Really Elite: In The Top 10 More Than Half The Time
2. Erik Karlsson, Senators (5.0)
3. Connor McDavid, Oilers (6.3)
4. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (8.1)
5. Jamie Benn, Stars (8.1)
6. Anze Kopitar, Kings (9.2)
Let me lay the Doughty/Karlsson debate from last year to rest quickly: it was almost exclusively a debate between passionate old school fans that valued Doughty's traits and new school analytics fans that valued Karlsson's traits. They were two staunch groups that thought everything about the other group was wrong. It's not unlike this year's election, actually, which is terrifying because guess which of those two defensemen won the Norris Trophy last season.
.....aaaaanyway let's talk about the variety of players that this group encompasses. Defensive stalwarts. Offensive powerhouses. Explosive blueline playmakers. That's one of the great things about hockey - there are a million ways to be elite.
Elite: In The Top 10 A Third Of The Time Or More
7. John Tavares, Islanders (11.5)
8. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues (11.5)
9. Tyler Seguin, Stars (11.7)
10. Aleksandr Ovechkin, Capitals (12.3)
11. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (13.1)
12. Joe Thornton, Sharks (14.0)
13. Victor Hedman, Lightning (15.9)
14. Carey Price, Canadiens (18.1)
15. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (19.3)
The Stars' dynamic duo are the highest-ranked tandem on the list, followed closely (sort of) by the Penguins' top two centermen.
I want to draw attention to the fact that Victor Hedman is the most important Tampa Bay player, decidedly ahead of Steven Stamkos (who dropped 20 spots on this list from last year to this year).
And, of course, the goalies that are tasked with bailing their teams out basically every night. Have fun this year, Carey and Hank!
Great: Someone Ranked Them In The Top Ten
16. Joe Pavelski, Sharks (20.4)
17. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (20.7)
18, Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (21.7)
19. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames (21.8)
20. PK Subban, Predators (21.8)
21. Mark Giordano, Flames (26.9)
22. Drew Doughty, Kings (28.2)
23. Taylor Hall, Devils (28.7)
24. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (28.9)
Initially, my thought was most of these guys (Toews/Kane specifically) seem like they should be ranked higher. But I'm on board with them being in this group instead of one of the two above it, especially when you consider contracts in a salary cap world. The same logic applies to Subban.
If You're A Fan Of This Guy's Team, You're Mad That He's Not Higher: Average Ranking Of 42 Or Better
25. Brent Burns, Sharks (30.5)
26. Steven Stamkos, Lightning (30.6)
27. Blake Wheeler, Jets (31.0)
28. Kris Letang, Penguins (31.6)
29. Filip Forsberg, Predators (33.2)
30. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning (33.2)
31. Corey Schneider, Devils (33.5)
32. Brad Marchand, Bruins (34.2)
33. Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (34.6)
34. Jakub Voracek, Flyers (37.3)
35. John Klingberg, Stars (39.3)
36. Matt Duchene, Avalanche (40.2)
37. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (40.2)
38. Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (40.6)
39. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals (40.8)
40. Claude Giroux, Flyers (41.4)
Why yes, that is in fact a curious place for me to draw my line. It's a godamn JOKE that Voracek and Giroux are this low on the list, I said to myself, before trying to figure out who I was going to bump and realizing that I really can't justify bumping more than a couple of names. This is a really good league, and we just need to hope that Giroux/Voracek carry their lines this season and shoot up in next year's list.
The Sharks, Lightning, and Penguins are the first three teams to have three players named, and thus it's really no surprise to anybody that those are three of the teams all had a good deal of success last season. Elite players matter in the playoffs, as evidenced by the Chicago Blackhawks' recent run of success despite turning over half of their roster annually.
Good: The Rest Of The List
41. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (42.2)
42. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (42.4)
43. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (43.1)
44. Tyler Toffoli, Kings (43.3)
45. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (43.5)
46. Logan Couture, Sharks (43.7)
47. Anton Stralman, Lightning (43.9)
48. Ryan O'Reilly, Sabres (44.4)
49. Aleksandr Barkov, Panthers (44.5)
50. Roman Josi, Predators (44.6)
That means we have no players from the following groups:
- A: Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Hurricanes
- B. Canucks, Wild, Blue Jackets
- C: Red Wings
Let's say you have to be a fan of one of those top two groups. (The Red Wings are a huge question mark for me.) Do you pick the rosters full of young talent who will probably feature on this list prominently in the next 3-5 years? Or would you prefer the rosters of guys who might have been on this year in the past but have relatively few prospects for the future?
In addition to making fun of those six teams, we can also make fun of the teams with only one representative on the Top Fifty list:
- Atlantic: Senators, Sabres, Panthers
- Metropolitan: Islanders, Rangers
- Central: Blues, Jets
- Pacific: Oilers
Credit to the Sens and Oilers though, because I'd rather have a top-three guy in the whole league than an overrated group of young guys like the Panthers have.