Top 100 NHL players of 2018–19: 100–51

Take a look at the expert consensus picks for the top 100 NHL players heading into the 2018-19 season. Here are numbers 100-91.

Welcome to Sportsnet’s top 100 NHL players of the 2018–19 season.

We didn’t arrive at this list overnight. In fact, we started work as soon as Alex Ovechkin and Co. lifted the Stanley Cup in June. First, we asked 16 of our NHL insiders to rank the top 100 players in the league at this exact moment, and then we combined their individual lists to create a definitive master ranking.

The exact formula for what makes an NHLer great — or, more importantly, greater than another — is subjective, and everyone’s top-100 list looks different.

But let’s make one key criteria clear: This list is about the 2018–19 season — not last season or the next five years. It’s about who’s the best right now.

Today, we give you the first 50 names on the list. On Tuesday we’ll offer up No. 50 to No. 31, and Wednesday will bring No. 30 to No. 11. Finally, on Thursday we will give you the top 10 players for the 2018–19 season.

But without further adieu, here are Nos. 100 to 51:

100. Alexander Radulov, RW, Dallas Stars

What a difference a few years can make. Radulov’s second stint in North America has been more fruitful than his first, and his debut season in Dallas was his best output yet as he found his place in the Stars’ high-powered offence.

99. Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens

Someday, Pacioretty will be remembered as the Canadiens’ captain during one of the storied franchise’s most desultory periods (six playoff games spread across three springs). He’s a first-line left winger who has regularly scored 35 goals per season without the benefit of playing beside a first-line centre. At some point, that is bound to come to pass — not in Montreal anytime soon, but maybe as early this season somewhere else.

98. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, Nashville Predators

The young Swede matched his breakout 2016–17 campaign with near-identical numbers last season, proving he’s the real deal for a promising Predators squad. Heading into the second season of a recently inked seven-year deal, Arvidsson has all the tools needed to potentially turn that $4.25-million cap hit into one of the league’s best bargains.

97. Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks

Although he’s never finished higher than fifth in Vezina Trophy voting, Crawford has been a model of consistency throughout his career. Since 2010–11 only four goalies have more regular-season wins, and his 48 post-season victories are the most in the league this decade.

96. Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins

Thanks in part to a star-studded 2017–18 rookie class, it wouldn’t quite be fair to say McAvoy was snubbed in Calder Trophy voting. But earning 32 points and playing more than 22 minutes a night — second most on a strong Bruins team — should warrant more than a fifth-place spot, no?

95. Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues

You’d think a player of Parayko’s size—six-foot-six and 230 pounds—would be a bruiser, but the reality is his hockey sense and puck movement are perhaps his greatest strengths. The right-handed defenceman also possesses an absolute cannon of a shot from the blue line.

94. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers

An exciting package of size and skill made Jonathan Huberdeau the third-overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, and the Saint-Jerome, Que., native has steadily delivered on his potential. The 25-year-old had a career-high 27 goals and 42 assists last season and completes a dangerous first line with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov.

93. Jeff Carter, C, Los Angeles Kings

The Kings transitioned to a more offence-focused squad under coach John Stevens last year, but Carter missed most of the season due to a fluke injury. From the time he returned on Feb. 24 through the end of the season, though, only five players put up more goals than Carter’s 13. The big centre is a great bet to better 30 tallies once again.

92. Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins

The biggest and strongest man to ever skate in the league, owner of likely the hardest shot to pour in from the point — even today, 1,423 regular-season games into his career. Yes, at 41, the 2009 Norris Trophy winner has lost a step or two, but his game has rarely come down to footraces, and he remained the first option shut-down blue-liner for a 100-point team in 2017–18, going plus-24. Don’t bet on this being his last season.

91. Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers

If Provorov has another season like he did in 2017–18, he is going to get paid. The sophomore blue-liner recorded 17 goals and 41 points and skated 24:09 per game, the most of any Flyer. Don’t be surprised if he starts getting Norris votes.

90. Hampus Lindholm, D, Anaheim Ducks

He’s the type of quietly effective blue-liner every club needs in order to thrive — strong offensively, solid in his own zone, and an all-around balanced presence for a fair chunk of minutes each night. Injuries limited him to 69 games in 2017–18, but Lindholm still managed his third 30-point effort (and a career-high points-per-game pace) while playing a key role for a Ducks penalty kill that ranked among the league’s top five.

89. Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild

Set to be one of the most intriguing regression candidates in 2019, the veteran sniper’s future potential is tough to pin down. The elder Staal put up the second-best goal-scoring effort of his career at age 33, a 42-tally gem, topping his total from the two previous seasons combined. But a strong 65-point showing one year prior suggests the fit might simply be right in Minnesota. A contract year in 2018–19 should clear up the debate.

88. Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers

The most stylish man in hockey did all he could behind an atrocious Rangers team last season en route to posting a 2.98 goals against average — the worst in his stellar career — and a middle-of-the-pack .914 save percentage. He certainly has some great goaltending left in him, but it’s only a matter of time before King Henrik relinquishes his Manhattan throne.

87. Ryan Ellis, D, Nashville Predators

Long considered a quality, understated blue-liner, Ellis went to another level during Nashville’s run to the 2017 Cup Final. He missed the 2017 portion of last season with a knee injury, but the 0.73 points-per-game he posted upon his return represent a 60-point campaign over a full 82. This is a cerebral player who is only now realizing his full potential. And has a shiny new contract to reflect that.

86. Devan Dubnyk, G, Minnesota Wild

The Wild’s franchise record-holder for wins in a single season (40 in 2016–17), Dubnyk has arguably and quietly been the league’s most consistent goaltender over the past four years, posting a minimum of five shutouts and a .918 save percentage each season since arriving in Minnesota. While questions surrounding the Wild’s offence remain and a full rebuild may be the best option, Dubnyk’s steadiness alone should keep this perennial playoff team in the mix.

Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad (5) moves the puck past Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Reilly (44). (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

Christopher Katsarov/CP

85. Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

He has been a consistent strength on a blue line that has needed it throughout the Maple Leafs’ forward-thinking rebuild. Now the young veteran — hard to believe he’s only 24 — is coming off the most productive season of his career and is still barreling toward his prime at the best possible time.

84. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Winnipeg Jets

Ehlers is one of several building blocks who could make the Jets look like a stalwart Cup contender for years to come. The 22-year-old Dane already has lethal chemistry with his flashy 20-year-old linemate, Patrik Laine. Ehlers scored 29 goals and 60 points in his third NHL season in Winnipeg. And the Jets are just taking off.

83. Shea Weber, D, Montreal Canadiens

Destined for a greater microscope given his high-profile 2016 jersey swap, the veteran rearguard hasn’t helped his cause since coming north. Year 1 saw his numbers dip slightly, Year 2 brought an injury-shortened season of just 26 appearances, and Year 3 won’t begin until mid-December. With eight years at just under $8 million per left on the books, a strong redemption campaign is in need for the 32-year-old before the pressure ramps up significantly from the Canadiens faithful.

82. Vincent Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers

Hot off a breakout campaign in which he piled up 31 goals and 75 points and was invited to his first all-star game, the Pittsburgh native will be key to Florida’s effort to return to the playoffs. Trocheck’s production has improved with every season, and he’s that rare Panthers top-six forward who has managed to stay healthy. Knock on wood.

81. Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

A three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time second-team all star, Letang’s reputation as the Penguins’ essential No. 1 defenceman took a small hit in ’17 when they went the distance despite Letang being sidelined for the entire tournament with a neck injury. A healthy Letang returned in 2017–18 to play his most games (79) in six years and racked up 11 points in 12 playoff contests. He’s still the engine from the back and point man on arguably the league’s best power-play unit.

80. Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins

After a five-year stretch at the start of the decade in which he racked up a cumulative .926 save percentage, Rask is coming off seasons of .915, .915 and .917, and his performances in the playoffs last spring were a decidedly mixed bag. Rask hit his nadir in Game 5 against the Leafs in the opening round: In a potential series-clinching contest, he allowed four dubious goals on 13 shots before getting pulled. Some image resuscitation is needed this season for him to jump back onto the short list of franchise netminders.

79. John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks

The 25-year-old has battled injuries during his relatively short career, but he’s about as good as they come when healthy. Gibson’s .923 career save percentage is the highest of any active goalie who’s appeared in at least 150 games. The six-foot-three American may be the most important player on the Ducks as the club transitions into a more modern outfit.

78. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames

Though he continues to anchor the Flames’ blue line and received a handful of Norris Trophy votes, Giordano’s offensive output dropped for the second consecutive season in 2017–18. (Granted, last year’s fall wasn’t as precipitous — he went to 38 points from 39.) Giordano will reportedly reunite with T.J. Brodie to start the season, so that may help the 34-year-old.

