Sportsnet’s top 100 NHL players of the 2018–19 season have been revealed. But there’s more than one way to look at the list compiled from the individual rankings of 16 Sportsnet insiders.
We broke down the top 100 by position, home country, NHL team and age to see exactly where the players are coming from. Then Sportsnet art director Drew Lesiuczok packaged up the results for your viewing pleasure.
Let’s start with the position breakdown:
Voters for the 100-player list were under no instructions to pick a certain number of each positional group, and yet this breaks down as though we did.
Using the proportions of a standard starting lineup, you’d expect 50 forwards, 33 defencemen and 17 goalies. So from the actual 100 names, we can see that voters favoured forwards slightly compared to expected proportional representation over defencemen and goalies.
A caveat: The top 10 wasn’t close to proportional. It included seven forwards, three defencemen and no goalies. The first goalie on the list, Sergei Bobrovsky, didn’t appear until No. 23, probably owing to the fact that there’s no consensus No. 1 in the league right now.
Yes, USA Hockey is set for global domination. But for now Canadians still dominate the list of the best players in the NHL.
Just shy of half the list was made up of players from the Great White North. And in fact there are more Canadians on the list that the next three best-represented countries — the United States, Russia and Sweden — combined.
As a reflection of population, Canada is still tops, as the country averaged about 1.24 top-100 players per million people. Sweden is next with just over one per million, and Finland next after that with just shy of one.
Not surprising at all, the teams with the most top-100 players tended to be playoff teams. Of the 16 teams with four or more representatives on the list, 12 made the playoffs — with just the Blackhawks, Stars, Panthers and Blues among that group missing out.
And of the other four playoff teams, two had three reps (Vegas and Minnesota), one had two (Colorado) and one had one (New Jersey; but, hey, at least he was in the top 15).
Only one team, the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, was shut out of the list, which seems insane considering their 25-season run of making the playoffs ended just two seasons ago.
What even is this? The average age of players on the list* is 27.35, and one would expect this chart to look like the back of a stegosaurus.
But instead we find zero consistency. The best-represented age is 25, which makes at least a little bit of sense, and the next two are 33 (what?) and 21 (really?). One explanation for the 33-year-olds on the list, at least, is the vaunted 2003 class that keeps on giving — it included Brent Burns, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf and many others.
In other news: Zdeno Chara is still a whole other breed of human. There are no 37-, 38-, 39- or 40-year-olds on the list, but there is a 41-year-old, and it’s Chara. The next-oldest player is 36-year-old Henrik Lundqvist.
*Players ages as of Oct. 3, 2018 — opening night of the NHL season