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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 50-41

NHL Network reveals best of current crop

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

Top 50 Players: 50-41 Recap

Breaking down the Top 50 Players list, 50-41

NHL Network starts its list of the Top 50 Players, ranging from 50-41 in the League right now #NHLTopPlayers

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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 50-41 were revealed Sunday in the first of a five-part countdown. Here is the list:

 

[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers Right Now | Top 20 Centers | Top 20 Wings | Top 20 Defensemen | Top 10 Goalies]

 

50. Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks

Voted the winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year last season, Pettersson led rookies in goals (28), assists (38), points (66), and power-play goals (10) and points (22). The 20-year-old had a shooting percentage of 19.4 percent and had two five-point games, becoming the sixth NHL rookie to do that in one season since 1967-68.

"We know about his playmaking, his vision, his capability of creating offense," NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp said. "The thing that shocked me in Year One [was] his shooting ability. He knows how to make these new, modern-day sticks work for you. Listen, the guy is [176 pounds], he shouldn't be able to shoot with that kind of torque, but he does. I just think that the sky's the limit because he's going to get stronger."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Pettersson

 

49. Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames

Monahan set NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (48), points (82), power-play goals (12) and points (23), and shots on goal (211) last season. He scored at least 27 goals in each of the past five seasons after he had 22 as a rookie in 2013-14. Monahan, who turns 25 on Oct. 12, had seven games with at least three points last season, including four with at least four points.

"He's a guy that's only going to get better," NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton said. "I think in future years we'll hear talk about this guy being a potential Selke candidate (award for best defensive forward in NHL) because he's got that kind of game to him. He's strong, he's mobile, he's tough in the circle, this guy can do it all in my opinion. His star is only going to rise over time."

Video: Pettersson, Monahan kick off Top 50 Players Right Now

 

48. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals

One of the elite passers in the NHL, Backstrom had 52 assists last season, the sixth straight he had at least 50 assists and 70 points. Backstrom has missed 10 games since the start of the 2013-14 season and averaged 32.2 power-play points per season in that span. The 31-year-old had 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 20 games in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help Washington win the Cup for the first time.

"He's got [Alex] Ovechkin, and we know about Ovi, he's probably going to go down as the best goal-scorer of all time, and you've got the guy who has set up probably about 70 percent of his goals," Rupp said. "So it's incredible. Tricky Nicky, that's exactly what he is because you don't know what he's going to do, you don't know where he's looking because guess what, he ain't passing where he's looking. He's so tricky with that puck. You can't get a read on the guy."

 

47. Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks

Couture led the NHL with 14 goals in the 2019 playoffs after he scored 27 and had an NHL career-high 70 points during the regular season. He plays in all situations and had 18 power-play points and two shorthanded goals last season. The 30-year-old has scored more than 20 goals eight times and more than 30 three times in 10 NHL seasons, and his 65 points (30 goals, 35 assists) in the playoffs since 2015-16 are second in the NHL behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby's 68.

"What's really impressive, at 29 last season to see him set career highs in assists and points with 43 and 70, you just have to say wow," Lawton said. "The fact of the matter is his game is so well rounded … he can do virtually everything. … He's a guy that I just think is absolutely like fine wine, he's getting better with age."

Video: Backstrom named No. 48, Couture comes in at No. 47

 

46. Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

Letang tied his NHL career high with 16 goals (2015-16) and had 56 points last season. It was the fourth time in the past five seasons he had at least 51 points, including an NHL career-high 67 in 2015-16, and his 262 points in the same span are sixth among NHL defensemen. A three-time Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh (2009, 2016, 2017), the 32-year-old has 80 points (21 goals, 59 assists) in 132 playoff games, second among defensemen since he entered the NHL in 2006-07, one fewer than Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"He can just do it all. And all of this goes around his skating ability," Rupp said. "… Not too many defensemen in this league are asked to be the best offensive guy and the best defensive guy on the team. He gets the hardest matchups, him and his D partner, Brian Dumoulin."

