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#NHLTopPlayers: Top 10 in League

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

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

NHL Network will air the fifth and final episode of "Top 50 NHL Players Right Now" on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. ET.

Before the network unveiled 10 players in each previous episode, an NHL.com writer revealed his or her top players in one of the four divisions. Today, NHL.com Columnist Nick Cotsonika ranks his top 10 players in the League.

 

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

 

1. Connor McDavid, F, Edmonton Oilers

McDavid is so good that he has taken the title of "best player in the world" from Sidney Crosby with little to no argument. Each of the past two seasons, he has led the NHL in scoring and been voted the most outstanding player in the NHL by his peers. Not only is he crazy fast, he makes plays at that speed. The scary part: He's 21 and has room to improve. After producing 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) in 2016-17 and 108 points (41 goals, 67 assists) last season, he wants to score more.

Video: Connor McDavid lands at No. 1 on the list

 

2. Sidney Crosby, F, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby has won almost everything there is to win. Multiple times, too. And he could have won more if not for injuries. After an epic run from 2012-13 through 2016-17 -- in which he won a slew of individual honors, while the Penguins won the Stanley Cup twice and Team Canada won the World Cup of Hockey -- he was below average by his standards last season. The Penguins lost to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Second Round. But look out. That means he had a relatively long offseason to rest and train. At 31, he is as driven as ever.

Video: Sidney Crosby is named No. 2 on the list

 

3. Alex Ovechkin, F, Washington Capitals

Finally, Ovechkin won the Stanley Cup last season. Finally, he seems to be appreciated for what he is: the greatest goal-scorer of his generation and the heartbeat of the Capitals. Since Ovechkin entered the NHL in 2005-06, he has 607 goals. No one else has more than 411. He has scored 0.61 goals per game, sixth in NHL history and by far the best of this era. He has led the NHL in goals seven times, including five times in the past six seasons. Everyone knows he fires one-timers from the left circle on the power play, and still goaltenders struggle to stop him.

Video: Alex Ovechkin is named No. 2 on the list

 

4. Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings

Doughty won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 2016 and has been a finalist four times, including three times in the past four years. He hasn't won it more often because he doesn't put up the gaudiest offensive numbers in the Kings' system, but he's the most complete defenseman in the NHL and coming off an NHL career-high 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists). He logs tons of ice time in all situations against top competition. His average of 26:50 last season led NHL skaters.

Video: Drew Doughty is named No. 2 on the list

 

5. Evgeni Malkin, F, Pittsburgh Penguins

Who led the Penguins in scoring last season with 98 points, fourth in the NHL? Who led them in goals with 42, fifth in the League? It wasn't Crosby. It was their other superstar center: Malkin. Too often we fail to appreciate how great Malkin really is. Malkin (1.186) is second to Crosby (1.292) in points per game among active players and 13th in NHL history. He too has won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's scoring champion, the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: Evgeni Malkin comes in at No. 3 on the list

 

6. Nikita Kucherov, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

Consider how McDavid vaulted himself to the top the past two seasons. Now consider Kucherov (1.20) is third in points per game in that span, behind McDavid (1.27) and Malkin (1.21).

Video: Nikita Kucherov lands at No. 1 on the list

 

7. Erik Karlsson, D, San Jose Sharks

Two-time Norris winner. Two-time runner-up. Best offensive defenseman in the NHL. Since entering the League in 2009-10, Karlsson has 518 points. No other defenseman has more than 449.

Video: Johnson and Parrish analyze the Karlsson trade

 

8. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

The reigning Norris winner uses all his tools -- 6-foot-6 size, fluid skating, small man's skill -- all over the ice by smothering opponents and jumping into the rush.

Video: Victor Hedman lands at No. 1 on the list

 

9. Anze Kopitar, F, Los Angeles Kings

Led NHL forwards in average ice time last season at 22:05. Tied for seventh in scoring with 92 points (35 goals, 57 assists). Won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward for the second time in three years. Does it all.

Video: Anze Kopitar is named No. 14 on the list

 

10. Taylor Hall, F, New Jersey Devils

The reigning Hart winner had 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists), 41 more than any of his teammates, the largest margin of any team's leading scorer in the NHL, even though he tore ligaments in his left hand Dec. 23 and had surgery April 30.

Video: Taylor Hall comes in at No. 3 on the list

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