Power Ranking the Top 62 Players of the 2011-12 NHL Season

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IJune 27, 2012

Power Ranking the Top 62 Players of the 2011-12 NHL Season

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    The 2011-12 season is in the books and before the frenzy of free agency overwhelms you, why not take a look back on the season that was. The 2011-12 NHL season was a memorable one because there were a lot of things that were accomplished.

    A player broke the 100-point plateau, a player scored 60 goals and there were a lot of other achievements that need to be recognized.

    It is never easy to rank the top 62 players given the complexity and nuances that go on during the evaluation process.

    Here is how the top 62 will work.

    A player will be ranked on their 2011-12 performance, how it was an improvement from the year prior, the impact the player had on their team and a few other areas to determine their ranking in the top 62. Forwards and defensemen will get priority placement, but goalies will not be forgotten.

    Players who did not play a complete season will likely not appear on this list.

    Here are your 62 best players from the '11-12 season.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Toews

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    Jonathan Toews originally was unrightfully excluded from this list. He may have appeared in only 59 games but he was off to a great start.

    Toews posted 57 points in those 59 games and has a rating of plus-17. If Toews had remained healthy all year long, odds are he would have finished with close to a point-per-game average.

62. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

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    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would have likely captured the Calder Trophy if he stayed healthy for a full season. However, what he was able to accomplish in 62 games was impressive. RNH tallied 18 goals, added 34 markers and ended up with 52 total points.

    RNH finished second in the Calder vote but still had a standout season.

61. Gabriel Landeskog

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    Gabriel Landeskog had a great year considering he was only a rookie. He was a guy who played in all situations, led his team in goal scoring and really assimilated well into his role. He may have less points that other players not on this list, but Lando's first year made him standout player.

60. Dustin Byfuglien

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    Dustin Byfuglien made headlines for his off-ice antics before the season started, but he silenced tons of critics once he got going. Byfuglien was second in scoring among defenseman with 53 points on a Winnipeg Jets team that didn't generate much offense. 

59. Radim Vrbata

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    Radim Vrbata had a breakout season and deserves to be recognized. Vrbata scored 35 goals and assisted on 27 others for 62 points. Vrbata also was a plus-24 on the season.

    The Phoenix Coyotes went to the conference finals in '11-12 and without a potent Vrbata, it might have not been possible.

58. Jamie Benn

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    Mike Ribeiro's teammate, Jamie Benn, also didn't have a shabby season. Benn hit center stage when he displayed his pinpoint accuracy at the NHL's Skills Competition during All-Star weekend and continued to have a solid season.

    On the year, Benn scored 26 goals and assisted on 37 others. Benn is one of the league's rising stars and will only continue to grow.

57. Brian Campbell

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    Brian Campbell won the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy this year as a defenseman. This is a big achievement for the Panthers defenseman who registered 53 points on the season. Campbell is a player who was criticized for his massive contract, but he lived up to it this season. 

56. Kevin Bieksa

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    Kevin Bieksa was a member of a very successful Vancouver Canucks' blue line. His 44 points and his plus-12 rating earn him a spot here over defensemen like Keith Yandle, Dennis Wideman and Mark Streit because Bieksa was able to play a two-way game while staying true to his position.

55. Daniel Sedin

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    Daniel Sedin had an amazing 2010-11 season, but his drop in production during the '11-12 campaign puts him toward the bottom of the list.

    He had a solid performance when ranked against the other top players in the league, but even though people higher on the list may have had less points, when taking into account all the variables, No. 55 is where Sedin should be.

54. Logan Couture

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    Logan Couture had a breakout season. He improved from his 2010-11 totals and ended the '11-12 season with a total of 65 points. Couture is a talented young forward who has a bright future with the Sharks.

53. Duncan Keith

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    The Chicago Blackhawks have a solid back end, and Duncan Keith is a defenseman who stands out for the 'Hawks. Not only was Keith solid in his own end, but Keith was a solid puck-moving defenseman during the season. His stat line consisted of four goals, 36 assists and a total of 40 points.

    Keith is a dependable defenseman and was one of the league's best in 2011-12.

