Leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, theScore is counting down the top 100 players in the game today, as voted on by our NHL editors. We’ll reveal players every day until the top 10 are unveiled Oct. 9.
100-71 | 70-51 | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1
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A terrifying freak accident limited Carlson to just 40 games a season ago after he was struck in the head by a slap shot. The 33-year-old didn’t miss a beat upon his return in late March, averaging 23:23 and tallying eight points in 10 contests post-injury. He remains one of the game’s top offensive blue-liners.
There’s no doubting the fact that Ekblad is a warrior. He gutted his way through the playoffs with a broken foot, dislocated shoulder, and torn oblique, but he only missed one game. The 27-year-old defenseman will miss the start of the season as the result of his ailments, but he more than earned a placement on these rankings despite that.
Eriksson Ek has developed into one of the NHL’s best and most underrated two-way forwards. The 26-year-old Swede posted career highs with 38 assists and 61 points last season. He also ranked 20th in the NHL in individual expected goals and authored largely favorable underlying numbers as a whole, finishing in the top 10 in Selke Trophy voting for the third straight year.
Hyman has gone from an important role player to a star in his own right, and while some might knock him for the quality of players he’s lucky enough to play alongside, he gets the prime opportunities for a reason. He’s entrusted by coaches in all situations, is a relentless worker, and is fresh of a career year that included 36 goals and 83 points.
Tuch‘s rare blend of size and speed has helped him blossom into one of the game’s premier power forwards. He put everything together for a career year in 2022-23, racking up 36 goals and 79 points in 74 games. The Syracuse product has also become a key leader for the up-and-coming Sabres.
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McCann proved his 50-point season from the Kraken’s inaugural campaign was no fluke. The 27-year-old hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career last season and reached the 70-point plateau. He’ll look to lead Seattle in scoring for the third straight campaign.
Brodin was a minutes-munching machine for Minnesota in 2022-23, leading the squad in average ice time (22:52) for the third straight season. The underrated rearguard missed 22 games this past campaign, but he still ranked third on the team in blocked shots (130) and second in shorthanded ice time (177:01).
Much like Eriksson Ek, Cirelli is a skilled two-way player who’s often overshadowed by more electric teammates. But the Tampa Bay Lightning forward does it all, playing in the top six at five-on-five, on the power play, and on the penalty kill. His defensive abilities give him versatility and value even when he’s not consistently producing offensively.
The reigning Calder Trophy winner showed no signs of being uncomfortable in his first full season in the pros, ranking second on the Kraken with 24 tallies while adding 33 assists. Beniers has strong two-way chops and looks to be the complete package at only 20 years old.
You know a player is special when he’s cracking this list without ever playing in an NHL game. Three of our seven voters thought his inclusion was premature, but the hype surrounding Bedard, who came in as high as 51st on one list, made him worthy of a spot. With a generational-caliber shot and skill, will anyone be surprised if he pots 30-plus goals his rookie year? We won’t.
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The last time DeBrincat‘s shooting percentage dipped below 15%, he followed it up by scoring at a 50-goal pace. Things didn’t work as well as hoped in Ottawa, but a move back home to Michigan with the Red Wings should rejuvenate the two-time 40-goal scorer.
Giroux proved to be an instant match with Ottawa, posting a career-high 35 goals in 82 games while generating plenty of chemistry with Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle. The young Senators will need the 35-year-old veteran’s leadership on and off the ice to enter the playoff picture in 2023-24.
Horvat amassed 31 goals in only 49 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season, although that red-hot rate predictably plummeted after he was traded to the defensive-minded New York Islanders. However, the skilled center averaged over 20 minutes of ice time and won 58.5% of his faceoffs in 30 contests with his new club. The latter would’ve been a personal best over a full season.
There’s no denying Huberdeau‘s debut season in Calgary was a massive disappointment, but the veteran playmaker has done enough throughout his career to stay on our list. The 30-year-old is in desperate need of a bounce-back campaign, but his 613 points in 671 career games suggest he’ll be just fine.
Kreider‘s game isn’t pretty, but he constantly produces. Nobody expected him to match the 52 goals he scored in 2021-22, but he still managed to find the net an impressive 36 times last season. A heart-and-soul player who loves engaging in the physical aspect of the game, Kreider has garnered a reputation as a clutch performer, tallying 16 goals in 27 games over the last two postseasons.
