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NHL rank: Prime 50 gamers within the Stanley Cup playoffs

ESPN staffApr 18, 2023, 07:10 AM ETAt the beginning of every NHL season, we publish NHL Rank, a project where ESPN’s hockey analysts vote to determine the best 100 players for the upcoming season.Now that every team has completed its 82-game campaign and they’ve been whittled down to our 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket, it’s

NHL rank: Prime 50 gamers within the Stanley Cup playoffs

  • ESPN workersApr 18, 2023, 07:10 AM ET

At first of each NHL season, we publish NHL Rank, a venture the place ESPN’s hockey analysts vote to find out one of the best 100 gamers for the upcoming season.

Now that each workforce has accomplished its 82-game marketing campaign they usually’ve been whittled all the way down to our 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket, it is time to redo the rankings, limiting the record to the highest 50 gamers on playoff groups.

Here is the playoff version of ESPN NHL Rank, which seeks to establish the highest forwards, defensemen and goaltenders within the upcoming playoffs. Dozens of voters participated, selecting one winner in a sequence of head-to-head voting matchups created from the gamers on the 16 postseason qualifiers.

The next record options NHL award winners, earlier Stanley Cup champions and stars who’re in search of that first style of championship glory. As you will see, our voters made some attention-grabbing calls on the high relating to which gamers they consider are one of the best of one of the best within the 2023 NHL postseason.

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 64 G | 89 A | 153 PTS
Preseason rank: 1

How does the participant thought of to be probably the most dominant on the planet additional cement his place inside the sport? Easy: By main the NHL in objectives (64), assists (89) and factors (153). These career-high figures are why McDavid is the front-runner for his third Hart Trophy.

Final postseason, McDavid broke by way of for 10 objectives and led the league with 33 factors over a 16-game run that noticed the Oilers attain the Western Convention finals. If McDavid carries his profession regular-season exploits into this yr’s playoffs, we might see the Oilers go even additional. — Ryan S. Clark

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2. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

2022-23 stats: 42 G | 69 A | 111 PTS
Preseason rank: 4

The whole lot MacKinnon achieved in final yr’s playoffs performed an element within the Avs’ successful their third championship in workforce historical past. So usually lauded for his pure tempo, energy and scoring skill, MacKinnon confirmed he could be an all-around risk to these not acquainted with his sport.

Accidents had been a large issue for the Avs this season, with MacKinnon lacking 11 contests. Nevertheless it didn’t stop the 27-year-old from notching his first 100-point marketing campaign whereas additional reinforcing why the Avs might repeat as champions. — Clark

3. Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

2022-23 stats: 43 G | 56 A | 99 PTS
Preseason rank: 45

There are a number of explanations for the way the Devils ended a four-year playoff drought. Having Hughes is one in all them. The 21-year-old’s gradual enchancment exploded right into a 99-point marketing campaign that would have reached the century mark if not for his lacking 4 video games on account of harm.

Hughes was a serious cause the Devils reached the playoffs and fell a degree shy of successful the Metropolitan Division. Now it’s a matter of seeing what Hughes will do subsequent in his first postseason look. — Clark

4. Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 52 G | 76 A | 128 PTS
Preseason rank: 6

As a result of having just one participant with a Hart Trophy and a number of 100-point seasons simply is not sufficient in right this moment’s financial system. Draisaitl used this season to notch his third 50-goal marketing campaign whereas additionally reaching the century membership for the fourth time in his profession, ending with a personal-best 128 factors.

His skill to create for himself and his teammates allowed Draisaitl to guide all gamers in assists whereas ending second in factors final postseason (32). It reaffirms the notion that these playoffs have an opportunity to be particular for the Oilers. — Clark

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5. Linus Ullmark, G, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 40-6-1 | 1.89 GAA | .938 SV%
Preseason rank: NR

Seven. That is what number of mixed regulation and additional time losses Ullmark had in what was one of many strongest particular person campaigns within the NHL. Ullmark’s second season with the Bruins confirmed his significance to a workforce that is attempting to parlay a historic common season into one that would finish with a Stanley Cup.

