[RELATED: #NHLTopPlayers Right Now | Top 20 Centers | Top 20 Wings | Top 20 Defensemen | Top 10 Goalies | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 50-41 | #NHLTopPlayers: Nos. 40-31]
30. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers
A two-time Vezina Trophy winner voted as the best goalie in the NHL (2013, 2017), Bobrovsky’s 115 wins the past three seasons led the NHL. He won at least 37 games each season in that span for the Columbus Blue Jackets, including when he went 37-24-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and an NHL-leading nine shutouts last season. He was 5-14 in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games prior to helping the Blue Jackets sweep the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round. Bobrovsky, who turns 31 on Sept. 20, signed a seven-year contract with the Panthers on July 1.
“That was one stumbling block he’s had throughout his career, was the playoffs,” NHL Network analyst Ken Daneyko said. “Last year, he played well in the playoffs. Make no mistake, during the regular season he’s been sparkling. … He is one of those guys that you can’t believe he made ‘that’ save.”
Video: Bobrovsky earns No. 30, Wheeler takes No. 29
29. Blake Wheeler, RW, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets captain had his second straight 91-point season with 20 goals and an NHL career-high 71 assists in 2018-19. He is one of four NHL players with at least 90 points in each of the past two seasons (Nikita Kucherov, Lightning; Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche). His 139 assists the past two seasons were third behind Kucherov (148) and McDavid (142). The 33-year-old scored four goals in a 5-2 win against the Blue Jackets on March 3 and has scored at least 20 goals in six straight seasons.
“The world really turned up for Blake Wheeler in his career when the Boston Bruins traded him in 2011,” NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton said. “… He took off like a rocket ship and hasn’t slowed down yet. The Winnipeg Jets love having this guy as their captain. He’s big (6-foot-5, 225 pounds), he can skate, he can be physical. He’s been a great leader for them.”
28. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
A three-time Stanley Cup champion (2009, 2016, 2017), Malkin has scored at least 33 goals in six of his 13 NHL seasons and had at least 70 points in 10 of them. He had 17 multipoint games last season and got his 1,000th NHL point with his second assist against the Washington Capitals on March 12. Malkin has averaged more than a point per game in each of the past eight seasons. The 33-year-old won the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as playoff MVP in 2009, when he had 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 24 games.
“I understand because he had what is considered from his standards an off year,” Daneyko said. “Malkin dropped significantly from the previous season (No. 4) in the top 50, but boy, would I take him on my team any day of the week. He’s one of the best the game has seen for the better part of the decade.”
Video: Malkin lands at No. 28 on the Top 50 Players list
27. Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues
In his first season with the Blues, O’Reilly matched his NHL career high with 28 goals, set highs with 49 assists, 77 points and a plus-22 rating, led the NHL in face-off wins for the second straight season (1,086), and was seventh in face-off winning percentage among those to take at least 750 draws (56.9 percent). He was voted winner of the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL for the first time. The 28-year-old won the Conn Smythe Trophy after he led the NHL with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 26 games to help St. Louis to its first Stanley Cup championship in 51 seasons.
“He was the one guy that was there early on and really helped to keep them still in it, so in it so to speak, even though they were dead last on Jan. 3,” Lawton said. “This guy showed up to play … when it’s all said and done, for me, this guy was the catalyst in the Finals for the St. Louis Blues.”
Video: O’Reilly is named No. 27 on the Top 50 list
26. Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars
He led the Stars in goals (33), assists (47) and points (80) last season, and led them in goals in each of the past three. In six seasons with Dallas, Seguin has had at least 72 points and scored at least 33 goals five times. The 27-year-old has scored 206 goals since 2013-14, fifth in the NHL, and his 464 points in that span are tied with Wheeler for fifth.
“I think Tyler Seguin has continued to evolve as a player,” Daneyko said. “We know he’s that guy that can score the big goal when you need it, but I like his all-around game. I think it’s gotten better. Seguin is a dynamic player. … You’ve got to be that complete player, that leader, and I think Seguin is taking on some of that responsibility besides still putting up some real nice offensive numbers.”