 

45. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights

In two seasons in Vegas, Fleury is 64-34-9 with a 2.40 GAA, a .919 save percentage and 12 shutouts in 107 regular-season games, and 16-11 with a 2.37 GAA, a .922 save percentage and five shutouts in 27 playoff games. He helped the Golden Knights to consecutive playoff appearances in each of their first two seasons, including a trip to the Cup Final in 2018. The 34-year-old, who won the Stanley Cup three times with the Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017), is second in the NHL in wins (439) and shutouts (56) among active goalies behind Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (449 wins, 63 shutouts).

"I thought the great run of goaltending that Marc-Andre Fleury had provided for the Pittsburgh Penguins might come to an end when he ended up on the Vegas Golden Knights," Lawton said. "But the fact of the matter is, he not only picked up where he was by his own standards, he raised it another level. He was a difference-maker, he welcomed the challenge of maybe facing a little bit different quality of shots. … He looks like his old self, way past what I thought he'd be able to do in this league. It's been impressive."

Video: Letang, Fleury take No. 46 and No. 45 on Top 50 list

 

44. Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins

Rask was 27-13-5 with a 2.48 GAA, a .912 save percentage and four shutouts last season, when he became the Bruins' all-time leader in wins (265), passing Tiny Thompson (252). His 199 victories over the past six seasons were second in the NHL behind Braden Holtby of the Capitals (220), and he was the only goalie who had at least 30 wins each of the five seasons from 2013-18. The 32-year-old helped Boston advance to the Cup Final last season and was a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate as playoff MVP after going 15-9 with a 2.02 GAA, a .934 save percentage and two shutouts in 24 playoff games.

"He answered the bell last year," Lawton said. "… I know the Bruins didn't end up where they wanted to be … (but) he was awesome in the playoffs. He led them. He gave them everything they needed to succeed. … He silenced a lot of critics in Boston with how great he played."

 

43. Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens

Price went 35-24-6 with a 2.49 GAA, a .918 save percentage and four shutouts last season, when he became the Canadiens' all-time leader in wins (321), passing Jacques Plante (314). It was the fourth time in the past six seasons that Price had at least 34 wins. The 32-year-old has been one of the most consistent goalies since entering the NHL in 2007-08, and he was voted the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL and the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 2014-15, when he led the NHL in wins (44), GAA (1.96) and save percentage (.933).

"He's the guy, he's the bar," Rupp said. "We always talk about goaltenders, we compare them to Carey Price. The sound goaltending, the positioning, you never see him getting out of position. He doesn't have to make drastic saves. Why? Because he's never out of control. He's very under control, he's very poised, very calm, never gets rattled."

Video: Rask, Price earn No. 44 and No. 43 on Top 50 Players

 

42. Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres

Eichel had the most goals (28), assists (54) and points (82) of his NHL career last season, and he has scored at least 24 goals in each of his four NHL seasons. Eichel, who turns 23 on Oct. 28, also had NHL career highs in power-play points (26), shots on goal (303) and face-off winning percentage (47.01 percent), and had 27 multipoint games.

"The fact of the matter is he can turn it up a notch with his skating," Lawton said. "He is an excellent skater, so smooth, so deceptive. … When it's all said and done, Jack Eichel's going to be one of the elite, and I mean top-five centers, in the National Hockey League. He's still a work in progress, but he absolutely deserves to be right where he is at 42."

Video: Jack Eichel takes No. 42 on the list

 

41. Taylor Hall, LW, New Jersey Devils

The 27-year-old won the Hart Trophy in 2017-18, when he set NHL career highs in goals (39), assists (54), points (93) and rating (plus-14) to help the Devils qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12. He also tied his NHL best with seven game-winning goals (2011-12 with Edmonton Oilers). Though he was limited to 33 games last season because of a left knee injury that required surgery, Hall averaged more than a point per game when on the ice (37 points; 11 goals, 26 assists).

"The biggest thing is him being healthy," Rupp said. "[With] him healthy, he's going to dominate, he's a huge piece. I think this is very fair to have him on this list where he's at. He didn't really play this year, he was injured. That's still a very accurate thing, he's still a heck of a player, and in a full season, I'm expecting him to be much higher on this list next year."

Video: Hall lands at No. 41 on the Top 50 Players list

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