by PuckStopsHere on 08/19/10 at 09:25 PM ET
Now that I am essentially finished with this summer’s look at Corsi numbers, before I move onto some other sabermetric problems I would like to present my top 50 players. This is something done by the Hockey News annually. My list will differ from the Hockey News list and I will try to justify my selections especially when they significantly differ from those of THN.
When I rank the top 50 players, I ask myself which fifty players would I most want on my team going into the upcoming season. I am not sure that is the same question asked by THN. They do not specify exactly how they come up with their list and a different selection procedure might explain some discrepancies.
1. Alexander Ovechkin - The most logical reason that THN rates Crosby number one is that he is a Canadian and Ovechkin is an “evil foreigner”. Ovechkin has been MVP more recently and came closer to MVP this year than Crosby (in fact he should have won).
2. Sidney Crosby - The second best player in the world benefits from his nationality and a Stanley Cup his team won to be number one on the THN list.
3. Duncan Keith - I think most people do not realize just how good his 2009/10 season was. He looks like the best defenceman of the next several years to come.
4. Tomas Vokoun - He has consistently been the best goaltender in the NHL since the lockout. THN didn’t even rank him on their list. He has been hidden in Florida and been unable to get much playoff time in his career. He is frequently overlooked in Vezina votes. I think we may finally see a change to that when Vokoun probably leaves Florida as an unrestricted free agent next summer, if not before that in a trade.
5. Steve Stamkos - His breakthrough sophomore year rocketed him to tenth on the THN list. I think he is an even better pick than that. Stamkos has a very real chance of joining Ovechkin and Crosby atop the rankings in the years to come.
6. Zdeno Chara - One year removed from a Norris Trophy, THN had him at 37. That seems ridiculously low to me. I think he could have future Norris Trophies in him.
7. Roberto Luongo - He hasn’t made the jump to become the best goalie in the league as most would have predicted him to in 2007 or 2008. He gets a lot of blame for the Canucks failure to have a deep playoff run despite being a gold medal winning goalie in the Olympics. He is a very good bet to win or at least be a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy this year and in the years to come.
8. Nicklas Lidstrom - He has been downgraded on this list for a few years due to advancing age. At age 40, THN lists him at 17. He has consistently outpaced the expectation of his slowdown with age and likely will do so again.
9. Henrik Sedin - He may be MVP, but there is no strong argument that he will do so again. I wouldn’t bet on him to be a Hart Trophy nominee again, but he is a very good player.
10. Drew Doughty - He and Stamkos made huge improvements this past season. I pick both a few positions above where THN picks them. I think they are a bit slow to recognize young talents who are making rapid ascents.
11. Nicklas Backstrom - The best “second best forward” on his team in the NHL.
12. Evgeni Malkin - Most people do not realize how soft an offensive role he filled when he won the Art Ross in 2009. Nevertheless he is a very good player, but not consistent Art Ross material.
13. Jonathan Toews - A Conn Smythe rocketed him up to number five on the THN list. Despite his NHL accomplishments, I think some forget that he is yet to have a point per game regular season in his career, though it is a good guess that he will do that easily this year.
14. Ryan Miller - THN lists him at number three. That is too high given the well-established level before this past season’s Vezina Trophy and strong Olympic performance. He is a good goalie, but I do not see him as the NHL’s best.
15. Chris Pronger - The concern might be a minor off-season knee surgery, but it is likely nothing to fret about.
16. Daniel Sedin - A top point per game scorer this year, but he missed some time due to injury. It is clear that Henrik Sedin deserves a higher rank due to his Hart and Art Ross Trophies, but it is debatable just how much lower he should be. I drop both Sedins a bit further than THN.
17. Mike Green - The best offensive defenceman in hockey. His defence is not nearly as poor as many caricature it to be, but it is the weakest of the defencemen ranked so far. Nevertheless, his offence is enough that he could be the top defenceman in the league in win shares at some point.
18. Martin St Louis - Often overlooked because he plays in a weak market, but THN doesn’t make this mistake ranking him at 13th, which may be a bit high.
19. Dany Heatley - One of the best goal scorers in the NHL. He is a player who might take a run at the Richard Trophy. I think THN drops him a bit in their ranking due to San Jose’s perceived playoff failure and the unceremonious way he left Ottawa.
20. Ryan Getzlaf - A very good offensive player in a market that has been overlooked since they fell out of the playoff race. Getzlaf is a little better than the 29th he gets on the THN list.
21. Henrik Lundqvist - He has been the driving force behind the Rangers for several years. I think the team’s playoff miss dropped his ranking to 40th, which is unreasonably low.
22. Shea Weber - A very good young defenceman who is better than many realize since he plays in Nashville, which isn’t exactly the centre of the hockey media.
