Top 50 NHL players of the 24-team playoff: 10-1
With the NHL preparing for a 24-team playoff, theScore has been counting down the top 50 players that will be taking part in this unique event, as voted on by our hockey editors.
10. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
It's hard to believe Malkin is already 33 years old, but that's a credit to how dominant he can still be when healthy. The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar remains one of the most talented scorers in the league and has long been a game-changer who overwhelms defenders.
9. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
Bergeron has aged like fine wine. The sublime two-way center will turn 35 years old in July and seems to get better each season. Playing in the middle of one of the league's most feared lines, Bergeron is no stranger to playoff hockey. He'll look to lead another long playoff run as a veteran of 136 postseason games, including three trips to the finals and one Stanley Cup triumph.
8. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are no longer a legitimate threat for the Stanley Cup, but Kane still impacts the game every time he steps over the boards. "Showtime" finished eighth in the league in scoring this year and boasts one of the most illustrious playoff resumes of his generation. His team's next run may be short, but you can bet he's going to make the most of it.
7. David Pastrnak, Bruins
Pastrnak's confidence is matched by an elite skill set that few players possess. The Boston Bruins sniper has increased his goal and point totals over four straight campaigns, and he captured his first career "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2019-20. Pastrnak was on pace this season to become just the fourth player in franchise history to record 50-plus goals and 100-plus points in a single campaign.
6. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning
There may be no player in the game more dangerous on offense than Kucherov. He has a lethal shot, but it's his vision, passing, and hands that separate him from the rest of the pack. He got off to a bit of a slow start this season but had 44 points in 31 games from January on. Let's not forget that Kucherov is just one year removed from a historic 128-point campaign.
5. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
The abbreviated regular season deprived Ovechkin of a ninth 50-goal campaign, but the Russian sniper deserves at least a share of the hardware after tying Pastrnak atop the leaderboard in two fewer games. Ovi continues to light the lamp at will into his mid-30s, further bolstering his case to eventually be considered the greatest pure scorer of all time.
4. Leon Draisaitl, Oilers
Draisaitl proved the last two seasons that the Edmonton Oilers aren't a one-man show. Whether he's playing alongside Connor McDavid or anchoring his own line, Draisaitl produces at an astonishing level, amassing 93 goals and 225 points over his last 153 games.
He led the Oilers' league-best power play - 29.5% conversion - with 44 points on the man-advantage this year. Draisaitl is nearly impossible to contain when he's on the ice and will surely continue to be a headache for his opponents in the postseason.
3. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche
MacKinnon's case as one of the most elite stars in the league was aided by another season with incredible numbers despite the fact his supporting cast was ravaged by injuries.
He has a tremendous chance to be a Hart Trophy finalist, and with a healthy Colorado Avalanche squad ready to follow him into the playoffs, the regular-season MVP may not be the only piece of hardware he gets his hands on.
2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Crosby may be in the latter stages of his career, but there's no denying his status as one of the world's best. No. 87 can still fly around the ice, and his ability to read the game won't dissipate with age.
After undergoing core muscle surgery in November, Crosby didn't miss a beat when he returned two months later, racking up 11 goals and 30 points in 24 games.
1. Connor McDavid, Oilers
The early end to the campaign prevented McDavid from authoring a fourth straight 100-point season, but he managed to record a career-best 1.52 points per game. It was an incredibly impressive performance following the major knee injury he suffered to end 2018-19, and the extensive rehab that followed.
McDavid needs a Stanley Cup to be considered in the same class as Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr, and there's no time like the present. The 23-year-old has nothing but time on his side to join the conversation for the greatest hockey player of all time.
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