Power Ranking the Top 100 Players in the NHL Entering the 2013 Season

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 100 Players in the NHL Entering the 2013 Season

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    Hockey’s back! And with this great news comes the anticipation each fan has that it is their favorite player’s breakout year.

    Will Sidney Crosby stay healthy and lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship? Do Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have enough left in the tank to snap the Sharks out of a surprising downward spiral? Are the Diaper Dandies up in Edmonton ready to put up big boy numbers?

    As Yahoo!’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s lengthy feature on Sid the Kid and other similar pieces all over the internet suggest, there is a lot of focus not only on how each team is doing, but also on how the lockout is affecting each individual player.

    Whether it’s how Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is tackling jet lag from all his travel, some silly speculation that Ilya Kovalchuk will stay in Russia or the realistic notion that the lockout may force older players like Brian Rolston and Andrew Brunette into retirement, the Internet is abuzz with speculation about players.

    With an abridged version of the hockey season starting up again, let’s take a quick look at 100 players you can’t miss out on in 2012-2013.

Glaring Omission #1: Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 25 goals, 51 assists and 20 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 163 goals, 271 assists and 134 penalty minutes in 475 games played

    First of all, I want to thank all of my readers and those of you that commented. As always, your insight will be taken into consideration.

    Unfortunately, in the creation of this slideshow I overlooked one of the most visible players in the league: Anze Kopitar.

    Kopitar is a major cog on the defending champion Kings and is one of the Top 10 players in the league.

    Thank you, again, for your readership and comments.

Glaring Omission #2: Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)

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    Last season: 36 goals, 33 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 103 goals, 77 assists and 52 penalty minutes in 275 games played

    I actually really feel bad about missing Matt Mouslon: he's been overlooked his whole career.

    A ninth-round pick from that almighty 2003 draft, Moulson has had three straight 30-goal seasons and a fan favorite on the island.

    My apologies Islanders fans.

100. Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues)

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    Last season: 23-10-4, .940 save percentage and 1.56 goals-against average in 38 games played

    Career: 84-63-20, .909 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against average in 180 games played

     

    Let’s be honest, if Brian Elliott was still in Ottawa he would not be on this list. The Blues have done wonders with the former ninth-round pick, placing him in a system where he could thrive and ultimately become an All-Star.

    Elliott certainly can’t take all the credit for leading the league in save percentage and goals-against average—trust me, nobody thinks he’s the most talented netminder in the league—but let’s give the man his due: There’s a reason why the Blues have chosen to start him over one-time playoff hero Yaroslav Halak.

    This guy turned out better than anyone would have thought.

99. Marcus Johansson (Washington Capitals)

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    Last season: 14 goals, 32 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 27 goals, 46 assists and 18 penalty minutes in 149 games played

     

    There was a lot of hype surrounding Marcus Johansson in his rookie season two years ago.

    He was joining a talented Washington squad that was dominating the Southeast Division and looked to be a staple for years to come.

    A 14-goal second-year campaign is nothing to sneeze at; he didn’t suffer from a sophomore slump by any means, but there is some curiosity as to where his ceiling lies.

    My guess is we’ll get a hint of how good this guy can be next season.

98. Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers)

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    Last season: Did not play

    Career: Not available

    10 goals, 8 assists and 33 penalty minutes in 22 games played in KHL

     

    Yeah, it’s kind of weird putting a guy that’s never played an NHL game on this list, but all signs indicate that this year’s No. 1 overall selection is the real deal.

    First of all, this kid’s name is Nail. Nobody names their child Nail unless they’re going to be a stud.

    On a more serious note, this guy had 10 goals and eight assists in 22 KHL games this season while playing in his native Russia. My guess is this dude is going to burst onto the scene as soon as he joins Edmonton this year.

97. James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)

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    Last season: 11 goals, 13 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games played

    Career: 47 goals, 52 assists and 89 penalty minutes in 196 games played

     

    At one time it was thought that with the departure of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Philadelphia was JVR and Claude Giroux’s team. After a tough third year, however, Philly hit the eject button on van Riemsdyk as well.

    Perhaps a change in scenery will him good.

96. Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals)

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    Last season: 14 goals, 30 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 42 games played

    Career: 101 goals, 266 assists and 184 penalty minutes in 365 games played

     

    Capitals fans: Remember Nicklas Backstrom’s 33-goal season in 2009-10? Seems kinda far away now doesn’t it.

    People forget that this guy was drafted fourth overall in 2006 and offered a lot of promise. The last two seasons following that breakout year, however, have been a bit of a downer for the Swede. Perhaps it was a change in system, injury or maybe just a lapse that good players experience.

    Either way, Backstrom is clearly capable of being a productive player in this league when he is healthy—at least hockey fans in Washington certainly hope so.

95. Mike Green (Washington Capitals)

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    Last season: 3 goals, 4 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 32 games played

    Career: 82 goals, 169 assists and 298 penalty minutes in 398 games played

     

    With Mike Green it’s pretty clear-cut: This defenseman just needs to stay healthy.

    In the last two seasons, the Calgary native has only played 49 and 32 games, respectively.

    Short-term memory is common among sports fans, so let me remind you that this guy scored 31 goals (31!) in 2008-09.

    Am I saying he’ll do it again this year? No. But he’s certainly something special when healthy.

94. Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)

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    Last season: 11 goals, 46 assists and 75 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 137 goals, 335 assists and 492 penalty minutes in 512 games played

     

    Hockey fans in Anaheim got used to the same thing from longtime Duck Ryan Getzlaf: 20-plus goals, 50-plus assists and a positive plus-minus rating—provided he plays a full season.

    So when after two injury-shortened seasons the pivot scores only 11 goals, dishes only 46 assists and has a putrid minus-14 rating, people out in SoCal must be asking, What gives?

    The former first-round pick is smack in the middle of his prime, meaning it might just be a down year. With increased expectations for the team this season, Ducks fans certainly hope so.

93. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)

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    Last season: 5 goals, 18 assists and 65 penalty minutes in 61 games played

    Career: 12 goals, 57 assists and 214 penalty minutes in 214 games played

     

    Drafted second overall in 2009, much was expected of Victor Hedman when he arrived in Tampa Bay. While it would be really harsh to call him a bust, Hedman certainly hasn’t turned any—excuse me—heads with his play.

    He’s in his early 20s, so it’s too early to judge, but Hedman is capable of being an elite defenseman in this league.

92. Zach Bogosian (Winnipeg Jets)

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    Last season: 5 goals, 25 assists and 71 penalty minutes in 65 games played

    Career: 29 goals, 60 assists and 208 penalty minutes in 264 games played

     

    Speaking of young defensemen with lofty expectations, Zach Bogosian arrived in Atlanta and just went off: Nine goals in 47 games in Year 1, 10 goals in 81 games in Year 2…and then he turned 20.

    My guess is we haven’t seen the best of Bogo just yet. He’s a young player on a young team, but it should be pointed out that he’s only scored 10 goals in the two years following his outstanding Year 2 campaign as a 19-year-old.

