5 pleasant surprises early in the NHL season
Graig Abel / National Hockey League / Getty

Several NHL players have exceeded expectations with surprisingly consistent contributions early on.

Related: The NHL's 4 most disappointing players this season

From rookies to veterans, a handful of players have blossomed as we approach the one-quarter mark of the 2015-16 campaign.

Here are the five most pleasantly surprising players so far:

Artemi Panarin

The Chicago Blackhawks rookie is far from a first-year player, having spent plenty of time in the KHL, and that likely explains why his transition to the NHL has been seamless.

Still, few expected Panarin to be this good, this soon. The 24-year-old leads all rookies with 21 points in 19 games, and he's helped form the NHL's most dominant second line alongside league scoring leader Patrick Kane and fellow Russian Artem Anisimov.

James Reimer

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered yet another season without a clear No. 1 goaltender, letting Reimer and Jonathan Bernier battle for the job, but Reimer's strong play and Bernier's struggles have made the decision easy.

Only New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist has a better even-strength save percentage (.961) than Reimer (.951) , who is 6-2-3 with four straight wins for the last-place Leafs.

Brendan Gallagher

The Montreal Canadiens forward has steadily progressed since arriving in the NHL, increasing his goal and point totals in each subsequent season.

Now he's on a near-point-per-game pace with 17 in 19 games, and while that rate of production likely isn't sustainable, it signals another step forward in Gallagher's game.

The 23-year-old has found a home on the Canadiens' top line with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, and four of Gallagher's eight goals have come on the power play.

Dylan Larkin

Speaking of top lines, the Detroit Red Wings didn't just buck an organizational trend when they gave the 19-year-old an opening night roster spot.

They also felt strongly enough about Larkin to put him on the top forward unit, replacing the injured Pavel Datsyuk, to start the season.

Larkin is now on the second line with Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar, where he hasn't missed a beat, scoring in each of his last two games. Larkin has six goals and 13 points in 19 contests.

Jake Allen

Much like the Maple Leafs, the St. Louis Blues elected to let Allen and Brian Elliott sort out the crease themselves.

Allen has seized the No. 1 job, going 8-4-0 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He's tied with Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth for the league lead with three shutouts, and has the sixth-best 5-on-5 save percentage (.937) in the NHL.

He's a major reason that the Blues have the third-best record in the Western Conference.

Honorable mentions: Mike Condon, Colton Parayko, Rasmus Ristolainen

(Some statistics courtesy: stats.hockeyanalysis.com)

5 pleasant surprises early in the NHL season
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