77. Matt Murray, G, Pittsburgh Penguins

It bears repeating: By the end of his rookie season, Murray already had two Stanley Cups to his name. The start to his NHL career has been rather remarkable, although early indications would suggest he’s somewhat injury prone. He relies on his athleticism more than he should, but that’s a common trait among young goalies and it’s correctable. He’s still only 24.
 
76. Rickard Rakell, C, Anaheim Ducks

After another 30-plus-goal season, there’s no denying Rakell is the forward to watch on the Ducks. With Corey Perry’s scoring touch waning and the team’s core getting older, Rakell, 25, has to continue to improve if Anaheim is going to reach the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

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75. Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues

A bright spot in Buffalo over his three seasons there, O’Reilly’s future just got a whole lot brighter after being dealt to the Blues. He’s one of the top two-way centres in the game right now, and he might just be the missing piece to get the Blues back into contention.

74. Mark Stone, RW, Ottawa Senators

Only 13 players posted a better points-per-game mark than Stone’s 1.07 last year, and all but one, Connor McDavid, played on squads that — unlike Stone’s awful Ottawa club — qualified for the playoffs. The 26-year-old has gone from being a sixth-round pick in 2010 to earning a reputation as one of the smartest all-around forwards in the game. Don’t be shocked if he becomes the rare winger to get a Selke nomination in coming years.

73. Dougie Hamilton, D, Carolina Hurricanes

A change of scenery could be just what Hamilton needs — he was clearly unhappy in Calgary, and the feeling seemed mutual. The big, smooth-skating defenceman was T-1 among all blue-liners with 17 goals last season and will have another chance to prove himself, this time with a Hurricanes team that has struggled with goaltending.

72. Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

Sometimes overshadowed on a talented Lightning forward corps, Point is a crafty 22-year-old centre who earned quite a bit of spotlight in a breakout 2017–18 campaign. He had 32 goals and 66 points as a sophomore, giving Lightning opponents a dynamic threat to worry about when the big-name superstars were on the bench. If you don’t know much about him yet, you will very soon.

71. Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild

It may be the back nine of his illustrious career, but Suter is still able to carry a big load on a deep Wild blue line. The 33-year-old is best known for his defensive prowess, but was still able to tie a career high in points with 51 in 2017–18. You’ll constantly see him near the top of the NHL’s ice-time leaders, consistently averaging over 27 minutes a game.

70. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers

Gostisbehere is 25 and part of a young and talented group in Philadelphia. This puck-moving defenceman is key on the power play and coming off a career offensive year in which he put up 65 points in 78 games. His best is still to come — presumably, so is his team’s.

69. Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames

With Monahan playing alongside waterbug Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames should have a fun future ahead of them. He’s scored 138 goals through five seasons and he’s still only 23. Monahan missed the final eight games of 2017–18, but he’s fully healthy to start the campaign and fans can expect him to keep padding that goal total.

68. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vegas Golden Knights

Marchessault is a perfect example of what an undersized player can accomplish when he’s got an oversized chip on his shoulder. After showing plenty of promise in Florida, the undrafted centreman looked right at home in Vegas as the team’s second-best scorer in both the regular season and playoffs.

67. Frederik Andersen, G, Toronto Maple Leafs

Andersen has transitioned nicely from a 1A/1B situation in Anaheim to a 66-game workhorse in Toronto, posting a .918 save percentage in each season as a Leaf. The 28-year-old will again be required to mask the mistakes of a young run-and-gun outfit with legitimate Cup dreams. His .896 showing in Round 1’s exit to Boston, however, proves there’s another level he must reach.

66. Zach Werenski, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

Helping the Blue Jackets to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history, Werenski has splashed onto the NHL scene in a big way. The 21-year-old is a bona fide top-pairing defenceman, and has the vision and speed to contend for the Norris Trophy in the near future, if not already.

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65. Aaron Ekblad, D, Florida Panthers

The 2014 first-overall pick has become your all-around solid pointman, capable of running the power play, ripping one home from the point, and moving the puck out of his own zone. Ekblad is just 22 and his best years are ahead.

64. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets

It’s hard to believe the goaltender who finished second in Vezina Trophy voting and signed a six-year, $37-million deal in July wasn’t even an opening-night starter last season. With Steve Mason out of the picture, suffice it to say the Jets won’t make that mistake again. Add in backstopping the Jets to the Western Conference final and Hellebuyck, 25, is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie in Winnipeg.

