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Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing -- it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world's attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they're creating. We'll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.

Nikita Kucherov
TB • RW • #86
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It's hard to argue against Nikita Kucherov being the NHL's most dangerous player to this point of the 2023-24 season.

Kucherov currently leads the NHL in points (47) and has a five-point lead over Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller for that honor. In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning star ranks second in goals (19) while being tied for second in assists (28) with Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Cale Makar.

Kucherov is averaging a mind-boggling 1.62 points per game on the season, and he has tallied three goals and two assists over his last four games.

The Lightning winger had himself quite a game in a 4-3 overtime win against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 9, as he logged two goals and an assist.

With the Lightning already owning a 1-0 lead in the opening period, Kucherov was the beneficiary of some phenomenal puck movement. After scooping up the loose puck in the offensive zone, Kucherov dished it off to teammate Brandon Hagel, who distributed it to Brayden Point. Point then deposited a pinpoint accurate pass onto the stick of Kucherov, and Kucherov tapped it in for the easy goal.

If that wasn't impressive enough, Kucherov later showed he had a flair for the dramatic against the Kraken. At the 3:12 mark of overtime, Hagel charged up the ice with the puck and executed a two-on-one to perfection as he made his way toward the front of the net. Hagel slid a pass from the face-off circle over to Kucherov, and Kucherov scored a sensational goal on Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord.

Kucherov is currently embarking on a season for the ages. After all, the explosive forward is currently on pace for a career-best 133 points (54 goals and 79 assists) over the 2023-24 campaign. 

While that's quite an insane pace, it's definitely possible Kucherov can have another 120-point season in him with the way he's playing.

Tomas Hertl
LV • C • #48
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The San Jose Sharks have won three of their last four games, and Tomas Hertl has certainly been one of the biggest reasons for the team's recent success.

Hertl has registered five goals and an assist over his last four games, including a two-goal performance against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 7. In a 6-5 overtime victory against the Red Wings, Hertl was a constant source of offense for a Sharks team that desperately needed it after falling behind 4-0.

The game marked San Jose's second all-time win when trailing by four goals, and Hertl started the massive comeback with his first goal of the night.

After forcing a turnover in the defensive zone, the Sharks took the puck the other way. Fellow forward William Eklund tapped the puck over to Hertl, who raced down the ice. With a two-on-one rush, Hertl ripped a snap shot on the blocker side that goaltender Ville Husso wasn't able to get enough of a piece of. 

The Sharks added three more second-period goals to tie the game at 4-4 before Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin gave his team a 5-4 advantage at the 13:20 mark of the third period. However, Hertl wasn't done just yet.

With under two minutes remaining in regulation, Hertl was able to win the face-off by kicking the puck back to teammate Mikael Granlund. Granlund ripped a slap shot that went wide of the net, but happened to bounce off the boards behind the net. The puck ended up ricocheting right to Hertl, who banged the rebound past Husso to tie the game.

Hertl currently leads the Sharks in points (24) and goals (9), and he has really been thriving over the last few weeks. If Hertl sustains this level of play, it's quite possible he could be a key asset for the Sharks when the trade deadline rolls around.

Noah Dobson
NYI • D • #8
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New York Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson has developed into a premier producer at his position, and he is really enjoying a sensational stretch.

Dobson is currently riding a five-game point streak and has racked up eight points (all assists) during that stretch. His most impressive performance came in Monday's 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, when Dobson tallied three assists.

It marked the second three-assist performance for Dobson in his last six games. Dobson also had a three-assist outing on Nov. 30 in a 5-4 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

As a result of his recent hot play, Dobson ranks fourth among NHL defensemen in points (29). Dobson has tallied four multi-point performance over his last eight contests.

In Monday's game, Dobson recorded his final assist at the perfect time.

In the overtime period, Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews put a shot on net that Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin was able to stop. Dobson made a heads-up play by quickly flipping the puck ahead to Islanders center Mathew Barzal. Barzal orchestrated a two-on-one with teammate Bo Horvat, and Horvat was able to snap home the game-winning goal.

Dobson has registered 101 total points over his past two seasons and has really become one of the league's top blue-liners. He's currently on pace for 82 points in what would be another outstanding season.

Dobson really helps stabilize the blue line for the Islanders, and he's recently provided a ton of assistance on the offensive end of the ice. If that continues, the Islanders certainly could be in contention for a playoff spot since they're currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Carter Hart
PHI • G • #79
Save %91.9
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After missing the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers are looking like they're going to compete in the Metropolitan Division this season. Goaltender Carter Hart has certainly helped lead the way for Philadelphia.

In 17 starts throughout the 2023-24 season, Hart has registered a 9-6-1 record to go along with a 2.42 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage. Over his last three starts, Hart has put up some outstanding numbers: a 3-0-0 record, a 1.31 goals-against-average and a .958 save percentage.

The Flyers netminder has yielded just four total goals during that time in starts against the Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins

The most impressive start against that stretch came against the Avalanche in a game where the Flyers came away with a 5-2 victory. In that contest, Hart turned aside 36 of the 38 shots that he faced against a team that ranks fourth in the NHL in scoring with 3.59 goals per game.

Hart has surrendered two goals or fewer in five of his last 10 starts, and he's allowed no more than three goals in all but one start over that span.

The Flyers have certainly been one of the bigger surprises around the league. However, it definitely hasn't hurt that Hart has a healthy Sean Couturier playing in front of him along with a balanced scoring attack. If Hart can continue to play at an elite level, it's hard not to imagine the Flyers being in the playoff conversation in the second half of the campaign.