RANKED: The 25 Best Players In The NHL Right Now

25. Mikko Rantanen, Forward, Colorado Avalanche

After enjoying a breakout season in 2017-2018, naturally, Rantanen has been even better this year. The 22-year-old tied for 16th in the league with 84 points last season, and could very well surpass that total in 2018-19. Rantanen’s 17 goals and 45 assists through 41 games have him on pace to break his career highs of 29 goals and 55 assists set last season.

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24. Jack Eichel, Forward, Buffalo Sabres

Eichel has had the unenviable task of trying to revive hockey in Buffalo. He totaled at least 56 points in each of his first three seasons for one of the worst teams in the league, but now the Sabres are among the best in the Eastern Conference and Eichel seems poised for a career season.

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23. Marc-Andre Fleury, Goaltender, Vegas Golden Knights

After his time in Pittsburgh came to an end, Fleury hit the jackpot in Las Vegas. He posted a 2.24 goals-against average and helped the expansion Golden Knights make an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final last year. Helping to prove 2017-18 was no fluke, Fleury leads the league in shutouts and has 23 wins in 37 starts.

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22. John Carlson, Defenseman, Washington Capitals

A career season (68 points) by Carlson played a major role in Washington winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The encore is also going well for Carlson, who is among the NHL leaders in plus/minus and points for defensemen in 2018-19.

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21. Johnny Gaudreau, Forward, Calgary Flames

“Johnny Hockey” is American born, but they love him in western Canada. Gaudreau has posted at least 61 points – career-high 84 in 2017-18 – in four straight seasons and could be the most exciting skater in the game when it comes to his sensational play-making skills.

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20. Steven Stamkos, Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning

Some of Stamkos’ Tampa Bay teammates will get more love on this list, but make no mistake, he’s still the heart and soul of the team. Stamkos bounced back from a knee injury that derailed his 2016-17 campaign by totaling 86 points last season. He’s been solid out of the gate this season, during which he played in his 700th career game.

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19. Brent Burns, Defenseman, San Jose Sharks

Two seasons removed from winning the Norris Trophy, Burns remains one of the elite two-way defensemen in the NHL. He’s already multiple three-point games this season and is easily on pace to exceed 60 points for the fifth consecutive year.

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18. Pekka Rinne, Goaltender, Nashville Predators

Rinne is tasked with trying to prove he’s still the best netminder currently in the game after winning the Vezina Trophy last season. So far, so good. Rinne has the league’s lowest goals-against average and is among the leaders in save percentage. He’s also trying for a fifth consecutive season with at least 30 wins.

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17. Anze Kopitar, Forward, Los Angeles Kings

Like the Kings’ 2018-19 season, Kopitar knows he can be better. The two-time Selke Trophy winner, however, still leads Los Angeles in points and, despite its overall struggle, was +1 as of this writing, which shows that good things still tend to happen with the 31-year-old on the ice.

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16. Taylor Hall, Forward, New Jersey Devils

It will be hard for Hall to top last season when he set career highs with 39 goals and 54 assists en route to becoming the first Devil to win the Hart Trophy. He helped New Jersey reach the playoffs then, but the team is currently toiling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. If the Devils are to turn it around in any meaningful capacity, it needs to start with Hall.

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15. Claude Giroux, Forward, Philadelphia Flyers

Though the Flyers appear to be an organization in disarray, Giroux continues to go about his business as one of the best in the game. Following last season’s breakout 102-point performance, Giroux remains Philadelphia’s most consistent offensive threat and the team’s undisputed leader.

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14. John Tavares, Forward, Toronto Maple Leafs

The transition from New York to Toronto has been a relatively smooth one for Tavares, who’s already topped the 20-goal mark for his new team. His addition has made Toronto a serious contender in the East, posing one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the league. Surrounded by talented playmakers, Tavares should have no problem notching 30+ goals for the fourth time in five seasons.

