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 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 two have succeeded.
Here is the full list of NHL players who have attempted the “Michigan” move.
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 he occasionally does after scoring goals. Kuznetsov’s “Michigan” attempt came in a nationally televised March 2018 game on NBCSN 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 when it came to finishing the move, it slipped off his stick at just the last moment.
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 that he’s doing them both at full speed and taking the puck from one side of the goal to the other. In this sequence, Forsberg has to show incredible control to keep it from falling off his stick while also facing intense pressure from San Jose defenseman Justin Braun. Forsberg’s attempt goes off the post, but his ability to attempt the maneuver in stride illustrates how ridiculously skilled he is.
Forsberg’s second “Michigan” attempt came the following season in a game against the Dallas Stars. This is also done after navigating a stick check, this time 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 with his stick. Dallas goaltender Anton Khudobin is able to comes across the crease and raise his shoulder to deny Forsberg’s bid, but this is a perfect example of Forsberg’s incredible puck control and hand-eye coordination.
After two very impressive Michigan attempts, Forsberg finally pulled off the move in a January 2020 game against the Edmonton Oilers. The Predators forward once again executed the move at full speed, but it appeared he learned from his previous attempt when it came to the finish. Khudobin was able to read what Forsberg was doing and get up high enough in the butterfly to deny the puck from entering the net. In fact, when Forsberg went for the “Michigan” in this game against the Oilers, Andrei Svechnikov had already pulled off the move, so NHL defenders and goalies were starting to be on the lookout for attempts at the move. 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 all the same.
Forsberg’s Nashville teammate, Viktor Arvidsson, is believed to be the only 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 Predators 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.
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 even in the trapezoid. Once the puck is on Giroux’s stick, the Flyers’ captain does a terrific job carrying it behind the net in the air and avoiding the stick of defenseman John Carlson in the process. Goaltender Braden Holtby looked over his right shoulder to see Giroux attempting the move, so the Caps’ netminder was able to slide across and be in position for Giroux’s attempt. Giroux ends up putting it off the side of the net, but it remains one of the better NHL attempts at the move.
Ottawa Senators’ forward Tyler Ennis has attempted the “Michigan” move numerous times throughout his NHL career. His first attempt came in a January 2017 game against the Dallas Stars when he was playing for the Sabres. Despite facing pressure from two opposing defenders on each side of the net, Ennis came very close to becoming the first NHL player to pull off the move. Ennis starts the move behind the middle 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 in the air despite Stars’ blueliner Esa Lindell poking at him with his stick. Once Ennis avoids Lindell from the left side of the net, he then has to navigate through Dallas blueliner John Klingberg swatting at him from the other side. Despite these sticks attempting to interfere with his attempt, Ennis is still able to take the puck right to the goal, where he ends up putting it off the post. You can tell by Kari Lehtonen’s delayed reaction that “Michigan” attempts were very 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 be anticipating the move as he 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 the opportunity to take the puck to the other side behind the net using the lacrosse-style move. 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, so the Red Wings’ blueliner was in pretty great position to deny Laine from converting on his attempt.
Auston Matthews has tried various versions of the “Michigan” move throughout his young NHL career. The 22-year-old American forward has dazzled with his skill in his first four NHL seasons, so it isn’t much of a surprise that he’s jumping on the “Michigan” bandwagon. Matthews’ 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 a well-known NHL superstar.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei 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. Svechnikov had previously tried to score a “Michigan” goal numerous times throughout his young NHL career and reportedly works on the move 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. He 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 21-year-old Carolina Hurricanes’ 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 is once again taking the puck behind the net with speed. Instead of stopping halfway this time, Svechnikov slows down as to almost fake a stop before corralling the puck on his stick blade, continuing his motion and attempting 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 that he puts the puck into the top corner before Hellebuyck can get his shoulder up to close off the gap. Winnipeg blueliner Neal Pionk also does a terrific job reading Svechkivo’s attempt, but even after recognizing what the Hurricanes forward is going for, Pionk still can’t thwart Svechnikov’s incredible mid-air puck control.
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.