Originally written on Kukla's Korner  |  Last updated 10/19/14

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 18: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on December 18, 2009 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star, ...But at this point in the season, both Ovechkin and Stamkos, for varying reasons, have slipped from consideration as clear-cut No. 2’s. Here’s a look at the players looking to step into that role: PHIL KESSEL- His name might have seemed out of place at the beginning of the season, but not anymore. The Leafs winger is the NHL’s scoring leader and is recognized as arguably the most dangerous player with the puck in open ice. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock mentioned Kessel in those terms without being prompted and several other NHL coaches have also spoken of Kessel in similar terms. TIM THOMAS- This may be the sleeper choice here. The Bruins are surging and Thomas, like he did in the playoffs last spring, seems to be the deciding factor and has the biggest influence on Boston’s games. more  
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