It’s the latest trend in hockey. More and more NHL players are attempting the “Michigan Move”, made famous by Mike Legg while playing for the University of Michigan in 1996.
Legg scored the goal in an NCAA tournament game against the University of Minnesota. Legg put the puck on his stick blade behind the net and wrapped it around in to the top corner of the net. The lacrosse-style goal wowed the hockey world and led to Legg’s stick being donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
While Legg never made it to the pro leagues, many NHL players have since attempted to pull off the “Michigan”. While many have tried, only three have succeeded.
Here is the full list of NHL players (in alphabetical order) who have attempted the “Michigan” move. The list only includes legit attempts at scoring with the move and not half-hearted attempts or the “fake Michigan”.
Currently retired NHL forward Alex Burmistrov is one of the first known NHL players to have attempted the Michigan move. Burmistrov attempted the lacrosse style goal while playing for the Winnipeg Jets back in 2013. The Jet’s forward could’ve made history if it weren’t for the towering goalie he was facing that evening. Burmistrov tried the Michigan move against 6’6″ Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Anders Lindback. Burmistrov does a fantastic job getting the puck on his stick blade and controlling it mid-air. Lindback is so tall, however, that the Tampa goalie is able to seal off the upper corner of the net rather easily. Burmistrov’s skilled shot ends up going straight into Lindback’s chest protector.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov has tried to score with the Michigan move numerous times in his young NHL career. Svech’s first official attempt is believed to have come against the New York Islanders in November 2018. Although he wouldn’t successfully pull off the move until a year later, the Canes youngster had the mechanics down to a tee from the get-go. Svechnikov tried the move while stationed with the puck behind the Islanders goal. The rookie is able to get the puck onto his stick and attempt a shot. Goalie Thomas Greiss is in great position, however, and blueliner Nick Leddy is able to thwart the shot. The Russian still ends up barely missing on the finish.
Svechnikov became the first player in NHL history to officially score a Michigan goal when he pulled off the move in an October 2019 game against the Calgary Flames. After reportedly working on the move constantly in practice, Svechnikov was finally able to pull it off to perfection against Calgary netminder David Rittich. What likely made this attempt successful is how the play developed. Svechnikov took a pass behind the Calgary net and appeared to be taking the puck fully around the net.
The Canes’ star threw both the defense and goaltender off by coming to a full stop halfway behind the net. Svechnikov showcases his ridiculous skill by corralling the puck on his stick and then controlling it in the air and directing it back the way he came. What makes it even more impressive is Rittich adjusts quickly and is actually in great position to make the save. Svechnikov barely has any room to finish the move, but the skilled Russian is able to use his skill to place the puck in the very narrow gap between Rittich’s right shoulder and mask.
It was only a month later when Svechnikov scored the second Michigan goal of his young NHL career. Before any other NHL player scored a lacrosse-style goal, the young Carolina winger had already done it twice. Svechnikov’s second Michigan goal came in a December 2019 game against the Winnipeg Jets. On this sequence, Svechnikov once again takes the puck behind the net with speed. Instead of stopping halfway this time, Svechnikov slows down as to almost fake a stop.
Svechnikov then corralls the puck on his stick blade, continues his motion and attempts the move at the far side of the goal. Connor Hellebuyck does a good job recognizing what Svechnikov is attempting, but the Carolina forward is so quick he puts the puck into the top corner before Hellebuyck can close off the gap. Winnipeg blueliner Neal Pionk also does a good job reading the attempt, but even after recognizing what Svechnikov was going for, he still can’t thwart Svechnikov’s incredible mid-air puck control.
Svechnikov attempted the move once again in 2020, this time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The attempt at the move came during overtime of Game 1 between the Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. There aren’t many NHL players who would even have the Michigan on their mind during overtime of a postseason contest. Svechnikov’s Michigan attempt is similar to his second lacrosse-style goal where he skated behind the net with speed and attempted the move in stride. Svechnikov gets the puck onto his stick blade again, but he runs into Bruins’ defenseman Brandon Carlo before he’s able to attempt a shot. It appears NHL blueliners have picked up on Svech’s antics.
Auston Matthews has tried various versions of the “Michigan” move throughout his young NHL career. The 24-year-old American forward has dazzled with his skill, so it isn’t much of a surprise that he’s jumping on the “Michigan” bandwagon. Matthews’ first and closest “Michigan” attempt came in an October 2019 game against the San Jose Sharks. Matthews’ attempt at the lacrosse-style goal was one of the quickest executions of the move in NHL history. As soon as Matthews sees the loose puck coming to him behind the net, he is immediately prepared and quickly gets it onto his stick. Matthews ends up putting it off the post, but it remains one of the best attempts at the move by an NHL superstar.
