Monday, August 18, 2008

My Top 50 Player List

Since The Hockey News Top 50 player list is out, here is my top 50 player list. I am posting it in the same format I did last year. I will list all the players, but only include comments on the top 10 players and on any players who made my list but were excluded from The Hockey News List.

1. Alexander Ovechkin He was the top scorer last year (both in total points and in points per game). He scored significantly more goals than his biggest rival for this number one position (Sidney Crosby) and is a much better physical player. He does all this while playing on a weaker team.

2. Sidney Crosby Crosby is clearly a good player and not far off from number one, but I think the main reason he is number one on The Hockey News list is that he is Canadian and Ovechkin is Russian. Ovechkin is a better player.

3. Nicklas Lidstrom He was the best player in the NHL last season, but due to his age (38) and the fact Ovechkin will be 23 by next season and Crosby is 21, it is likely they have some more upside and Lidstrom may start to slow down, though he showed no signs of that last year.

4. Evgeni Malkin He put up a strong case for MVP last year. It was not as good a case as Ovechkin or Lidstrom, but it had merit. In only his third season in the NHL, he is clearly a player on the rise.

5. Martin Brodeur He is by far the best goalie in the NHL, having won four of the last five Vezina Trophies. Since he is 36 years old it is reasonable to wonder when he enters his decline phase of his career. He has shown no signs of it yet.

6. Pavel Datsyuk The NHL's Lady Byng winner for the last three years, +/- leader and Selke Trophy winner last season. I think he is Detroit's best forward. The fact he regularly outscores Henrik Zetterberg and has better defensive credentials makes that point hard to question, despite the fact Zetterberg was ranked ahead of him by The Hockey News.

7. Jarome Iginla The third nominee for the Hart Trophy last year. Though it was an undeserved nomination, he is a top player. Third highest scorer in the NHL last season.

8. Joe Thornton He was the 2006 Hart Trophy winner and is consistently one of the top scorers in the NHL. The Hockey News was too hard on him due to perceived playoff failures.

9. Vincent LeCavalier Another outstanding scorer. One can only imagine how many more points he might be able to get if he was surrounded by better teammates.

10. Roberto Luongo The heir apparent to Martin Brodeur, except that he has been unable to surpass him with a Vezina Trophy win. Maybe this could be the season, but it might be hard given the fact his Vancouver Canuck team does not look playoff bound.

11. Henrik Zetterberg
12. Dany Heatley
13. Ilya Kovalchuk
14. Chris Pronger
15. Scott Niedermayer
16. Daniel Alfredsson
17. Zdeno Chara
18. Marian Gaborik
19. Marian Hossa
20. Dion Phaneuf
21. Jason Spezza
22. Henrik Lundqvist
23. Jean-Sebastien Giguere
24. Sergei Zubov
He is a forgotten defenceman on The Hockey News list, who was well on his way to a Norris Trophy nomination before injuries slowed him down last season.

25. Sergei Gonchar
26. Tomas Vokoun
Playing in Florida has made him a forgotten man, but his .919 saves percentage was very impressive, especially given the many high quality shots he faced behind the porous Panther defence.

27. Eric Staal
28. Martin St Louis
29. Miikka Kiprusoff
30. Jay Bouwmeester
A very talented defenceman who is forgotten in Florida. He led the NHL in ice time. With his great skating ability, he is one of the better defenceman in the game.

31. Tomas Kaberle Toronto's defence did not have a very good year in 2007/08, but it was not his fault. Kaberle is consistently one of the best defenders in the game.

32. Ryan Getzlaf
33. Paul Stastny
34. Evgeni Nabokov
35. Andrei Markov
36. Rick Nash
37. Brian Rafalski
38. Rick DiPietro
DiPietro is a forgotten man in goal for the weak Islanders. He is the star of their team and of the key reasons they have not been in the race for last overall.

39. Marc Savard
40. Brenden Morrow
41. Olli Jokinen
A solid offensive player who will give the Phoenix Coyotes a big boost next season. He will be missed in Florida

42. Anze Kopitar
43. Wade Redden
If he can put up 38 points from defence with a +11 +/- rating in a year where most people sway he did poorly, that proves he is a good player. I think he will be a big boost to the New York Ranger defence.

44. Marty Turco
45. Brian Campbell
His 62 points made him third among defencemen last year and the Hockey News omitted him. He may not be the strongest in his own zone, but he is solid enough that with this offence he deserves a spot.

46. Alexei Kovalev The 11th highest scorer in the league last season and top scorer in the league on the power play. I think that is enough to make the top 50.

47. Shawn Horcoff He (and not Ales Hemsky) is the best player on the Edmonton Oilers. They both score at about the same rate per game, but Horcoff is better defensively and better physically.

48. Jason Arnott He was the heart and soul of the Nashville Predators last year. He tied for the team lead with 72 points and led the team with a +19 +/-. He has physical ability and is defensively valued.

49. Ed Jovanovski Many people think his best days are gone, but he tied Zdeno Chara with 51 points from defence. He is still producing and still in his prime. Maybe it is his Phoenix location that prevents his being noticed more often.

50. Nicklas Backstrom This is the Washington forward and not the Minnesota goalie (who spells his first name Niklas). Backstrom should have been the rookie of the year. He scores about as well as Patrick Kane and has far more defensive value.

Thirteen players made The Hockey News list who did not make my list. They are Zach Parise, Ales Hemsky, Vesa Toskala, Joe Sakic, Scott Gomez, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Toews, Daniel Sedin, Daniel Briere, Shane Doan, Derek Roy, Mike Richards and Patrick Kane. I gave reasons against their inclusion when discussing The Hockey News list. Had it been clear that they were going to play the entire season and not be on sabbatical Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin would have made this list.

1)We enjoyed reading your comments with respect to both THN and your lists
2) Question: Are they a list of last years top 50 players OR a projection of whom will be next season's top 50?
My list is the 50 guys I would take if I needed to win hockey games right now. I don't know that The Hockey News has ever properly answered the question.
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