5 best individual NHL seasons of the decade

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With 2019 coming to a close, we look back at the five best individual seasons of the decade.

5. Erik Karlsson, 2016-17

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP G A P ATOI xGF%
77 17 54 71 26:50 50.9

*Stats in tables include only regular season.

It was never a question of whether Karlsson would make this list, but rather which of his standout campaigns would be featured. He won the Norris Trophy in 2011-12 with 78 points, 25 more than any other defenseman. Four years later, he recorded a career-high 82 points and led all players with 66 assists.

However, the most dominant we've ever seen Karlsson was during the 2017 playoffs when he carried the Ottawa Senators to within a goal of the Stanley Cup Final. He tallied 18 points in 19 games while logging over 28 minutes per night. From his ridiculous saucer pass to Mike Hoffman to his dynamic feed to Derick Brassard, his postseason highlights live on forever.

There were legitimate conversations at the time about whether Karlsson was the best player in the game.

4. Nikita Kucherov, 2018-19

Scott Audette / National Hockey League / Getty
GP G A P ATOI xGF%
82 41 87 128 19:58 52.4

Kucherov's 128 points were the most since Mario Lemieux (161) and Jaromir Jagr (149) set the hockey world on fire in 1995-96. That total also represents the single-season points record by a Russian-born NHLer, which is especially impressive when you consider the number of talented players who have emerged from the country.

However, Kucherov's historic campaign falls just shy of the top three due to the fact that he, as a winger, plays less of a 200-foot game than those who are featured ahead of him. Also, as incredible as his year was, a spike in scoring league-wide (6.06 goals per game, the most of the decade) contributed to his gaudy totals.

3. Tim Thomas, 2010-11

Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP W GAA SV% SO GSAA
57 35 2.00 .938 9 45.77

Thomas didn't have a long career, but his peak was better than any other goalie's this decade.

The Boston Bruins netminder led the NHL in goals-against average, save percentage, and goals saved above average to capture the Vezina Trophy during the regular season.

Thomas was even better during the playoffs. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP thanks to a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average, as the Bruins took down a stacked Vancouver Canucks team in the Stanley Cup Final.

2. Evgeni Malkin, 2011-12

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty
GP G A P ATOI xGF%
75 50 59 109 21:01 56.7

This was the season when we truly saw how Malkin can elevate his game when a certain teammate is sidelined. Asked to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins, Malkin put the team on his back night after night.

Despite missing seven games himself, Malkin captured the Art Ross with 12 more points than runner-up Steven Stamkos - who played all 82 - and was awarded the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

When focused and motivated, Malkin is perhaps more dominant than any player of his era.

1. Sidney Crosby, 2013-14

Justin K. Aller / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP G A P ATOI xGF%
80 36 68 104 21:58 56.3

Crosby is the best player of the decade and was at the height of his powers during this season.

He won the scoring title by a whopping 17 points - the largest winning margin of the decade - and received 128 of a possible 136 first-place votes for the Hart Trophy.

In addition to his individual brilliance, no other player today exemplifies the ability to make their teammates better the way Crosby does, and that was most evident during this outstanding 2013-14 season.

Penguins linemate Chris Kunitz shattered his previous career high with 35 goals thanks to Crosby's efforts and was even selected to Canada's stacked Olympic team due to those numbers. And when Team Canada traveled to Russia to compete in the games, it was Crosby who captained the squad to the gold medal.

Just missed the cut:

  • Steven Stamkos, 2011-12: In the best season of his career to date, Stamkos led the league with 60 goals and finished second in Hart Trophy voting.
  • Carey Price, 2014-15: Price cleaned up on awards night, winning the Hart, Jennings, Pearson, and Vezina. He led the league in wins, goals-against average, and save percentage.
  • Connor McDavid, 2016-17: McDavid already has several impressive seasons, but winning the Art Ross by 11 points may be his greatest feat thus far.
  • Patrick Kane, 2015-16: Kane had 106 points while no other skater cracked 90.
  • Henrik Sedin, 2009-10: Sedin's 83 assists were the second most of the decade.

(Advanced stats source: Natural Stat Trick)

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5 best individual NHL seasons of the decade
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