By Rick Morris
NOTE: In the summer of 2010, to examine the impact of the vaunted NBA free agent class, FDH ranked the top 30 players in the league (averaging one per team) to determine the true strength of the class. We decided this summer to reprise the concept with each of the “Big Four” sports in North America, with all of these serving as non-fantasy rankings.
This is a feature that we are serializing from PRO HOCKEY DRAFTOLOGY 2011. These are the top 30 players in the NHL at the present time – averaging one per team in the league – by my determination. Sportsology’s Russ Cohen offers analysis of where he agrees — and disagrees.
1 Sidney Crosby - Agreed, Crosby makes players around him better and he never has the same linemates from season to season.
2 Alex Ovechkin - This spot may not be there for him next year.
3 Tim Thomas - If Thomas is #3, then Lundqvist has to be higher than 17.
4 Daniel Sedin - They should be 4 and 4a and give 5 to somebody not named Sedin. They are incredible players with a lot of upside.
5 Henrik Sedin
6 Corey Perry - He is a threat to get a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick" on any given night.
7 Evgeni Malkin - He and Stamkos could swap spots depending on the season, the second half of a season, and as far as injuries are concerned.
8 Steven Stamkos
9 Pavel Datsyuk - The puck is glued to his stick and he's still one of the most amazing players to watch in the world.
10 Martin St. Louis - He could win the Hart, probably should & he was once “too small to play in the NHL.”
11 Ryan Kesler - He was hurt during the Cup; he will probably be 5-6 spots higher next season and he continues to dominate the league.
12 Henrik Zetterberg - Very boring superstar.
13 Zdeno Chara - He is a game-plan changer, plain and simple.
14 Pekka Rinne - Not such a meteoric rise; I wrote about him in a goalie magazine year's ago.
15 Alexander Semin - If he can continue to be a better playoff performer, the sky’s the limit.
16 Nicklas Lidstrom - Even at the age of 50, he'll be retired for just a few years, and he'll still be on this list.
17 Henrik Lundqvist - Needs a Cup and a Vezina and he will be recognized as the best goalie in the game.
18 Zach Parise - He plays one of the best all-around games in the league.
19 Roberto Luongo - He wins a lot of regular season games, won a few tough playoff games; this is about right.
20 Jarome Iginla - He will continue to be an underrated and under-appreciated player in this league.
21 Jonathan Toews - Toews is already one of the best captains and clutch players in the league. Should be higher.
22 Nicklas Backstrom - Does everything well and doesn't get a lot of credit for it.
23 Ilya Kovalchuk - He settled into New Jersey and started to show off his mad scoring skills once again.
24 Lubomir Visnovsky - He might max out at this spot, but he is really a great offensive blueliner.
25 Marian Gaborik - He is slipping and he could be off this list very soon if injuries creep back into his game.
26 Bobby Ryan - He has worked hard to get out of Sidney Crosby's shadow (being picked behind him).
27 Anze Kopitar - If he didn't get hurt this past season, he would have been higher. He is a true "rising star.”
28 Ryan Getzlaf - Doesn't get enough credit for the points he continues to put up on the board.
29 Patrick Kane - Will be higher next year, he had a bit of an off year, but he's still young. His upside is incredible.
30 Teemu Selanne - One of the true "Greats of the Game" and a legendary scorer at any age.