by PuckStopsHere on 08/21/12 at 10:54 PM ET
I like to give a top 50 players list every summer. Originally this was compared to The Hockey News but they have discontinued the process. Here is last year’s list.
The question I ask to define the list is which 50 players would I most want on my team for a Stanley Cup playoff type tournament that begins at the start of the current NHL season. I am not exactly projecting for the entire NHL season as things will change in unpredictable ways between now and the end of a typical season. I am also somewhat guessing on the start date of the season due to a probable lockout. This makes me more forgiving of injured players who might not be ready to play in October. This list is not necessarily a representation of what has happened in the past - in that a top scorer from last year that I am not convinced will repeat things may be downgraded on this list.
Here is the top 50 player list with a brief comment for each player:
1. Sidney Crosby - He is back from concussion and should be ready to dominate the NHL.
2. Zdeno Chara - The best defenceman in hockey who has lead the NHL in adjusted Corsi for two years running. The fact he has only one Norris Trophy to date is criminal.
3. Alexander Ovechkin - He is extremely talented but hasn’t put up big numbers recently. I think a new season and a new coach should help turn that around.
4. Evgeni Malkin - Last year’s MVP might take a bit of a back seat to Crosby.
5. Steve Stamkos - If Tampa Bay turns themselves around he could be an MVP.
6. Shea Weber - Nashville keeps him on their roster, which keeps them a solid contender in the league.
7. Henrik Lundqvist - The reigning Vezina winner and most consistent top goalie in the game today.
8. Daniel Sedin - A top offensive player who benefits from his offensive zone starts.
9. Drew Doughty - A top defenceman who should be a Norris candidate for many years to come.
10. Henrik Sedin - The set-up man half of Vancouver’s skilled offensive duo.
11. Jonathan Quick - The top goalie in the combination of the 2011/12 season and playoffs. Can he have an encore?
12. Jonathan Toews - A talented two-way forward who is ready for a big offensive year.
13. Duncan Keith - One of the best defencemen in the game today.
14. Claude Giroux - Took a huge step forward last year and had a great but short playoff run.
15. Pavel Datsyuk - Another very good two-way forward.
16. Ilya Kovalchuk - One of the top offensive players in the game. He has settled in well in New Jersey.
17. Erik Karlsson - The top offensive defenceman of 2011/12.
18. Anze Kopitar - Another of the top two-way forwards in hockey today.
19. Pekka Rinne - The third man in the 2012 Vezina race.
20. Martin St Louis - The best small forward the league has seen in the past decade.
21. Kris Letang - If he played a full season at the level he showed last year he would be a Norris candidate.
22. Alex Pietrangelo - Narrowly missed out on a Norris Trophy nomination last year.
23. Henrik Zetterberg - The best “number two” two-way forward in the league.
24. John Tavares - Few have noticed how well he has done with questionable linemates on Long Island.
25. Ryan Suter - Minnesota’s new top defenceman.
26. Patrick Kane - His immaturity has him downgraded a bit, but he is clearly talented.
27. Ryan Getzlaf - Last year was not his best. I predict a big bounce back.
28. Zach Parise - The second half of Minnesota’s expensive summer.
29. Ryan Miller - A concussion derailed much of last season but he has a lot of ability.
30. Joe Thornton - A timeless superstar who remains a top player as he is into his 30s.
31. Mike Green - A top offensive defenceman who is ready to be healthy again.
32. Corey Perry - One year removed from an MVP. He was never the top player in the league.
33. Carey Price - A top goaltender who kept Montreal from total collapse last year.
34. Jason Spezza - His offensive skills made another big showing last year.
35. Patrice Bergeron - The best defensive forward in hockey today. He has some offensive skill too.
36. Nicklas Backstrom - Injury have held him back the last couple seasons.
37. Roberto Luongo - Hard to say what his future holds as he will likely be traded before his next game. He remains a top goaltender.
38. Eric Staal - The face of the Carolina Hurricanes for the last several years.
39. Marian Hossa - His injury has him downgraded a bit.
40. Cam Ward - A top goaltender who hasn’t seen much playoff time since his rookie year.
41. Rick Nash - It will be interesting to see how he responds to his release from Columbus to the Big Apple.
42. Ryan Kesler - Injury downgrades his ranking a bit. A top defensive forward.
43. Brent Seabrook - The stay-at-home half of Chicago’s top defensive pair.
44. Phil Kessel - Toronto’s top scorer had a fast start last season.
45. Jordan Eberle - The most developed of the Oilers young forward talent. I expect he will be joined on this list by some teammates in the years to come.
46. Mike Smith - The goals versus threshold leader probably won’t repeat at that level but he is a top goalie.
47. Brad Richards - Last year’s big acquisition in the Big Apple.
48. Alexander Semin - After an underwhelming year in Washington he joins Carolina. He is more talented than this ranking suggests.
49. Patrick Sharp - Chicago has the deepest group of frontline players. He is their sixth on the list.
50. Dan Boyle - A solid offensive defenceman who keeps on putting up good numbers into his 30s.
Last year’s list consisted of ten players who are not back this year. They are Tim Thomas (who is taking this year off), Nicklas Lidstrom (who retired), Tomas Vokoun (who is projected to be the penguins backup goalie - though he may steal the starting job), Brent Burns (who was less dominant in San Jose than I expected), Jarome Iginla (who is showing declining puck possession numbers), Jonas Hiller (who struggled with vertigo issues), Vincent LeCavalier (who is a few years removed from his last big offensive season), Lubomir Visnovsky (who is in decline and fighting about reporting the the Islanders), Marian Gaborik (who will miss the start of the year due to injury) and Ilya Bryzgalov (who had problems adjusting to Philadelphia). Naturally each of my rankings can be debated and solid cases can be made for several players who have been omitted. I am sure people will make some of them in the comments.
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