52. Brad Richards

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    Brad Richards had an OK season. He posted numbers below his 2010-11 stat line, but Richards was never able to gain consistency with linemates till the season ended. Richards ended the year with 66 points, but a strong playoff run helped him win over most of the fans.

51. Kimmo Timonen

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    When Chris Pronger went down with a season-ending injury, Kimmo Timonen had to step up, and he did in a big way. Timonen was able to contribute not only defensively on the back end, but he chipped in with a fair share of offense as well.

    Timonen's 43 points and plus-eight rating in front of Ilya Bryzgalov is something he should be commended for.

50. Kris Letang

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    Kris Letang had a solid season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He battled through concussions and other injuries but still was able to put up a respectable 42 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-21.

    With Pittsburgh looking to upgrade their defense this offseason, Letang should be glad he will have more support on the back end. 

49. Dan Boyle

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    Dan Boyle used to be one of the NHL's best power-play quarterbacks, but he's still a solid offensive defenseman for the San Jose Sharks. Boyle has been a mainstay on the Sharks' blue line for the past few seasons and will likely retire there.

    Boyle posted a stat line of 9-39-48 with a plus-10 rating. He was also eighth among defensemen in scoring.

48. Eric Staal

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    Eric Staal had a solid second half and a poor first half. Had Staal performed all year long, he would have ended up higher on this list. Staal finished with 70 points but had a paltry rating of minus-20. Eric will be united with his brother, Jordan, next season, so expect him to bounce back in a huge way.

    Nonetheless, Eric rebounded well in the second half of the season.

47. Jarome Iginla

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    Jarome Iginla was another top player who had a down season. Iginla ended the year with 67 points and a rating of minus-10.

    He is in the last year of his contract, so it will be interesting to see if he is moved this summer. Iginla is a power forward who usually remains consistent, so hopefully this down year was just an aberration.

46. Max Pacioretty

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    "Max Pax" was the 2011-12 Bill Masterton Award winner for his comeback season after suffering an injury at the hands of Zdeno Chara the year prior. Pacioretty scored 33 goals and assisted on 32 others for a total of 65 points on the year.

    Pacioretty ranks high on the list because of his production, considering the return he made from the year prior.

45. Patrick Kane

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    Patrick Kane is had an above-average season. He dipped in points slightly but was still a solid performer for the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane scored 66 points and was shifted between center and the wing often, so that could explain his dip in points. 

    Kane will look to rebound next season, but he is still one of the better wingers in the game today.

44. Marc-Andre Fleury

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    Postseason aside, Marc-Andre Fleury had a solid year between the pipes. Fleury posted a record of 42-17-4 with a 2.36 GAA with only four shutouts. Fleury had a good year, but his GAA and lack of shutouts puts him behind other goalies on this list.

    Fleury will look to get off to a fast start next season so he can put his dreadful playoff performance behind him.

43. Mike Smith

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    Mike Smith finished fourth in the Vezina voting, but he was still one of the NHL's best netminders in 2011-12. He posted a record of 38-18-10 with a 2.21 G.A.A and eight shutouts.

    Smith will look to build upon his success from this past season and should be in Vezina contention next season.

42. Henrik Zetterberg

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    Henrik Zetterberg has a solid season in which he recorded 69 points and a rating of plus-14. Zetterberg is a player who is vital to the Red Wings, and his offense came in handy for Detroit this season. 

    With the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, Zetterberg is poised to inherit the Wings' captaincy next season.

41. Kevin Shattenkirk

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    Kevin Shattenkirk had a solid season and earned a nice new contract because of it. Shattenkirk was a plus-20, scored nine goals and assisted on 34 others for 43 total points.

    He is a solid defenseman who will only improve under a full offseason with Ken Hitchcock in charge.

40. Alex Edler

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    Alex Edler was the Vancouver Canucks defenseman this past season. He lit it up offensively by scoring 11 goals and assisting on 38 others for a total of 49 points, and he also finished with an even plus-minus rating.

    Edler really stepped up and contributed offensively where Christian Ehrhoff would have.

39. Alex Pietrangelo

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    Alex Pietrangelo had a great season for the St. Louis Blues. He was an offensive force and racked up 39 assists, 52 points and a plus-rating of plus-16. He is a cornerstone of the Blues' current blue line and he will likely replicate this performance next season.