Ullmark went 0-2 with a 4.17 goals-against common and a .860 save share in final yr’s playoffs. But when Ullmark can carry his regular-season exploits into this postseason? It might end result within the Bruins’ seventh Stanley Cup in workforce historical past. — Clark

6. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 61 G | 52 A | 113 PTS
Preseason rank: 21

Pastrnak continued to strengthen his place within the dialogue as probably the most harmful winger within the NHL. His 61 objectives are proof that he is an much more deadly scorer, whereas his 52 assists present he is an issue when he is creating for others.

All of it quantities to Pastrnak being a Hart Trophy hopeful who has been one of many largest causes the Bruins are a legit Stanley Cup challenger. For his profession, he’s averaging greater than a degree per sport over 70 playoff contests, numbers he might increase this postseason. — Clark

7. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

2022-23 stats: 17 G | 49 A | 66 PTS
Preseason rank: 2

He is the reigning Conn Smythe and Norris Trophy winner who does all the things required of a recent top-four defenseman — he can facilitate play, log heavy minutes, orchestrate an influence play and be a trusted member of a penalty kill. Accidents performed a large half within the dip in Makar’s regular-season statistics.

However when he was wholesome, he led the league in common ice time and was pressured to tackle an expanded function to assist the Avs circumvent their perpetual harm woes. Seeing what Makar does for a follow-up act might be the important thing within the Avs’ quest for a second consecutive Stanley Cup. — Clark

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8. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 9 G | 40 A | 49 PTS
Preseason rank: 8

It is arduous to argue any defenseman is extra very important to his workforce’s success than Hedman. The Lightning have performed extra hockey than anybody the previous three seasons — three straight journeys to the Stanley Cup Last will do this — and Hedman has been the identical stalwart presence main Tampa Bay from the again finish.

This season he has crushed main top-pairing minutes (23:43 per night time) once more, and added offensively (49 factors in 76 video games). At 32, Hedman continues adjusting his sport to work smarter, not more durable, so he can hold shutting down the subsequent wave of snipers hoping to knock Tampa Bay off monitor. — Kristen Shilton

9. Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs

2022-23 stats: 40 G | 45 A | 85 PTS
Preseason rank: 3

Even a so-called down yr for Matthews continues to be superior. The Maple Leafs’ high middle did not strategy the 60-goal mark once more this season, however he did notch 40 for the fifth time in his seven NHL campaigns, whereas averaging 1.15 factors per sport. Matthews has the flexibility to raise these round him and is at his finest bringing a powerful two-way sport nightly for the Leafs.

The 25-year-old additionally possesses one of many league’s most deadly, unpredictable photographs, and when he is rolling, he stays a goalie’s worst nightmare and a matchup downside in opposition to any opponent. — Shilton

10. Adam Fox, D, New York Rangers

2022-23 stats: 12 G | 60 A | 72 PTS
Preseason rank: 23

Fox gained the Norris Trophy in his second season within the NHL and has gotten even higher since then. The 25-year-old drives play at 5-on-5, quarterbacks the workforce’s highly effective energy play and is efficient in his personal finish as properly.

Fox had 72 factors in 82 video games for the Rangers; whereas these aren’t bonkers Erik Karlsson numbers, they might be adequate to get Fox again into the Norris high three. — Greg Wyshynski

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11. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 30 G | 83 A | 113 PTS
Preseason rank: 5

The NHL is rife with playmakers — however few can contact Kucherov in that class. The Lightning winger was second solely to McDavid in assists this season (83), racked up a cool 113 factors and stored Tampa Bay’s offense buzzing in a difficult season of ups and downs for the workforce. Kucherov is the type of difference-maker who can take over a whole sport, single-handedly throw an opponent off beam or come by way of with that well timed play to safe a playoff final result.

He has finished all of it earlier than, and it is why Kucherov perennially stays a feared, fierce presence on the ice. — Shilton

12. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 34-22-4 | 2.65 GAA | .915 SV%
Preseason rank: 10

It appears unimaginable Vasilevskiy is simply 28 years previous. Tampa Bay’s starter has gained all the things from Vezina Trophies to Stanley Cups to Conn Smythe honors. Since 2018-19, Vasilevskiy has paced the NHL in playoff wins (48) with a .925 SV% and a couple of.18 GAA and has carried the Lightning to loftier heights than the franchise may need ever imagined.