91. Andrej Meszaros (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Last season: 7 goals, 18 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 62 games played

    Career: 49 goals, 151 assists and 378 penalty minutes in 522 games played

     

    If anything, Andrej Meszaros was probably thinking, Hey, this lockout thing ain’t so bad after all. While the owners and players were bickering and squabbling, he was convalescing from an injury to his Achilles tendon sustained in August.

    He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on: With Pronger’s health in doubt and Nashville matching Shea Weber’s offer sheet, much will be expected of Meszaros and the rest of the defensive corps in Philly.

90. Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild)

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    Last season: 12 goals, 32 assists and 28 penalty minutes in 55 games played

    Career: 108 goals, 253 assists and 334 penalty minutes in 488 games played

     

    On a franchise that has undergone an incredible makeover in the post-Gaborik days, Mikko Koivu remains a constant for people in the State of Hockey. He’s the quintessential Wild player: understated and committed to the unglamorous aspects of the game.

    Now that he’s paired with Dany Heatley and Zach Parise on the first line, Koivu is poised to have one hell of a turnaround this year if he stays healthy.

89. Stephane Robidas (Dallas Stars)

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    Last season: 5 goals, 17 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 75 games played

    Career: 50 goals, 178 assists and 603 penalty minutes in 799 games played

     

    Stephane Robidas has been a rock for the Stars.

    He arrived shortly after the good years, so he never got to enjoy the Stanley Cup run, and has stuck it out through the bad years. As he closes in on 40, the former Montreal Canadien and Chicago Blackhawk knows his time is limited, so you better catch one of the league’s most overlooked players while you still can.

88. Nicklas Grossmann (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Last season: 0 goals, 11 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 74 games played

    Career: 3 goals, 44 assists and 180 penalty minutes in 355 games played

     

    Remember when Dallas had a bit of an identity crisis around playoff time last year and wasn’t sure if they should be sellers (they were bankrupt after all) or keep the team together in case they made the playoffs (because, you know, that’s increased revenue)?

    Well, Nicklas Grossmann was dealt during that time.  

    It is kind of fitting, because for a while Nicklas Grossmann wasn’t sure if he was Nicklas Grossmann. For years, he went under the name Nicklas Grossman. It was like he was part of a substandard Witness Protection program. Well, it turns out the guy was missing an N and never told anybody.

    Anyways, I’m getting kind off track here. What I was trying to say before I got all caught up in this nonsense is: This guy’s a solid defenseman. He doesn’t do anything too flashy, but is definitely a guy the Flyers can rely on—even if he doesn’t know how to spell his own name.

87. Derek Stepan (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 17 goals, 34 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 38 goals, 58 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 164 games played

     

    Derek Stepan burst on to the scene two years ago when he dropped 21 goals and 24 assists in his rookie year. This is hard enough to do on a bad team when you get ample playing time, let alone when you’re on a Rangers team that has been hoarding free agents for the past few years.

    This team is stacked.

    Here’s the crazy thing, too: This guy was a second-round pick. Yeah, you expect your first-rounders to come in and tear it up at age 21, but not the guy you drafted 51st overall.

    This dude was drafted after Maxime Sauve and Mitch Wahl. Who the hell are they? Nobody knows!

    That’s the point: The league should fine the Rangers' scouts for larceny with this pick.

86. Danny Briere (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Last season: 16 goals, 33 assists and 69 penalty minutes in 70 games played

    Career: 280 goals, 363 assists and 686 penalty minutes in 813 games played

     

    Typically a guy that has scored in the upper-20s or 30 goals per season ever since his breakout year in 2001-02 in Phoenix, Briere’s production was essentially diced in half last season.

    The former Coyote and Sabre, Briere went from 34 goals in 2010-11 to 17 in 2011-12. It’s not like he missed a lot of games or played on a bad team, he just didn’t score as much. He’s still a guy to keep an eye on though, as he’s still well regarded in Philly and around the league.

    The question is: at age 35, how much is left in the tank?

85. Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 18 goals, 26 assists and 71 penalty minutes in 74 games played

    Career: 151 goals, 242 assists and 468 penalty minutes in 527 games played

     

    Word on the street was that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were emulating Dennis, Sweet Dee, Mac, Charlie and Frank a little too much and were reminded that it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia in the form of a trade.

    Richards was shipped to L.A. where he mingled with royalty while Carter was banished to Columbus where he was force-fed oddly shaped nuts. Richards must have let Carter in on the Hollywood lifestyle, saying, “Hey, it is always sunny here and, no, nobody cares one bit if you party hard out here”…(story continued on the next slide).

84. Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 21 goals, 13 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 55 games played

    Career: 202 goals, 175 assists and 304 penalty minutes in 516 games played

     

    So Carter goes, “Yeah, screw this, I’m joining you” and was dealt to the Kings at the end of the season where they continued to party hard…even though this time they drank out of a little bigger cup.

    The moral of the story here, kids, is just party your brains out and everything will magically work out for you.

    Just kidding. But, really, that’s kinda what happened here (story continued on slide 67).

83. Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning)

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    Last season: 22 goals, 27 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 64 games played

    Career: 373 goals, 469 assists and 717 penalty minutes in 998 games played

     

    Remember back in 1998 when Vincent Lecavalier was drafted and then-owner Art Williams called him the “Michael Jordan of hockey”? And then he failed to score 30 goals a season for his first four years and lost his captaincy, and people were like, “Ahh…maybe not”?

    And then he won a Stanley Cup before the lockout and led the league with 52 goals shortly after and people thought, “You know…maybe he’s just a late bloomer.”

    And then, for the past four seasons, No. 4 has failed to post 30 goals after being named captain once again?

    Now we just don’t know what to make of him.

82. Stephen Weiss (Florida Panthers)

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    Last season: 20 goals, 37 assists and 60 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 144 goals, 246 assists and 288 penalty minutes in 637 games played

     

    Stephen Weiss is one of the few people ever who has been able to say, “Yeah, I’ve been on the Panthers for a long time.”

    While most players seem to come and go in Florida (yeah, we’re talking about you Roberto Luongo, Nathan Horton, Michael Frolik, Pavel Bure…I don’t know, anyone but Olli Jokinen), Weiss has stuck it out with the floundering Cats, and last season got to reap the rewards of his loyalty.

    He’ll never be the team’s leading scorer or a Joe Thornton-type passer, but ask anyone who's been around the Panthers for a while and they’ll tell you that he’s an important part of the team…or, wait, umm—just take my word for it.

81. Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche)

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    Last season: 21 goals, 32 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 126 goals, 248 assists and 228 penalty minutes in 427 games played

     

    Paul Stastny is like Stephen Weiss and even Mikko Koivu in the sense that within his own city he’s really well regarded, but probably isn’t that famous outside of those immediate circles.

    He’s got to be one of the only players in the league to have played for six years and set his individual scoring record in his rookie season.

