Ranking the best forwards from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
With the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, theScore counts down the top five players of the postseason so far in all three positional groups. Players on eliminated teams are eligible for this list, as these rankings are explicitly based on performances in Round 1.
5. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning were a force in Round 1 in a hard-fought battle with their in-state rivals, and their captain played a huge role in the victory. Stamkos, who missed the last chunk of the regular season due to injury, came out flying and found the scoresheet in all but one contest while producing three multi-point efforts. The 31-year-old fired 17 shots on goal and looks hungry for another championship after being sidelined for most of Tampa's Stanley Cup run last year.
4. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
Landeskog brought it in every facet of the game in Round 1, which saw the Presidents' Trophy winners sweep the St. Louis Blues. Colorado's 28-year-old captain tallied four goals and four assists - all of them at even strength - and was dominant physically. The Avalanche's top line will be a problem for any playoff opponent.
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Huberdeau's exploits came in a losing effort, but there's no denying the Panthers' top winger was sensational against the Lightning. The 27-year-old had three multi-point performances and is tied for first among all playoff skaters with eight assists. His underlying metrics weren't great, but Huberdeau made a significant impact on the power play, an area of the game that can often decide a tight series.
2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning
Kucherov sure didn't show any signs of rust after missing the entire regular season. The former Hart Trophy winner was unstoppable in his 2021 debut, torching the Panthers for 11 points, including four in under 15 minutes of ice time to secure an emphatic Game 4 victory. If his goal in Round 1 was to remind the hockey world just how dangerous he is, the 27-year-old most certainly succeeded.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche
MacKinnon has proven he lives for this time of year. After running rampant with 25 points in 15 postseason games in the bubble last summer, the Avalanche's 25-year-old dynamo picked up right where he left off, obliterating the Blues with six goals and three assists to lead all skaters with a 2.25 points-per-game clip thus far in the playoffs. When MacKinnon plays with postseason intensity, there's no arguing he's on the shortlist of the best and most dominant players in the world.