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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 10-1

NHL Network reveals best of current crop

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

Top 50 Players Right Now

NHL Network lists the Top 50 Players Right Now

NHL Network counts down the top 50 players in the League #NHLTopPlayers

  • 02:48 •

NHL Network is getting ready for the season by ranking the top 50 players in the League. Researchers, producers and on-air personalities compiled the list, and players 10-1 were revealed Sunday in the fifth of a five-part countdown. Here is the list:

 

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

 

10. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

Hedman had 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists), including 25 on the power play, and was plus-24 in 70 games last season. His 189 points (45 goals, 144 assists) were second among NHL defensemen the past three seasons, trailing only Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks (226), and his 17 goals tied Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dougie Hamilton of the Calgary Flames for the lead among defensemen in 2017-18. The 28-year-old has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy in each of the past three seasons and won the award in 2017-18.

"I'm only counting on three or four defensemen in the League that are called upon to be the best defensive defenseman on their team and called upon to lead the offensive charge from the blue line," NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp said. "Victor Hedman is one of those and he's the best at it. ... His numbers will never wow you, but the fact that he can get those numbers while still being that lockdown defenseman speaks volumes to me, because not many guys can do that."

Video: Hedman earns the No. 10 spot on the Top 50 list

 

9. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks

For the second time in three seasons, Burns led NHL defensemen in scoring. His 83 points (16 goals, 67 assists) were an NHL career high. He also led NHL defensemen with six game-winning goals, and his seven power-play goals were tied for first with Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers. The 34-year-old has scored at least 60 points in each of the past five seasons. He has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy as best defenseman in the NHL three of the past four seasons and was voted the winner of the award in 2016-17. Burns has 50 points (15 goals, 35 assists) in 60 Stanley Cup Playoff games since 2015-16 to lead defensemen during that span.

"[Burns] will absorb a lot more risk in his game and as such, there will be times when things go blatantly wrong. But the thing I love about him, is it doesn't bother him a bit," NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton said. "When you add it all up, you've just got this dynamic unique player ... that's crazy to me that a guy's in the top 10 that played forward less than five seasons in this League."

Video: Burns lands at No. 9 on the Top 50 Players list

 

8. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

The 24-year-old set NHL career highs last season in goals (35), assists (61) and points (96). The points were 10th in the NHL and the most in a season in Panthers history. Barkov had an NHL career-high 31 power-play points, scored five game-winning goals and won 53.7 percent of face-offs. He won the Lady Byng Trophy voted as the most gentlemanly player in the NHL (four minor penalties all season) and finished fifth in voting for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL. Barkov's 100 takeaways ranked second in the NHL behind forward Mark Stone, who had 122 for the Ottawa Senators and Vegas Golden Knights. 

"That's incredible what he was able to accomplish," Lawton said. "... there's really not much this guy can't do. Of course he did win the Lady Byng. ...It's the skill level and the size (6-foot-3, 213 pounds) that goes with it that I like. ... There's not much this guy can't do and I'll tell you right now, I'll be shocked if he doesn't press the 100-point mark multiple times in his career."

Video: Barkov takes No. 8 on the list of the Top 50 Players

 

7. Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

The 31-year-old is coming off an NHL career-high 100 points (36 goals, 64 assists), including 34 (10 goals, 24 assists) on the power play. His nine game-winning goals included three in overtime and were tied with Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog for second in the NHL, behind Phil Kessel, who scored 10 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Marchand had 85 points in each of the previous two seasons and has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past four. He helped the Bruins advance to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and tied St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly for the lead in playoff scoring with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 24 games.

"He competes, he's an Energizer bunny, he never stops, and he's got some real underrated skill," Rupp said. "He's exactly where he should be on this list. His name should be mentioned with these names that you're seeing right here. He can play the game of hockey at a very high level."

Video: Marchand checks in at No. 7 on the Top 50 Players

 

6. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

Ovechkin scored 51 goals last season to lead the NHL for a record eighth time. It was the eighth season he scored at least 50 goals, trailing Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy (nine times each) for most in NHL history. The 34-year-old had 89 points, the most he's had since finishing tied for second in the NHL with 109 in 2009-10. Ovechkin, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup Playoff MVP in 2018 after helping the Capitals win the Cup for the first time, is 13th in NHL history with 658 goals.