    Stastny may never break the 30-goal plateau ,and to outsiders it may be unclear why he’s so important to the Avalanche, but it comes down to consistency: He’s probably going give you 20 goals and 60 points a season, and you can expect hard work from him every night that he takes the ice.

80. Jaromir Jagr (Dallas Stars)

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    Last season: 19 goals, 35 assists and 30 penalty minutes in 73 games played

    Career: 665 goals, 988 assists and 937 penalty minutes in 1346 games played

     

    I’m convinced that Jaromir Jagr is so old he has lived multiple different lives.

    At the beginning of his career, when he was with Pittsburgh, he was Rapunzel Jagr: He had more flow than the Allegheny River and probably lived at the top of the U.S. Steel tower in the offseason.

    Then, when he was with the Capitals he was Sgt. Jagr. Gone was the lengthy mullet. This man got out the buzzers and ensured that he was clean-shaven and had his hair above his ears.

    After being dealt to the Rangers, he became Mid-Life Crisis Jagr. He had a shaggy mop on top of his head and didn’t want to have to buy a new set of razor blades every month. Now we could tell if it was dinnertime just by looking at his scruffy visage.

    During his mid-life crisis he eloped to Russia and became Comrade Jagr.

    And, finally, after all these years he returns as Father Jagr, the old man who still likes to play with the kids.

    How much longer will Papa Jags be around? My guess is he’s still got a couple more lives to live.  

79. Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)

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    Last season: 19 goals, 48 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 70 games played

    Career: 240 goals, 478 assists and 186 penalty minutes in 732 games played

     

    Unlike Jagr, Pavel Datsyuk has always been the same guy.

    Even as he closed in on 30, the former sixth-round pick played a young man’s game. By that I mean it’s all skill and finesse.

    Throughout his career he’s dangled around so many blueliners, you wonder why anyone even bothered defending against him. His hands were so deft you wondered if he could shelf a medicine ball with the blade of his stick.

    In fact, he skated so beautifully it looked as though he should have been carrying a female partner in figure skates, rather than a piece of wood, while cruising around the ice.

    It was as though he, like many other players on the Detroit Red Wings, had found the Fountain of Youth. He was Peter Pan on hockey skates.

    And then, all of a sudden, his production drops. And he’s not quite dangling like he used to, or snapping a puck into the air on a dime or skating like he once did.

    How much longer will Datsyuk be able to play the way he has his entire career? I don’t know. Catch him while you can.

78. Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)

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    Last season: 22 goals, 47 assists and 47 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 252 goals, 372 assists and 271 penalty minutes in 668 games played

     

    Nobody is going to compare Henrik Zetterberg’s game to Datsyuk’s, but both are late-rounders who are now on the wrong side of 30.

    Zetterberg can still flat-out play, but the question is whether or not he’s capable of scoring 30 or 40 goals as he did during the prime of his career.

    My guess is he’s still got a couple good ones left in him.

77. T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues)

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    Last season: 19 goals, 35 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 63 goals, 112 assists and 131 penalty minutes in 262 games played

     

    Unlike Datsyuk and Zetterberg, T.J. Oshie is still a young'un. Well, actually, he’s not so young anymore. The former University of North Dakota star is 26 and in the prime of his career (they grow up so fast, don’t they?).

    Much is expected of Oshie, and there is some question about how much the former first-rounder is capable of scoring in an NHL season. Even if he never breaks the 60-point plateau, the center appears to have found his role on one of the league’s most exciting young teams.

76. David Krejci (Boston Bruins)

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    Last season: 23 goals, 39 points and 36 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 81 goals, 195 points and 138 penalty minutes in 377 games played

     

    David Krejci is similar in age to Oshie and plays a similar role in Boston.

    He has been able to crack the 60-point ceiling and appears to have found his role in Boston. An important cog in what has become a perennial contender in Beantown, Krejci perhaps deserves a little more lovin’ than he gets around the league.

75. John Carlson (Washington Capitals)

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    Last season: 9 goals, 23 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 17 goals, 58 assists and 74 penalty minutes in 186 games played

     

    John Carlson has held his own while Mike Green has battled injury in Washington. Although they are both defensemen by trade, they definitely play different games. In no way am I insinuating that Carlson has been a replacement; rather he’s been able to make a name for himself while the team’s marquee blueliner has been sidelined.

74. Brent Seabrook (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Last season: 9 goals, 25 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 78 games played

    Career: 48 goals, 178 assists and 444 penalty minutes in 552 games played

     

    In Chicago, Brent Seabrook is to Duncan Keith what Carlson is to Green. Keith doesn’t put up numbers like Green did in Washington, but he’s clearly the big name on the blue line in the Madhouse on Madison.

    Seabrook may fly under the radar a bit, but his contributions to the team—whether it be 9-ish goals a season or defensive prowess—are just as valuable as his more famous partner.

73. Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche)

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    Last season: 22 goals, 30 assists and 51 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 22 goals, 30 assists and 51 penalty minutes in 82 games played

     

    Step aside Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier, there’s a new sheriff in town.

    No, Landeskog may not put up the same numbers as Crosby or join the Avalanche with the expectations Lecavalier had (that pandering was reserved for teammate Matt Duchene), but Landeskog is currently the youngest captain in NHL history.

    While I wouldn’t put it past Edmonton to name Nathan MacKinnon team captain with the assumption that they’ll take him at No. 1 overall next year, Landeskog has the game—and 2011-12 Calder Trophy—to back up the title. He probably will never lead the NHL in scoring, but he does make the team around him better and, hey, isn’t that what you expect from your captain?

72. Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche)

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    Last season: 14 goals, 14 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 58 games played

    Career: 65 goals, 85 assists and 57 penalty minutes in 219 games played

     

    Speaking of young stars in Colorado, Matt Duchene looks like the real deal.

    Injury restricted him to 58 games in his third year with the Avs, but Duchene validated his selection at third overall in 2009 by scoring 24 and 27 goals, respectively, in his first two seasons in the league.

    Should he stay healthy, he could help the Avalanche turn into the force they once were in the Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic days.

71. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers)

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    Last season: 18 goals, 34 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 62 games played

    Career: 18 goals, 34 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 62 games played

     

    While we’re on the topic of young players that could rejuvenate a downtrodden franchise, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall last year and justified the selection by netting 18 goals as and 18 year old.

    This guy is going to be good for a long time. The question is, can he drop 40 at age 40?

70. Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes)

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    Last season: 20 goals, 24 assists and 56 penalty minutes in 64 games played

    Career: 51 goals, 56 assists and 102 penalty minutes in 146 games played

     

    Think 18 at 18 is impressive? Try 31, Nuge!

    Jeff Skinner only scored 20 goals last season (slacker!), but was also limited to 64 games played due to injury.

    He may be primed for another big leap this season. Carolina has kept its team together and added Jordan Staal, meaning the Hurricanes are serious about winning—and Skinner is expected to be a big part of it.

69. Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes)

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    Last season: 24 goals, 46 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 250 goals, 324 assists and 477 penalty minutes in 642 games played

     

    Eric Staal is another player who should benefit from playing on a team of cohesive players that either a) were on the 2006 Stanley Cup team, b) are young, talented and entering their prime or c) are related to him (ahem, Jordan).

    Staal is not only a distributor, but also a guy who can score the puck as well. The best may be yet to come for this Staal brother.

68. Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)

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    Last season: 11 goals, 26 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 81 games played

    Career: 66 goals, 154 assists and 359 penalty minutes in 534 games played

     

    If nothing else, Brent Burns is probably the scariest-looking player in the NHL. I know a couple of guys who could give him a run for his money, but nobody has a photo of them like this or this on the Internet. 

    What’s more, this dude collects reptiles. Like, straight up, this guy owns a whole bunch of snakes, lizards and iguanas. Rumor has it he fights a character from Mortal Kombat to stay in shape for the offseason.

    If that’s not enough for you, take a look at his profile picture. I think he transported all of his pets in his beard when he was dealt from Minnesota to San Jose last season.

    So, yeah, this dude’s scary as hell—and definitely worth watching if you have a chance.

67. Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets)

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    Last season: 12 goals, 26 assists and 39 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 34 goals, 104 assists and 271 penalty minutes in 364 games played

     

    So…basically every time Jack Johnson plays the Kings this year he’s going to go up to Richards and Carter and go "Forget you guys!”

    All joking aside, Johnson is a piece that Columbus could build around as it tries to resuscitate its moribund franchise.

66. Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

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    Last season: 26-28-11, .916 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average in 65 games played

    Career: 124-104-35, .916 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against average in 271 games played

     

    If Carey Price played for another team, say the Carolina Hurricanes or Anaheim Ducks, we all might think that he’s a much better player.

    In truth, the British Columbia native is supremely talented and has just had peaks and troughs like any other goaltender. The problem is that he plays an important position on one of the league’s marquee franchises.

    Like Roberto Luongo or whoever the Maple Leafs choose to put in net, this guy is going to be more scrutinized than the president.

65. Dany Heatley (Minnesota Wild)

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    Last season: 24 goals, 29 assists and 28 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 349 goals, 393 assists and 594 penalty minutes in 751 games played

     

    Remember those days when Dany Heatley was part of the CASH Line in Ottawa and made it look like you or I could score 50 goals a season?

    Yeah, that seems like a long time ago.

    It was an unfortunate incident that led to his exodus from the Thrashers, but after forcing his way out of Canada’s capital, Heatley only had one good year with the Sharks before seeing his production drop dramatically.

    This is a make-or-break year for the 32-year-old forward. If he can’t light it up while playing alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, Heatley’s career, like the Atlanta Thrashers, could be as good as gone.

64. Bryan Little (Winnipeg Jets)

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    Last season: 24 goals, 22 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 74 games played

    Career: 92 goals, 103 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 356 games played

     

    Speaking of the ol’ Zombie Thrashers, Bryan Little had quite a year during his first full season in Georgia. There was a lot of hype surrounding the Edmonton native when he scored 31 goals as a 21-year-old in 2008-09.

    The move up north must have done wonders for Little, because last season he showed flashes of what many thought he could become.

63. Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Last season: 10 goals, 32 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 51 games played

    Career: 39 goals, 132 assists and 237 penalty minutes in 350 games played

     

    Kris Letang can identify with Little’s career path.

    Like Little, Letang had a breakout season in 2008-09 when he scored 10 goals despite playing in only 63 games as a 21-year-old.

    After a bit of a sophomore slump the next year, Letang bounced back quicker than Little. He had 50 points two years ago and netted 10 goals despite only playing 51 games in 2011-12.

62. David Backes (St. Louis Blues)

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    Last season: 24 goals, 30 assists and 101 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 126 goals, 272 assists and 601 penalty minutes in 446 games played

     

    David Backes may go a bit overlooked because he’s not really a flashy player, but he’s capable of scoring 30-plus goals a season and is a big reason why the Blues are relevant again.

    In fact, he’s probably a microcosm of his team as a whole: productive, yet understated.

61. Kyle Okposo (New York Islanders)

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    Last season: 24 goals, 21 assists and 46 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 68 goals, 93 assists and 158 penalty minutes in 271 games played

     

    It’s always unfortunate to only play 38 games while you’re in the middle of your development as a 22-year-old player, but Kyle Okposo bounced back and scored a career-high 24 goals last season.

    The St. Paul, Minn. native is projected to be a major piece in the Islanders' puzzle as they try to rise out of the cellar in their final few years on the Island.

60. Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins)

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    Last season: 26 goals, 35 assists and 135 penalty minutes in 81 games

    Career: 90 goals, 122 assists and 525 penalty minutes in 359 games

     

    When Milan Lucic scored 30 goals as a 22-year-old in 2010-11, some people wondered if the Vancouver boy could keep it up.

    I think his 26 goals in 2011-12 tell you all you need to know about this player. He’s going to be something special for years to come.

59. Brenden Morrow (Dallas Stars)

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    Last season: 11 goals, 15 assists and 97 penalty minutes in 57 games played

    Career: 237 goals, 280 assists and 1185 penalty minutes in 806 games played

     

    Two years ago when Devin Setoguchi was a member of the San Jose Sharks, I asked him to describe Brenden Morrow before a series between the two Pacific Division rivals.

    “He’s an honest guy,” said the current Minnesota Wild forward.

    That’s Morrow in a nutshell. He plays hard, but he plays clean and his leadership will be vital if the Stars are finally going to break through the playoff ceiling above them this season.

58. Loui Eriksson (Dallas Stars)

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    Last season: 26 goals, 45 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 138 goals, 190 assists and 106 penalty minutes in 453 games played

     

    Loui Eriksson is in the middle of his prime and already scored 36 goals as a 23-year-old in 2008-09. When the Stars shipped James Neal out to Pittsburgh, Eriksson became the big name in Dallas.

    This is his team and will only function if he plays to his capabilities this year.

57. Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs)

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    Last season: 12 goals, 32 assists and 92 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 97 goals, 215 assists and 736 penalty minutes in 552 games played

     

    Mr. Elisha Cuthbert may be dating the girl next door, have broken Plexiglas with his slapper (twice) and been named the captain of the Maple Leafs, but there is one thing missing on Dion Phaneuf’s resume: a Stanley Cup victory.

    He’s certainly doing his part. Time will tell if he can get the ring he wants (no, not that one Elisha!).   

56. Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes)

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    Last season: 22 goals, 28 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 318 goals, 470 assists and 1071 penalty minutes in 1198 games played

     

    Shane Doan’s been around so long he can say he was a member of the original Winnipeg Jets. His loyalty to the embattled Phoenix Coyotes paid off last year with a long playoff run.

    Doan is 36, however, and time will tell if he remains with the team or chases a ring as his time as a player becomes numbered.

55. Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators)

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    Last season: 27 goals, 32 assists and 18 penalty minutes in 75 games played

    Career: 416 goals, 666 assists and 467 penalty minutes in 1131 games played

     

    Time will tell how long 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson will play hockey.

    It’s been a long time since his days of scoring 40 goals a season as a member of the CASH Line, but Alfredsson is still productive as a player and offers intangibles as the captain of the team.

54. Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils)

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    Last season: 31-21-4, .908 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average in 59 games played

    Career: 656-371-141, .913 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average in 1,191 games played

     

    The fact that Martin Brodeur won 30 games and helped his team get to the Stanley Cup Final indicates that the 40-year-old netminder still has a couple good years left in him.

    At the same time, nobody can play hockey forever, and the Devils are going to have to look for a replacement for him sooner rather than later.

53. Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames)

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    Last season: 35-22-11, .921 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average in 70 games played

    Career: 311-199-69, .914 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average in 599 games played

     

    Miikka Kiprusoff is another aging goaltender who has a long track record of impressive play. Like Brodeur, he had a great season last year, and the fact that he’s 36 indicates he’s still got a couple good years left in him.

52. Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks)

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    Last season: 26 goals, 40 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 663 goals, 743 assists and 620 penalty minutes in 1,341 games played

     

    Like Shane Doan, Teemu Selanne has been around so long he too can say he was a member of the original Winnipeg Jets. Unlike Doan, however, Selanne has had stints with multiple different teams, but appears to have found a home in Anaheim.

    A 31-goal season two years ago indicates that he could probably play for another 10 years. His threat to leave the NHL if it had locked out for another whole year (via TSN) indicates that the league’s instability, rather than the lack of his ability, may be taking its toll on the Finnish Flash.

51. Tyler Seguin (Boston Bruins)

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    Last season: 29 goals, 38 assists and 30 penalty minutes in 81 games played

    Career: 40 goals, 49 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 155 games played

     

    Time will tell, but the Boston Bruins may have won the Phil Kessel trade. Worst-case scenario, it was a draw.

    By scoring 29 goals last season, Tyler Seguin made a statement to the league: He’s going to be a superstar in Beantown.

50. Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers)

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    Last season: 27 goals, 26 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 61 games played

    Career: 49 goals, 46 assists and 63 penalty minutes in 126 games played

     

    Taylor Hall has scored 20-plus goals in the last two seasons on an awfully poor Edmonton club. Once all the pieces come together, it’s not far-fetched to think that this guy can become a 40- or 50-goal scorer in the future.

    I think the Oil can confidently say they are happy with the first overall selection in 2010.

49. Andrew Ladd (Winnipeg Jets)

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    Last season: 28 goals, 22 assists and 64 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 120 goals, 138 assists and 283 penalty minutes in 484 games played

     

    He’s had to move around a little bit—from Carolina to Chicago to Atlanta/Winnipeg—but Andrew Ladd is suddenly looking like the player the Hurricanes expected him to be when they drafted him 4th overall in 2004.

    Not only have they found a longtime team leader, but also a guy who can probably drop 30 every season.

48. Evander Kane (Winnipeg Jets)

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    Last season: 30 goals, 27 assists and 53 penalty minutes in 74 games played

    Career: 63 goals, 63 assists and 183 penalty minutes in 213 games played

     

    All right, maybe Evander Kane isn’t really the leadership type.

    It’s a little overboard to start comparing him to Pac-Man Jones, but let’s just say I’d like to see Deadspin set up the Kane boys for a night of mayhem in Las Vegas and try to make hockey’s version of Fear and Loathing as a tribute to the great Hunter S. Thompson.

    Okay…that’s not a good idea, but I guess if you’re a 30-goal scorer at age 20, people will forgive you if you throw some money around in Sin City.

47. Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 29 goals, 25 assists and 61 penalty minutes in 76 games played

    Career: 105 goals, 93 assists and 240 penalty minutes in 360 games played

     

    When did Ryan Callahan suddenly become a potential 30-goal scorer?

    I thought this was one of those guys with lots of intangibles who registers about 20 goals per season and is known as a “gamer.”

    There’s nothing wrong with being one of those hard-working, locker room dudes, but Callahan has shown that he can be a go-to scorer as well.

    He could be dangerous on this stacked Rangers team in 2013.

46. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks)

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    Last season: 31-14-8, .919 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average in 55 games played

    Career: 339-283-83, .919 save percentage and 2.52 goals against average in 727 games played

     

    I think Roberto Luongo and Carey Price should have a help line to call when their respective cities blow up at them every time something goes wrong with their team.

    By all accounts, Luongo is an outstanding goaltender that was completely disrespected with the Islanders and perhaps a little undervalued in South Florida.

    For his sake, I hope his next stop is a little more low forgiving of their goaltenders.

45. Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Last season: 29 goals, 48 assists and 20 penalty minutes in 81 games played

    Career: 417 goals, 487 assists and 538 penalty minutes in 978 games played

     

    There was a time there where I thought an aging Marian Hossa was going to chase a ring year after year, only to be on the losing side of the Stanley Cup Final matchup.

    The longtime Ottawa Senator did a stint in Atlanta before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins team that lost to Detroit in the 2008 Final. He joined the Red Wings the next year and, you guessed it, lost to Pittsburgh.

    He got his ring in Chicago the next season and appears to have found a home in the Windy City.

44. Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)

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    Last season: 30 goals, 34 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 387 goals, 443 assists and 367 penalty minutes in 1117 games played

     

    I’m 99.5 percent sure that Jeremy Roenick has a dartboard with Patrick Marleau’s face on it somewhere in his basement. The television analyst appears to have taken all his anger over never winning a Cup out on the subdued Marleau.

    The speedy 33-year-old forward is the most polarizing hockey player in NorCal: People either feel he never lived up to his billing as the No. 2 pick in 1997 or that he’s the reason why the Sharks dominated the Pacific Division for years on end after the lockout.

43. Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Last season: 29 goals, 28 assists and 28 penalty minutes in 59 games played

    Career: 144 goals, 180 assists and 196 penalty minutes in 361 games played

     

    It’s hard to be a beloved athlete in Chicago; just ask Jay Cutler. Safe to say, though, that Jonathan Toews will never have his jersey burned in the hands of an attractive woman in some Chi-town bar.

    The Blackhawks captain is loved and respected for what he does both on and off the playing surface.

42. Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabres)

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    Last season: 8 goals, 15 assists and 33 penalty minutes in 55 games played

    Career: 29 goals, 79 assists and 105 penalty minutes in 217 games played

     

    The second-tallest building in the city of Buffalo, the Sabres 6’8” D-man puts the fear of God into any opponent he faces. Capable of smothering forwards and blasting rubber past goaltenders, Myers should be a fixture in the Queen City.

41. Keith Yandle (Phoenix Coyotes)

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    Last season: 11 goals, 32 assists and 51 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 43 goals, 144 assists and 223 penalty minutes in 365 games played

     

    Keith Yandle has really come into his own in the last three seasons. A blue-line fixture on a team that emphasizes defense, it’s not easy to score in Coach Dave Tippett’s defensive system, but Yandle has found a way to do so 10 or more times since the 2009-10 season.

40. Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 22 goals, 32 assists and 53 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 163 goals, 196 assists and 430 penalty minutes in 595 games played

     

    Dustin Brown brings a lot to the table in L.A.

    He is the team captain. He hits hard. He scores goals. He sets up teammates. And, well, safe to say they wouldn’t have won it all last year without his influence.

39. Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets)

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    Last season: 12 goals, 41 assists and 72 penalty minutes in 66 games played

    Career: 87 goals, 128 assists and 433 penalty minutes in 407 games played

     

    Okay, Dustin Byfuglien’s placement as No. 39 this list comes with the caveat that he isn’t 700 lbs. right now. I get it, I get it, you’re not playing hockey every day, workout routines get mixed up and it’s never a bad idea to bulk up a little bit in the offseason.

    But this is excessive.

    I’m not sure if this guy was on the Whitey’s/BK/Spam diet or what, but damn they weren’t kidding when they called him Big Buff.

    Having said that, when Byfuglien is at playing weight he’s capable of scoring frequently and is an asset to his team.  

38. Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Last season: 4 goals, 36 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 74 games played

    Career: 56 goals, 226 assists and 386 penalty minutes in 560 games played

     

    I’ll never forget when, during the 2010 playoffs, Duncan Keith was drilled in the mouth by a stray puck and spit out seven of his teeth like they were Tic-Tacs and kept playing.

    This dude is tough.

    Want to know the scariest part about this whole affair? Apparently Dwayne Johnson showed up at his house in the middle of the night with a fairy costume on.

37. Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks)

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    Last season: 31 goals, 34 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 68 goals, 62 assists and 63 penalty minutes in 184 games played

     

    As the San Jose Sharks transition from the Thornton/Marleau days, this will become Logan Couture’s team. He is the future of this franchise and this team will only go as far as he can take them.

    Couture has already proven he can score 30 goals in a season and is probably capable of doing more damage if he has the right pieces around him.  

36. Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators)

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    Last season: 34 goals, 50 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 226 goals, 390 assists and 386 penalty minutes in 606 games played

     

    The third and final element of the old CASH Line, Spezza fell off the map a bit after Dany Heatley bullied his way out of Ottawa.

    He proved that he still can play at an elite level last year, though, and at 29 should have a couple solid years left in him.

35. Brad Richards (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 25 goals, 41 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 245 goals, 537 assists and 199 penalty minutes in 854 games played

     

    Brad Richards won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 by setting up teammates like Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Now he’ll be doing it with Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash.

    He’s been reunited with John Tortorella for two years now. Will this be the year he does it again? New Yorkers would like to think so.

34. Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks)

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    Last season: 18 goals, 59 assists and 31 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 324 goals, 754 assists and 963 penalty minutes in 1077 games played

     

    Remember how much I was praising Boston for the Seguin/Kessel trade? Well, let’s just say that better work out to make up for their trading of Joe Thornton.

    Jumbo Joe is a player who makes everyone else around him better. Most people expect a first-overall pick, which Thornton was in 1997, to be an elite scorer if that player is a forward.

    This is not the case with Thornton.

    A bear of a man, Jumbo Joe uses his 6’4”, 225-pound body to post up behind the net and set his teammates up. He is better known for his 90-assists season than the years when he scored 30 goals.

33. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)

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    Last season: 23 goals, 43 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 126 goals, 243 assists and 182 penalty minutes in 399 games played

     

    Okay, I’ve got a little caveat for Dustin Byfuglien’s former teammate too: He’s No. 33 as long as he doesn’t go on another drinking binge (via Deadspin.com).

    Sounds like Momma Kane is keeping closer tabs on him now—and Blackhawks fans should be all the merrier for it. 

    As long as this dude sticks to Gatorade and Vitamin Water, eschewing C-Mo and Natty Light, during the season he should have a bounce-back year after his struggles last season.

32. Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers)

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    Last season: 34 goals, 42 assists and 10 penalty minutes in 78 games played

    Career: 52 goals, 67 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 147 games played

     

    Not the first overall pick? No problem.

    Jordan Eberle may not have been the first prize on draft day, but he’s just a big of a factor as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov will be if the Oil are going to turn things around.

31. Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators)

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    Last season: 35 goals, 25 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 166 goals, 175 assists and 283 penalty minutes in 526 games played

     

    Oh, do the Sharkies miss this guy right now.

    Let’s just put it this way: Milan Michalek is looking kind of like Apple stock right now—soaring. Heatley, on the other hand, has seen his shares drop like Enron.

    Michalek is finally looking like the player they chose at sixth overall in that almighty 2003 draft.

30. Michael Del Zotto (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 10 goals, 31 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 21 goals, 68 assists and 88 penalty minutes in 204 games played

     

    Michael Del Zotto had a little case of the sophomore slump two years ago. Confined to only 47 games due to injury, the Blueshirt blueliner had only two goals after scoring nine in his rookie year.

    He bounced back well in 2011-12, though, scoring 10 goals for the first time in his career and offering 31 assists.

    Want to know why New Yorkers love this guy? He’s only 22.

29. Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks)

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    Last season: 31 goals, 26 assists and 53 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 136 goals, 123 assists and 234 penalty minutes in 332 games played

     

    Bobby Ryan already has four 30-goal seasons and he’s only 24 years old.

    The sky is the limit for this player. Odds are that as this team moves away from the Teemu Selanne era, Ryan’s role with the team will increase instrumentally.

    Along with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Ryan is the face of this franchise.

28. Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey Devils)

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    Last season: 37 goals, 46 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 406 goals, 379 assists and 498 penalty minutes in 779 games played

     

    Yeah, okay nobody believed that Ilya Kovalchuk was really going to pass on all that money from his colossal/kinda sketchy contract to play in Russia. He must have had one too many Vodkas or something…

    Kovalchuk is still an elite player in this league, even if he’s not putting up 40 or 50 goals a season like he did in Atlanta.

    With the departure of Zach Parise in the offseason, there will be more pressure on Kovalchuk to pick up the points that left with Parise when he went to Minnesota.

27. James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Last season: 40 goals, 41 assists and 87 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 113 goals, 105 assists and 218 penalty minutes in 268 games played

     

    James Neal picked up the scoring slack in Sidney Crosby’s absence last season. This not only took pressure off of fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin, but kept the team competitive in the difficult Atlantic Division and gave them a shot at making a playoff run…even if it was stymied in the first round.

    The question with him is: Will he keep that production up with reduced minutes now that Crosby is healthy and back on the ice?

26. P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)

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    Last season: 7 goals, 29 assists and 119 penalty minutes in 81 games played

    Career: 21 goals, 24 assists and 245 penalty minutes in 160 games played

     

    It is very likely that P.K. Subban suffered from playing on a poor team last year.