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13. Patrik Laine, Forward, Winnipeg Jets

In a career that’s only 2.5 years old, the fantastic Fin has already recorded more than 100 goals and is set to score at least 30 for a third consecutive campaign. Oh, yeah, did we mention he’s only 20 years old and with a team that is among the best in the Western Conference?

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12. Mark Scheifele, Forward, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele can thank buddy Blake Wheeler for the ample set-ups, but the truth is that since 2014-15, he’s blossomed into the one of the most complete players in the game. Barring injury, Scheifele is in good position to record at least 30 goals and 50 assists for the second time in his career.

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11. Nathan MacKinnon, Forward, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon won the Calder Trophy in 2014, then followed with three straight seasons plagued by injury and inconsistency. Last season though, MacKinnon rediscovered his groove, registering career highs for goals (39) and assists (58). He has carried that same momentum into 2018-19, posting 60 points through 41 games.

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10. Drew Doughty, Defenseman, Los Angeles Kings

Doughty’s team is scuffling at the bottom of the Western Conference, and he’s not happy about it. However, he’s in his 11th NHL season, and still remains one of the elite contributors not only at his position, but among all players. Could his time in L.A. soon be up?

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9. Patrick Kane, Forward, Chicago Blackhawks

Like Doughty’s Kings, the Blackhawks are mired in a miserable first-half of the season. That’s not because of Kane, who still ranks among the NHL leaders in points. He also remains one of the game’s most durable performers, having played all 82 regular season games each of the last three seasons. He’s also nearing the 900-point mark for his brilliant career.

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8. Erik Karlsson, Defenseman, San Jose Sharks

It’s taken a little bit of time to find his rhythm with his new team, but Karlsson has played well of late and remains one of the best two-way defensemen in the world. There is a not a better blue-line tandem in the league than Karlsson and teammate Brent Burns.

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7. Auston Matthews, Forward, Toronto Maple Leafs

Whether or not Matthews cares, he’s the latest to carry the torch for American-born NHL players. The 2017 Calder Trophy winner has totaled at least 63 points in each of his first two seasons and continues to prove he is one of the game’s best young stars.

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6. Victor Hedman, Defenseman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Last season’s Norris Trophy winner, Hedman missed time early in the season because of a shoulder injury. While he is starting to pick up his game at the offensive end of the ice, the 6-foot-6, 223-pound blue-liner remains a force in the opponent’s zone as the most crucial component of the Lightning’s stacked roster.

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5. Nikita Kucherov, Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning

No offense to Steven Stamkos, but the Lightning’s best overall player at the moment is Kucherov. Last season, he finished third in the league with a career-high 100 points and is right back among the NHL leaders this year. At 25, Kucherov should be a dominant force in the league for the next decade.

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4. Evgeni Malkin, Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins

In 2017-18, Malkin enjoyed one of the best campaigns of his career, totaling 42 goals and 56 assists to record at least 90 points for the first time in six seasons. That’s partly because his famed teammate was also healthy, but Malkin still remains a pillar of hockey in Pittsburgh.

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3. Alex Ovechkin, Forward, Washington Capitals

Don’t think because Ovie finally won a Stanley Cup that the fire no longer burns within. As of this writing, Ovechkin is leading the NHL in goals and among the leaders in points. The Conn Smythe winner remains one of the NHL’s most dominant players at age 33, and does not show any signs of slowing down.

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2. Sidney Crosby, Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins

How about the fact that Crosby played 82 games for the first time in his career last season – right before he was about to turn 31. That’s a good sign for Crosby and the NHL, itself. The three-time Stanley Cup champion remains the poster boy for the league but falls short of the #1 spot to a guy who was described by many as “the next Gretzky.”

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1. Connor McDavid, Forward, Edmonton Oilers

The reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, McDavid has registered at least 100 points in each of the last two seasons, and currently ranks among the league leaders again. The good news for McDavid is that the Oilers appear to have rebounded from a rough 2017-18, and look like a playoff contender under new head coach, Ken Hitchcock.

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