NHL's 50 Best Players Since 2000

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IFebruary 15, 2012

NHL's 50 Best Players Since 2000

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    There has been a lot of incredible hockey played since the turn of the millennium. What's even better, there hasn't been a repeat champion and only the back-to-back Pens-Wings Finals felt like a deja vu championship.

    If we look back to the 2000-01 season and walk to the present day, there have been some fantastic individual performances as well. Some careers have started, and others have ended, but 11 of the last 12 years have been great to hockey fans.

    What follows is our ranking of the 50 best players since the 2000-01 season. Enjoy!

    (Note: All statistics used are entering Tuesday's action)

50. Nikolai Khabibulin

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    "The Bulin Wall" hasn't been the ridiculous shot-blocker he was before 2000, but he's still been impressive. He's posted 202 wins in 291 games with a.907 save percentage and 24 shutouts.

49. Ryan Getzlaf

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    Getzlaf has been a big power forward in Anaheim since 2005-06, and has been good throughout his career. He has averaged .936 points per game since jumping into the NHL, scoring 134 goals and adding 320 assists in 485 games with the Ducks.

48. Marc-Andre Fleury

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    One of the top overall picks in Pittsburgh to make the list, "Flower" has been really good for the Pens. He has won 213 times and posted 21 shutouts in 414 regular season games with a Stanley Cup championship on his resume.

47. Rod Brind'Amour

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    Brind'Amour didn't put up the gaudy offensive numbers that most of the other forwards on the list did, but he did win two Selke Awards in the last decade before retiring. He also scored 170 goals and added 289 assists in 661 games.

46. Mark Recchi

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    If Recchi were a cigar, he would be the Ancient Warrior. He hung up his skates after one last Cup with Boston this last year, but he was an effective player to the end. He had exactly 600 points (216 goals, 384 assists) in 789 games before walking away.

45. Mike Modano

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    Modano is certainly in the conversation to be considered the best American-born player ever. His huge scoring years may have been prior to the 2000-01 season, but he still posted great numbers in the last decade. Modano posted 212 goals and 384 assists in 712 games, the majority of which as the most distinguished player to ever skate in Dallas.

44. Jean-Sebastian Giguere

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    Jean-Sebastian Giguere is still going at it in Denver this year, but he was great for years in Anaheim. In the last decade, he put up 237 wins and a .914 save percentage with 35 shutouts in 522 appearances.

43. Ryan Miller

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    Miller might be best remembered for his epic performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but he has now passed Dominik Hasek as the all-time winner between the pipes in Buffalo. He has one Vezina to his name and 237 wins with a .914 save percentage in 435 appearances for the Sabres.

42. Evgeni Nabokov

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    In spite of the last couple years being an intriguing journey from starting in San Jose to sitting out in New York and now back into the mix with the Isles, Nabokov's numbers in the last decade are impossible to ignore. He won 304 times and had 51 shutouts with a .912 save percentage. Only one netminder won more games since 2000-01 than Nabokov (entering Tuesday).

41. Rick Nash

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    The face of the Columbus Blue Jackets is now suddenly the face of trade rumors in the NHL. But he's been good for a long time in Columbus. In the last decade, all in hockey purgatory, Nash has put up 277 goals and 250 assists in 648 games.

40. Marty Turco

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    It might surprise many to see Turco this high, but he quietly put up huge numbers in Dallas. He had 41 shutouts, the fifth-highest total in the decade, and won 273 games in 538 appearances.

39. Paul Kariya

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    Kariya might have been at the end of his great career then the calendar rolled over to the 2000s, but he averaged more points per game than either Sedin, Nash, Modano or Patrick Marleau. He posted 192 goals and 333 assists in 613 games.

38. Patrik Elias

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    Elias might not get the respect he deserves outside of Jersey, but he has been very effective during his career. His numbers in the last decade are comparable to Daniel Sedin, but he has a higher point-per-game average than Daniel. With 282 goals and 423 assists, Elias is one of a small handful of players to post over 700 points since 2000.

37. Scott Niedermayer

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    With one Norris Trophy in the last decade, Niedermayer's crowning moment may have been playing like a 20-something in the 2010 Olympics at the end of his career. He had 102 goals and 323 assists in the finals years of his brilliant career and remains one of the most respected leaders the game has seen in the last decade.

36. Rob Blake

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    Another Hall of Fame-bound defenseman who finished his career in the last decade, Blake had 119 goals and 278 assists while anchoring a number of really good teams.

35. Marian Gaborik

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    Gaborik is one of a small number of guys to put the puck in the net more than 300 times in the last decade. In 694 games, he's scored 310 goals and added 309 assists.