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Verhaeghe has quietly been one of the best offensive drivers since he joined the Panthers in 2020. Florida’s generated 3.46 expected goals per 60 at five-on-five with Verhaeghe on the ice during this span, the top mark in the league for any player. The Panthers’ run to the Cup final elevated his visibility, and as such, the 28-year-old’s starting to get the recognition he deserves after eclipsing the 40-goal and 70-point marks for the first time last season.
Chabot‘s average ice time (24:58) didn’t eclipse the 26-minute mark for the first time since 2018-19, but he still led his teammates by a three-minute margin. The 26-year-old also paced Ottawa in goals above replacement (14.6).
Fiala picked up where he left off with the Wild in his first season with the Kings, producing over a point per game and leading the club with 49 assists despite missing 13 contests due to injury. The Swiss winger can create opportunities in the offensive zone and finish them as well. He’s in his prime as a 27-year-old for an up-and-coming L.A. squad.
Caufield was on track to score 40 goals last season before a shoulder injury derailed his campaign near the midway point, but the promise he showed was enough to crack our list. The Canadiens winger is one of the league’s purest scorers, and his infectious personality has him on track to be both a household name and a superstar in no time.
Rielly catches some flack for his poor defensive play at times, but he’s constantly shown an ability to raise his game in the postseason despite the Maple Leafs’ playoff shortcomings. He was their best player during their most recent postseason, buckling down defensively while netting 12 points in 11 games, giving him 37 in 50 playoff contests for his career.
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Kempe has proven to be among the league’s top sharpshooters over the past two seasons. He’s seen his shooting percentage rise four straight years, culminating in him breaking the 40-goal plateau for the first time last season. Kempe will aim to be the first King since 1993 to crack 50 this season.
Miller is still somehow with the Canucks as he’s about to enter the first season of the seven-year, $56-million extension he signed last September. The 30-year-old potted 82 points in 81 games last campaign – trailing only Elias Pettersson for the team lead – and he’s just one year removed from a 99-point campaign.
Montour erupted for 73 points last season, nearly doubling the previous career high of 37 he established in 2021-22. The defenseman’s goal, assist, and point totals all ranked among the league leaders at the position in 2022-23, as did his average ice time (24:08). That rose by more than four minutes over his previous career average, and it skyrocketed even further to a whopping 26:58 in the playoffs. Montour was one of the main reasons the Florida Panthers made their unexpected Stanley Cup Final run.
Dubois finally made his way to a desirable location this summer, and there’s no question the Kings landed themselves a premiere player. The 25-year-old is one of the NHL’s most versatile power forwards and is fresh off a career year after recording 0.86 points per game. As good as Dubois has proven to be to this point of his career, it feels like he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. A fresh start in Hollywood could be the springboard he needs.
Letang‘s courage is unmatched. The most recent recipient of the Bill Masterton Trophy, Letang suffered the second stroke of his career in November but miraculously returned to the Pens’ lineup less than two weeks later. He still remains a highly productive offensive blue-liner as he recorded 41 points in 64 games this past campaign.
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If you weren’t sold on Bratt before the 2022-23 campaign, you better be now. The 25-year-old was rewarded by the Devils with a $63-million contract in June after scoring 73 points for the second straight season. Now that he’s locked in for the long haul, the sky’s the limit for the Swede in New Jersey.
Sergachev emerged for the Lightning in 2022-23, reaching new career highs in points (64) and ice time (23:49) while leading all Tampa Bay blue-liners in both categories. The 25-year-old’s breakthrough comes at the perfect time for the Bolts given that he’s entering the first season of an eight-year, $68-million extension.
Scheifele has been one of the NHL’s most productive centers since his third full season back in 2015-16. Despite some defensive deficiencies, the 30-year-old is coming off a career-best 42-goal campaign. The Winnipeg Jets are holding off on trading Scheifele, who’s entering a contract year, but another solid season from the 2011 seventh overall pick wouldn’t be surprising regardless of whether he gets dealt.
Tavares‘ reputation as a bona fide superstar has taken a hit since his career year in 2018-19. But make no mistake, the soon-to-be 33-year-old is still producing. He racked up 80 points in 80 games this past season and is up to 354 in 360 contests since he joined the Maple Leafs in the summer of 2018.
Lindholm regressed after potting a career-high 42 goals and finishing as the Selke Trophy runner-up in 2021-22. His goal total fell by 20, and he dropped to 10th in voting for the league’s top defensive forward honor. However, he’s still an excellent two-way center who can fill the net if he’s paired with a good playmaker.
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