Video: Seguin, Pastrnak take No. 26 and No. 25 on the list
25. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins
The 23-year-old has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past three seasons, and his 107 goals in that span are ninth in the NHL. Pastrnak had an NHL career-high 81 points (38 goals, 43 assists) last season, passing his previous high from the prior season by one point. His 17 power-play goals were tied with Panthers forward Mike Hoffman for fourth in the NHL, and his three hat tricks were tied for first with Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Jets forward Patrik Laine. Pastrnak has 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 36 playoff games the past two seasons.
“The work he’s done in the playoffs, that’s where he’s really impressed me,” Lawton said. “He does play on one of the most dynamic lines in the National Hockey League, but the fact of the matter is, he’s a big part of that line (with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron). … He absolutely deserves to be here.”
24. Erik Karlsson, D, San Jose Sharks
In his first season in San Jose, Karlsson was limited to 53 games because of injury but had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) to rank sixth among NHL defensemen in points per game (0.85). The 29-year-old had at least 62 points in five straight seasons through 2017-18, and his 563 points since entering the NHL in 2009-10 are the most among defensemen ahead of teammate Brent Burns (532). Karlsson is a four-time Norris Trophy finalist, voted winner of the award for best defenseman in the NHL in 2011-12 and 2014-15, and was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team three times (2014-17).
“We know that he can put the puck just about anywhere, he can skate himself out of trouble, he can pass himself out of trouble, he can do just about anything,” Lawton said. “For a defenseman in today’s game that played on one leg basically last year … he did have 16 points in 19 playoff games and it wasn’t quite enough, but it was pretty darn heroic if you ask me.”
Video: Karlsson checks in at No. 24 on Top 50 Players list
23. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames
He won the Norris Trophy last season after finishing second in scoring among defensemen behind Burns (83) with an NHL career-high 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists). He led the NHL with a plus-39 rating, finishing even or plus in 58 of 78 games. Giordano, who turns 36 on Oct. 3, led the Flames in ice time per game (24:14) and had 21 power-play points and six shorthanded points (four goals) to help them finish with the best record in the Western Conference and second in the NHL with a plus-66 goal differential (Lightning, plus-98).
“Not much not to admire about Mark Giordano, getting better with age and it’s all on work ethic, character, believing in himself, ” Daneyko said. “And yes, this year put up big numbers, but he’s the type of defenseman who could have played in our era because he defends when he needs to, he plays physical when the opportunity is there to make a hit. … I just like his all-around game.”
Video: Giordano claims the No. 23 spot on the Top 50 list
22. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche
For the second straight season, Rantanen set NHL career highs in goals (31), assists (56) and points (87). He had 33 power-play points and 10 three-point games, including three four-point games. The 22-year-old had 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) during a 14-game point streak from Nov. 18-Dec. 15 and led Colorado with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 playoff games.
“There’s nothing I don’t like about his game,” Lawton said. “… This is a player that, yes, he plays wing, but he also can play center. His value is through the roof. The Colorado Avalanche have to be over the moon about him.”
Video: Rantanen named No. 22, Panarin comes in at No. 21
21. Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers
He had an NHL career-high 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 77 games last season, setting a single-season Blue Jackets record. Panarin scored eight game-winning goals, including four in overtime. He has 320 points (116 goals, 204 assists) in 322 games over four NHL seasons. The 2015-16 Calder Trophy winner voted as NHL rookie of the year with the Chicago Blackhawks, he had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 games in the 2019 playoffs and helped Columbus sweep Tampa Bay for the first postseason series win in its history. The 27-year-old signed a seven-year contract with the Rangers on July 1.
“He is a game breaker, a game changer,” Daneyko said. “He’s a guy that can win a game single-handedly or on a single shift or a couple of shifts. … He’s got over a point a game throughout his career over 300 games. The second he stepped in the League with the Blackhawks, you saw that dynamic-type person.”