Matthews tried the Michigan for the second time in his career in a January 2020 game against the Calgary Flames. This wasn’t as smooth as his first attempt, but it was also attempted in a completely different manner. Matthews tried this Michigan goal in full stride as he skated behind the Calgary net and attempted to score lacrosse-style on the opposite side of the goal. Matthews’ couldn’t get the puck to settle down, and it rolled off his stick blade midway through his attempt. Had Matthews converted, David Rittich would’ve been the first NHL goalie to get scored on with the Michigan twice.
While Matthews’ first Michigan attempt was most impressive, his third one was also very solid. Matthews tried another lacrosse-style goal in a March 2022 game against the Vancouver Canucks. What sticks out about Matthews’ attempts is just how quickly and fluidly he’s able to get the shot off. In this instance, Matthews skates behind the net to retrieve a loose puck. Within seconds of collecting that puck, Matthews attempts a Michigan at the far side of the goal. Goalie Thatcher Demko peaked over his shoulder and spotted Matthews behind the net all alone. Demko is quickly able to raise his shoulder and deny Matthews his first-ever Michigan goal.
New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider isn’t necessarily known for his nasty hands, but that didn’t stop him from trying the Michigan. And it was a very impressive Michigan attempt at that. Kreider attempted the move in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving in November 2021. The Bruins were hosting the Rangers at TD Garden. Kreider took the puck behind the Boston goal and attempted to score lacrosse-style on goaltender Jeremy Swayman. Kreider had to fend off pressure from Bruins’ forward Erik Haula as he scooped the puck onto his stick blade. Swayman reacted quickly to get his shoulder up while in the butterfly, and Kreider ends up putting the shot off the knob of the goalie’s stick.
Considering Claude Giroux has some of the filthiest hands in the NHL, it should come as no surprise that the Flyers’ captain finds himself on the list of NHL players that have attempted the Michigan move. Giroux tried the move in a March 2019 game against the Washington Capitals. It was the perfect scenario for Giroux to attempt the move, as he was collecting a loose puck behind the Washington net without any pressure from opposing defenders. It takes a couple tries for Giroux to get the puck on his stick, but he’s still able to make it work because he starts trying before he’s in the trapezoid.
Once the puck is on Giroux’s stick, the Flyers’ captain does a terrific job controlling it behind the net in the air and avoiding the stick of defenseman John Carlson in the process. Goalie Braden Holtby looked over his right shoulder to see Giroux attempting the move, so the Caps’ netminder slid across to be in position for Giroux’s attempt. Giroux ends up putting the puck off the side of the net, but it remains one of the better NHL attempts at the move.
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller brought the Michigan move to the desert in a February 2022 game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Coyotes don’t exactly get a ton of national attention, but this attempt deserved more recognition for just how close it came to being a goal. Keller had plenty of time and space with the puck behind the Winnipeg net as he scanned his options. Keller elected to try a Michigan goal blocker side on Jets’ backup goalie Eric Comrie. Unfortunately, Winnipeg defenseman Dylan DeMelo quickly recognized what Keller was going for. Keller was still able to control the puck-mid air, but he put his shot off the post as he tried to navigate through the distracting stick of DeMelo.
It took Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid awhile to try the Michigan, but he eventually couldn’t resist joining in on the fun. McDavid tried the move for the first time in a December 2021 game against the Minnesota Wild. Unfortunately, the Oilers captain didn’t have much success with his attempt. McDavid skated behind the Wild net with the puck and had a free lane to come across on the other side of the goal. McDavid scooped the puck onto his stick blade as he entered the trapezoid, but he lost control before he could attempt to deposit the puck into the goal. McDavid’s Michigan attempt remains one of the weaker attempts of the move by an NHL superstar.
Washington Capitals’ forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was one of the very first players to attempt the Michigan. The Russian forward has been scoring highlight-reel goals throughout his NHL career and always looks to entertain, as evident by his famous “Bird” celebration after goals. Kuznetsov’s Michigan attempt came in a nationally televised March 2018 game against the New York Rangers. Kuznetsov attempted the move against Rangers’ backup netminder Ondrej Pavelec. Kuznetsov did a terrific job getting the puck on his stick, but it slipped off his stick just as he went to deposit it into the goal cage.
