(pro hockey talk is a review of the year in hockey. We’ll bring you the best goals, saves, moments, players and much more as we bring you the best of 2017).
The new year is on its way, so we at pht have decided to take a look back at the year that was in hockey, from the best bloopers to the best plays to the best players.
come and join us.
Today we take a look at the top 20 players in the NHL in 2017. Keep in mind that this ranking only takes into account what has happened since January. 1 to present. you can agree with the players we have on that, you can disagree. you could scream in the end, we hope you enjoy it.
so let’s start the countdown.
1. connor mcdavid, edmonton oilers — since the start of the new year, mcdavid is one of only two players to exceed 100 points in the calendar year, taking home his first mvp award, his first scoring title and it masked a horrible many flaws in the edmonton oilers roster. The flu slowed him down earlier this season, but he’s still pushing for another scoring crown and you probably shouldn’t bet against him winning it.
2. nikita kucherov, tampa bay lightning: he has become a really special player. Not only is he starting to pull away in the NHL scoring race this season, but he leads the league in total goals (51) and total points (101) since January. 1. He has six more goals than any other player in the league during that span and is one of only two players (McDavid is the other) to exceed 90 points.
3. sidney crosby, pittsburgh penguins — His point totals don’t look like they used to, and since he’s not 25 anymore, they probably never will, but he’s still a dominant player. In 2017 he clinched his second scoring crown and his second Conn Smythe Trophy in a row, helping the Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cups.
4. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Karlsson is one of the generational talents in the NHL right now and was the driving force behind Ottawa’s amazing run to the Eastern Conference Finals. and he did it basically playing with one foot for much of it. he is one of the most impactful defenders the league has seen in decades.
5. brad marchand, boston bruins — If he didn’t do so many dubious (or just plain dirty) things that make so many people hate him, he would be seen as the best player he has ever become. Over the past calendar year, he is second in the league in goals scored, he is a dominant possession player and, with an increased workload, he has become one of the best players in the NHL.
6. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning: He is sometimes the overlooked superstar on the Tampa Bay roster, usually overshadowed by Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. hedman is a workhorse who plays big minutes and is a rare combination of tight defensive play with ground breaking offensive ability.
7. patrick kane, chicago blackhawks: the blackhawks’ depth has been decimated in recent years and they really aren’t the powerhouse franchise they were when they won the stanley cup every other year. Kane has been the driving force behind their offense the past two seasons and is the one constant they have when it comes to production.
8. mark scheifele, winnipeg jets: the jets have a dynamic offense with some standout players at the top of their lineup, and scheifele is becoming one of the best and most important. he has been one of the most productive players in the nhl for a year now and is entering what should be the statistical peak of his for offense.
9. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals: A devastating combination of selke-caliber defense (even if he doesn’t get enough attention for it) and elite offense makes Backstrom one of the best two-way centers and versatile players in the game. . Only McDavid has more assists than Backstrom’s 63 since January. 1.
10. blake wheeler, winnipeg jets, possibly the most underrated and underrated player currently in the nhl. Like his teammate Scheifele, Wheeler has been one of the top points producers in the NHL over the past year. he’s been a 70-point player for almost the last five years and you’d never know it given how little attention he gets in the league. maybe now that the jets look like an improved team, he and scheifele will start to get a little more attention.
11. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: The Sharks seem to channel almost all of their offense through burns when he’s on the ice, making him one of the best players in the league when it comes to generating shots on goal. he ended up taking home the norris trophy a year ago thanks to his great season offensively. Like Karlsson, he produces points like a frontline forward from the blue line. a rare talent.
12. john tavares, new york islanders: he is one of the most intriguing players in hockey right now given his contract status and the possibility of him becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is a perfect moment for him because right now he is playing one of the best hockey of his career.
13. sergei bobrovsky, columbus blue jackets — his struggles in the playoffs are a concern and have to be rectified if the blue jackets are going to be a true stanley cup contender, but you can’t ignore what he’s done in the regular either season in which he was possibly the best goalkeeper in the league.
14. Austin Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs — The focal point of the Maple Leafs’ rebuilding, Matthews burst onto the NHL scene as a 40-goal rookie when he was 19 and led the NHL in uniform strength goals. so far this season, he has followed it up by averaging more than a point per game while also posting strong possession numbers. he is going to be a superstar for a long time.
15. alex ovechkin, washington capitals: he had a bad year in 2016-17 and that made it easy for people to abandon him as an elite player once again. Fast forward to the first three months of this season and he is scoring goals at a rate few other players in his 30s have done. He remains one of the must-see players in the NHL and the owner of one of the most unstoppable shots in the league.
16. steven stamkos, tampa bay lightning: if he hadn’t missed the first part of 2017 due to injury, he almost certainly would have been higher on this list. but what he has done so far this season is remarkable as it is probably one of the best hockey games he has ever played in the league.
17. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. louis blues: the blues have proven to be an incredibly deep team so far this season, overcoming a series of injuries to have one of the best records in the league. tarasenko remains the straw that breaks the camel’s back in st. Luis One of the best scorers in the league, Tarasenko is a threat to score 40 every season and is able to put the team on his back and carry it single-handedly when he gets going.
18. johnny gaudreau, calgary flames: the argument for ignoring size and just looking at talent and production. Gaudreau was the 2017 Lady Byng winner, his first hardware in the NHL, and has returned this season to be one of the top points producers in the league. On the NHL’s Most Exciting Players list, Gaudreau ranks high on the list.
19. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: He has been the only constant bright spot on the 2017-18 Penguins roster and arguably their best player. That comes after another fantastic playoff run in 2017 that helped the Penguins win their second straight Stanley Cup. Regardless of the negative things that have been said about him in Toronto, he has proven to be a classic player of great games.
20. Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators — Forsberg got off to a slow start in the 2016-17 season, only scoring seven goals in his first 36 games in the new year. once the schedule went by, it all started to click for him with 25 goals in the next 46 games to finish the regular season, another nine in 22 playoff games to help lead the predators to the stanley cup final, and already 13 this season in his first 35 games.
previously: • the best hockey mistakes of 2017 • the best hockey moments of 2017
adam gretz is a writer for professional hockey talk on sports for nbc. write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @agretz.