In THN’s 2014-15 Yearbook, we asked our panel of executives, broadcasters and observers to rank the best hockey players in the world right now, heading into this season. If you were starting a franchise from scratch today, which players would you take?
We ended up with a ranking of the top 50 NHLers and we’re releasing that list in chunks of 10. Today, we present players ranked 31-40 in the NHL and where they ranked on last year’s Top 50 (LY). Stay tuned for the rest of the list.
31. NICKLAS BACKSTROM | WASHINGTON | C | LY: N/R
Being Alex Ovechkin’s defensive conscience is the toughest job in the NHL, but Backstrom does it willingly.
32. MARIAN HOSSA | CHICAGO | RW | LY: 32
Injuries are taking their toll, but Hossa remains an elite three-zone player and clutch performer in the playoffs.
33. MATT DUCHENE | COLORADO | C | LY: N/R
We’d like to see him score more, but Duchene is emerging as a prototypical Western Conference pivot.
34. RYAN JOHANSEN | COLUMBUS | C | LY: N/R
He broke out in a major way in 2013-14 and has the potential to be a long-term 80-point guy.
35. OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON | ARIZONA | D | LY: N/R
The smooth-skating defenseman has established himself as a 40-point man and contributor at both ends.
36. RYAN O’REILLY | COLORADO | C | LY: N/R
He’s one of the few guys in the league who’s nastier in contract negotiations than he is on the ice.
37. HENRIK ZETTERBERG | DETROIT | C | LY: 26
He will never be the player he once was because of injuries, but we still like what he is.
38. MARTIN ST-LOUIS | NY RANGERS | RW | LY: 12
He’s going to slow down at some point, right? The process has begun but not enough to deter him.
39. DAVID KREJCI | BOSTON | C | LY: 43
His reputation as a big playoff performer took a serious hit in the spring, but Krejci remains an elite setup man.
40. PAVEL DATSYUK | DETROIT | C | LY: 11
He still plays great defense and makes eye-popping plays but not with enough consistency. The Hall of Fame awaits.
These rankings originally appeared in the 2014-15 THN Yearbook.