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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 50-41

NHL Network reveals best of current crop

NHL.com @NHL

As summer winds down, NHL Network is getting you ready for this season by ranking the top 50 players in the League. NHL Network researchers, producers and on-air personalities compiled the list, beginning with players 41-50. Here is their list.

 

[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers Right Now | Top 20 NHL Centers | Top 10 NHL Goaltenders | Top 20 NHL Wings | Top 20 Defensemen | Top Players On The Bubble]

 

50. Zach Werenski, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

Werenski, 20, led NHL rookie defensemen in goals (11), assists (36), points (47), power-play points (21), power-play goals (four), plus/minus (plus-17) and shots on goal (188) last season. He gave the Blue Jackets a huge boost on defense and the power play, and began the season with a point in four straight games and in seven of nine (including three multipoint games). The No. 8 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft finished third in Calder Trophy voting and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

Video: Zach Werenski lands at No. 50 on the list

 

49. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

Barkov missed 21 games because of a back injury last season but finished with 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) and averaged 19:24 of ice time per game. In the past two seasons, he has 111 points (49 goals, 62 assists) with 30 power-play points (12 goals, 18 assists) and 13 game-winning goals. The 22-year-old had 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in his final 25 games last season.

"One of the biggest reasons why Aleksander Barkov is going to be such a dominant player for years to come is his size, his reach," 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 think that this is the guy that's going to take the Florida Panthers to the next level. In order to win in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], you need to have that big centerman that's going to be dominant, that's going to be physical, that's going to be able to play against the tough matchup on the other side. Aleksander Barkov will be that."

Video: Aleksander Barkov takes the No. 49 spot

 

48. Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators

Johansen has thrived as Nashville's top center with 95 points (22 goals, 73 assists) in 124 games since being acquired in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Seth Jones on Jan. 6, 2016. He tied for the Predators lead with 61 points (14 goals, 47 assists) last season and had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoff games before having emergency surgery for acute compartment syndrome in his left thigh. Johansen, 25, won 54.6 percent of his faceoffs last season and has won at least 50 percent in each of the past five seasons.

Video: Ryan Johansen lands at No. 48 on the list

 

47. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets

Byfuglien, 32, led the NHL in average ice time per game last season (27:26) and finished third in total ice time (2,195:34). He had 183 hits (31st in NHL) and had at least 200 each of the previous three seasons. Byfuglien (13 goals, 39 assists in 2016-17) has reached double figures in goals each of the past nine full NHL seasons and has had 50 or more points five times. He also has 164-power-play points and 34 game-winning goals. Byfuglien won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and was named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Video: Dustin Byfuglien takes No. 47 on the list

 

46. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings

Quick was limited to 17 games last season after injuring his knee in the Kings' first game. He was 8-5-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and two shutouts. In the past four seasons, he hasn't had a goals-against average higher than 2.26 or a save percentage under .915. In 2015-16, Quick led the League in starts (68) and went 40-23-5 to finish third in voting for the Vezina Trophy, the third time in five seasons he finished in the top five.

Quick, 31, won at least 35 games in five of six full NHL seasons prior to last season and has consistently been in the top 10 in the League in wins, goals-against average and save percentage. He won the Jennings Trophy in 2013-14 and helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014. Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2012 when he went 16-4 with a 1.41 GAA, a .946 save percentage and three shutouts.

Video: Jonathan Quick lands at No. 46 on the list

 

45. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona Coyotes

Ekman-Larsson has been the backbone of the Coyotes defense for the past seven seasons. He's scored at least 12 goals each of the past five full NHL seasons, including 23 in 2014-15 and 21 in 2015-16. His NHL career-high 55 points in 2015-16 led Arizona. The 26-year-old is a force on the power play; 40 of his 88 NHL goals and 106 of his 248 points have come with the man-advantage. He's also known for coming through in the clutch: From 2013-16, he scored 21 game-winning goals.

"He possesses all the tools," Tanguay said. "I believe that they have a gem in him in Arizona. This is a guy that can impact a game with his offensive ability, with his ability to pass the puck, with his ability to shoot the puck. He's got an extremely long reach. This is a guy that will impact this franchise for a long time coming. This franchise needs to move up in the standings, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson is going to be the face of that for years to come."

Video: Oliver Ekman-Larsson takes No. 45 on the list

 
44. Devan Dubnyk, G, Minnesota Wild

Dubnyk has turned around his career since being traded to the Wild from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 15, 2015. In 39 games with Minnesota that season, he was 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA, a .936 save percentage and five shutouts, finishing third in Vezina voting and being named to the NHL Second All-Star Team. Dubnyk followed that up in 2015-16 by going 32-26-6 with a 2.33 GAA, a .918 save percentage and five shutouts. Last season, Dubnyk, 31, went 40-19-5, finishing fourth in the League in wins and setting an NHL career high. He also finished tied for seventh in save percentage (.923) and eighth in goals-against average (2.25).

"When I look at him in front of his net, his positioning is second to none," Tanguay said. "He plays deep in his net, he's confident in his positioning, he's confident in the size that he possesses. Ever since he's joined the Minnesota Wild, he's given them every single night consistently a chance to win the game."

Video: Devan Dubnyk lands at No. 44 on the list

 

43. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nashville Predators

Forsberg, 23, burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2014-15, when he had 63 points (26 goals, 37 assists) and finished fourth in voting for the Calder Trophy. He followed that with 64 points (33 goals, 31 assists) in 2015-16 and had 58 points (31 goals, 27 assists) last season. Forsberg was tied for second in the League with nine game-winning goals and tied for fifth with three shorthanded goals in 2016-17. He had back-to-back hat tricks Feb. 21 and 23 during a stretch when he scored 10 goals in five games. Forsberg's nine goals and 16 points led the Predators during the playoffs last season, when he helped them advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since entering the NHL in 1998.

Video: Filip Forsberg takes the No. 43 spot

 

42. Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens

Pacioretty has flown under the radar as one of two NHL players to score at least 30 goals each of the past four seasons (Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has 12 straight seasons with 30 or more goals). He's been Montreal's leader or co-leader in goals each of the past five seasons and has led the Canadiens in points each of the past six. Pacioretty, 28, scored 35 goals, including seven game-winners, and tied his NHL career high with 67 points last season. Of his 209 NHL goals, 41 (19.6 percent) have been game-winners.

Video: Max Pacioretty lands at No. 42 on the list

 

41. Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild

Suter, 32, had 40 points (NHL career-high nine goals, 31 assists), finished second in the League in total ice time (2,207:49) and was third in average ice time per game (26:55) last season, when he played 82 games for the sixth time in his NHL career. He's had at least 37 points each of the past eight full NHL seasons and has 175 power-play points (25 goals, 150 assists) since entering the League with the Predators in 2005-06. Suter set NHL career highs with 43 assists and 51 points in 2015-16. He was a Norris Trophy finalist in 2013, played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2012, 2015 and 2017, and was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2013.

"Defensively, he's so underrated," Tanguay said. "The way he skates, the way he gets angles, the way he uses his stick to shield people, to put people in a corner, in an area. He's doing it against the best players in the world, because as a top D pairing, you're going to be facing the best players in the world. …He's got the potential to be a top-5, top-10 defenseman in the League."

Video: Ryan Suter takes the No. 41 spot

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