63. Duncan Keith, D, Chicago Blackhawks

A goal against St Louis in the last week of the 2017–18 campaign spared Keith an historic if humbling stat: a shooting percentage of <1.0 for the season. That goal, Keith’s second, raised his success rate to 1.1. The two-time Norris Trophy winner, 35, vowed to step up his training in the off-season in an effort to get Chicago back into the playoffs, but you have to wonder about the toll that his team's run to championships took on their minutes-eating franchise blue-liner.

62. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche

Just 21 years old and entering his third year, and already has an 84-point season under his belt. Yowza. Rantanen is big, he’s fast, he can finish and he can pass. The kid is chock full of upside.

61. Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks

While San Jose’s other elite centremen, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton, have battled the injury bug, “Captain America” has missed all of one game over the past seven seasons and threatens 70 points in an off year. A crafty playmaker, driven leader and accurate shooter, Pavelski sets a high bar for a room that will welcome the return of Evander Kane and should, as always, contend for the Pacific crown.

60. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona Coyotes

Ekman-Larsson’s decision to sign an eight-year extension with Arizona this off-season represents the best news for the club in a long while. And as the young Coyotes improve, it will only serve to showcase the Swede’s skills. His subtle game doesn’t smack you in the face; it’ll just steal the puck off your stick and send it up ice before you know what happened.

59. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, San Jose Sharks

Little flash but plenty of substance. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist is about as reliable as it gets, logging roughly 22 minutes a night usually against opposing teams’ top forward units. He doesn’t play a physical game, but doesn’t need to. His hockey IQ, positioning and skating prowess make him a difficult out for any forward entering the offensive zone.

58. Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks

With the hair of Prince Charming from Shrek and a shot that would make Canucks great Pavel Bure jealous, Boeser is a superstar in the making. He had 29 goals in 62 games before a nasty back injury abruptly ended his stellar rookie campaign. He showed off his laser-quick release by winning the accuracy shooting competition at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game by hitting all five targets in 11.136 seconds. A future 50-goal scorer.

57. Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks

Yes, the Sharks signed 39-year-old Joe Thornton to a one-year deal when they missed out on John Tavares. And, yes, Joe Pavelski, 34, wears the C in San Jose. But the team’s forward of the moment and the future is emphatically Couture. He led the Sharks in nearly every category, including goals with 34. For GM Doug Wilson, continuity is king so locking up Couture with an eight-year extension running through to the 2026–27 season was no big surprise.
 
56. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings

Not many goaltenders can match Quick’s resumé, which includes two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy. The 32-year-old’s athleticism results in spectacular saves and frustrated opponents on the regular. He rebounded from an injury-plagued 2016–17 to post an impressive .921 save percentage this past season.

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien and Nashville Predators' Ryan Ellis chase a rebound after Predators goalie Pekka Rinne blocked a shot in an NHL hockey game

Mark Humphrey/AP

55. Pekka Rinne, G, Nashville Predators

After his disappointing post-season, it’s easy to forget that Rinne put up a .927 save percentage in 2017–18 en route to the Vezina. Turning 36 in November, Rinne is in the final year of his contract, and this summer his team signed young netminder Juuse Saros to a three-year deal. Rinne will be his solid self in the regular season, but the real test will come in the playoffs.

54. Mitch Marner, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

When John Tavares announced that he was signing with the Maple Leafs, Marner responded by tweeting a pair of excited eyes. It was fitting commentary from Marner, who has some of the best eyes in the league and led the Leafs with 47 assists as an NHL sophomore. Expect that tally to rise when Marner lines up alongside Tavares this fall.

53. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights

He could’ve packed up his three Stanley Cup rings and ridden off into the sunset of his career when he was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft, but instead Fleury posted the best numbers of his career in 46 regular-season starts. His playoff performance was even better. Now with the ink drying on a new deal in the desert, the (always-smiling) face of the NHL’s newest franchise looks ready for another run.

52. John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars

He played in the All Star Game for the first time in 2017–18, led all NHL defencemen with 59 assists — and was tied for second among rearguards in total points, just one behind John Carlson’s 68. Expect the Swede to be an offensive juggernaut from the blue line for years to come.

51. Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers

What a difference a year makes — that’s all the time it took for the young German to go from breakout star to overpaid headache in the eyes of non-Oilers fans. Draisaitl has all the talent required to live up to the massive expectations surrounding him, but it’s how he handles the growing weight of that eight-year, $68-million deal that will determine how he fares.

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