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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: On the bubble

Five who fell short of making NHL Network's Top 50 overall list

NHL.com @NHL

NHL Network knows who the best players are in the League right now. They will reveal their version in a nine-episode summer series, airing weekends. The fifth episode is Sunday at 7 p.m. ET and focuses on the Top 50 players (Nos. 50-41).

Did your favorite player make the list? Tune in Sunday to find out and join the conversation with the #NHLTopPlayers hashtag. Here is a preview of the series and a look at five players on the bubble, who just missed the top 50.

 

[RELATED: Top 20 Defensemen in NHL | Complete #NHLTopPlayers coverage]

 

51. Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues

Pietrangelo, 27, had an NHL career-high 14 goals last season. He had 48 points, the sixth straight full season he's had at least 37, and his 34 assists were his fourth straight with at least 30. Pietrangelo has led Blues defensemen in scoring in six of the past seven seasons, and is a plus-56 in 539 NHL games. He had 51 points in 2011-12 and 2013-14, and was voted a Second-Team All-Star Team each time.

"He gets the toughest assignments night in and night out," said NHL Network analyst Alex Tanguay, who played for five teams in the NHL from 1999-2016 and won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. "I like the way he moves the puck on the power play. He takes time and space against players he plays against. He certainly has been a part of the Canadian program for years so that speaks volumes about how good he is and how much he is regarded around the League."

Video: STL@FLA: Pietrangelo taps in PPG for 300th NHL point

 

52. Jeff Carter, C, Los Angeles Kings

Carter, 32, led the Kings in goals (32) and points (66) last season. He has at least 21 goals in 10 straight seasons and has had at least 62 points each of the past three. He had 22 power-play points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 2016-17, and was tied for second in the NHL with nine game-winning goals. Carter has won the Stanley Cup twice (2012, 2014) and hasn't had a minus rating since he was minus-12 in 2011-12 with the Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Carter is one of the top two, top three players on his team," Tanguay said. "He's got size (6-foot-3, 217 pounds), he's got range, is extremely fast, has a great shot. Maybe the reason why he's not as highly regarded this year and not in the top 50 is because the Kings didn't make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. At any time, he can be one of the most dominating players on the ice."

Video: LAK@CGY: Carter, Iginla connect on smooth give-and-go

 

53. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals

Kuznetsov, who led the Capitals with 77 points (20 goals, 57 assists) in 2015-16, had 59 points (19 goals, 40 assists) and was plus-18 last season. The 25-year-old had four game-winning-goals for the second straight season and has 182 points (53 goals, 129 assists) and a plus-53 rating in 261 NHL games.

"This is a guy that is so elusive," Tanguay said. "He plays the game extremely well and has the ability to send false information to the people that play against him. He makes them think he's going left and he goes right, or they think he's going to pass and he takes a shot. As far as skill, he's certainly at the top of anyone's list right now."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Kuznetsov scores from a sharp angle

 

54. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

In 75 games last season, Pastrnak had 34 goals and 70 points, each an NHL career high that ranked second on the Bruins (behind Brad Marchand's 39 goals and 85 points). Pastrnak, 21, more than doubled his goal, assist and point totals from 2015-16, when he had 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 51 games. He began the season with at least one goal in three straight games and had a five-game goal streak from Oct. 26-Nov. 8. He finished the season with six game-winning goals, including two in overtime. He currently is a restricted free agent.

"He's a guy that for me will have the ability to be a game breaker for a long, long time," Tanguay said. "He can beat you with his pass or shot. He's probably one of the scariest guys for a goalie to face. The hockey IQ he possesses around the net is very unique. In Boston, they are very lucky to have him."

Video: BOS@OTT, Gm5: Pastrnak finishes Marchand's wrap

 

55. Cam Talbot, G, Edmonton Oilers

Talbot led the League in games (73), tied for the lead in wins (42) and tied for third with seven shutouts. He had NHL career highs in games and wins, and had a .919 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average. Talbot, 30, was named NHL First Star of the Week once (Oct. 24) and Third Star twice (Dec. 26, April 3) last season. His best stretch of the season Oct. 18-28, when in five games he went 5-0-0 with two shutouts and four goals allowed. He helped the Oilers to their most wins (47) and points (103) since 1986-87. They also made the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 and were one win from the Western Conference Final.

"A couple of years ago when he came from the New York Rangers, there were questions about him," Tanguay said. "Cam Talbot is so square right now and works so well positionally that when I look at him, I don't see a lot of net. To be able to do that consistently has been impressive. He's given the Oilers the chance to win games."

Video: Talbot lands at No. 7 on the list

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