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Michael Pezzetta: 10th in the NHL among forwards in checking this season
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

To make a career in hockey, and more specifically in the National Hockey League, the best league in the world, you don’t necessarily have to be a Connor McDavid or a Nathan MacKinnon, on the contrary.

There are far more supporting players who have made it to the NHL and are making a career of it.

You don’t have to be an overachiever or a star player to make a career in hockey.

You just have to know how to find your role and play it well, while seizing the opportunities you’re given.

The various support players who make their NHL careers by rolling their humps across different teams have found a way to carve out a role that makes them indispensable in an NHL line-up.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Reaves, Casey Cizikas and Nate Thompson quickly come to mind.

I’ve only named four, but there are obviously a ton more.

What do these players have in common?

Well, they all spent (or are still spending) their NHL careers on the fourth line.

They’ve found a way to make themselves indispensable with little details in their game that aren’t necessarily found in the game of top players like McDavid, Kucherov and MacKinnon.

In Montreal, with the Canadiens, there’s one player who reminds me of this category of support player.

You guessed it, I’m talking about Michael Pezzetta.

Number 55 of the Habs is exactly the kind of player who has never dominated at any level, but who has nevertheless made it to the NHL.

But how? How did he do it?

Well, because he stood out with his unique style of play and because he was able to find his role and play it well.

At 25, Pezzetta has already accomplished far more than anyone would have thought possible when he was drafted in the sixth round (160ᵉ overall) by the Habs in 2016.

He has played 153 NHL games, and hasn’t returned to the AHL since he was recalled in 2021.

Pezzetta has made himself indispensable, to the point where Habs management is still trying to find a way not to send him to the waivers for fear of losing him.

Even though he doesn’t play every game, and when he does, he’s on the ice for less than ten minutes, Pezzetta executes his role perfectly, as evidenced by his presence in the NHL’s top-10 forwards in checking.

Yet the Habs forward is the only one on this list to have played fewer than 40 games this season.

In just 39 games, Pezzetta handed out 153 checks.

It’s also worth noting that on this list of players, only Pezzetta (7:35) and Nicolas Deslauriers (8:37) are on the ice an average of less than ten minutes per game.

In short, despite his very low playing time and the fact that he often finds himself in the stands, Pezzetta finds a way to stand out and remain a player who belongs in the NHL.

Even if Martin St-Louis seems to place less importance on players with this style of play (Arber Xhekaj also comes to mind), Pezzetta remains in the picture.

En Rafale

– Well said.

– Read on.

– To be continued.

– Good news for the Blue Jackets.

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