"He's 236 goals away from breaking Wayne Gretzky's all-time mark (894) and last year it didn't do anything to say I'm not going to do it," Lawton said. "Loves the game, plays with as much passion as an 18-year-old player in the League. I don't see any way how he doesn't do it."

Video: Ovechkin claims No. 6 on the Top 50 Players list

 

5. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

A finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award last season, Kane was third in the NHL with a career-high 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists). The 30-year-old has 381 points, the most in the NHL the past four seasons, and his 151 goals in that span are second to Ovechkin's 183. He has topped 100 points twice in the past four seasons (106 in 2015-16) and has scored at least 21 goals in each of his 12 NHL seasons.

"He's the triple threat now," Rupp said. "He's got the vision, the passing, the shooting and he slows the game down. ... Patty Kane is so fun to watch, he ain't slowing down. He's going to keep this thing going. He's already got three Stanley Cups."

Video: Kane occupies No. 5 on the Top 50 Players Right Now

 

4. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

After he had 97 points and was runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 2017-18, MacKinnon showed that was no fluke last season, setting NHL career highs in goals (41; tied for sixth in NHL), points (99; tied for seventh) and power-play points (37; fourth). He has increased his points each of the past four seasons. The 24-year-old helped Colorado advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008, with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 12 postseason games.

"When you look at him, he's just absolutely shot up the charts" Rupp said. "He is a force, an absolute force, can take over hockey games now and you have to give him a ton of credit for putting the work in."

Video: MacKinnon lands at No. 4 on the Top 50 Players list

 

3. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby had 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) last season, tied for fifth in the NHL with Marchand. It was the sixth straight season Crosby has had at least 84 points, and he leads the NHL with 551 points (208 goals, 343 assists) since the start of the 2013-14 season. The 32-year-old won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2016 (19 points) and 2017 (27 points), when he helped the Penguins win the Cup in back-to-back seasons. His 104 points in the playoffs since 2011-12 lead the NHL.

"It's incredible what he's doing," Rupp said. "He's still getting it done. The thing I love about him most is the way he's developed his game on the defensive side of the puck. He is the most complete player ... He for me is the most complete forward in the National Hockey League."

Video: Crosby earns the No. 3 spot on the Top 50 Players

 

2. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

After leading the NHL with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) last season, the most since Penguins forwards Mario Lemieux had 161 and Jaromir Jagr had 149 in 1995-96, Kucherov won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player in a vote by the NHL Players' Association. The 26-year-old increased his points for a fifth straight season and has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past four. He led the NHL in power-play points (48) and was tied for fifth in game-winning goals (eight). Kucherov's 379 points the past four seasons are second in the NHL.

"This is a guy that's just delivered so big offensively," Lawton said. "He's got a lot of weapons around him, there's no doubt about it but he is the straw that stirs the drink down in Tampa. The hockey IQ, the ability to score goals, the ability to transition the puck ... there's not much that Kucherov doesn't do."

Video: Kucherov checks in at No. 2 on the Top 50 list

 

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

For the third straight season, McDavid tops the list. The 22-year-old finished second in the NHL with 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists), behind Kucherov, and had at least one point in 66 of his 78 games for the Oilers. McDavid finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last season after winning the award for the 2016-17 season. A two-time Ted Lindsay Award winner (most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players' Association), McDavid has reached 100 points in each of the past three seasons. Despite missing 37 games with an injury as a rookie in 2015-16, McDavid ranks third in the NHL in points during his four seasons in the League with 372, behind Kane (381) and Kucherov (379).

"He's been so dominant, obviously it wasn't a great season for the Edmonton Oilers last year; didn't matter. This guy's a human highlight film" Lawton said. "He can do it all ... There may be some other guys that say, 'I could beat him in a race,' Maybe, but not do the things he does at such a high level of speed. There's nobody that can do the things he can do at that rate."

Video: McDavid claims the top spot on the Top 50 Players

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