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Top Players

#NHLTopPlayers: Top 10 in Central Division

NHL.com writers make selections to highlight NHL Network weekly countdown

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL Network will air the third episode of "Top 50 NHL Players Right Now," a five-part series, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. ET. New episodes will air each Sunday through Sept. 29.

But before the network unveils 10 players on its list in each of the first four episodes, an NHL.com writer will reveal his or her top players in one of the four divisions the previous Friday. In the fifth week, NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika will reveal his top 10 players in the League. Today, NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers ranks her top 10 players in the Central Division.

 

[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers Right Now]

 

1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

It doesn't matter how many changes the Blackhawks make, or how many different linemates he has, Kane keeps producing. The forward, who turns 31 on Nov. 19, had an NHL career-high 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists) in 81 games last season, when his linemates included Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat, Artem Anisimov and Jonathan Toews. It was the second time Kane scored more than 100 points in the past four seasons -- he had 106 points in 2015-16, when he won the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player -- so there's no reason not to expect him to have another strong season.

Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Kane

 

2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon continues to improve his overall game and is a big reason the Avalanche have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons. Last season, MacKinnon led the Avalanche with an NHL career-high 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists) in 82 games as part of an outstanding top line with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, who will make an appearance later on this list. MacKinnon, who turned 24 on Sept. 1, is becoming the star the Avalanche had envisioned he would be when they selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: MacKinnon

 

3. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

The Jets had their ups and downs last season, but Wheeler didn't. Part of Winnipeg's top line with Mark Scheifele (who's also on this list) and Kyle Connor, Wheeler scored an NHL career-high 91 points (20 goals, 71 assists) for the second consecutive season. But Wheeler, who turned 33 on Aug. 31, has also been a durable presence for the Jets, playing in 409 of 410 regular-season games since the start of the 2013-14 season.

Video: BOS@WPG: Wheeler cleans up in front for opening tally

 

4. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

The Stars tied for the third-fewest goals in the NHL last season with 209, but Seguin's production remained steady as he led the Stars with 80 points (33 goals, 47 assists) in 82 games. Since the 27-year-old forward was acquired by Dallas in a trade from the Boston Bruins on July 4, 2013, he has been almost a point-per-game player, getting 464 points (206 goals, 258 assists) in 469 regular-season games.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm6: Seguin scores from slot on power play

 

5. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche

A restricted free agent, Rantanen continues be one of the most productive young players in the NHL. After he had 84 points (29 goals, 55 points) in 81 games in 2017-18, his second NHL season, Rantanen, who turns 23 on Oct. 29, had an NHL career-high 87 points (31 goals, 56 points) in 74 games last season.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Rantanen

 

6. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

Healthy last season after playing 60 games in 2017-18, Scheifele had an NHL career-high 84 points (38 goals, 46 assists) in 82 games. In the past three seasons, the 26-year-old forward had 226 points (93 goals, 133 assists) in 221 regular-season games and led the NHL in shooting percentage (19.2 percent) among players who played at least 175 games.

Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Scheifele

 

7. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

At the NHL Player Media Tour last week, Toews said, given his playing style, the short offseasons after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup (2010, 2013, 2015) and nagging injuries probably caught up with him. The 31-year-old forward had no lingering issues entering last season, when he had NHL career highs in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81) in 82 games, rebounding after he had 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 74 games in 2017-18, his fewest in a full NHL season.

Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Toews

 

8. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues

O'Reilly was coming off a frustrating season with the Buffalo Sabres when the St. Louis Blues acquired him in a trade on July 1, 2018. The 28-year-old forward rekindled his love of hockey in St. Louis, leading the Blues with 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists) in 82 regular-season games. He was voted the winner of the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs, when he had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 26 games to help the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: O'Reilly

 

9. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

It's tough to pick a player from the Predators, given how balanced their lineup is. But it's also hard to ignore Josi, who's been a staple of Nashville's defensemen since 2011. Last season, the 29-year-old had 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists), second on the Predators to forward Ryan Johansen (64 points), and was a big contributor on the power play with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists).

Video: Roman Josi claims the No. 8 spot on the list

 

10. Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars

Although he dealt with some injuries last season, when healthy, Bishop was great. The 32-year-old went 27-15-2, led the NHL with a 1.98 goals-against average and .934 save percentage among goalies to play at least 40 games, and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL. Bishop also had an NHL career-high seven shutouts, which ranked third in the NHL behind Sergei Bobrovsky (nine) and Marc-Andre Fleury (eight). Don't forget, he almost led the Stars to the Western Conference Final, making 52 saves on 54 shots in a 2-1 double-overtime loss to the Blues in Game 7 of the second round.

Video: Bishop claims the No. 33 spot on Top 50 Players list

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