Now that every NHL team has completed over half of its schedule, it’s time to evaluate the play of former Badgers who compete at the highest level of hockey. So far this season, 15 Badgers have made at least one game appearance for their respective teams.
The only Badger goalie to play in the NHL this year is Brian Elliot. Elliot has appeared in 21 games for a struggling Calgary Flames, allowing 2.58 goals per game and posting a feeble .893 save percentage and an 8-10-2 record.
Veteran winger Renee Borque has appeared in 41 games for the Colorado Avalanche, scoring nine goals to go along with his four assists. Defenseman Cody Goloubef also plays for the Avalanche. He played in his 100th NHL game this season and has recorded two assists.
A handful of former Badger defensemen have fared well in the NHL this year. Ryan McDonagh has played in 45 games for an explosive New York Rangers, putting up two goals and 26 assists to go with his +10 differential. Justin Schultz has helped the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins with seven goals and an incredible +24 differential. The only Badger with a better plus/minus this year is Ryan Suter. Through 44 games, he has posted a +26 differential with six goals and 20 assists for the Minnesota Wild. Jake Gardiner has also done well in Toronto, lighting the lamp six times and recording helpers on 16 other goals. He has improved vastly on his plus/minus with a +11 differential this year compared to his -15 last year.
Other defensemen to appear in games this year include Tom Gilbert for the L.A. Kings (17GP, 1G, 4A), Brendan Smith for the Detroit Red Wings (24GP, 2G, 3A), Jake McCabe for the Buffalo Sabres (44GP, 1G, 9A), and Jamie McBain for the Arizona Coyotes (3GP).
The Badgers have also produced some explosive NHL forwards. Joe Pavelski has played in 46 games for the Sharks, finding the back of the net 16 times and assisting another 25. He has been dangerous on a potent San Jose power play, recording 15 points with the man advantage. Derek Stepan has also been hot this year, scoring 12 goals to complement his 24 assists and +14 rating for the Rangers.
Centerman Kyle Turris has also been dangerous for the Ottawa Senators, recording 32 points split evenly by goals and assists. He has scored on an impressive 19% of his shot attempts. Craig Smith also has an even split between goals and assists, recording seven in each category for the Nashville Predators.
The only other Badger forward to appear in a game this season is right winger Jack Skille. He has posted seven points for the Vancouver Canucks in 39 games as he struggles to get going offensively in the NHL.
Overall, former Badgers have done well in the NHL, while the current UW squad looks to produce more great professional players in the future.