34. Daniel Sedin

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    Daniel has over 100 goals more than Henrik, but their point totals are within 20 of each other. Go figure, the production from the twins is nearly identical. Vancouver fans can thank Brian Burke's creativity for getting them together on the Canucks roster. Daniel has 273 goals and 433 assists in 841 games in the last decade.

33. Henrik Sedin

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    Henrik has put up bigger numbers and played more games than his brother, which is why he gets the bump ahead of Daniel. Henrik has 169 goals and 555 assists in 865 games with the Canucks.

32. Shane Doan

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    The great captain of the Coyotes will have an important decision to make about his future this summer, but there was no questioning his place on this list. He has posted 264 goals and 394 assists in the last decade and continues to be a classy leader in the desert.

31. Jason Spezza

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    Spezza is one of a very small number of players to play in at least 500 games in the last decade and average a point-per-game. He has scored 214 goals and added 274 assists in 584 games in the last decade.

30. Roberto Luongo

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    Luongo might not have a Cup championship on his resume, but that and the Vezina Trophy might be the only things missing from his body of work since 2000. In addition to his gold medal in 2010, Luongo has 323 wins and 56 shutouts in 686 appearances in the last decade and his .920 save percentage is outstanding as well.

29. Patrick Marleau

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    Marleau, another member of the 2010 Canadian gold medal team on the list, has been so good for so long he's often taken for granted. Since 2000, he has scored 326 goals and added 365 assists in 852 games.

28. Dany Heatley

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    Heatley is the second point-per-game player to make the list, but he's been a much bigger goal scorer than Spezza. In 724 games, Heatley has posted 343 goals and 385 assists since 2001.

27. Jonathan Toews

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    Has the shortest resume on this list, starting his NHL career in the 2007-08 season with a runner-up finish to teammate Patrick Kane for the Calder Trophy. He hasn't settled much since then, winning the Conn Smythe as the youngest captain in Chicago history and being named the Most Outstanding Forward at the 2010 Olympics. He has a higher point-per-game average than Gaborik, Selanne, both Sedins and Marleau, to name a few. In 357 games, Toews has 142 goals and 177 assists.

26. Eric Staal

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    Somehow we limited the list to only one Staal, though we were tempted to just put a photo of their parents. Eric has a Cup ring in the last decade and has put up impressive numbers, scoring 240 goals and adding 305 assists in 616 games with the Canes.

25. Henrik Lundqvist

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    Lundqvist has the second-highest save percentage on this list (.920) and his 41 shutouts are equal to Turco in 91 fewer appearances. In 447 games since joining the NHL, Lundqvist has won 239 games.

24. Peter Forsberg

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    Forsberg wasn't the electrifying scorer in his limited action this decade as he was prior to the 2000-01 season, but he was still impactful. In 315 games, the smallest body of work on the list, Forsberg scored 107 goals and added 287 assists. His 1.25 points-per-game is the second-highest on the list.

23. Milan Hejduk

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    You might be surprised to see Hejduk this high, but looking deeper into his decade reveals that he might be the most unappreciated player of the time period. Overshadowed by Forsberg and Sakic early in his career and now Matt Duchene, Hejduk has quietly put up 320 goals and 349 assists in 803 games. His .833 points per game is a higher average than Rick Nash, Patrick Marleau and Mike Modano since 2000.

22. Tim Thomas

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    Thomas has the fewest games played among all the netminders on the list (355). He also has the fewest victories on the list (184). But he has the highest save percentage (.922), his 30 shutouts are more than Khabibulin, Fleury and Miller and he has more Vezina Trophies (two) than any of the other guys to make the list.

21. Henrik Zetterberg

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    Zetterberg broke into the league in 2002-03 and has been incredible ever since. He's scored 241 goals and added 357 assists in only 643 games.

20. Evgeni Malkin

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    Geno is a beast and could add a Hart Trophy to his collection this year. He won the Conn Smythe when the Penguins captured the Cup and has been as lethal as any player in the last decade, averaging 1.215 points per game. In 401 games, Malkin has scored 190 goals and added 297 assists.

19. Alexander Ovechkin

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    Ovechkin doesn't have a Cup to his credit, but he does have the distinction of being the only winner of multiple Hart Trophies in the last decade. Only two players on this list have a higher point-per-game average than his 1.249 (Forsberg and Crosby). In 527 games, Ovechkin has scored 324 goals and added 334 assists. To put that into perspective, entering Tuesday night's action he had played in one more game this decade than Joe Sakic and had posted 47 more points than the Avs Hall of Famer.