38. Martin St. Louis

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    Martin St. Louis had a down year, but it was still one of the better ones when compared to other players'. St. Louis registered 74 points, down from the 94 he had the year prior. St. Louis' dip in production makes this good year a bit disappointing.

37. Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Ovechkin had a subpar season in which he scored 38 goals and posted 65 points. Ovechkin was limited in ice time when Dale Hunter changed the Washington Capitals' system of play. Ovie reluctantly bought in and tried to be a team player.

    Ovechkin is one of the league's top players and will look to rebound in a huge way in 2012-13.

36. Valtteri Filppula

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    Valtteri Filppula had a pretty solid season for the Detroit Red Wings. Filppula was a plus-18 overall and contributed 66 points.

    He is an unsung player for the Wings who is often overshadowed by players like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg and Nicklas Lidstrom, but he is a solid player who had a great season.

35. Teemu Selanne

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    The Finnish Flash is getting up there in age, but that hasn't stopped him yet. Selanne scored 26 goals and assisted on 40 others for 66 points. If Selanne does decide to hang up his skates this summer, it will be a sad day in the hockey world.

34. Ryan Suter

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    Impending UFA Ryan Suter continued to shine for the Nashville Predators. During the 2011-12 campaign, Suter was a plus-15, scored nine goals and assisted on 39 others for a total of 46 points.

    Suter is a solid two-way defenseman who is going to hit the jackpot when he signs a new contract this offseason.

33. P.A. Parenteau

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    P.A. Parenteau is another player primed for a huge payday this offseason. Parenteau had his best season ever and scored only 18 goals, but he assisted on 49 others for a total of 67 points. Parenteau is a rising star in the league and will continue to grow with his new team next season.

    He is certainly one player the New York Rangers wish they never gave up on.

32. Zach Parise

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    Zach Parise rebounded quite nicely this season after undergoing surgery last season. Parise scored 69 points and captained the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. He is set to become a hot UFA on July 1st and has a skill set that will make him very desirable.

    The biggest question concerning Parise is what uniform will he wear next season.

31. Joffrey Lupul

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    Joffrey Lupul would have been higher on this list if he was able to play in all 82 games this season. However, his stat line is still very impressive. In 66 games, Lupul scored 67 points and was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy.

    Lupul is a player to watch out for next season because if healthy, he could have a huge impact.

30. Jason Pominville

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    Jason Pominville did a solid job embracing his role as team captain of the Buffalo Sabres this season. Pominville stepped up his game and finished his season with 30 goals and 73 points.

    The Sabres were not a playoff team, so if they can bring in some more talent, Pominville could have an easier time next season.

29. Tyler Seguin

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    Tyler Seguin had an outstanding season and is a future star in the making. Seguin took a big leap for the Bruins and posted a stat line highlighted by 29 goals, 38 assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-34.

    Seguin has the makings of a dominant two-way forward and with Patrice Bergeron's tutelage, Seguin could have a shot at winning the Frank Selke Trophy.

28. Scott Hartnell

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    Did anyone think that Scott Hartnell was going to have the season he did? If you say so, you are likely lying and we all know that lying is bad. Nonetheless, Hartnell was paired with Claude Giroux, and the tandem was very successful.

    "Hartsy" had a season for the ages by his standards, and he'll look to extend that into next season.

27. Matt Moulson

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    Matt Moulson had a great year for the New York Islanders. He scored 16 more points in '11-12 than he did in '10-11 and was a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. Moulson is emerging as a consistent performer for the Islanders and had a sound season.

26. Patrick Sharp

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    Patrick Sharp really turned around his overall game this past season. He has always been a two-way threat because of his lethal hands and shot, but Sharp kicked it into another gear this year. He improved from a plus-minus rating of minus-one to finishing '11-12 with a plus-28 rating.

    Sharp is a proven winner who is good for 65-70 points a season, so when you look at what he brings to the table, it is easy to see why he had the season he did.

25. Pavel Datsyuk

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    Pavel Datsyuk's season was shorter than usual because on injury, but that didn't stop him from almost scoring at a point-per-game pace. Datsyuk scored 67 points in only 70 games and maintained a plus-20 rating over the season.

