Top 50 Players in the NHL

This special feature was written by two 10-year-old hockey fans and budding sports journalists, William Woodsworth and Aidan Glennie. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did…

Although we are all missing sports, it has been especially hard for kids deprived of social contact and craving an opportunity to play sports during a seemingly-endless pandemic lockdown.

While the NHL season was on hold because of COVID-19, we compiled a list of the top 50 players in the NHL right now. In celebration of the NHL’s return to the ice, Inside Hockey has given us the opportunity to share it with you here.

We ranked the players based upon a wide range of statistics, evaluating the players’ performance over the past 3-5 years. We ranked forwards based on goals, assists and points, while also looking at their Corsi number and other advanced stats. We ranked the defenseman based on DPS (defensive point shares), points, and the role they played in their team’s success. Lastly, we ranked the goalies based on save percentage, games played, and their team’s success.

#1: Connor McDavid EDM (C): He is 23 years old, and he has already won two Art Ross trophies and finished second in scoring twice… most amazing of all, he is still on the rise!

#2: Sidney Crosby PIT (C): One of the all time greats, he is an all-around All-Star: an elite defensive player, playmaker and goal scorer.

#3: Alex Ovechkin WAS (LW): The man who has the release that everyone in the league dreams of, “Alexander the Gr8” is the greatest goal scorer of his generation, and arguably the greatest ever.

#4: Nathan MacKinnon COL (C): In his last three years he has scored 289 points in 225 games, and at only 24 years old and coming off his best career points-per-game year, he has a very bright future.

#5: Leon Draisaitl EDM (C/LW): Coming off an Art Ross trophy and back-to-back 100-point seasons, the unstoppable German has 215 points in his last 153 games during the last two complete seasons.

#6: Nikita Kucherov TBL (RW): In every one of his last three years he has had 100 points-per 82 games,topping out with 128 points in 2018-19 the best since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.

#7: Evgeni Malkin PIT (C): Despite injuries, Malkin has persevered,and his 1,076 points rank among the all-time greats;still in prime, he is one of the greatest players of this era.

#8: Roman Josi NSH (D): Coming off a season where most likely he will win the Norris Trophy, Josi has cemented himself among the league’s elite players by a mix of great offense and shutdown defense.

#9: Brad Marchand BOS (LW): Dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season, Marchand has scored at a consistent 1.25 points-per-game clip, while delivering plenty of controversy and drama along the way. Marchand has consistently carried the offense for the Cup-contender Bruins.

#10: Patrick Kane CHI (RW): A top 100 NHL player, 3 time first team All-Star, second team All-Star, 3 time Stanley Cup champion, and winner of the Calder, Hart, Pearson/Lindsay, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe trophies, Kane has it all. After scoring 110 points in 2018-19 and then 84 in 70 games in 2019-20, Kane is at his best.

#11: David Pastrnak BOS (RW): The 23 year old phenom is coming off a career year in which many (including former 60-goal scorer Steven Stamkos) thought he would have reached 60 goals if not for COVID-19. Pastrnak won the Richard trophy and finished tied for third place in scoring with Artemi Panarin, at 95 points.

#12: Steven Stamkos TBL (C): If not for Ovechkin, Stamkos would be known as the best goal-scorer of the era, and despite battling through injuries, he still managed 29 goals and 66 points in 57 games this past year.

13: Victor Hedman TBL (D): One of the best defenseman of the era, the 3 time first or second team all-star and Norris winner is coming off 55 points in 66 games on a great Tampa Bay Lightning team.

14: Auston Matthews TOR (C): Matthews, 22, was one goal away from his first career Rocket Richard trophy this year, and with 80 points in 70 games, he is a superstar on the rise.

#15: Jonathan Huberdeau FLA (LW): One of the top passers in the league, Huberdeau had 92 points in 2018-19 and 78 points in 69 games this year.

#16: Andrei Vasilevsky TBL (G): Leading the league in wins the past 3 years in a row, Vasilevsky, who has a .919 career Save-Percentage, is an elite goaltender for a winning Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

#17: Jack Eichel BUF (C): The 23 year old Buffalo Sabres captain posted 78 points in 68 games in the COVID-19 shortened season, and looks to be one of the best players of the years to come.

#18: Patrice Bergeron BOS (C): A four time Selke winner, Bergeron has proven himself to be one of the greatest two-way players to lace up skates. Having averaged nearly a point-per-game this year, he is still in his prime at age 34.

19: Mitch Marner TOR (RW): Marner, a player who is currently climbing up the mountain, Marner is a top class passer for Toronto. In 2018-19 he had 94 points, and this year he was able to manage 67 points in a mere 59 games.

#20: John Carlson WAS (D): The top offensive defenseman this past year, Carlson had 75 points in 69 games this year, and in his last 231 games he has had 213 points.

#21: Brent Burns SJS (D): In Burns’s last 398 games he has a fantastic 346 points. At 35, the former Norris winner is still in the middle of his prime.

#22: Artemi Panarin NYR (LW): Panarin, who erupted this year with an incredible 32 goals and 95 points in only 69 games, is a fantastic passer, finishing tied with McDavid for second in assists behind only Art Ross trophy winner Draisaitl.

#23: Cale Makar COL (D): Makar will almost certainly win the Calder Trophy in a year in which he stunned the hockey world by posting an astonishing 50 points in a minuscule 57 games as a defenseman, after having six points in 10 games for the Avalanche during the 2018-19 playoffs.

#24: Blake Wheeler WPG (RW): Wheeler’s magnificent passing gets him the 24th spot on this list, putting up 182 assists in the past three years as the backbone and leader of a great Winnipeg team.

#25: Anze Kopitar LAK (C): Kopitar, a two time Selke trophy winner and superstar of a LA Kings team who won 2 Stanley Cups in 3 years, is closing in on his 1000th point as one of the best all-around players on earth.

