1a. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals – You can argue for either player, but for me Alex the Great is the best player in the world right now. He will fight you or he will skate around you, Alex will do what ever it takes to win the game. Plus the team around him is more talented with Backstrom, Green and Semin. All he needs is to raise the Cup and he will not quit working until he achieves that goal.
1b. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins – Ovechkin maybe the best player in the world but Sid the Kid has the trophies. He has won a Cup and an Olympic gold medal. Not bad for guy that is not even close to being in his prime. What makes Crosby even better is he comes to play in the big moments.
3. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks – Talented all around player who makes playing the game look very easy. The work he does with his brother Daniel is something to behold. So another 100 point season is not out of the question but rather expected.
4. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – The mot talented young goal scorer to come into the league since Brett Hull. So should anyone be surprised that last year Stamkos tied Crosby for goal scoring at 51 not if you watch him night and night out. Stamkos comes to play every night and that’s a rare sight in young players today.
5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals – Backstrom is scary good, his skill sets are just wrong. He does everything well and just for good measure put him on the same line with the best player in the world and he can go unnoticed on some shifts.
6. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks – Marleau has elevated his play the last couple of years and for some he is the best player on a very talented team. Marleau is going to get you 40 goals in his sleep.
7. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks – Scored the game winner for the Stanley Cup, was one of the best players on gritty American Team that lost on a late goal in the Olympics. Kane has the skill to be a 50 goal scorer and with Jonathan Toews they may be the best 1-2 punch in the NHL right now.
8. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins – Malkin can be the best player in the world if he wants to be, he has more raw speed and power then any player on the planet right now. He lead the league in scoring 2 years ago with 113 points and last year that dropped to 77 points in 67 games. So which guy shows up for the Penguins next year, the guy who lead the league or the guy from last year. That question will answer how the Pens season may end.
9. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks – Guys use playoff runs to catapult themselves into greatness, well we are going to see if Toews is the next in line to do that. He scored big goals and was the best player on the ice when the moment called for it. Toews will be the guy who makes the biggest jump this season. I expect him to go from 68 points last year to at least 90 points.
10. Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks – Heatley performs from game 1 to game 82 and into the playoffs. He is a very talented player on a talented team, he is going to get his again this year 40 goals and 80 points.
11. Brad Richards, Dallas Stars – Richards finally made his mark in Big D. Now that Mike Modano is out of Dallas you will see Brad Richards make this his team. He just makes people around him better. How many people knew who Loui Errikson was until 2 years ago when he was paired with Richards. Richards is going to give you at least 80 points and lead the Stars in scoring.
12. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks – What can you say about Daniel Sedin, he just produces. The puck always finds great players and then it does they have the sense to know exactly what to do with it. Daniel Sedin along with his brother Henrik may just be ready to take there production from personal gain to team gain this year.
13. Martin St Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos has Marty St Louis to thank for his season least year. St Louis again put together another great season but as a playmaker with 65 assists last season. St Louis realized what Stamkos brings to the team and changed his game to support the young superstar. So another 85 plus point season is expected once again for St Louis in 2010-2011.
14. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks – Ultimate playmaker not much more to say about Thornton. He is the smartest player in the NHL, you could compare him as the NHL’s version of Steve Nash. He makes everyone on his line All NHL and with Heatley and Marleau they are part one of the most talented clubs in the Western Conference.
15. Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers – Some people shrink in the spot light in New York but Gaborik thrived with the pressure. In his first year in the Big Apple Gaborik scored 42 goals. Expect the team around him to improve in year two of John Tortorella’s “safe is death” system.
16. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils – Talent-a-plenty with Kovalchuk, probably the best hands in the league. One of the best shots, scores goals seven days a week and twice on Sunday. As I type these rankings his contract situation is still up in the air but I expect him to back with the Devils. A talented team in Jersey will enable him to score in the 40’s once again and 50 is again possible.
17. Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes – The year the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup Staal was in the top 5 players in the NHL. He has all the talent to be in that position again, he has all the natural ability you can want in a center. Question for Staal is the talent around him is not a good as it was a few years ago. That being said 70 points is a solid year for Staal and with his ability that could easily climb to 100 depending on the talent in Raleigh.
18. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets – Its shame that Nash is not in Detroit or Chicago because he is a great goal scorer with any sort of talent around him he could lead the league in scoring every year but he is in Columbus. You probably expect a bottom third finish for the Blue Jackets again this year so the rest of country will fail to see the talent Nash can bring.
19. Anze Kopitar, LA Kings – The most talented player that no one knows about right now. Wonder how many people realized he scored 80 points last year. With another year under the belt of the talent in LA Kopitar could score even more this year.
20. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals – Good player who knows how to score goals. He is not one to play defense, he is just waiting for the puck to get back in the offensive zone.
21. Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings – Just like the talent in Hockey Town. He does it quietly night after night. You look at the stat sheet at the end of the night and he has 2 points. Is a plus player and helps the Wings win.
22. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks – Young player who burst on the scene last year, scoring big goals in the Olympics and then in the Stanley Cup playoffs. So this year expectations should have Pavelski reaching close to 35 goals this year.
23. Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils – Parise is a guy that leads by example, he plays every shift like its truly his last. He reminds some of the Martin St Louis in Tampa. The pucks finds its way to his stick and when it does its in the net. Another 30 + goals is a given. Parise has scored at least that amount the last 4 years.
24. Jeff Carter, Philadelphia Flyers – Lot of turmoil came out of Philly regarding Carter and Richards last year. Once that was put to bed Carter and Richards led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals. New year new pressure to repeat. Carter is more than talented enough for another 80 point season.
25. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames – Hard noised player and leader for this proud franchise. Jarome continues to play at a high level even if the talent around him is not up to his standards. He should still be able to find away to get 30 goals and close to 70 points.
26. Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators – Is there any more talented player in the last 5 years then Spezza. He just seems to just skate away a number of games every year by going thru the motions. Will he be motivated to show management that looking to move him was a bad idea by putting up 80 + points. I think it will be closer to the 65 points.
27. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks – Getzlaf missed a number games last year but he still pu up almost 70 points. So if he can stay healthy then 80 points is possible once again.
28. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings – Like Datysuk he is extremely talented but you would never know it from him. The Swede is just a pros pro, he comes to the rink every night to do what ever it takes to win. Is age catching up with Zetterberg and the drop off in production ready to follow if he starts to feel his age.
29. Marc Savard, Boston Bruins – An elite center who is a playmaker for the Bruins. If he can stay healthy he will lead Boston back to the top of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
30. Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks – Good goal scorer in So Cal with talented players around him in Getzlaf and Perry. Ryan will be a second or third line fantasy guy.
Best of the Rest
31. Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
32. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
33. Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators
34. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
35. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
36. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
37. Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning
38. Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche
39. Michael Cammalleri, Montreal Canadians
40. Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings
41. Chris Stewart, Colorado Avalanche
42. Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins
43. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
44. John Tavares, New York Islanders
45. Travis Zajac – New Jersey Devils
46. Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins
47. Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
48. Stephen Weiss, Florida Panthers
49. Simon Gagne, Tampa Bay Lightning
50. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche