NHL Player Rankings: Final Report Cards for the Top 50 Players in the League
Youth has officially taken over.
The 2010-2011 NHL season was proof of a changing of the guard. Ripe young talent has taken control of the upper echelon of the player ranks, while some aging veterans attempt to hang on for dear life.
In an age where offense is king, forwards have also taken center stage, while the elite defensemen are an increasingly rare and valuable asset.
For some of these players, 2010-2011 put them on the map. For others, this season brought them back to reality and slid them down the rankings in the eyes of the beholder.
In a nearly impossible task, I have ranked the top 50 players in the NHL, and it's report card time for each and every one of them.
50. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
2010-2011 Stats: 65 GP, 28 Goals, 26 Assists, 54 Points, plus-22
There's no doubt that Alexander Semin benefits from playing with Alexander Ovechkin. However, Semin is no slouch on the wing for Ovy.
Semin missed some time this season but still managed to collect a very solid 54 points. Meanwhile, he had a plus/minus rating of plus-22 and a shooting percentage of 14.3 percent. Not to mention, four of Semin's 28 goals were game winners.
If the Russian winger could have stayed healthy for the entire season, he may have earned an A, and be higher up this list. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and Semin is surrounded by too much talent to be any higher in the rankings.
49. Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
2010-2011 Stats: 71 GP, 17 Goals, 45 Assists, 62 Points
It was another impressive year for Wild captain Mikko Koivu. The Finnish center completed his third straight 60-plus point season. Koivu continues to be the catalyst offensively for a mediocre Minnesota club.
If Koivu had a legitimate goal scorer by his side, the Wild would have a dangerous offense. Koivu is a very solid setup man with the ability to wheel around the offensive zone and create offense. Minnesota's franchise player has earned his keep in the NHL and is worthy of his spot on this list.
Koivu could have earned an A by getting the Wild to the playoffs.
48. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 27 Goals, 40 Assists, 67 Points
It was a forgettable year for the Colorado Avalanche, who finished among the league's worst teams and will be drafting second in the upcoming NHL draft.
However, the play of Matt Duchene is a definite bright spot. The 20-year-old center has over 50 points in each of his first two seasons in the league, including 67 this past season.
What earns Duchene an A- is the leadership he displayed this season for the Avs. With Adam Foote retiring, Duchene could very well become the captain for Colorado within the next couple of seasons.
47. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
2010-2011 Stats: 64 GP, 33 Wins, 23 Losses, 9 OTL, 2.12 GAA, .930 Save Percentage
Pekka Rinne came into his own this season for the Nashville Predators. The Preds' backstop has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy—and for good reason. He was in between the pipes for 64 games this season and is a big reason for Nashville's playoff run.
Rinne certainly has the benefit of playing behind an elite defense and an even better system. However, there is no denying the work Rinne did holding the entire operation together. With a solid showing in the playoffs, Rinne could shoot up this list.
46. Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators
2010-2011 Stats: 70 GP, 4 Goals, 35 Assists, 39 Points, plus-20
Ryan Suter further exemplified his dependability on the back end this season. Playing alongside Shea Weber in Barry Trotz's disciplined defensive system, Suter managed the best plus/minus rating of his young career. Pekka Rinne owes a tremendous deal of his success to the play of Suter.
In addition, Suter has become a superb leader for Nashville. He is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL.
45. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
2010-2011 Stats: 76 GP, 9 Goals, 41 Assists, 50 Points
Another solid season for San Jose's top defenseman, Dan Boyle. The Sharks' blue-liner collected another 50 points and has proven to be a crucial aspect of San Jose's core.
Boyle logs tons of minutes for a defensively challenged team. He's the glue holding that defensive unit together and a big bart of San Jose's playoff run.
44. Brent Burns, Minnesota Wild
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 17 Goals, 29 Assists, 46 Points
Brent Burns is one of the most steady and dependable defensemen in the NHL. He played another 80 games for a mediocre Wild team and put up solid production.
Burns will fare much better next season on with a new organization. He will be one of the more sought after commodities this offseason.
43. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 37 Goals, 36 Assists, 73 Points
2010-2011 was another season of solid play and inflated statistics for Patrick Marleau. The Sharks' winger has had over 70 points in five out of his last six seasons. However, he undoubtedly benefits from the presence of Joe Thornton.
That being said, Marleau has come into his own as a superstar in the NHL since being drafted second overall in 1997. The lack of postseason success is all that is keeping him from being higher on this list.
42. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
2010-2011 Stats: 73 GP, 31 Goals, 49 Assists, 80 Points
At the ripe age of 40, Teemu Selanne was able to accumulate his seventh 80-point season for the Anaheim Ducks. One of the league's all-time greatest players was a driving force for Anaheim's run to the postseason.
This may be Selanne's last season cracking the top 50. One has to wonder how much this aging veteran has left in the tank. However, I would not have expected 80 points from him at age 40, so anything is possible.
41. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
2010-2011 Stats: 74 GP, 37 Wins, .923 Save Percentage, 2.56 GAA
2010-2011 was not an outstanding season statistically for the former Stanley Cup-winning goaltender, but Cam Ward was once again steady between the pipes for the Canes.
What stands out is the fact that Ward started 74 games, more than any goaltender in the NHL. His fundamentals are as sound as any goaltender out there, and he nearly carried Carolina into the playoffs.
Cam Ward will be a mainstay on this list for years to come.
40. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
2010-2011 Stats: 77 GP, 18 Goals, 47 Assists, 65 Points
Nicklas Backstrom had a bit of a disappointing season by his standards. After putting up 101 points a season ago, Backstrom was only able to muster 65 points this season.
Of course, the Capitals focused more on a defensive oriented game this past season, but Backstrom still failed to fill it up offensively like he's accustomed to.
That being said, the Swedish winger has an incredible future in the NHL. He is one of the most dynamic young forwards in the league, and should return to 80 plus point form sooner rather than later.
39. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 25 Goals, 51 Assists, 76 Points
The 2010 NHL Playoffs were a coming out party for Claude Giroux. The Canadian born center managed to parlay his success in the postseason into a breakout regular season.
Giroux is quickly becoming a leader on offense for the Flyers. He piled up 76 points and played every single game for Philadelphia.
His mix of physical play and playmaking ability gives him the potential to shoot up this list in the coming seasons.
38. Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 34 Goals, 37 Assists, 71 Points
Bobby Ryan put up his third straight 50-plus point season and his second straight season playing over 80 games in a season.
Ryan certainly benefits from playing alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but his talent is undeniable. He is a steady dependable winger with a dynamic offensive skill set. In addition, he is a powerful forward willing to grind it out in the corners. Ryan is a perfect fit with the Anaheim Ducks.
37. Mike Green, Washington Capitals
2010-2011 Stats: 49 GP, 8 Goals, 16 Assists, 24 Points
Battling through injuries, Mike Green had a relatively mediocre campaign statistically. After two straight 70-point seasons, Green put up just 24 for the Capitals this season.
Granted, I did notice an improvement from Green in his own end. Once just a glorified left winger, Green has appeared to take his defensive responsibilities a bit more seriously. However, he still has a ways to go in that aspect of his game.
36. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 41 Goals, 32 Assists, 73 Points
Ryan Kesler is one of the most valuable players on the Presidents Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. He played over 80 games in five of the last six seasons for the Canucks. A terrific two-way forward, Kesler was also a plus-22 this season for Vancouver.
With just four points thus far in the playoffs, and no goals, Kesler needs to step up his postseason play to be included in the top 30 of this list.
35. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
2010-2011 Stats: 73 GP, 27 Goals, 46 Assists, 73 Points
Patrick Kane has four straight seasons of 70-plus points for the Chicago Blackhawks. He plays an underrated two-way game at winger and is a terrific playmaker in the offensive zone.
Unfortunately, Kane was not able to stay healthy for the entire season. The American-born winger missed nine games which caused him to put up 15 fewer points than a season ago.
Kane needs to make that final jump in his game and become the type of player that can put up 80 points on a consistent basis.
34. Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 26 Goals, 38 Assists, 64 Points
For a perennial All-Star like Dany Heatley, a 60-point season does not exactly constitute a quality season. 2010-2011 marked only the second time since his rookie season that Heatley played over 70 games and did not manage to accumulate over 80 points.
For a player like Heatley, production is everything. Perhaps he can salvage his season by stepping up his game in the playoffs. Somehow, I doubt that thought.
33. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
2010-2011 Stats: 75 GP, 25 Goals, 48 Assists, 73 Points
Anze Kopitar has truly come into his own as an elite player in the NHL. Kopitar was the most valuable player for the L.A. Kings, as evident by the fact that the Kings weren't able to escape the first round of the playoffs after Kopitar went down with injury.