Vasilevskiy consistently reveals a capability to flip the change even throughout tough stretches, and when victory is on the road — notably within the postseason — Tampa Bay’s No. 1 is thought to ship the knockout, shutout punch his workforce requires to remain on high. — Shilton

13. Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 7 G | 45 A | 52 PTS
Preseason rank: 34

McAvoy brings all of it for the Bruins. Elite, top-pairing defensive pedigree with shutdown functionality? Verify. Skill to log vital minutes at 5-on-5, on the facility play and penalty kill? You wager. Contributions on the rating sheet? No query (52 factors in 67 video games this season).

If Boston has a jack-of-all-trades, it is McAvoy. At 25 years previous, he already has proved to be a top-10 — if not top-5 — blueliner within the NHL, and even nice years just like the one teammate Hampus Lindholm is having on the Bruins’ again finish cannot overshadow how important McAvoy is to Boston’s success. — Shilton

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14. Sebastian Aho, C, Carolina Hurricanes

2022-23 stats: 36 G | 31 A | 67 PTS
Preseason rank: 22

There is a cause Aho is Carolina’s MVP season after season. The 25-year-old not often appears to be rattled. His 36 objectives this season marked the fourth time he has handed the 30-goal plateau and his 26 even-strength scores had been a profession finest. Aho is constant (averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per sport), however he may wield sufficient flash to rank with any of the NHL’s different dynamic performers.

When the Hurricanes want somebody to return by way of, they will most of the time depend on Aho to create a game-changing second. — Shilton

15. Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 21 G | 46 A | 67 PTS
Preseason rank: 43

Everybody likes to hate Marchand, however any participant within the league would need the winger on his facet. Marchand could be each a get-under-your-skin pest and a first-class scoring risk, bowling a man over earlier than blowing previous a goaltender.

It is a distinctive line few gamers within the league can or would even attempt to steadiness on. Marchand has made a profession in that twin area, and it is a key to the 34-year-old’s longevity, as he is nonetheless amongst Boston’s finest performers (second in factors this season). — Shilton

16. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 34 G | 50 A | 84 PTS
Preseason rank: 20

Stamkos hit a pair of profession milestones this season in recording his five hundredth objective and 1,000th level. His manufacturing declined from final season, however that is all relative once you’re Steven Stamkos: The 33-year-old captain had 84 factors in 81 video games because the Lightning push for a fourth straight journey to the Stanley Cup Last. — Wyshynski

17. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche

2022-23 stats: 55 G | 50 A | 105 PTS
Preseason rank: 24

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The Avalanche noticed their lineup ravaged by accidents after successful the Stanley Cup final postseason, with gamers like Makar lacking time and captain Gabriel Landeskog out for the season.

Solely 4 Colorado gamers appeared in all 82 video games, and Rantanen clearly had the best influence. The winger set a brand new profession excessive for objectives (55) and factors (105), breaking the century mark for the primary time. He scored 42 of these objectives at even energy, buoyed by a rise in shot quantity (306 on the season). The Avs gained the Central once more, and Rantanen was a main cause. — Wyshynski

18. Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 51 G | 44 A | 95 PTS
Preseason rank: 26

Level is a soft-spoken participant, so it is solely applicable that his career-best offensive season seemingly flew beneath everybody’s radar. The 27-year-old middle had 51 objectives and 95 factors, taking part in all 82 video games for the Lighting. His days as a burgeoning Selke candidate have handed, however Level reestablished himself as an offensive pressure this season. — Wyshynski

19. Nico Hischier, C, New Jersey Devils

2022-23 stats: 31 G | 49 A | 80 PTS
Preseason rank: NR

Hischier’s rise has been a gradual burn. Earlier than this season, the Devils’ captain was a stable two-way skater and dependable playmaker. This season, Hischier turned up the warmth.

