New York Rangers for a year and a half, he found his game again. In 2021-22, Blais had only four points (all assists) in 14 regular season games. In 2022-23, he became more of a regular on the Rangers roster and in 40 games this season with the team, collected only five assists. Then, he was traded back to the Blues and accrued nine goals and 11 assists in 31 games to finish the year with the career highs in all three major categories. Blais might be overlooked on the Blues roster, but his improvement between the last few seasons is hard to ignore.
Tampa Bay Lightning- Brandon Hagel
The Lightning celebrated many milestones for players on the team this season, but none of them were for Brandon Hagel who makes a case for the most improved member of the team. Hagel was traded to Tampa last season from Chicago and took awhile to get used to the new style of play as he finished with 37 points collectively. This year, in his first full season with the Bolts, Hagel basically doubled that number by netting 30 goals and collecting 34 assists for a total of 64 points which are all new career highs. He tied with Nikita Kucherov for the third most goals on the team this year and became an important part to the power play unit. Hagel also finished the season with a positive plus minus rating for the first time in his career! The improvement in his play can only get better from here.
Toronto Maple Leafs- William Nylander
William Nylander is part of the Maple Leafs core four that also includes stars Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares. These players are what many see as the glue of the Maple Leafs team. And despite the fact he’s on a stacked team with well known names where he can be forgotten, Nylander exhibited his improvement this season. In 82 games, his first full season since 2017-18, Nylander broke all his previous career bests by scoring 40 goals, collecting 47 assists and finishing the year with a total of 87 points. He remained important to the team’s success throughout the season and improved his plus minus rating from -9 the year before to a +10. If his game continues to improve, he’ll be crucial to the team going forward like never before.
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Vancouver Canucks- Elias Pettersson
It was quite a bumpy season for the Canucks, but Elias Pettersson continued to shine as if nothing else mattered. The center recorded his first 100 point season by scoring 39 goals and 63 assists to finish the year with 102 points, setting all new career highs. In 2021-22, he had 32 goals and 36 assists for a final 68 points so the obvious jump clearly shows how much he has improved his game in that time. Pettersson also became the first player since Daniel Sedin in 2010-11 to record 100 points with the club! Although his career is only five years old, Pettersson continues to reach new heights and leads the team offensively. But his improvement over the last two seasons demonstrates how important of an asset he is to Vancouver.
Vegas Golden Knights- Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel played only 34 games with the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2021-22 season as he was returning from disk replacement surgeries. This season, he played 67 games and showed the improvement in his game since changing teams and getting back to his usual caliber of play. Eichel netted 27 goals and collected 39 assists for a total of 66 points this season. It was his best point total and performance since 2019-20 when he was still a member of the Buffalo Sabres due to the last two seasons being impacted by injuries and surgeries. Even though this season’s performance wasn’t the best of his entire career, he still led Vegas in points, showing he’s a good fit for the team and continues to improve despite any setbacks he may face.
Washington Capitals- Dylan Strome
The 2022-23 season was Dylan Strome’s first full campaign with the Washington Capitals following his departure from Chicago the previous offseason. Strome did not disappoint despite the lackluster season the Caps had this year. He set new career highs in all three major categories by scoring 23 goals and collecting 42 assists to finish the season off with 65 points. He ranked second on the team for points this season behind only Alex Ovechkin of course. In 2021-22, Strome had 22 goals, 26 assists and 48 points so his improvement is obvious. The center has become more of a playmaker than ever before and remains important to the team as a younger player who will only continue to get better as the years go on.
Winnipeg Jets- Josh Morrissey
Even if you weren’t a Jets fan, you were hearing all about Josh “Norrissey” this season. The defensemen had a career year and set records for the franchise. In 2022-23, Morrissey scored 16 goals and collected 60 assists for a total of 76 points. Not only were all those new career highs for him, but he also set the franchise record for most points by a defenseman in a single season! The previous record was held by Dustin Byfuglien who recorded 56 points back in 2013-14. Morrissey doubled his point production from the season before when he finished with 37 points which was a new career best at the time. He finished the season tied with Quinn Hughes for second most points among all defensemen in the league. His incredible year shows his improvement in play and he remains important to Winnipeg.
As we look forward to the 2023-24 season, it will be interesting to see if these players continue to reach new heights or if other members on the rosters step up and have career years themselves. Whether surprising or expected, this list of players who have earned the honor of being the most improved on their team were exciting to watch this year.