    In his first full season, two years ago, Subban scored 14 goals while being a physical presence on the ice. Never one to avoid running his mouth and mixing it up, Subban offers an energy factor on the team that some other scoring defensemen don’t offer.

    With all that’s gone wrong in Montreal, Subban offers a little silver lining.  

25. Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)

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    Last season: 7 goals, 39 assists and 30 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 38 goals, 200 assists and 396 penalty minutes in 542 games played

     

    A lot of what Ryan Suter offers to a team does not show up on the stat sheet. He is a lock-down defenseman who was part of one of the best defensive tandems in the league last year.

    Now he’s come over to Minnesota, and with the expectation that he is going to be on a winning team closer to home. How he handles the pressure of being a big-money player in a hockey-mad market will make or break his legacy as a player from one of hockey’s most famous families.

24. John Tavares (New York Islanders)

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    Last season: 31 goals, 50 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 84 goals, 118 assists and 101 penalty minutes in 243 games played

     

    Wait, what is that you say? There is No. 1 overall pick that isn’t playing for the Oilers?

    No way.

    Well, I guess one slips through the cracks every once in a while.

    The Islanders have to be happy they landed the top spot on the draft board in 2009, because John Tavares has been nothing but sensational for this moribund franchise.

    After two strong seasons, Tavares broke the 30-goal seal at age 21 and looks capable of scoring much more than that in subsequent campaigns.

23. Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)

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    Last season: 25 goals, 49 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 323 goals, 529 assists and 266 penalty minutes in 931 games played

     

    Somebody tell me how this guy does it.

    This man is smaller than a fire hydrant and at age 37 shows no signs of slowing down. He’s been an important part of Steven Stamkos’ development as a player. Yes, his production has dropped a bit from the 90-point range to 74 last year, but we’re getting a little nitpicky.

    This is a guy anyone would want on his or her team. Tampa was just lucky to find him in Calgary’s bargain bin back at the turn of the century.

22. Rick Nash (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 30 goals, 29 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 289 goals, 258 assists and 568 penalty minutes in 674 games played

     

    Finally, after all these years, Rick Nash’s talents will go to good use on a team that is capable of winning it all.

    No pressure though.

    For years, Nash toiled in Columbus, trying to win without superstar players around him. Now he’s got Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan, Marc Staal…the list goes on and in.

    This is like going from driving a Geo to riding in a Lamborghini overnight. Safe to say New Yorkers want to hear that engine purr once the season starts.

21. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Last season: 42-17-4, .913 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average in 67 games

    Career: 226-143-41, .909 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average in 434 games played

     

    It’s funny to think, with all those great players that came out of the 2003 draft, that Marc-Andre Fleury went No. 1 overall.

    This isn’t meant to be an insult to Fleury, a great goaltender in his own right, it’s just true.

    I mean, does anyone see this guy on the level of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or even John Tavares?

    It’s comparing apples to oranges a little bit, but they could have taken a jab at Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry…and that’s just in the first round!

    Safe to say, they’re happy with their decision, but it’s funny to think about how stacked that draft was. Joe Pavelski and Dustin Byfuglien were late-round picks!

    Hey, at least Fleury didn’t turn out like Rick DiPietro…that would have sucked.  

20. Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 35-21-13, .929 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average in 69 games played

    Career: 131-87-25, .916 save percentage and 2.30 goals against average in 249 games played

     

    Here’s something even crazier: Jonathan Quick was a third-rounder in 2005.

    Now it’s true that goaltenders from the latter rounds tend to make a splash in the NHL: Tim Thomas, Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, Pekka Rinne, Brian Elliott, et cetera.

    Still, Quick, who may have one of the best non-Russian last names in all of hockey, has emerged as an elite netminder for a team that really could go on a tear for years to come.

    Crazy little game, isn’t it?

19. Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames)

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    Last season: 32 goals, 35 assists and 43 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 516 goals, 557 assists and 809 penalty minutes in 1188 games played

     

    Jarome Iginla has been a staple in Calgary since he was traded from the Stars on draft day in 1995. He may be 35, but the Edmonton native is showing no signs of slowing down. He had 32 goals last season, 43 the year before and 32 the year before that.

    This man is a machine.

    The question for him, however, is whether or not he’s best served playing on a middling team in Calgary or finishing his career in a spot where he’s more likely to win it all?

18. Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)

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    Last season: 37 goals, 45 assists and 20 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 165 goals, 162 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 456 games played

     

    If Toronto is going to make the playoffs, let alone start to compete for a championship, in the next couple years it will all go through one Philip Joseph Kessel Jr.

    The old Boston Bruin that hails from Madison, Wis. but went to the University of Minnesota may have taken a scrambled path to becoming, along with Dion Phaneuf, the face of the Maple Leafs franchise.

    However, he’s there now and this team is counting on him to produce at a high level like he has been ever since arriving since Boston.

    Kessel is 25, so he’s just entering the prime of his career. He is clearly capable of breaking the 40-goal plateau and leading a talented team to a championship. The question is whether Toronto will put the players he needs around him.

17. Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings)

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    Last season: 10 goals, 26 assists and 68 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 43 goals, 119 assists and 247 penalty minutes in 316 games played

     

    Drew Doughty pirouettes in a way that would make a figure skater jealous. It is one of the greatest things to watch in hockey.

    The 23-year-old defenseman is abundantly blessed and surrounded by players just as talented as he is. He’s a major reason why the Kings could turn the hockey world on its head in the next couple of seasons.

16. Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)

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    Last season: 12 goals, 40 assists and 86 penalty minutes in 79 games played

    Career: 137 goals, 322 assists and 1471 penalty minutes in 1007 games played

     

    You ever seen the old James Bond movie Thunderball, where Sean Connery gets locked into a stretching machine and nearly torn apart, only to quip afterwards that he thought he would be seven feet tall? I’m almost certain that happened to Zdeno Chara.

    This guy is listed at 6’9”, but he’s probably about 7’0” with skates. He’s the Dikembe Mutumbo of hockey. I mean this dude is huge.

    Never mind that Chara is 35 and still a major scoring threat; I just never would want to skate a shift against a man that King Kong could climb and swat airplanes off of.

15. Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild)

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    Last season: 31 goals, 38 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 194 games played, 216 assists and 177 penalty minutes in 502 games played

     

    Back in 2010, when Zach Parise was playing with the Devils, ESPN’s Hockey God John Buccigross suggested a plan that would change the hockey world: goal songs for each individual player. It’s kind of like how a baseball player has a walk-up song, only these lyrics play after someone scores a goal.

    Buccigross suggested “Welcome to Paradise” by Green Day playing on the Parise/Paradise dynamic. Well, now Parise is in Hockey Paradise and it’s his time to shine. Song or no song, this man should be making music in a Wild uniform this season.

14. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)

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    Last season: 31-21-7, .916 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average in 61 games played

    Career: 252-147-49, .915 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average in 460 games played

     

    A stalwart goaltender for the Sabres ever since he joined the team as a 22-year-old in 2002-03, Ryan Miller plays well as long as he’s not being run over by Boston Bruins.