18. Sidney Crosby

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    He's won a Cup and scored a golden goal. And, since 2005-06, he's posted 584 points in only 420 games. The argument with Crosby isn't that he's on top of the game, but who's up there with him as the league's best. Hopefully fans will see his numbers increase some day soon.

17. Vinny Lecavalier

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    Before Steven Stamkos got to Tampa, Vinny was working his magic. In 827 games he's scored 334 goals and added 409 assists, all while serving as captain of the Bolts.

16. Miikka Kiprusoff

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    Kipprusoff has been incredible on a team that continues to only be recognized for Jarome Iginla's accomplishments. But their goalie has 301 wins, 43 shutouts and a .913 save percentage in 577 games this decade, as well as one Vezina on his resume. He's been really good for a long time.

15. Chris Pronger

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    Pronger hasn't won a Norris Trophy this decade and hasn't put up huge numbers (450 points in 659 games). But he's been a respected captain and winner everywhere he's been and is one of the most dominant defensemen in the game. As was the case with Crosby, hopefully we see Pronger on the ice again some time soon.

14. Zdeno Chara

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    Chara holds the distinction of not only owning the hardest shot in the game, but also being one of three men not-named-Lidstrom to win the Norris Trophy in the past decade (Niedermayer and Duncan Keith are the others). His 418 points in 830 games aren't huge, but his impact on every Bruins' game is.

13. Brad Richards

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    Richards is one of only three players on the list to have over 500 assists in the last decade and continues to put up big numbers. In 826 games, he's posted 237 goals with 518 assists.

12. Daniel Alfredsson

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    Alfie is one of the dozen players on the list that has been a point-per-game player through the last decade (725 points in 712 games). With 285 goals and 440 assists, he's been a great captain and received the recognition he deserved while hosting the All-Star Game this season.

11. Jaromir Jagr

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    Jagr is another point-per-game guy on the list, but took a few years away from the NHL that cut his total numbers back a little. Even with the time spent overseas, he's still put up 272 goals and 408 assists in only 595 games in the NHL over the last decade.

10. Teemu Selanne

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    One of the most respected leaders and scorers of his generation, Selanne has scored 309 goals and added 353 assists in 750 games in the last decade.

9. Martin St. Louis

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    On top of his two Lady Byng trophies, St. Louis is one of only three players on the list to hit the 800-point mark in the last decade. St. Louis has 808 points (310 goals, 498 assists) in 835 games and is one of the more respected players in the league.

8. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Kovalchuk has been a point-per-game player since breaking into the league in 2001-02, scoring 391 goals and adding 363 assists in 752 games.

7. Joe Sakic

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    Sakic was one of the standard bearers from the great teams of the 1990s and continued that strong play until he retired in 2009. He won the Hart Trophy in 2000-01 and scored 222 goals and added 389 assists in 526 games.

6. Marian Hossa

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    Hossa is the only guy on the list to play in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, eventually winning the Cup with Chicago after losing in Pittsburgh and Detroit. One of the better two-way forwards of the last decade, he's scored 367 goals and added 429 assists in 807 games.

5. Jarome Iginla

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    Iginla is the biggest goal scorer on the list, putting the puck in the net 414 times in the last decade. In 851 games, he has 854 points and is another great captain that has earned a great deal respect around the league.

4. Joe Thornton

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    Thornton has the biggest point total on the list, having put up 940 points in 831 games. He's the only player on the list to hit 600 assists, blowing past that mark with 664 to go with 276 goals. Thornton won the Hard Trophy in 2005-06 as well.

3. Pavel Datsyuk

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    Datsyuk has four Lady Byng Trophies and three Selke Trophies at home, and is consistently embarrassing opponents with his puck handling. He has 236 goals and 471 assists since breaking into the league in 2001-02.

2. Martin Brodeur

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    No goalie since 2000 comes close to Brodeur. His 75 shutouts are 19 more than the second-highest total on the list. His 399 wins are 76 more than the second-highest total. And his four Vezina Trophies put him at the top of the list for automatic Hall of Fame admittance when he finally hangs up his skates.

1. Nicklas Lidstrom

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    The Norris Trophy has been handed out 10 times since 2000 and on seven of those occasions the name on the award has been Lidstrom. He has built a case to be considered among the all-time great defensemen and continues to be a rock on Detroit's blue line. His 641 points in 857 games are worth noting (more than 200 more than Chara in less than 30 additional games), but his leadership and skill on the ice is truly special to watch.

    Lidstrom has been, without question, the best player in the NHL since the year 2000.