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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 20-11

NHL Network reveals best of current crop

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL Network is getting ready for this season by ranking the top 50 players in the League. Researchers, producers and on-air personalities compiled the list, and players 20-11 were revealed Sunday in the premiere of the eighth program in a nine-part offseason series. Here is the list:

 

[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 50-41 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 40-31 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 30-21]

 

20. Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars

Seguin scored 40 goals for the first time in his NHL career last season. He scored at least 33 in four of the past five seasons. The 26-year-old had 78 points in 2017-18 and has had at least 72 in each season since 2013-14. Seguin had 14 power-play goals, six game-winning goals and 25 power-play points in 2017-18, and his 335 shots on goal were second in the NHL behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin's 355. He also won 54.9 percent of his face-offs (790 of 1,440).

"He has been remarkably consistent in his offensive production, but really rounding out his game is what has allowed him to elevate into the top 20," NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson said. "But what you love about Seguin, he's got the quick wrister, he's got the snapper, he certainly has the one-time slap shot. Not everyone has the full arsenal of offensive shots like Tyler Seguin does. Wherever he needs to go, wherever he needs to shoot it past goaltenders, he can do."

Video: Tyler Seguin takes the No. 20 spot on the list

 

19. P.K. Subban, D, Nashville Predators

Subban's second season in Nashville was one of the best of his NHL career, and he was voted to the NHL Second All-Star Team. His 16 goals were an NHL career high, and he had 43 assists, 59 points (25 on the power play) and a plus-18 rating in 82 games. The 29-year-old scored at least 10 goals in five of the past six seasons and topped 50 points in four of the past five. Subban won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2012-13 with the Montreal Canadiens. He finished third in 2017-18, the third time in six seasons he was a finalist for the award.

"He almost had 60 points once again, but what makes P.K. Subban a Norris finalist, what makes him a top-20 player is how good he is defensively," Johnson said. "It's not what he does with the puck, which is exceptional, but it really is his ability to control the neutral zone, tighten up gaps, cause turnovers, not get scored on, get pucks out of his own end. ... He really has become, despite the flash to his personality, one of the steadiest, best defensemen in the NHL."

Video: P.K. Subban lands at No. 19 on the list

 

18. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks

After getting off to a slow start offensively last season (12 points through 25 games), Burns picked it up and finished with 67 points (12 goals, 55 assists), tied for second with John Klingberg of the Stars among NHL defensemen behind John Carlson of the Capitals (68). His 27 power-play points ranked fourth among NHL defensemen, and his 332 shots on goal were third in the NHL behind Ovechkin and Seguin. The 33-year-old won the Norris in 2016-17, when he led NHL defensemen in goals (29) and points (76), and hasn't missed a game in the past four seasons. Burns had at least 60 points each of the past four seasons. He was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2016-17 and the Second All-Star Team in 2015-16.

Video: Brent Burns is named No. 18 on the list

 

17. Patrik Laine, LW, Winnipeg Jets

After he had 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) and finished second to Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in voting for the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL in 2016-17, Laine was even more productive last season, when he scored 44 goals, including an NHL-leading 20 on the power play, and had 70 points. From Feb. 16-March 12, Laine scored 16 goals, including at least one in 11 of 12 games. In two NHL seasons, the 20-year-old has 13 game-winning goals and a shooting percentage of 18.0 percent.

"He does the thing that is the hardest to do in hockey better than just about anyone, that's score the puck," Johnson said. "But in his first couple of seasons, he has shown himself to be a world-class, a historically good shooter for this generation. He plays on a good team, so he doesn't play as much, but he scores more than anyone per minute out there. ... He's just scratching the surface."

Video: Patrik Laine comes in at No. 17 on the list

 

16. Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins

Bergeron is one of the best two-way players in the NHL, having won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward four times in the past seven seasons. He scored 30 goals in 2017-18, the third time in the past five seasons he reached that total, and had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The 33-year-old was 12th in the NHL in face-off wins (784 of 1,368; 57.3 percent) despite missing 18 games because of injury. Bergeron was plus-21 and has had a plus rating each of the past 11 seasons.

