Jonathan Quick, Kings -- Most fans assumed Quick was a place-holder until highly touted rookie Jonathan Bernier assumed the No. 1 job. Instead, Quick has been a bedrock for the best defensive team in the League -- the Kings allow a League-best 1.87 goals per game. Quick is tied for second in the League with 10 wins, and his 1.52 GAA and .944 save percentage rank third.
Dustin Byfuglien, Thrashers -- Many in the hockey community scoffed when Atlanta announced Byfuglien would shift from crease-crashing playoff scoring hero to blueliner, but no one's laughing now. Byfuglien is tied for the goal-scoring lead among all NHL defensemen with 5 goals and he's third with 16 points. He's a minus-2, which isn't terrific, but considering he's playing more than 22 minutes a game full-time at the position for the first time in his NHL career, it's not too shabby.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings -- Lidstrom's nickname is "Norris," but "Energizer" might be more fitting, because the future Hall of Famer just keeps going and going and going. Now 40, Lidstrom looks just as good as he did at 30. He has 17 points in 15 games; last season, he had 5 points in his first 15 games. And with defense partner Brian Rafalski missing most of the first quarter of the season, Lidstrom leads the Wings with 24:10 per game of ice time, and has a plus-5 rating.
Steven Stamkos, Lightning -- It's been almost a year since Stamkos was a healthy scratch for two games, and the more we see him in action, the harder it is to believe he ever was that bad. Anyone who thought Stamkos' 51-goal outburst last season was a fluke has had their opinion changed in a major way. The third-year forward leads the League with 15 goals and 28 points, and has turned the two-man Ovechkin/Crosby show into a three-way discussion for the League's top offensive performer.
Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings -- After what can be considered an off season, it looks like the real Datsyuk has re-emerged. He has 16 points in his first 15 games to sit third on the Wings, he's a plus-7, tied for fourth in the League with 22 takeaways and even had his first regular-season fight, with the Ducks' Corey Perry. Most importantly, he's returned to being a threat every time he steps on the ice.
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals -- Ovechkin's goal-scoring prowess is well known, but now the Washington captain has turned into a playmaker -- he's tied for second in the League with 15 assists. Ovechkin still can rocket the puck into the net from anywhere in the offensive zone, but the fact that he's willing and able to get his teammates involved is the next evolution in his game.