    Datsyuk ultimately fell short in the Selke Trophy voting, but he'll be back in contention next season.

24. Patrice Bergeron

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    Patrice Bergeron was the league's best defensive forward this year and won the Selke Trophy. Bergeron also was able to play two-way offense. He was a scorer or a playmaker when needed and that was evident with his 22 goals and his 42 assists.

    Bergeron's most memorable stat was his league leading plus-minus rating of plus-36. Bergeron has the potential to grow even more, so there is a chance that the best is yet to come.

23. Loui Eriksson

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    Loui Eriksson thrived by playing with Brad Richards so it was a cause for concern when Richards left Dallas. However, Eriksson really came into his own and had a solid season. Eriksson not only finished 20th in the league in scoring, but he was also a plus-18.

    If the Stars could build their offense around Loui Eriksson, they could become a perennial playoff team in no time.

22. Shea Weber

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    Shea Weber is a talented defenseman with a booming shot. He plays with grit and snarl and is tough to match up against. Weber slightly lost to Erik Karlsson in the Norris Trophy voting, but he still had a marvelous season.

    Weber had 49 points and was a plus-21 on the season. Weber will only continue to get better, so it will be interesting to see what he does during the 2012-13 campaign.

21. Pekka Rinne

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    Pekka Rinne was a Vezina Trophy finalist this season for the Nashville Predators. He led the NHL in wins with 43 and also posted a solid 2.39 GAA and recorded five shutouts. Rinne finished third in the voting, but that is nothing to be ashamed of as he had his best year to date.

20. Anze Kopitar

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    Anze Kopitar had a solid postseason run for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, but he also had a successful regular season. Kopitar scored 25 goals and assisted on 51 others for a grand total of 76 points.

    Was this past season Kopitar's breakout season? I guess the league will have to wait and watch what he does next year for the defending champion Kings.

19. Jordan Eberle

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    Jordan Eberle may be the best player to emerge from the Edmonton Oilers' current corps of youngsters. Eberle scored 34 goals and assisted on 42 others for a solid 76-point season. Eberle is still so young and so talented and it will be interesting to see if he can hit the 80-point mark next year.

18. Marian Gaborik

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    The Slovak Sniper rebounded in a huge way for the Broadway Blueshirts this past season. Marian Gaborik was third in the NHL with 41 goals and finished with 76 points. Gaborik played with injuries throughout the playoffs and wasn't as effective as he could have been, but he earns marks for perseverance. 

    Gaborik will be an interesting player to follow next year because he is going to miss the first half of the season while he recovers from surgery.

17. Joe Thornton

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    Joe Thornton is no longer a player who will contend for Art Ross titles, but he is still an effective playmaker. This past season, Thornton assisted on 59 goals and put up 77 points. Thornton was also a plus-17 while taking only 31 penalty minutes.

    Thornton is getting older, so look for the Sharks to try and bring in some new talent in order to make a sizable Stanley Cup run.

16. Ray Whitney

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    Ray Whitney had a marvelous season considering his age. His nickname, "The Wizard," aptly describes his magical play for the Phoenix Coyotes this past season.

    Whitney continued to be a scoring threat, was a successful power-play producer and tallied 24 goals, 53 assists and 77 points on the season.

15. Zdeno Chara

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    Zdeno Chara is one of the league's best defensemen, and that showed this past season. Chara finished the season with 12 goals, 40 assists, 52 points and a plus-rating of plus-33. Chara is a top force on the blue line and is a cornerstone player for the Boston Bruins.

14. Erik Karlsson

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    Erik Karlsson was the 2011-12 Norris Trophy recipient, and the decision was met with a load of criticism. Although Karlsson was the top point producer amongst defensemen with 77, critics pointed to Karlsson's defensive shortcomings.

    Nonetheless, Karlsson had a dominant season, and it isn't everyday that a defenseman approaches the 80-point mark.

13. Marian Hossa

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    Marian Hossa had a solid season for the Chicago Blackhawks, and he could have been more of a factor in the playoffs if Raffi Torres didn't take his head off with a blatant dirty hit. Nonetheless, in the regular season, Hossa finished 12th in scoring with 78 points and finished with a plus-rating of plus-18.

