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#NHLTopPlayers: Top 10 in NHL writers make selections to highlight NHL Network weekly countdown

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

NHL Network will air the final episode of "Top 50 NHL Players Right Now" at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday with players 10-1. But before the network unveils its list, columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika lists his top 10 players in the League.


[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers Right Now | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 50-41 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 40-31 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 30-21 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 20-11]


1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

McDavid didn't win the scoring title last season, but he still had more points (116) than when he won the Art Ross Trophy in 2017-18 (108) and 2016-17 (100), scored as many goals (41) as he did in 2017-18, when he set an NHL career high, and was a Hart Trophy finalist even though the Oilers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ask people around the NHL and just about everyone will say McDavid is the best player in the world because of his combination of speed and skill. At 22, he's still growing. The best is yet to come.

Video: EDM@WPG: McDavid taps puck home on power play


2. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby's still right there at age 32. He had 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) last season, his most since 2013-14 (104 points; 36 goals, 68 assists) when he won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies. Not only was Crosby runner-up for the Hart last season, he finished fourth for the Selke Trophy voted as best defensive forward in the NHL, higher than ever before. Though Crosby has won everything there is to win, he continues to work on his game at both ends of the ice. There is no reason to think he won't have another outstanding season.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Crosby


3. Alex Ovechkin, F, Washington Capitals

The Great Eight is the greatest goal-scorer of his generation and has a chance to become the greatest of all time. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin has scored 658 goals. No one else has scored more than 446 in that span. He led the NHL with 51 goals last season, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy for the sixth time in seven seasons and the eighth time in his NHL career. With 658 goals, he needs 237 to break Wayne Gretzky's record of 894. Can he do it? He turns 34 on Sept. 17.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Ovechkin


4. Nikita Kucherov, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov won the Hart and Art Ross after leading the NHL in scoring by 12 points last season (128 points; 41 goals, 87 assists). No one had produced that many in a season since Mario Lemieux had 161 (69 goals, 92 assists) in 1995-96, and no one had come close since Jaromir Jagr had 127 (44 goals, 83 assists) in 1998-99 and Joe Thornton had 125 (29 goals, 96 assists) in 2006-07. Over the past three seasons, Kucherov is second in points per game (1.33) to McDavid (1.34). The question for the 26-year-old, as it is for the rest of the Lightning, is the response after a 62-win regular season led to four straight losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Kucherov


5. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks

Burns led NHL defensemen in scoring by nine points last season and was runner-up for the Norris Trophy. But perhaps the most remarkable part of his 83 points (16 goals, 67 assists)? They were seven more than the previous NHL career high of 76 (29 goals, 47 assists) he set in 2016-17, when he won the Norris. Burns appears to be trending upward at age 34. His diet and training regimen are legendary, not to mention his free spirit, which is in full bloom in San Jose.

Video: Brent Burns claims the top spot on the list


6. Patrick Kane, F, Chicago Blackhawks

Kane had 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists) last season, four more than he had in 2015-16, when he won the Hart and Art Ross. Kucherov looks up to the 30-year-old for his skill, creativity and ability to drive play from the wing.

Video: BOS@CHI: Kane pokes shot home for overtime winner


7. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

Hedman won the Norris in 2017-18 and was a finalist last season for the third season in a row even though he missed 12 games. He turns 29 on Dec. 18.

Video: Victor Hedman is ranked No. 2 on the list


8. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

The 24-year-old is on the rise. He reached NHL career highs in goals (41) and points (99) last season, then had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in the playoffs, looking dominant at times.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: MacKinnon


9. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

It is a matter of time before Barkov wins the Selke Trophy. The 24-year-old was 10th in scoring last season after setting NHL career highs in goals (35), assists (61) and points (96).

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Barkov


10. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames

Giordano, who turns 36 on Oct. 3, won the Norris last season after leading the NHL with a plus-39 rating and scoring 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists), second behind Burns. He never had more than 56 points in an NHL season.

Video: Giordano claims the No. 23 spot on the Top 50 list

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