NHL Jerseys Network is getting ready for this season by ranking the top 50 players in the League. Researchers, producers and on-air personalities compiled the list, and players 40-31 were revealed Sunday in the second of a five-part countdown. Here is the list:
40. Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey, RW, St. Louis Blues Jerseys
One of two NHL players with at least 30 goals in each of the past five seasons (Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals), Tarasenko had 68 points (33 goals, 35 assists) last season. The 27-year-old had 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) during a 12-game point streak from Jan. 19-Feb. 17 and helped St. Louis win the Stanley Cup for the first time with 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“This guy is a gamer come playoff time” NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp said. “He elevates … he’s a big reason why they hoisted the Cup. He’s a gamer, and you can’t give enough credit to guys like that.”
Doughty finished second in ice time per game (26:36) and total ice time (2,180:48) last season after leading the NHL in total ice time the previous two seasons. He had 45 points (eight goals, 37 assists), including 24 on the power play. A four-time Norris Trophy finalist as the best defenseman in the NHL and the winner for 2015-16, the 29-year-old played all 82 games each of the past five seasons and has missed 16 games in his 11-season NHL career.
“Drew Doughty, to me, is still the [defensive] bar in this league,” Rupp said. “I think that gap is switching, it’s changing. You’ve got Roman Josi Jersey pushing that now. I think you’re going to see Seth Jones Jersey be pushing that now, Victor Hedman Jersey, there’s all these other defensemen. When you look [at] games-played leaders, he’s always there to play. This guy is called upon to be the best offensively and defensively.”
Top 50: Tarasenko and Doughty
Josi had 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists) last season, the fourth time in the past five seasons he had at least 53. He’s scored at least 12 goals each of the past six seasons and averaged 25:10 of ice time last season, fifth in the NHL and the fifth time in the past six seasons he averaged at least 25 minutes. The 29-year-old had a plus rating in four of the past five seasons, including an NHL career-high plus-24 in 2017-18.
“For me, he is the most complete defenseman in the National Hockey League,” Rupp said. “… He first was known for his heavy shot when he came into the League, but now he’s getting evolved with his legs. His legs are everything. The legs feed the wolf, we know this. Well listen, this guy’s got that down, he’s one of the best. Heavy, heavy shot, leader on this team, he’s Mr. Everything.”
Rielly is coming off a breakout season when he led NHL defensemen with 20 goals and finished third with 72 points. He had a plus-24 rating, 21 power-play points and five game-winning goals, including two in overtime. The 25-year-old began 2018-19 with a six-game point streak (three goals, 10 assists), the longest to start a season in Toronto history, and his 12 points in the first five games are the most in NHL history by a defenseman, one more than Bobby Orr had for the Boston Bruins in 1973-74.
“He can transition the puck,” NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton said. “[Toronto would] like to play a lot less time in their zone- that typically happens when Morgan Rielly is on the ice … Offensively, he absolutely exploded last year and I love everything I’ve seen from him.”
After leading NHL defensemen with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists) in 2017-18, Carlson set a new NHL career high with 70 (13 goals, 57 assists) last season. He had 33 power-play points, second among NHL defensemen behind Keith Yandle Jersey of the Florida Panthers (39), and a plus-21 rating. His 25:04 of ice time per game was the highest average of his NHL career. The 29-year-old helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018, when he had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) and was plus-11 in 24 playoff games.
“This guy is something special,” Rupp said. “He’s a [power-play] specialist, he’s an offensive specialist. He’s all over the map in the offensive zone. He’ll get involved, he can throw some hits, got a great shot, drives offense. And when you have skilled guys up front, you have to have guys like [Carlson].”
Top 50: Josi, Rielly and Carlson
Stone had an NHL career-high 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) with the Golden Knights and Ottawa Senators last season, including 11 (five goals, six assists) in 18 regular-season games after he was traded to Vegas, and had 12 points (six goals, six assists) in seven playoff games. It was the fifth straight season the 27-year-old scored at least 20 goals. Last season, he was a finalist for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the top defensive forward in the NHL, after leading the League in takeaways (122) for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
“I love his all-around game,” Lawton said. “He’s a guy that surprises me with his size, 6-foot-4, 220-plus pounds. He’s just a little bit bigger than you think, and in a neutral zone, I really don’t think there’s any player better defensively at shutting plays down than Mark Stone.”
Aho is coming off a breakout season when he had 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists) to lead the Hurricanes. He also set NHL career highs in rating (plus-25), power-play points (24) and game-winning goals (seven) last season. The 22-year-old, who had a five-year offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens matched by the Hurricanes on July 7, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 playoff games to help Carolina advance to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
“He’s got a very good shot,” Rupp said. “He’s not afraid, he’s not a pass-first guy. Whatever opportunity you give him he’s going to take. If you give him a shot, he’s going to take a shot. If you give him a pass, he’s going to make a ridiculous pass. If you’re going to give him time, he’s going to make you look silly.”
Bishop was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy as best goalie in the NHL last season after leading the League in save percentage (.934), finishing second in goals-against average (1.98), and going 27-15-2 with seven shutouts. He set a Stars record with an NHL career-long shutout streak of 233:04 from March 2-19, winning six straight games in that span. The 32-year-old is a three-time Vezina finalist.
“Ben Bishop kicked it up a notch,” Rupp said. “…It’s going to be very tough to beat him on your first shot. … He’s got a very solid glove hand. … and he’s very good at handling the puck. That is a very nice thing to have.”
Top 50: Ben Bishop
Giroux had 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) coming off an NHL career-high 102 (34 goals, 68 assists) in 2017-18 after moving from center to left wing in training camp. The 31-year-old played center at times last season and won 57.9 percent of his face-offs (674 of 1,164), fourth in the NHL among skaters with at least 500 draws. Giroux’s 688 points since 2010-11 are third in the NHL behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby Jersey (710) and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane Jersey (708). Giroux has missed 10 games in the past 10 seasons, none in the past three.
“I love the adjustment [that] players make in their career, because Claude Giroux has been one of the best players our game has seen over the last 10-plus years,” Rupp said. “When you look at him, he’s had to make a little bit of an adjustment — the team does — they move him to wing. … Now you’ve got this guy racking up points once again for the Philadelphia Flyers.”
Jones was fourth in the NHL in ice time per game last season (25:49), his sixth in the League. He had 46 points (nine goals, 37 assists) in 75 games one season after he had an NHL career-high 57 (16 goals, 41 assists). Jones, who turns 25 on Oct. 3, scored four game-winning goals, including three in overtime, and had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 playoff games to help the Blue Jackets sweep the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round last season to advance in the postseason for the first time in their history.
“[His] shot, I think it’s dynamite,” Lawton said. “It’s a little bit deceptive. … Three seasons in a row, 40-plus points. I see a guy that’s ready to absolutely explode, potentially this season.”