    Hossa will look to come back with a vengeance next season after his 2011-12 season was cut short.

12. Jonathan Quick

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    Jonathan Quick had a tremendous season. He was the Conn Smythe recipient in the playoffs and finished second in the Vezina voting. That is nothing to sneer at because Quick was the Kings' backbone throughout the year.

    Quick posted an impressive stat line of 35-21-13 with an absurd GAA of 1.95 and 10 shutouts. Quick had an amazing season and was one of the league's best goalies. He deserves to be 12th on the list.

11. Patrik Elias

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    Patrik Elias is one of the league's revered veterans who still has an impact on the game today. He was second on the New Jersey Devils in scoring and finished the season with 78 points.

    Elias plays both center and the wing, so his versatility comes in handy for the Devils.

10. Henrik Lundqvist

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    Lundqvist captured his first Vezina Trophy after going 39-18-5 with a 1.97 GAA and a total of eight shutouts. Lundqvist was the NHL's top goalie this year, so he is the top goalie in this top-50 ranking.

    If Lundqvist had more goal support throughout the playoffs, there is a good chance the New York Rangers would have had a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

9. Henrik Sedin

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    Henrik Sedin dipped in points from his previous season, but it wasn't as bad as the dip his brother, Daniel, took. H. Sedin finished with 67 assists, 84 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-23.

    It was a down year for the Canucks forward, but an early playoff exit should motivate him to come back better than ever next season.

8. John Tavares

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    John Tavares has the potential to become the next face of the NHL. His talent is undeniable, his professionalism is unrivaled and he is one of the most loyal players in the NHL.

    He had the opportunity to sign a shorter deal that would have made it easier for him to become a UFA when he was of age. Instead, he locked up long-term contract with the Islanders.

    Tavares'  81 points and 51 assists are something that should give the Islanders hope for the future.

7. James Neal

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    James Neal emerged in a big way for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He finished fourth in goal scoring with 40 markers and he also added 41 assists to his name. Neal is one of the best values in the NHL and will continue to thrive while he plays with Evgeni Malkin in the "Steel City."

6. Phil Kessel

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    Phil Kessel had a great season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finally played up to his potential and had a year in which he scored 37 goals and 83 points. Kessel will become a free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season, so it will be interesting to see what happens with a potential contract extension.

5. Jason Spezza

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    Jason Spezza had a solid season for the Ottawa Senators and really stepped up his game. Spezza scored 34 goals and assisted on 50 others for 84 points. He led the Senators to a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs, but the Sens fell short.

    Spezza had tons of success this season, and he will look to do even better next season.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Ilya Kovalchuk had a down year in terms of goal scoring, but he still led the New Jersey Devils with 83 points. Kovy scored 37 goals and had a solid postseason. It will be interesting to see how the Devils will keep the pressure off Kovalchuk next season if Zach Parise doesn't stay in Jersey.

    Kovalchuk played with nagging injuries throughout the entire season, so he should be commended. He has the potential to return to his 50-goal potential, but he will need to come out with a booming start next season.

3. Claude Giroux

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    It is hard to look at the year Giroux had and place him at No. 3 overall, but when you click on you will understand. This past season was a career-defining moment for Giroux.

    Not only did he have a breakout year in which he scored 28 goals and assisted on 65 others for 93 points, but Giroux became the de facto face of the franchise and the Flyers' leader.

    Giroux has a bright future and it will be fun to watch him next season.

2. Steven Stamkos

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    Steven Stamkos scored 60 goals this season and was the main offensive producer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Marty St. Louis had a down year by his standards, so Stammer had to pick up the slack. In 82 games, Stamkos finished with 97 points and continued to improve as one of the NHL's best forwards.

    Stamkos would love for the Lightning to gain a younger skilled winger this summer so he doesn't have to shoulder the load alone.

1. Evgeni Malkin

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    Evgeni Malkin captured the Art Ross, Hart and Ted Lindsay Trophies at the NHL Awards this year. Malkin scored an amazing 109 points in 75 games. He also has a solid rating of plus-18 on the season. 

    Malkin proved why he is one of the world's best players when he continued to lead the Penguins to victory without Sidney Crosby.