23. Eric Staal - He hasn’t replicated his 100 point season of 2005/06, but he is a far better defensive player than he was in those days.
24. Pavel Datsyuk - He is a very good two-way player, who was a Hart Trophy nominee as recently as 2009 but he took a big step backward this season and I am not confident that he will bounce back to previous levels now that he is into his 30s. THN disagrees and gives him the number four spot.
25. Zach Parise - The top player on the Devils, but i think his position as top scoring American player in the league makes him a bit overrated. THN has him at 15.
26. Ilya Kovalchuk - I feel more obliged to comment on his recently declined contract than his ranking. I hope he remains in the NHL next year. Given his contract uncertainty, the KHL does remain as a possibility.
27. Henrik Zetterberg - Another very talented Red Wing forward. Most likely he will outscore Datsyuk, but may not be quite as valuable.
28. Patrick Kane - A Stanley Cup goes a long way to raise a player’s ranking on the THN list. They rank Kane at 12th place. Kane was used in an offensive role with little defensive responsibility in 2009/10 and that counts against him a bit in my book.
29. Dan Boyle - To some degree he is Mike Green - lite. His main skill is offence, but he cannot score on the level Green can. His defence is not at the level of his offence, but it is above Green’s level by a bit.
30. Joe Thornton - He appears to beginning his decline phase after a Hall of Fame career where he led the league in scoring over the last decade. He has a stigma attached to him due to his lack of Stanley Cup success which is largely unfair.
31. Jarome Iginla - Another player who is entering the decline phase of a Hall of Fame career. I think he has a bit more left than THN does. They rank him at 41.
32. Rick Nash - He is the man in Columbus, but has been unable to make the leap to one of the best players in the league that was predicted when he shared in the 2004 Richard Trophy.
33. Vincent LeCavalier - THN ranks him at 50, which is consistent with his failure of the last couple of years. When a player can score 70 points in a “bad” year he must be a very good player. I think the “new” Tampa Bay Lightning will be a place where he can return to form somewhat.
34. Anze Kopitar - He was the early season scoring leader and gets a bit of a higher ranking by THN for that. They have him at 21
35. Marian Gaborik - THN has him at 18. I think that is a bit high given that he remains a significant injury risk despite staying healthy most of last season. He is a top player when healthy, but I don’t expect 76 games each season like he had last year.
36. Marian Hossa - He has had a good career to date, but he wasn’t one of the driving forces in his Stanley Cup win in 2010 and thus gets ranked behind those that were.
37. Ilya Bryzgalov - He gets too much credit for the Phoenix Coyotes Cinderella season. He was considered a Hart Trophy candidate and is ranked 20th by THN. Bryzgalov is a good goalie, but not quite at that level.
38. Brian Rafalski - He was omitted from the THN list. I think he is underrated because he is the second best defenceman on his team. THN usually rates fewer defencemen in their top 50 than is expected from the fact that about 30% of the NHL’s players are defencemen, so about 30% of this list should be defencemen too.
39. Patrick Marleau - The San Jose Sharks playoff failures have not led to an unreasonable downgrading of him on the THN list in my opinion. He comes in at 42nd there.
40. Jason Spezza - This Senator is too talented to be left off of this list. THN omitted him.
41. Miikka Kiprusoff - A very good goaltender who reversed a statistical decline last season.
42. Brad Richards - THN has him at 28th. I think that is a bit high. Sure he had 91 points last year, but it follows a couple years that were a bit subpar. I think his offensive output regresses a bit this season.
43. Marc Savard - Injuries kept him to 41 games last year. As a result, THN omitted him, but I think he is worthy.
44. Andrei Markov - Injuries kept him to 45 games play last year, that and the general overlooking of defencemen on THN lists led to his omission.
45. Brenden Morrow - He missed most of the 2008/09 season due to injury and only scored 45 points last year, but he is a very talented checker and I think his offense will still rebound. THN disagrees and omits him.
46. Tyler Myers - Rookie of the year defenceman who looks ready to take another step forward in the future.
47. Mikko Koivu - Minnesota’s key player was overlooked by THN. He is a strong two-way talent.
48. Alexander Semin - He is a player with talent to burn. Sometimes his worth ethic is in question, though he has definitely been a success so far. THN thinks more highly of him than I do rating him at 32nd.
49. Martin Brodeur - A Hall of Fame goalie who is into his decline phase. THN ranks him at 26th with is a bit high given his age. I think they are a overrating him in part due to a Vezina nomination that he won in 2010 on reputation more than any other reason.
50. Mike Richards - THN ranks him at 22nd, which seems a little high. He is a very good two-way player who is overrated due to being in a big media market that made the Stanley Cup finals. I do not see why he is much different from Mikko Koivu in his 2010/11 expectations.
Ranked by THN but not me: Daniel Alfredsson, Alexandre Burrows, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Tuukka Rask
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