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.
David Becker / National Hockey League / Getty
Back surgery will keep Vasilevskiy on the shelf for the opening two months of the season. It marks the first time we’ve seen a chink in the armor of the 29-year-old since he took over the Lightning’s starting role in 2016. We know what to expect from Vasilevskiy when he’s in the net as a top-six Vezina finisher each of the past six seasons. But 2023-24 may be the time for Tampa Bay to start alleviating his workload.
Aho led the Carolina Hurricanes in goals (36) for the sixth straight campaign last season, and we fully expect him to make it seven. A cornerstone of the contending Canes, Aho already ranks fifth in franchise history in goals and points. He could’ve become an unrestricted free agent in 2024, but Carolina wisely signed the 26-year-old center to an eight-year, $78-million extension in July.
Shesterkin didn’t equal his Vezina Trophy-winning performance of 2021-22 last season, but the New York Rangers goaltender still had a great campaign statistically. The Russian remains one of the NHL’s best netminders, and while the Blueshirts aren’t a perfect team, they rarely have to worry about the crease, thanks to Shesterkin’s consistency.
Dahlin is meeting, and perhaps soon to be exceeding, the sky-high expectations placed upon him as the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. The 23-year-old is coming off his best season yet, with 73 points in 78 games while logging monster minutes and putting up stronger defensive metrics than ever before. Dahlin ranked seventh among all blue-liners in Evolving-Hockey’s goals above replacement metric last season, showing he’s well on his way to becoming the dominant two-way blue-liner he was advertised as.
Hedman has cracked the top 10 of this list in each of the last four years, but he falls out after an uncharacteristically poor campaign. He wasn’t his usual dominant two-way self, and he only tallied nine goals and 40 assists in 76 games, resulting in his lowest point-per-game mark since 2015-16. Hedman turns 33 in December, and while it’s possible this is the beginning of his decline, we refuse to rule out the all-time great from returning to the Norris Trophy conversation.
Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty
Marner still seeks his first 100-point season after finishing just one point short a year ago. The deft passer has added more of a shooting element to his game over the past two seasons, with consecutive 30-goal campaigns, and has established himself as a premiere two-way winger, earning his first Selke nomination last season. There’s no denying Marner’s status as one of the best right-wingers in hockey.
McAvoy‘s 2022-23 season debut was delayed due to injury, but the Boston Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman posted seven goals and 45 assists in 67 matchups for the highest point-per-game rate (0.78) of his career while eating up just over 22 minutes of ice time per game. It feels as though the 25-year-old’s time as a Norris Trophy finalist is right around the corner.
Josi is less than two seasons removed from racking up 96 points in 80 games, and the Nashville Predators defenseman produced 0.88 points per contest last season despite missing 15 due to injury. Josi is a perennial workhorse, averaging over 25 minutes of ice time since 2012-13. The 2019-20 Norris Trophy winner should continue to be a game-changer for the Preds, even at age 33.
Thompson has blossomed into one of the league’s most electrifying talents, ranking in the top 25 among all skaters in points over the past two seasons (162). His emergence has galvanized the Sabres’ upswing, and a 50-goal, 100-point season could be the next step for their top forward.
Five of our seven voters were on the same page with Eichel, ranking him between 22 and 24. The other two were split: One ranked him No. 8, while the other had him all the way down at 41. Regardless, Eichel hushed any critics about his play with a sensational postseason performance in which he led all playoff skaters with 20 assists and 26 points in 22 games en route to Vegas’ Stanley Cup win.
Michael Mooney / National Hockey League / Getty
If not for Linus Ullmark‘s remarkable season, Sorokin would likely be the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. The 28-year-old led the league with six shutouts, and a look at his advanced metrics shines an even brighter light on his campaign. Sorokin led the NHL with 51.4 goals saved above expected. He gets a ton of starts and ranks among the league’s best in both traditional and advanced stats – that’s why he’s the No. 1 goaltender on this year’s top 100 list.
Barkov, one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards, provided stability in 2022-23 amid the Florida Panthers’ roller-coaster campaign. He registered 23 goals and 78 points in 68 games – good for his third straight point-per-game season – while helping the Cats dictate play at five-on-five. The 28-year-old added 16 points in 21 playoff contests during Florida’s miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Heiskanen has been one of the league’s most promising defensemen since debuting in 2018. The Dallas Stars blue-liner’s commendable contributions had primarily been on the defensive end until he exploded for 73 points in 79 games last season. Heiskanen is now elite at both ends of the ice, and the Finnish rearguard is only 24 years old.
Point is an underrated but indispensable piece of the juggernaut Tampa Bay has built. The 27-year-old commands top-line duties down the middle with a strong two-way game and is fresh off a career year in which he posted 51 goals and 95 points. He’s also one of the Bolts’ most clutch players, with 44 career game-winning tallies to his credit, along with 82 points in 82 playoff games.
Kaprizov is exactly what the Wild franchise sorely lacked ever since Marian Gaborik departed in 2009: an electrifying, game-breaking player who can single-handedly drive an offense for a well-rounded, defensively stingy team. Since coming over to North America, Kaprizov ranks 12th in the NHL with 234 points in 203 games. At 26 years old, he’s only getting better, too.
Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty
Robertson doesn’t dazzle in the same way as the other elite forwards around him on this list; he’s not even the primary puck carrier on his line. But all he’s done since becoming an NHL regular in 2020 is put up points. One-third of arguably the most consistent line in hockey, the 24-year-old exploded to exceed 100 points for the first time last season and continues to inch closer to his maiden 50-goal campaign.
Karlsson is taking his talents to Pittsburgh after an incredible season that saw him post 101 points while skating in all 82 games for the first time since 2015-16. The reigning Norris Trophy winner pulled off those numbers on a struggling San Jose Sharks squad and became the first rearguard to hit the century mark since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
Pettersson played all but two games last season, just like he did in 2021-22. But the Vancouver Canucks center collected seven more goals (39) and 27 more assists (63) than his previous campaign to top the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. Pettersson also tied teammate J.T. Miller for the league lead in shorthanded goals with five. The Swede – who’ll turn 25 in November – has developed into a true superstar.
Fox‘s Norris Trophy hopes last season were dashed by Karlsson’s historic offensive output, but the Rangers’ top rearguard was one of the game’s elite again in 2022-23. He earned a first-team All-Star selection for his 72 points while thriving in both power-play and shutdown roles. Fox is the complete package as a defender and ranks second among defensemen in points (193) and fourth in goals above replacement (40.8) over the past three campaigns.
Rantanen became more of a shooter in 2022-23, and it paid off. He fired 306 shots on net – 0.33 more per game than his previous career high – which resulted in a personal-best 55 goals, shattering his previous high of 36. Rantanen, who was ranked as high as seventh by one of our voters, was oh-so-close to making it three Avalanche players in the top 10 of our list.
Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.