Rakell is not on the path; he’s already there.
“He’s the real deal,” Fowler said. “His raw skill set has always been there. As a young player, it just takes you a year or two to find your way.”
On a team with bigger names like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, Rakell has emerged as the team’s leading goal-scorer, with 14 in 23 games. Yes, he’s shooting 21 percent and doing most of his damage playing with Getzlaf and Perry, perhaps the best spot to be in the league. But his teammates see more than a guy getting lucky or capitalizing on the efforts of others.
“He’s got a lot of skill. You notice that when you watch him play,” said Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “He protects the puck extremely well. ... I think he’s only 190 pounds, but he protects the puck like he’s 230 pounds. He’s hard to get it off of, so a lot of zone time, a lot of chances, are because of how strong he is.”
Because he plays on a team with stars, and because the Ducks are a team that is flying a bit under the radar, he has a spot on our second-annual "Undercover Superstars" team, a group of players turning in big seasons but without the attention they deserve.
Here’s the rest of the group: