Top 50 NHL players of the 24-team playoff: 50-41
With the NHL preparing for a 24-team playoff, theScore will be counting down the top 50 players who will be taking part in this unique event. We'll reveal 10 players every day until the top 10 is unveiled on June 10.
50. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
Gaudreau wasn't nearly as efficient this season as he was in years past. After a slow start to the campaign, though, the dynamic winger caught fire in the second half. He potted eight goals and added 19 assists in 28 games after Jan. 1. Even during an inconsistent season, the 26-year-old still possesses the raw talent to dominate his opponents in elimination play.
49. Matthew Tkachuk, Flames
Few players offer Tkachuk's unique blend of scoring touch, physicality, and two-way play. The 22-year-old winger is blossoming into the face of the Calgary Flames, and it would be hard to design a player better equipped to endure the grind of playoff hockey.
48. Dougie Hamilton, Hurricanes
Hamilton was playing the best hockey of his career before he suffered a broken fibula in January, and he'll be hungry for the chance to return to form. The 6-foot-6 defenseman is a gifted skater for his size, which is one of the main reasons he's able to dominate the possession game. Hamilton ranked in the top 10 in both Corsi For and expected goals this season, and he was 17th in high-danger scoring chances (minimum 600 minutes played).
47. Kyle Connor, Jets
You have to watch Connor on more than one occasion to fully appreciate him. He doesn't have the blazing speed or rocket shot that other elite goal-scorers possess, but he knows how to put the puck in the net. It seems he buries every chance he gets down low. Connor is a highly intelligent, hard-working player with very soft hands around the net.
46. Claude Giroux, Flyers
Giroux cooled off a bit this campaign after posting more than a point per game in 2018-19 and a career-high 102 points the season prior. However, he's still among the game's most dependable centers at age 32, and he's one of the biggest reasons the Philadelphia Flyers played so well before the break.
45. Shea Weber, Canadiens
When Weber is healthy, he's still one of the most dominant defensemen in the league. With months to rest some nagging injuries, a recuperated Weber will be extremely valuable for the Montreal Canadiens. His ability to log significant minutes and contribute on both offense and defense will make him a lethal threat in playoff-style hockey.
44. Mathew Barzal, Islanders
An offensive wizard on arguably the NHL's most defensive-minded team, Barzal stands out among his peers. He's one of the best skaters in the league and his vision is off the charts. He's also up for a new contract after this season, so he'll want to prove his worth with a strong playoff showing.
43. Seth Jones, Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a completely different team when Jones is in the lineup. Columbus won just three of 14 outings and allowed 3.57 goals per game after the 6-foot-4 rearguard injured his ankle in early February. Jones, an agile skater with a strong hockey acumen, ranked seventh in average ice time this season while often paired against opponents' top talents.
42. Ben Bishop, Stars
Bishop is arguably the best goalie in the NHL when healthy and on his game, though he wasn't even the best goalie on his own team this season, as Anton Khudobin led the league with a .930 save percentage. However, it'll almost certainly be the three-time Vezina finalist getting the call in the postseason.
41. Cale Makar, Avalanche
If not for a certain Vancouver Canucks blue-liner, Makar would be the clear Calder Trophy favorite. Nevertheless, he has a strong case in his own right and is already one of the NHL's best defensemen. The 21-year-old ranked second in the rookie points race and led all qualified first-year players in points per game. The Colorado Avalanche phenom has looked more than comfortable in the league since debuting during last year's postseason, and his future looks exceedingly bright.
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