"We know what he's good at; of course, we talk about the Selke, defensive centerman, he is as good as we have ever seen in the NHL," Johnson said. "He understands angles, body position, leverage, when to attack, when to sag, how to lead with your stick. You can just watch him and say, 'This is how you play defensive hockey. This is how you turn pucks over on the forecheck without taking penalties.'"

Video: Patrice Bergeron takes the No. 16 spot on the list

 

15. Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele had 60 points (23 goals, 37 assists) in 60 games last season, including NHL career highs in power-play goals (eight), power-play points (16), and was plus-19. The 25-year-old's 14 goals in the 2018 playoffs were second to Ovechkin's 15, and his seven goals on the road in the Western Conference Second Round against the Predators are the most in one postseason series in NHL history.

"[He's a] sneaky fast skater, able to get around and create for his linemates," Johnson said. "He's a dual threat. He can score goals -- we know that, we saw in the playoffs he can score goals -- but he can also set guys up. Very good release around the net, that quick release. Pop it out, get it off your stick, and get it into the back of the net. Wrister, snapper, you name it, he can certainly put it past the goaltenders."

Video: Mark Scheifele lands at No. 15 on the list

 

14. Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings

Kopitar increased his point total from 52 (12 goals, 40 assists) in 2016-17 to 92 (35 goals, 57 assists) last season. It was the 10th time in 12 seasons he led the Kings in scoring. He had 27 power-play points, scored six game-winning goals, and took (1,816) and won (983) the third-most face-offs in the NHL (54.1 percent). The 31-year-old won the Selke Trophy and finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last season. He led NHL forwards in total ice time (1,810:58) and average ice time (22:05).

Video: Anze Kopitar is named No. 14 on the list

 

13. Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

Marchand had 85 points each of the past two seasons, including an NHL career-high 51 assists in 2017-18, and has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past three. The 30-year-old had 23 power-play points last season and scored eight game-winning goals, including an NHL-high five in overtime. Marchand was plus-25 in 2017-18, the sixth time he's been at least plus-20 in the NHL, and ranked third in the League among players who scored at least 20 goals with a shooting percentage of 18.7 percent.

"He's a fast skater -- he's not blessed with the most beautiful stride -- but he gets there and he beats his opponent there," Johnson said. "… This past year, (tied for) fourth in points per game (among NHL players who played at least 60 games; 1.25). So when you look at what his projection is, it is right there in the top-five kind of players in the NHL."

Video: Brad Marchand comes in at No. 13 on the list

 

12. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Kane led the Blackhawks in scoring for the third straight season in 2017-18, when he had 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists) in 82 games. The 29-year-old has scored at least 21 goals in each of his 11 NHL seasons, and his 828 points (312 goals, 516 assists) in that span rank fourth in the NHL. A three-time Stanley Cup champion (2010, 2013, 2015), Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2013 and hasn't missed a game in the past three seasons.

"Maybe by his standards [this] was a slightly down year, with just 76 points," Johnson said. "Fact is, he's played over 800 games and he's over a point per game for his career. … He showed you don't have to be huge (5-foot-10, 177 pounds), you don't have to be super physical, you can be quick, you can be creative, you can have great hands, great vision and you could be a dominant player."

Video: Patrick Kane takes the No. 12 spot on the list

 

11. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon took his game to new heights last season with 39 goals, 58 assists and 97 points, shattering his previous NHL highs of 24 goals, 39 assists and 63 points from his rookie season in 2013-14. His 12 game-winning goals were tied with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point for the NHL lead, and his 32 power-play points were tied for 12th. The 23-year-old was the Hart Trophy runner-up to New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall last season. He had a 14-game point streak (13 goals, 14 assists) from Feb. 24-March 22 and a nine-game point streak (eight goals, 11 assists) from Dec. 29-Jan. 20.

"We saw what he did his rookie season, how he had the potential to be a great offensive player, but he didn't really show it in the subsequent year after his rookie season because we knew he could skate and we knew he could fly," Johnson said. "His acceleration from zero to top speed is about as quick as anyone not named Connor McDavid. But where he has evolved this year is that he's learned how to apply that speed and how to use it to create better chances as opposed to running into trouble."

Video: Nathan MacKinnon lands at No. 11 on the list

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