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Parise tops list of best U.S.-born players

Tuesday, 08.04.2009 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Americans might have to take a back seat to the Canadians when it comes to producing NHL All-Stars, but the United States has made great strides in recent years with the influx of stellar young talent taking the League by storm.

Of the 34 players invited to attend the U.S. Olympic men's orientation camp this summer, 12 are 24 or younger. Many of those players hope to follow in the footsteps of players like Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano and Brian Leetch.

With that in mind, there's no better time for NHL.com to take a stab at naming the top 10 American-born players in the game today:

1. Zach Parise, F, New Jersey -- Parise was a big reason the Devils won the Atlantic Division in 2008-09. He ranked third in the League in goals (45), fifth in points (94), tied for first in overtime goals (3) and tied for seventh in game-winning goals (8) while setting a team record for shots in a season (364). The 2009 All-Star also is regarded as one of the NHL's finest defensive forwards, accruing 65 hits, 34 takeaways and a career-best plus-30 rating.

2. Tim Thomas, G, Boston -- The native of Flint, Mich., took the long path to stardom, spending years in Europe and the minors before finally making it big with the Bruins. In 2008-09, he became only the second Boston goalie in more than 65 years to win the Vezina Trophy while setting high with 36 wins. He finished the regular season as the NHL leader in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933), and had a 1.85 GAA and .935 save percentage in 11 playoff games.

3. Patrick Kane, F, Chicago -- What isn't there to like about the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft? He's gifted, enthusiastic, adored by fans and has posted at least 70 points in each of his first two seasons in the League -- not bad for a kid who won't celebrate his 21st birthday until November. Kane had 70 points -- the second-highest total among American players -- and a career-high 25 goals last season, then added 9 goals and 14 points in 16 playoff games.

4. Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo -- The Sabres have received consistency between the pipes since naming Miller the full-time starter in 2005. Despite the fact the team failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, Miller finished 34-18-6 with a 2.53 GAA and .918 save percentage -- despite missing a month with an ankle injury. He's won at least 30 games in four straight seasons.

5. Brian Rafalski, D, Detroit --
Rafalski finished with career highs in assists (49) and points (59) in 78 games last season. He averaged 23:10 of ice time per game and finished with a plus-17 rating, mostly playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom. Rafalski, who has never finished a season with a negative plus/minus rating, has produced 425 points in 692 career games in his nine NHL seasons.

6. Mike Komisarek, D, Toronto -- The 2009 NHL All-Star isn't the type to produce incredible offensive numbers; instead, he's made a living as one of the more physically gifted defensemen in the game. Komisarek, who signed with Toronto during the summer, registered 191 hits and 207 blocked shots in 66 games with Montreal last season.

7. Jamie Langenbrunner, F, New Jersey -- The versatile forward had the most productive season of his NHL career in 2008-09. Langenbrunner produced personal highs in goals (29), assists (40), points (69) and plus/minus rating (plus-25) while finishing tied for first among American players with 3 shorthanded goals.

8. Phil Kessel, F, Boston -- In his third NHL season, Kessel established career highs in goals (36), assists (24) and points (60) in 70 games -- becoming the Bruins' first 30-goal scorer since 2005-06. He also had the longest point-scoring streak in the NHL last season, at 18 consecutive games, from Nov. 13 through Dec. 21 (14 goals, 28 points). Kessel also had 6 goals and 11 points in 11 playoff games.

9. Dustin Brown, F, Los Angeles -- The Kings' captain, a 2009 NHL All-Star, plays an all-round game with an edge. He had 24 goals and 53 points last season -- and was second among American players with 285 hits in 80 games.

10. Paul Stastny, F, Colorado -- The son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny missed 37 games due to a fractured arm and fractured foot last season after posting 70-plus points in each of his first two seasons. He still managed 36 points in 45 games in 2008-09 and has 63 goals and 185 points in 193 career games. With dual citizenship (U.S. and Canada), Stastny has opted to play for the United States in international competitions.

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com
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