Nashville Predators’ forward Filip Forsberg is known for having two of the most impressive Michigan attempts in NHL history. The skilled Swede first attempted the move in a March 2018 game against the San Jose Sharks. What makes Forsberg’s attempts so impressive is he’s doing them at full speed and taking the puck from one side of the goal to the other. In this sequence, Forsberg shows incredible control to keep the puck on his stick while facing pressure from San Jose defenseman Justin Braun. Forsberg’s attempt goes off the post, but his ability to attempt the maneuver in stride illustrates his ridiculous skill.
Forsberg’s second “Michigan” attempt came the following season in a game against the Dallas Stars. This was also done after navigating a stick check. This time the pressure came from Stars’ defenseman John Klingberg. Most Michigan attempts start directly behind the net and don’t involve much pressure from opposing defenders. Forsberg picks up this puck at full speed and manages to get it perfectly on his stick blade despite Klingberg poking at it. Dallas goaltender Anton Khudobin is able to comes across the crease and raise his shoulder to deny Forsberg’s bid. Despite the result, this is another example of Forsberg’s incredible puck control and hand-eye coordination.
After two impressive Michigan attempts, Forsberg finally pulled off the move in a January 2020 game against the Edmonton Oilers. Forsberg once again executed the move at full speed, but he learned from his previous attempt when it came to the finish. Mike Smith did a great job recognizing what Forsberg was doing, but the Nashville forward outsmarted him by not targeting the upper corner and instead aiming slightly lower. The result of Forsberg aiming lower is that his shot ends up going off the stomach of Smith and into the net. While it certainly isn’t the prettiest Michigan goal, it still counts the same.
Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk is known for his signature between-the-legs move, but that hasn’t stopped him from jumping on the Michigan bandwagon. Tkachuk tried the lacrosse-style shot in a November 2021 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tkachuk took the puck behind the Philadelphia net in what initially looked like a wrap-around attempt. Instead of coming out the other side, however, Tkachuk skated back the way he came for a Michigan attempt. Tkachuk got the puck onto his stick blade, but Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart and defenseman Risto Ristolainen weren’t having it. Hart had his eyes on Tkachuk the entire time, while Ristolainen used his stick to swat the puck away before Tkachuk could get off a shot on the goalie.
Vancouver Canucks’ forward Nils Hoglander might be the least surprising name to appear on a list of NHL players who have attempted the Michigan move. The young Swedish winger was known for scoring lacrosse goals in junior, including one of the smoothest ones we’ve ever seen while playing for Rogle BK in the SHL. You also can’t forget Hoglander scoring a lacrosse-style goal for Sweden at the 2020 World Juniors while the entire hockey world was watching.
Given Hoglander’s Michigan history, perhaps the only surprising element is the fact the Canuck’s forward hasn’t been able to pull off the move successfully at the NHL level. Hoglander tried the move in a March 2021 game against the Winnipeg Jets. Hoglander had plenty of time behind the net and attempted the move while at a standstill. The Swede appears to get the puck onto his stick blade for a split second, but it falls off before he’s really able to make a serious attempt at scoring.
Forsberg’s former Nashville teammate, Viktor Arvidsson, is believed to be the first NHL player to have attempted the “Michigan” move in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. Arvidsson attempted the manoeuvre in Game 4 of the Predators 2018 first-round playoff series against the Avalanche. The crafty Nashville forward had plenty of time behind the net and was not in motion before attempting the move. He executed the move very nicely, but Colorado goaltender Jonathan Bernier read the play well and was in perfect position to deny Arvidsson’s bid.
Ottawa Senators’ forward Tyler Ennis first attempted the Michigan in a January 2017 game against Dallas. Despite facing pressure from two opposing defenders, Ennis came close to becoming the first NHL player to pull off the move. Ennis starts the move behind the center of the net and tries to tuck it upstairs to his right. Ennis is able to corral the puck on his his stick and control it mid-air despite Stars’ blueliner Esa Lindell poking at him. Once Ennis avoids Lindell from the left side of the net, he has to navigate Dallas blueliner John Klingberg at the other side. Ennis is still able to take the puck to the goal, where he puts his shot off the post. You can tell by goalie Kari Lehtonen’s delayed reaction that Michigan attempts were quite uncommon back in 2017.
Ennis later attempted to pull off the “Michigan” in a December 2019 game against the Predators when he was with the Senators. The crafty 5’9″ forward has long been known for his slick hands and creativity, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he once again attempted the maneuver. Ennis’ Michigan attempt was thwarted by Nashville defenseman Dante Fabbro, who appeared to anticipate the move. The intelligent blueliner immediately swatted the puck off Ennis’ stick when he saw the Ottawa forward going for the lacrosse-style goal behind the net.