He has become the face of this Kings team and is the perfect piece for the Kings to build around. Los Angeles has plenty of talented prospects in their system that will soon surround Kopitar and make this team one of the best in the Western Conference.
Kopitar has not tapped into his full potential just yet.
32. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
2010-2011 Stats: 65 GP, 36 Wins, 20 Losses, 2.32 GAA, .918 Save Percentage
Some may scoff at grading Marc-Andre Fleury's season as an A+, but Pittsburgh's goaltender was their most valuable player during this past season.
After Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injury, Fleury was forced to carry the Penguins and did so effectively, earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
For a number of seasons, critics were quick to point out Fleury's flaws and say that he was not worthy of the No. 1 overall selection that Pittsburgh spent on him in 2003.
However, after winning the Stanley Cup and proving that he can carry the team on his own, Fleury has established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL and a crucial part of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
31. Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
2010-2011 Stats: 81 GP, 33 Goals, 43 Assists, 76 Points
Eric Staal steadily manages to compile 70-point seasons year in and year out. The Carolina captain piles up points despite not being surrounded by the elite talent as some of the league leaders.
However, Staal and the Canes fell short of the playoffs this season, despite being in contention for the final spot throughout most of the season.
Staal will have to prove he can return to the 100-point form he flashed back in 2005-2006 in order to climb these rankings.
30. Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
2010-2011 Stats: 81 GP, 23 Goals, 43 Assists, 66 Points
Mike Richards receives an A-, but this grade is subject to change based on Philadelphia's performance in the 2011 NHL Playoffs. Richards has done a tremendous job leading the Flyers this season. Despite his less-than-elite statistics, Richards's value cannot be measured by the stats alone.
Not to mention the fact that the Flyers have so much fire power on offense, that the production is somewhat divvied up amongst the top six forwards.
If Richards can carry the Flyers to another Stanley Cup berth, he will solidify an A in the grade book and take a leap up this list.
29. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
2010-2011 Stats: 76 GP, 11 Goals, 29 Assists, 40 Points
After his breakout season a year ago, Drew Doughty came back down to earth in 2010-2011, declining in all major statistical categories.
That being said, Doughty is still rock solid on the back end for the Kings. He had a shaky start to the season but managed to pick up his play late in the season—especially in the playoffs against the Sharks.
Doughty clearly picked up his play once Kopitar went down, which is a terrific sign for the Kings moving forward.
28. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
2010-2011 Stats: 72 GP, 38 Wins, 28 Losses, 2.35 GAA, .923 Save Percentage
After being written off a year ago due to the white hot play of Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price bounced back in a big way. Halak was traded during the offseason, clearing the way for Price to play in 72 games this season.
However, Price once again failed to carry the Canadiens through the postseason. While he was brilliant in the first portion of the series, he was increasingly average as the games wore on.
Price still hasn't reached his prime. He has fluid lateral movement and picture-perfect fundamentals. Occasionally, Price lacks a killer instinct. However, as he matures, the Canadien netminder should develop into one of the best in the NHL.
27. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 21 Goals, 49 Assists, 70 Points
By Joe Thornton's standards, 2010-2011 was quite the off year. After five straight 86-plus point seasons, Thornton amassed just 70 points this year. Meanwhile, Jumbo Joe was just a plus-four for the season.
Sure, Thornton's Sharks managed to get to the postseason, but his playoff history does not instill much confidence. If Thornton brings home the Stanley Cup this season, he will move up the list significantly, and his grade will improve. However, to this point, Thornton is not having the year we have come to expect from him.
26. Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers
2010-2011 Stats: 62 GP, 22 Goals, 26 Assists, 48 Points
Marian Gaborik missed some time this season for the New York Rangers, causing his point totals to dip below 50. Gaborik has always been insanely talented but has struggled to stay healthy. This season was not much of a diversion from the norm.
Gaborik is certainly one of the league's most talented players and showed signs of being dominant this year, but until he puts it all together, he'll be stuck in the mid-20s on this list.
25. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 50 Goals, 48 Assists, 98 Points
2010-2011 was a breakout season for the Ducks' Corey Perry. Anaheim's winger led the NHL with 50 goals and was third in the league with 98 total points.
Perry is just 26 years old and entering the prime of his career. Make sure to target this stud in the early portion of your fantasy hockey drafts next season.
24. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
2010-2011 Stats: 75 GP, 32 Goals, 34 Assists, 66 Points
It was another solid year for Columbus's franchise player. Rick Nash piled up points and ate up ice time for the Jackets, while doing his best to earn Columbus a playoff berth.
Nash might be the best power forward in the NHL, which limits his productivity, but certainly not his value. Playing anywhere else in the NHL, Nash would be a perennial MVP candidate.
Unfortunately, the first overall draft choice in 2002 finds himself stuck in the wasteland of Columbus with very little talent around him. He's got plenty of hockey left, though.
23. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 43 Goals, 43 Assists, 86 Points
After a slow start to the season, Jarome Iginla proved to the hockey world that he is still one of the league's best wingers. After managing just eight points in the first 15 games of the season, Iginla piled up 78 points during the last 67 games of the year.
The Flames have made it known that Iginla will not be available this offseason, and Iggy is still in pursuit of the Stanley Cup with Calgary. We'll see how long he can keep up this incredible pace.
22. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
2010-2011 Stats: 81 GP, 31 Goals, 29 Assists, 60 Points
Only Ilya Kovalchuk can have a 60-point season graded as a D+. However, given his outrageous contract, his minus-26 is not exactly what the Devils had in mind.
Jeff Skinner, David Backes and Milan Lucic all scored the same amount of goals as Kovalchuk, give or take a few. No disrespect to any of those players, but the Russian superstar has to bring more to the table if New Jersey is going to turn things around this season.
21. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
2010-2011 Stats: 66 GP, 34 Wins, 26 Losses, 2.59 GAA, .916 Save Percentage
Ryan Miller had an up and down season, riddled with injuries and inconsistent play. He started the season off horribly but turned things around to post respectable numbers.
America's goaltender fared well in the postseason, nearly carrying Buffalo to an upset over second-seeded Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Miller and the Sabres fell just shy, but it was still a solid season for Ryan Miller.
20. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
2010-2011 Stats: 67 GP, 19 Goals, 57 Assists, 76 Points
Despite playing in just 67 games due to injury, Ryan Getzlaf managed to collect 76 points for Anaheim.
Getzlaf is a rare power forward at the center position, and he is one of the best in the NHL. The trio of Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry is the meanest line in the NHL. Meanwhile, they are all still young and just hitting the prime of their careers.
The Anaheim Ducks and Ryan Getzlaf should enjoy plenty of postseason success by the time it's all said and done.
19. Zack Parise, New Jersey Devils
2010-2011 Stats: 13 GP, 3 Goals, 3 Assists, 6 Points
Zach Parise's presence in New Jersey's lineup was undoubtedly missed by everyone involved. Kovalchuk and Zajac were unable to reach their full potential without Parise accumulating his usual 80-plus points.
Now, it appears Parise could be heading out of New Jersey, as the Devils have not made much progress in contract negotiations despite it being their top priority of the offseason.
Parise would command a hefty deal in free agency but would be more than worth it considering he is just 27 years old.
18. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
2010-2011 Stats: 43 GP, 15 Goals, 22 Assists, 37 Points
Evgeni Malkin's season was off to a pedestrian start before a knee injury forced him to miss the entire second half of the season.
The Penguins will eye the rehab of Malkin and Crosby closely this offseason, especially after Pittsburgh got unseated by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If it wasn't already apparent, it has become painfully clear that the Penguins rely heavily on the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and without them, they aren't much of a team.
17. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
2010-2011 Stats: 81 GP, 14 Goals, 30 Assists, 44 Points, plus-33
Zdeno Chara put forth another dominant campaign this past year. His most impressive statistic is his plus-33 rating. "Big Z" also punished opponents with over 150 hits.
Seventeen may seem a bit low for Chara, but he has yet to prove he can get it done during the playoffs and be a true leader for the Boston Bruins.
As captain, a lot is expected of Chara, and until he delivers that leadership, he cannot be considered the league's best defenseman.
16. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 32 Goals, 44 Assists, 76 Points
With all of the offensive talent the Blackhawks lost in the offseason, the pressure was on Jonathan Toews to pick up the slack on the offensive end for Chicago.
Unfortunately, Toews managed just eight more points than last season and scored just one single goal in the postseason series against the Canucks.
Jonathan Toews is still a young kid and hasn't even scratched the surface of what he will accomplish in the NHL. Give him a few more quality seasons, and Toews will crack the top 10 of this list.
15. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
2010-2011 Stats: 7 Goals, 38 Assists, 45 Points, minus-1
2011 was not quite the same for Duncan Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks. However, despite coming down to earth, Keith and the Blackhawks still played quite well and showed promise for the future.
Keith once again had over 40 points during the regular season and followed it up by leading the Blackhawks in playoff goals.
Chicago may have lost leadership and depth to free agency, but new leaders are emerging on the roster. Duncan Keith is one of those leaders.
14. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
2010-2011 Stats: 50 GP, 4 Goals, 21 Assists, 25 Points
Grade: To Be Determined
Normally a reliable and durable defenseman, Chris Pronger spent nearly half of the season out of the lineup for the Flyers.
Despite missing 30-plus games, Pronger displayed his value to the team. The power play struggled mightily without his service, and even though Philly has a deep defensive core, it was not the same without his services.
The reason Pronger's grade is to be determined is that he always saves his best for the postseason. He is starting to return to form, and we'll see just how much he has left in the tank.
13. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
2010-2011 Stats: 60 GP, 38 Wins, 15 Losses, 2.11 GAA, .928 Save Percentage
For a goaltender who catches so much flak, Roberto Luongo sure does receive a lot of Vezina nominations doesn't he?
Luongo is one of, if not the best goaltender in the entire world, yet he gets criticized far more than any other. Sure, he has not had the most prolific postseason career, but Luongo is starting to develop that part of his game. In the mean time, Luongo continues to dominate the postseason.
A Stanley Cup ring would get the monkey off of Luongo's back in addition to making him the world's best goalie.
12. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 31 Goals, 68 Assists, 99 Points
Martin St. Louis has been defying the odds and silencing his critics since he entered the NHL back in the late 1990s. At just 5'9'', St. Louis was considered to small by most scouts which caused him to go undrafted.
However, size has not been an issue, as St. Louis has missed just two games in the last eight season, while reaching at least 60 points in each of those years.
At 35 years of age, St. Louis still has it. Tampa's winger collected the second-most points in the league with 99. He has aided the development and production of superstar Steven Stamkos and been an intricate aspect of the Lighting's success.
11. Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
2010-2011 Stats: 72 GP, 28 Goals, 49 Assists, 77 Points
Brad Richards was off to another terrific start before a concussion sidelined him for 10 games. Richards was not the same after the injury, as he took a couple of weeks to get back up to speed. By the time he hit stride again, the Stars had slipped in the standings.
Durability has always been an issue with Richards. Dallas's playmaking center hasn't played all 82 games in a season since being traded to the Stars.
Re-signing Richards has become priority one for Dallas this offseason (after finding an owner of course), and they desperately need to make it happen.
10. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
2010-2011 Stats: 80 GP, 24 Goals, 56 Assists, 80 Points
Believe it or not, there was a time when Henrik Zetterberg was in the discussion as the best player in the NHL. Of course, the influx of young talent such as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin has caused him to slide down the list a bit.
However, the former seventh-round draft choice is still one of the league's elite forwards. as evident by the fact that he once again finished in the top 10 in scoring with 80 points.
The Swedish goal scorer has a Stanley Cup ring and a Conn Smythe Trophy to his name as well.
9. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 16 Goals, 32 Assists, 48 Points
Shea Weber has been absolutely phenomenal on the back end for a disciplined Nashville Predators team. He continually shut down opposing scorers and is able to make significant contributions in the offensive zone.
Already, Weber has made his mark on the postseason as well. The shutdown defender has netted three goals and five points total, in addition to logging serious ice time.
Between the Preds' brilliant system, the top pairing of Suter and Weber, and Rinne's play between the pipes, they are the best defensive team in hockey and a legitimate threat to take home the Stanley Cup in June.
8. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 41 Goals, 63 Assists, 104 Points
Everything went well for the Vancouver Canucks this season. They entered the year as Stanley Cup contenders and went on to win the Presidents Trophy while rostering the top scorer in the league.
Daniel, not Henrik Sedin led the entire NHL in points with 104. In addition to his outstanding point totals, Daniel was able to complete his third straight season with a plus/minus rating of over 20.
Unfortunately, Daniel's incredible regular season will render itself useless if the Canucks do not make a deep postseason run. He has seven points this postseason, three of which came in one game against the Blackhawks, and he has not registered a single point against the Preds in two games thus far.
Granted, Nashville is a superb defensive team, but Sedin needs to continue his dominant ways if the Nucks are going to win the Cup.