    With a little more beef around him this year, we should see even more Miller Time next season.

13. Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 39-18-5, .930 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average in 62 games played

    Career: 252-155-54, .920 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average in 468 games played

     

    Twenty-five percent goaltender, 75 percent manliness, Henrik Lundqvist can deflect rubber with his face during the week and stop beating hearts with it on the weekends.

    This guy makes Ryan Gosling look like the elephant man.

    King Henrik is arguably the best goaltender in the game right now, and let me just say we’re all glad wearing face masks is en vogue.

12. Marian Gaborik (New York Rangers)

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    Last season: 41 goals, 35 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 324 goals, 323 assists and 390 penalty minutes in 722 games played

     

    Yeah, Marian Gaborik makes so much money picking cherries that Emile Vernon is suing him for copyright infringement. Still, you’ve gotta love his game. He’s nimble, quick and is keeping New York podiatrists busy by breaking his opponents' ankles every single night.

    So yeah, excuse Gabby for having the defensive aptitude of Switzerland and focus on what he does on the other end of the rink because, hell, it’s borderline magical.

11. Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)

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    Last season: 14 goals, 67 assists and 52 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 171 goals, 576 assists and 510 penalty minutes in 892 games played

     

    Sorry Henrik, my man, like Vancouver I’m choosing your brother over you for this slideshow.

    Yes, you can score and sure you can pass and of course we’re all convinced you’re both evil because of those goatees, but I’m sorry, I’ve got to put one at No. 11 and the other at No. 10. We can’t ride the fence here and we all know that goal scorers are a lot more fun than setup men. After all, the wingman never gets the girl.

    Hey, at least I didn’t put Patrik Stefan here. Choosing him over you two would be just plain ridiculous.

10. Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)

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    Last season: 30 goals, 37 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 72 games played

    Career: 279 goals, 439 assists and 364 penalty minutes in 859 games played

     

    Oh don’t get all high and mighty on me, Mr. Daniel Sedin. Yeah, I chose you over your brother, but there are still nine people ahead of you. How does that make you feel? Huh?

    I’m kidding of course. Both Sedin brothers have been fixtures in this league for years, show little sign of slowing down (although they are on the wrong side of 30) and are a major reason why Vancouver is a threat to win it all every year.

9. Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators)

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    Last season: 19 goals, 59 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 81 games played

    Career: 37 goals, 112 assists and 116 penalty minutes in 216 games played

     

    Erik Karlsson’s probably feeling pretty good right now, having been chosen over the mighty Sedins. But that’s what happens when you are 22 and already have a 19-goal season under your belt as a defenseman.

    This Swedish sensation is a major reason why the Senators were able to double-time on their rebuilding project and jump right into the playoff mix last year.

8. Shea Weber (Nashville Predators)

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    Last season: 19 goals, 30 assists and 46 penalty minutes in 78 games played

    Career: 99 goals, 164 assists and 369 penalty minutes in 480 games played

     

    A Roman God in the Athens of the South, Shea Weber will remain in Nashville after the Preds matched Philadelphia’s mammoth 14-year, $110 million offer sheet. Hey, that’s the kind of money you make when you can fire a puck so hard it sears through the twine behind the goalie.

    Have you ever seen Jackass the Movie, where Johnny Knoxville gets drilled by a beanbag from a pump-action shotgun? My guess is that’s how it feels for a goaltender to be hit with a Shea Weber slapper.

    That thing is dangerous.

7. Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks)

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    Last season: 41 goals, 32 assists and 56 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 153 goals, 184 assists and 501 penalty minutes in 561 games played

     

    Want to talk about Roman Gods? This guy was in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue and man, he made Michelangelo’s David look like Will Ferrell in the Terrence Maddox sketch.  

    Let’s just say the man is cut.

    And just like the students at Morris Community college, opposing teams get sick of watching this guy score goals that make one's head spin.

6. Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers)

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    Last season: 28 goals, 65 points and 29 penalty minutes in 77 games played

    Career: 78 goals, 165 points and 113 penalty minutes in 285 games played

     

    Claude Giroux’s stock has increased monumentally over the last few years. With the departure of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Philly was thought to be Giroux and JVR’s team, but clearly the former became the poster boy for the Flyers hockey club.

    He also got the cover of NHL 13, which brings up the question: Will he fall victim to the NHL’s "Madden Curse"? Or is he on the course for superstardom?

5. Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks)

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    Last season: 37 goals, 23 assists and 127 penalty minutes in 80 games played

    Career: 205 goals, 224 assists and 664 penalty minutes in 530 games played

     

    Okay, okay, he didn’t lead the NHL in scoring this season. Big whoop.

    This man plays all aspects of the game: He’ll beat you with his hands and clobber you into the boards. He is the quintessential Anaheim Duck; his grittiness gets under your skin and his wrist shot gets past your goaltender.

    He’s a player that you love to hate…unless, of course, he’s on your team.

4. Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Last season: 50 goals, 59 assists and 70 penalty minutes in 75 games played

    Career: 208 goals, 319 assists and 426 penalty minutes in 427 games played

     

    It’s almost not fair that Pittsburgh’s got two of the best four players in the league on their team. That’s what happens when you suck for so long.

    Not that the locals mind: When Crosby goes down, Malkin steps it up. The Russian forward lit it up with 50 goals last year, making it known that he doesn’t need to be on a beach in Miami to turn up the heat.

3. Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)

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    Last season: 60 goals, 37 assists and 66 penalty minutes in 82 games played

    Career: 179 goals, 150 assists and 217 penalty minutes in 325 games played

     

    Oh never mind that Steven Stamkos has only played four seasons of professional hockey and has already led the league in scoring twice.

    Yeah, that’s right: Stammer has only been able to drink legally for two years and already has two Rocket Richard Trophies to his name at an age where most people are just finishing up their undergraduate degree.

2. Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)

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    Last season: 38 goals, 27 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 78 games played

    Career: 339 goals, 340 assists and 372 penalty minutes in 553 games played

     

    Alex Ovechkin might say: “Yeah, you think that’s cool, well I did the same thing except I scored 65 goals (65!) when I won my second Rocket Richard Trophy.”

    He’s so cool he can make weird Gillette commercials and people will go buy razors. And then after that he goes and parties with Russian supermodels.

    Yeah, life must be rough being a young, talented hockey player.  

1. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    Last season: 8 goals, 29 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 22 games played

    Career: 223 goals, 386 assists and 401 penalty minutes in 434 games played

     

    I know it’s going to anger a lot of people seeing Sid the Kid at No. 1, but hey not all of us were nicknamed “The Next One,” became a team captain as a teenager, led them to a Stanley Cup victory and had an arena built with a seating capacity of 18,087, in part for you.

    Let’s face it, everyone: Sidney Crosby is the greatest hockey player in the world when he’s healthy.

     

    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.