In his sixth NHL marketing campaign, New Jersey’s high pivot began taking pictures extra and producing offense from high quality areas to be a bona fide risk on each side of the puck. Hischier is spectacular on the cycle, too, including dimension for a Devils workforce that loves scoring off the frenzy. The more durable Hischier stays to match up in opposition to, the higher for New Jersey. He is displaying that functionality increasingly more. — Shilton

20. Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers

2022-23 stats: 37-13-8 | 2.48 GAA | .916 SV%
Preseason rank: 11

Shesterkin adopted his Vezina Trophy win with one other sturdy season for the Rangers. The 27-year-old netminder posted a .916 save share and a 2.48 goals-against common to backstop the Rangers again to the postseason after main them to the Japanese Convention finals. He was fifth within the NHL in objectives saved above common. One of many few goalies within the playoffs who might win a sequence on his personal. — Wyshynski

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21. Jason Robertson, LW, Dallas Stars

2022-23 stats: 46 G | 63 A | 109 PTS
Preseason rank: 30

22. Hampus Lindholm, D, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 10 G | 43 A | 53 PTS
Preseason rank: 76

23. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild

2022-23 stats: 40 G | 35 A | 75 PTS
Preseason rank: 7

24. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars

2022-23 stats: 11 G | 62 A | 73 PTS
Preseason rank: 28

25. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Florida Panthers

2022-23 stats: 40 G | 69 A | 109 PTS
Preseason rank: 19

26. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets

2022-23 stats: 37-25-2 | 2.49 GAA | .920 SV%
Preseason rank: 46

27. Mitch Marner, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

2022-23 stats: 30 G | 69 A | 99 PTS
Preseason rank: 12

28. Mark Stone, C, Vegas Golden Knights

2022-23 stats: 17 G | 21 A | 38 PTS
Preseason rank: 42

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29. Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers

2022-23 stats: 39 G | 52 A | 91 PTS
Preseason rank: 16

30. Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins

2022-23 stats: 27 G | 31 A | 58 PTS
Preseason rank: 51

31. Ilya Sorokin, G, New York Islanders

2022-23 stats: 31-22-7 | 2.34 GAA | 0.924 SV%
Preseason rank: 82

32. Dougie Hamilton, D, New Jersey Devils

2022-23 stats: 22 G | 52 A | 74 PTS
Preseason rank: 63

33. Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers

2022-23 stats: 29 G | 63 A | 92 PTS
Preseason rank: 18

34. William Nylander, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

2022-23 stats: 40 G | 47 A | 87 PTS
Preseason rank: 89

35. Jack Eichel, C, Vegas Golden Knights

2022-23 stats: 27 G | 39 A | 66 PTS
Preseason rank: 25

36. Jaccob Slavin, D, Carolina Hurricanes

2022-23 stats: 7 G | 20 A | 27 PTS
Preseason rank: 69

37. Patrick Kane, RW, New York Rangers

2022-23 stats: 21 G | 36 A | 57 PTS
Preseason rank: 40

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38. Shea Theodore, D, Vegas Golden Knights

2022-23 stats: 8 G | 33 A | 41 PTS
Preseason rank: HM

39. Jake Oettinger, G, Dallas Stars

2022-23 stats: 37-11-11 | 2.37 GAA | .919 SV%
Preseason rank: 88

40. Roope Hintz, LW, Dallas Stars

2022-23 stats: 37 G | 38 A | 75 PTS
Preseason rank: NR

41. Kevin Fiala, LW, Los Angeles Kings

2022-23 stats: 23 G | 49 A | 72 PTS
Preseason rank: 57

42. Stuart Skinner, G, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 29-14-5 | 2.75 GAA | .914 SV%
Preseason rank: NR

43. Timo Meier, RW, New Jersey Devils

2022-23 stats: 40 G | 26 A | 66 PTS
Preseason rank: NR

44. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

2022-23 stats: 23 G | 55 A | 78 PTS
Preseason rank: 9

45. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 37 G | 67 A | 104 PTS
Preseason rank: NR

46. Mikhail Sergachev, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 stats: 10 G | 54 A | 64 PTS
Preseason rank: 75

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47. Evander Kane, LW, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 16 G | 12 A | 28 PTS
Preseason rank: 100

48. Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton Oilers

2022-23 stats: 12 G | 31 A | 43 PTS
Preseason rank: 62

49. Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

2022-23 stats: 4 G | 37 A | 41 PTS
Preseason rank: 79

50. Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings

2022-23 stats: 28 G | 46 A | 74 PTS
Preseason rank: 91

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