Patrik Laine’s first “Michigan” attempt of his NHL career came against the Detroit Red Wings in a December 2019 game. With goaltender Eric Comrie down on the ice at one side of the crease, Laine saw an opportunity to take the puck behind the net and attempt a lacrosse-style shot on the far side of the goal. The Finnish sniper executed the pick up pretty smoothly, but his finishing attempt was blocked by Red Wings’ blueliner Patrick Nemeth. Nemeth saw Laine going for the move behind the net and got into great position to deny the Jets’ sniper from converting on his attempt.
Sidney Crosby’s first ever Michigan attempt came in a February 2021 game against the New York Rangers. What makes Sid’s attempt so unique was that it was the first attempt we’ve seen by an NHL player on the backhand. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar captain shows tremendous skill by wrapping the puck on the backhand of his stick behind the net before moving forward and attempting to place the puck into the upper corner of the net. Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin thwarted the attempt by reading the play very well. Shesterkin was already on his feet when the attempt began and was able to spot was Crosby was going for. Instead of dropping to the butterly to close up a typical wrap-around attempt, Shesterkin stayed upright and raised his shoulder to seal the upper corner of the net and deny Crosby of the goal.
Trevor Zegras almost scored the coolest first career NHL goal of all-time. The Anaheim rookie attempted the Michigan move in just his second career NHL game against the Blues in March 2021. Zegras started at one side behind the net and showcased his insane skill to place the puck on his stick blade and corral it to the other side of the goal in mid-air. Zegras displays his hand-eye ability as he never loses control and takes the puck around for a top-shelf attempt. It would of been one of the best Michigan goals in history if Zegas had converted. Instead, Zegras was denied by an incredible save. Blues’ goalie Ville Husso read the play perfectly, spotting Zegras attempt the move and making immediate adjustments. The Finnish netminder dropped his stick so he could come across and raise his blocker to seal off Zegras’ impressive attempt.
After failing to score a Michigan during his NHL call-up in 2020-21, Zegras wasted no time trying the move again the following year. Zegras’ second Michigan attempt came in the second game of his 2021-22 season against Calgary. The skilled forward is once again excellent in his initiation of the move as he skates behind the Flames net and picks up the puck on his stick blade while in stride. Zegras is able to control the puck in mid-air for a few seconds and attempt a shot on the far side of the goal. Calgary netminder Jacob Markstrom read the play well, however, sliding left-to-right as he saw Zegras skating behind the net. Defenseman Rasmus Andersson was also parked in the crease and used his stick to disrupt Zegras’ attempt. With some aid from Andersson, Markstrom is able to come across and deny Zegras with the blocker.
After two previous unsuccessful attempts, Trevor Zegras scored the first Michigan goal of his career against the Montreal Canadiens in January 2022. Unfortunately, there were no fans in attendance at the Bell Centre due to COVID restrictions. That didn’t stop Zegras from celebrating in front of an empty stadium after accomplishing the feat. Zegras’ Michigan goal was as smooth as it gets. The Anaheim rookie scooped the puck onto his stick as he was skating behind Montreal’s net and came out the other side. It looked like Montreal goalie Sam Montembeault and defenseman Denis Savard had recognized what Zegras was doing, but it was too little too late. Zegras’ Michigan attempt was so quick that he had already deposited the puck top corner before Montembeault or Savard could get in his way. It was very similar to his first Michigan attempt, but this time Zegras pulled off the finish.
Zegras scored his second successful Michigan goal in an April 2022 game against the Arizona Coyotes. The goal came on April Fool’s Day, but the skill on display was no joke. Zegras scored with the Michigan after being denied on a between-the-legs shot from the side of the goal. The Anaheim star collected the rebound behind the net and immediately went to score with the Michigan on the opposite side. Zegras beat the Coyotes players to the other side, but he actually had to navigate around one of his own teammates to score. Sonny Milano was in front of Zegras and was blocking Zegras’ path to the net. Zegras showed brilliant coordination to steer his Michigan attempt around Milano mid-air and deposit the puck into the goal.
Wondering which NHL players may be next to attempt “The Michigan”? A solid bet would be someone on the Carolina Hurricanes. After already pulling off the move twice, Svechnikov is now educating his teammates on how to be successful pulling off the prestigious “Michigan” move.
Course: How to Michigan 101
Professor: A. Svechnikov
Enrolled: M. Necas , W. Foegele pic.twitter.com/SyCzAsg5bE
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) November 6, 2019
This list will be updated on an ongoing basis.