ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week, celebrating the player that has the best stats, impact or storyline to earn the honor. To nominate someone, please email us here by midnight on Monday each week. Photos and context are encouraged!
Amanda Kessel, Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL)
Kessel set a Riveters franchise record by recording five points in their 6-3 win over the Connecticut Whale on Sunday. All five points were assists, with four of them primary assists. Only two other players in NWHL history — Kessel’s U.S. national teammates Brianna Decker and Meghan Duggan — have previously recorded five points in a game.
The diminutive dynamo had five goals and 11 points overall in four games last week, helping the Flames to a 3-1-0 record. That included two straight four-point games, becoming only the third player in franchise history to do that and the first since Doug Gilmour did it 30 years ago (!) in 1988. He was the NHL’s second star of the month in December, and the first star for the first week in January. The best player in the NHL who may or may not be able to fit inside his own suitcase.
Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Kaliyev had 11 points in four games, including seven goals, for the Bulldogs. And he did it without the benefit of a hat trick: Two goals, one goal, two goals and two goals. Kaliyev, 17, is a native of Staten Island, New York, which has produced such notable names as Nick Fotiu and Zach Aston-Reese.
Ty Cornett (Michigan youth hockey)
A Reddit user posted this inspiring video that P.K. Subban created for his son, Ty Cornett, a youth hockey player in the Metro Detroit area:
This is cool from PK Subban (with sound — sent encouraging message to a 13-yo hockey player who’s been dealing with racist taunts) pic.twitter.com/JF9H7mMnIR
– Kaelen Jones (@kaelenjones) January 7, 2019
“This year has been tough. My son is very aggressive and loud, so that brings out the trash talk. I have no problem with trash talking at all (part of the sport), but the racist talk needs to stop. Between the N-word being thrown at him over and over, being called monkey by players and parents, having an entire team beat their chests and act like gorillas whenever he touched the puck, and being told he should be lynched by former teammates,” wrote the poster.
As you can hear, Subban sent a video of encouragement that Ty has watched “over 500 times.” Just another reminder that the hockey community will rally together to fight back against this kind of unconscionable ugliness.
Kaapo Kakko, Finland
It took everything I possess deep in my soul as an American hockey fan not to put Kakko on this list, but alas, he earned it. He scored the game-winning goal with 1:26 remaining in regulation to lead the Finns to World Junior gold over the U.S., and in the process might have converted some non-believers into considering him for first overall pick in next June’s NHL draft. Congrats to Kakko … but another player was the best of the week.
And the best player in the world of the week is …
Now, who is Jordan Binnington?
Last week, he was the goaltender for the AHL San Antonio Rampage. In fact, he earned that league’s first star of the week honors for allowing one goal on 63 shots during two victories for the Rampage. That’s a .984 save percentage, including a shutout at the Chicago Wolves, something no other AHL goalie has done in nearly two years.
But it gets better: Binnington was recalled by the Blues, the Rampage’s parent club, on Saturday, and got his first NHL start on Monday in hostile territory: On the road, at the Philadelphia Flyers. It was just his fourth NHL appearance.
With his dad, John, and his stepmother, Pam, in attendance, the 25-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native made 25 saves for his first NHL victory and shutout.
“I think I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time calm and just tried to focus on my job and just stop the puck,” he said. “Go save by save, minute by minute and just enjoy the experience, and before I knew it, the game was over.”
Also over: This week. And Jordan Binnington was the best player from it. Congratulations!