7. Henrik Lundvist, New York Rangers
2010-2011 Stats: 68 GP, 36 Wins, 27 Losses, 2.28 GAA, .923 Save Percentage, 11 Shutouts
Henrik Lundvist has established himself as the world's best goaltender. Despite playing on a less than average team, Lundvist always manages to keep the Rangers in every single game. In addition, New York is always in the playoff hunt due at large to King Henrik's services.
2010-2011 was no different for Lundqvist and the Rangers, as the Swedish backstopped New York to the playoffs with a league leading 11 shutouts.
Until the Rangers surround him with more talent, however, Lundvist will struggle to bring home his first Stanley Cup ring.
6. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 19 Goals, 75 Assists, 94 Points
In what has come to be expected of him, Henrik Sedin led the Canucks to the league's best record this season with his 94 points and terrific two-way play.
Much like his twin brother Daniel, his season will be defined on Vancouver's ability to make a deep postseason run.
Henrik has just five points this postseason and will have to crack the code of Weber and Suter in order to continue to lead the Canucks to the promised land.
5. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 16 Goals, 46 Assists, 62 Points
For those who think Nicklas Lidstrom is finished, think again. Lidstrom is still the best all-around defenseman in the world, even at the age of 41.
Detroit's captain finished the season with 62 points, his highest total since '07-'08. However, his influence cannot be felt on the stats alone. The Swedish blueliner still provides quality play on both ends of the ice and is a tremendous leader for Detroit.
He once again finds himself in the playoffs and would love to cap off his career with one final Stanley Cup trophy.
4. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
2010-2011 Stats: 56 GP, 23 Goals, 36 Assists, 59 Points
Unfortunately for Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings, the stud winger had his season abbreviated by injuries this past year. The alternate captain was on a better than a point-a-game pace before falling victim to the injury bug.
However, unlike other stars who went down this season, Datsyuk has a chance to make it all right in the postseason.
Datsyuk is simply one of the most gifted playmakers in all of hockey. His hands are the best in the league, and he has a sixth sense when it comes to creating magic in the offensive zone.
The Wings will lean on a healthy Datsyuk during the grind of the 2011 NHL Playoffs.
3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
2010-2011 Stats: 82 GP, 45 Goals, 46 Assists, 91 Points
Steven Stamkos has entered the discussion as the league's most dynamic offensive player. The 21-year-old center has already completed two 90-plus point seasons in his young career.
His astonishingly quick release and outstanding skating ability are rare, to say the very least. Stamkos has the ability to take over a game from start to finish and simply dominate.
The 2011 NHL Playoffs are Stamkos's first taste of the postseason. He has been quite average thus far, but the youngster is still adjusting to the speed of playoff hockey.
As he continues to progress, he will further entrench himself as one of the three best players in the NHL.
2. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
2010-2011 Stats: 79 GP, 32 Goals, 53 Assists, 88 Points
Say what you want about Ovechkin focusing more on his defensive game, but the Washington captain did not put up the numbers we are accustomed to seeing from him in 2010-2011.
Granted his plus/minus (plus-24) was excellent, but his defensive improvement was not substantial enough to warrant that large of a drop off in his offensive production. Eighty-eight points is nothing to be ashamed of, but Ovechkin has set different standards for himself based on his ridiculous production recently.
Ovechkin cannot be considered the best player in the league if his two-way game isn't near what Crosby's is, and he does not put up the mind boggling offensive numbers.
Of course, a Stanley Cup certainly would not hurt his case.
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
2010-2011 Stats: 41 GP, 32 Goals, 34 Assists, 66 Points
Ah yes, the greatest debate in hockey. Crosby or Ovechkin? For me, there is no debate. Crosby wins in a landslide, for a couple of reasons.
For starters, as a center, Crosby has the more complete game. He takes on more defensive responsibility and is more effective with his responsibilities than Ovechkin is.
Secondly, his offensive production is not far behind Ovechkin's. Crosby was on a staggering pace before suffering a concussion at midseason. If he could have completed the season, he would have put to rest any discussion as to who the league's best player is.
In addition, Crosby has both a gold medal and a Stanley Cup, while Ovechkin struggles mightily on the big stage. Ovechkin has a chance to change all of that in the 2011 NHL Playoffs.
For now though, there is not one area of the game of hockey in which Alexander Ovechkin can claim a significant victory.