#26: Sebastian Aho CAR (F): The skilled Finn finished sixth in goals this year and 20th in points as the perfect symbol of a skilled and young Carolina team.

#27: Elias Pettersson VAN (C): The former Calder trophy winner, Pettersson avoided the sophomore jinx by erupting this year to tie for 20th in scoring with 66 points in 68 games while leading an up and coming Vancouver team.

#28: Mark Stone VGK (RW): One of the front runners for the Selke this year, Stone, while being one of the best defensive players, managed 63 points in 65 games on a defense minded Vegas team this year.

#29: Mark Schiefele WPG (C): In Scheifele’s last 4 years he has stayed above a point per game average in every one of them, and while being an unstoppable force, he motored a rebuilding Winnipeg team into a perennial postseason team.

#30: Aleksander Barkov FLA (C): Barkov, who scored 96 points in 2018-19, is one of the best defensive forwards in the league while putting up big numbers on the Panthers, who seem to be getting better every year.

#31: Mikko Rantanen COL (RW): Over the past three years Rantanen has played 197 games and scored 212 points as Mackinnon’s top winger. Still only 23 years old, he has all the talent in the world to guide him for the rest of his career.

#32: Ben Bishop DAL (G): The man with a .921 career save-percentage, Bishop of the Dallas Stars is one of the world’s top goalies and saving .927 total in the past 2 years Bishop is at his very best. The one reason to put him at only 34th is because of recurring injuries.

#33: Erik Karlsson SJS (D): The best point producing defenseman of the past decade, Karlsson is a terrific passer, and even though he was better in Ottawa, he is still a superstar of the league.

#34: Mika Zibanejad NYR (C): Zibanejad exploded this year with an insane 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games, including the first five goal game in over a year.

#35: Alex Pietrangelo STL (D): The captain of the Stanley Cup-defending Blues, Pietrangelo experienced a career year this year with 52 points in 70 games while leading the Blues to second place in the league.

#36: Brayden Point TBL (C): Point, 23 years old, had 92 points and finished top 10 in Selke voting in 2018-19. After his breakout year, he hasn’t looked back, accumulating 64 points in 66 games this year as the second line center on a dominant Tampa Bay Lightning team.

#37: Tuukka Rask BOS (G): Rask, a Vezina trophy finalist, has an unbelievable .922 save-percentage for his career, ranking third all time. However, at 33 he is leaving his prime and played all of his career in a goalie friendly era.

#38: Mark Giordano CGY (D): Even though this year was a little shaky, Giordano is still only one year removed from winning the Norris, and in his last 508 games, he has 333 points.

#39: John Tavares TOR (C): In his past 3 years, Tavares has played 227 games and scored 232 points. His 47 goals in 2018-19 put him in third place league wide behind only Ovechkin and Draisaitl.

#40: Tomas Tatar MTL (LW): With a 61.2 CORSI, Tatar is one of the games best two-way players, while still managing an impressive 61 points in 68 games.

#41: Seth Jones CBJ (D): One of the best defensemen in the world, Jones has 195 points in 325 games since arriving in Columbus, and he has transformed himself into one of the top all around defenseman on earth alongside Zach Werenski.

#42: Zach Werenski CBJ (D): This 22 year old defenseman has 169 points already in his 300 career games, and with Seth Jones, he is the offensive threat on arguably the best defensive duo.

#43: Sean Couturier PHI (C): With a 57.2 CORSI, Couturier is the clear frontrunner for Selke this year, but while being extremely defensive-minded he was able to amass 59 points in 69 games.

#44: Brendan Gallagher MTL (RW): In 2017-18 and 2018-19 Gallagher topped 30 goals and he was on pace for it again before his concussion, but still, he tied with his own teammate Tatar for the league-wide CORSI-REL and finished 2nd in CORSI.

#45: Jacob Slavin CAR (D): This past year Slavin led the entire NHL in defensive point shares while posting an impressive 36 points in 68 games. Slavin is the backbone of the Carolina defense while only in his fifth NHL season he looks like he will be exactly that for years to come.

#46: Quinn Hughes VAN (D): As a rookie defenseman in Vancouver, Hughes blew away the hockey world this year by posting an astonishing 53 points in 68 games while single-handedly driving plays.

#47: Miro Heiskanen DAL (D): Heiskanen, who finished 4th in Calder voting in 2018-19, is one of the best all-around defensemen in the league. While finishing 2nd in defensive point-shares this past year, he still managed 35 points in 68 games and has the young talent that the Dallas Stars need.

#48: Tory Krug BOS (D): In his last five years he has played 363 games and scored 256 points, while being the best offensive defenseman on an amazing Bruins team. He also had an incredible 56 CORSI.

#49: Mathew Barzal NYI (C): As the fastest skater in the NHL and a former Calder Trophy winner, Barzal has the young talent that the Islanders are relying on, scoring 60 points in 68 games this year.

#50: Connor Hellebuyck WPG (G): The man who will probably win the Vezina trophy, Hellebuyck made up for the Jets destroyed defense with 6 shutouts, 1556 saves, earning himself a .922 save-percentage which helped him to finish third in league-wide point-shares. Hellebuyck probably has the most promise of NHL goalies with experience.

Just Missed the Cut

    • Max Pacioretty VGK (LW)
    • Ryan O’Reilly COL (C)
    • Vladimir Tarasenko STL (RW)
    • Ryan Suter MIN (D)
    • Kyle Connor WPG (LW)
    • Travis Konecny PHI (C)
    • Claude Giroux PHI (C/LW)
    • Carey Price MTL (G)
    • Johnny Gaudreau CGI (LW)
    • Andrei Svechnikov CAR (RW)