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NHL Network Top 50 player countdown Nos. 1-10

Find out which player expert panel chose as best in League

NHL.com @NHL

As the dog days of summer wind down, NHL Network is getting you ready for this season by ranking the Top 50 players in the League. NHL Network researchers, producers and on-air personalities compiled the list, taking into account players coming back from injury, younger players expected to break out and veterans with a proven track record.

Check out Nos. 41-50 | Nos. 31-40 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 11-20

Here are the Top 10:

10. Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks

Pavelski, 32, got to show off his skills to a national audience during the Sharks' run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. The San Jose captain had 78 points (38 goals, 40 assists) in the regular season, his third straight with at least 70, and then went on a tear during the playoffs, when he had 23 points (14 goals, nine assists) in 24 games.

Pavelski scored at least 37 goals in each of the past three seasons. In 725 NHL games, all with the Sharks, he has 563 points (266 goals, 297 assists), third on San Jose's all-time list behind Patrick Marleau (1,036) and Joe Thornton (887). His 163 goals the past five seasons are third in the NHL behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (224) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (193).

Video: Top 50 Players Right Now: Recapping the List

9. Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks

Captain Serious has established himself as one of the best centers in the NHL. Though linemate Patrick Kane usually gets the spotlight in Chicago, Toews, 28, has plenty of star power himself. A three-time Stanley Cup champion, he has had at least 54 points in each of his eight full NHL seasons, including 65 or more five times.

In 645 NHL games, all with the Blackhawks, Toews has 564 points (251 goals, 313 assists), 10th on the Blackhawks' all-time scoring list. He has been just as proficient during the playoffs, with 108 points (39 goals, 69 assists) in 124 games. Toews also is an annual candidate for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward; he has a plus-187 rating in his NHL career and won the award in 2013.

8. Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens

Price, 29, is an elite goaltender who was sorely missed by the Canadiens last season, when he was limited to 12 starts because of a knee injury. That Price was missed wasn't surprising, considering he was coming off a career season in 2014-15, when he led the League in wins (career-high 44), save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (career-best 1.96) on the way to winning his first Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL. He also won the Hart Trophy (most valuable player), Jennings Trophy (goaltenders on team that allowed fewest goals) and Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted by NHL players).

With 233 career NHL wins, he ranks fourth on the Canadiens' all-time list, behind Jacques Plante (314), Patrick Roy (289) and Ken Dryden (258). Price also ranks fourth on Montreal's shutout list with 36, behind George Hainsworth (75), Plante (58) and Dryden (46). It's no wonder a healthy Price has Montreal fans dreaming about a reversal in fortune this season after missing the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

7. Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators

Scoring at a point-per-game pace is impressive enough for a forward. Doing it as a defenseman? Enter Karlsson, 26, who did it last season with 82 points (16 goals, League-high 66 assists) in 82 games. He ranked fifth in the NHL in scoring and led defensemen in scoring for a third straight season in 2015-16. He won his second Norris Trophy as the best defensemen in the League in 2014-15, when he had 66 points (21 goals, 45 assists).

Karlsson also is extremely durable, having not missed a game in the past three seasons. In 479 career NHL games over seven seasons, he has 385 points (100 goals, 285 assists), seventh on Ottawa's all-time scoring list.

Video: PIT@OTT: Karlsson nets unconventional milestone goal

6. Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings

Through his first seven seasons, Doughty, 26, had been a Stanley Cup champion and NHL All-Star, but he never had received the highest honor for a defenseman: the Norris Trophy. That changed last season, when he won the award after he had 51 points (14 goals, 37 assists) and a plus-24 rating, the best of his NHL career, in 82 games.

Doughty has been a steadying presence on defense for Los Angeles since he entered the League in 2008-09. He also has been durable, missing all of 16 games during his NHL career, just four over the past four seasons. Doughty's offensive skills tend to be overlooked, but with 318 points (80 goals, 238 assists) in 606 NHL games, he is the second-highest scoring defenseman in Kings history, behind Rob Blake (494).

5. Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals

Holtby, who turns 27 on Sept. 16, is the highest-ranked goaltender on this list after tying the NHL single-season record for wins (48), set by Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07, on the way to winning the Vezina Trophy for the first time. He helped the Capitals win the Presidents' Trophy with his .922 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average.

With 149 wins, Holtby is the second-winningest goaltender in Washington history, behind Olie Kolzig (301). As he enters the prime of his career, Holtby could one day take aim at Kolzig's record and help the Capitals win the Stanley Cup for the first time.

4. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars

Benn, 27, is part of an elite one-two punch on the Stars' top line with center Tyler Seguin. He was the NHL's second-leading scorer last season with an NHL career-high 89 points (41 goals, 48 assists), trailing only Kane (106). In 2014-15, Benn won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer with 87 points (35 goals, 52 assists). In the three seasons since Seguin's arrival in the summer of 2013, Benn has averaged more than a point per game; he has 255 points (110 goals, 145 assists) in 245 games.

Benn made a long-term commitment to the Stars when he signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension (average annual value $9.5 million) on July 15 that could keep him in a Dallas uniform through the 2024-25 season. It also will let Benn keep climbing up the Stars' all-time scoring list since the franchise moved to Dallas 23 years ago; with 448 points (192 goals, 256 assists), he ranks fifth. Another season like 2015-16 would move him into third place on that list, behind Mike Modano (1,050 points) and Sergei Zubov (549).

Video: DAL@MIN, Gm6: Ja. Benn roofs it at the end of the 2nd

3. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

Ovechkin, who turns 31 on Sept. 17, is the best pure goal-scorer of his generation. He also has always has had a flair for the dramatic; he reached 50 goals for a third straight season by getting a hat trick against the St. Louis Blues on April 9 in the Capitals' penultimate game. Ovechkin is the third player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season seven times, joining Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky, who each had nine 50-goal seasons.

Ovechkin, who has led the NHL in goals each of the past four seasons, is Washington's all-time scoring leader with 966 points (525 goals, 441 assists) in 839 NHL games over 11 seasons. He enters this season No. 33 on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list and has a chance to reach the top five before he retires if he remains healthy and productive.

2. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

Before he was taken with the No. 1 pick at the 2005 NHL Draft, Crosby already had been anointed as "The Next One," a reference to Wayne Gretzky's nickname of The Great One. Crosby, 29, has not disappointed. In his 11 NHL seasons, he's won two Stanley Cup championships, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2016, the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer twice, the Hart Trophy as League MVP twice and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by NHL players three times.

Last season, Crosby helped the Penguins go from out of a playoff position at midseason to the Stanley Cup. After a slow start, he finished with 85 points (36 goals, 49 assists) in 80 games during the regular season, and then had 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 24 playoff games. With 938 points (338 goals, 600 assists) in 707 games, Crosby ranks third on Pittsburgh's all-time scoring list behind franchise icons Mario Lemieux (1,723 points) and Jaromir Jagr (1,079). With the Penguins returning most of their deep, talented cast, there's a good chance Crosby and Co. can make a run at another Cup this season.

1. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

The best player in the League right now, according to NHL Network's expert panel, is Kane. He's the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner after he set NHL career highs with 46 goals, 60 assists and 106 points. That performance also earned the three-time Stanley Cup champion his first Hart Trophy as League MVP and first Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by NHL players.

Kane, 27, never has scored fewer than 64 points in a full NHL season since the Blackhawks made him the first pick in the 2007 draft. Entering his 10th season in the League, all with Chicago, he has averaged more than a point per game, with 663 (251 goals, 412 assists) in 658 games, and is sixth on the Blackhawks' all-time scoring list, behind Stan Mikita (1,467 points), Bobby Hull (1,153), Denis Savard (1.096), Steve Larmer (923) and Doug Wilson (779).

Video: CHI@STL, Gm5: Kane sends Hawks to win in double OT

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