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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Dunn finally made good on his potential and became a legitimate top-pair defenseman last season. The 26-year-old finished top 10 in scoring among blue-liners with a career-high 14 goals and 64 points, earning himself a $29.4-million extension to remain in Seattle for at least another four years.
Spurgeon continues to be one of the better defensive defensemen in the game despite his 5-foot-9, 166-pound frame. Two of our voters thought he was deserving of spots in the top 50, while three others kept him off their lists completely. The 33-year-old ranked fifth among NHL blue-liners in goals above replacement last season.
Forsberg was limited to 50 games last season, and injuries have forced him to miss an average of around 16 contests in each of the five campaigns that preceded it. Still, there’s no denying the Nashville Predators forward’s ability to produce when he’s healthy. The moustachioed Swede was on pace to top 30 goals and approach the 40-assist plateau had he played all of 2022-23.
Pavelski is as productive as ever as he nears 40 years old and is fresh off one of the most impressive playoff performances in the league: He racked up nine goals and five assists in 14 games as Dallas reached the Western Conference Final this past spring. It’s clear that finally winning the Stanley Cup is Pavelski’s primary motivation and, if he gets it done with this deep Stars squad, his Hall of Fame case becomes much more interesting with 449 goals and over 1,001 points already in the bank.
Barzal‘s production hasn’t seemed to catch up to his abilities. Despite being a zone-entry artist and one of the game’s most creative playmakers, he hasn’t topped 62 points since he racked up 85 in his Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign. With a full season of Bo Horvat by his side, maybe this will be the year he explodes offensively.
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Few in the league’s history embody the definition of a minute-munching defenseman quite like Doughty. He averaged over 25:00 for the 11th straight campaign and eclipsed the 50-point mark for the first time since 2018. The 33-year-old remains as important to the Kings’ success as ever.
On a strong Vegas Golden Knights team that boasts an enviable defense corps, Theodore still stands out. He ranked second among all Knights blue-liners with 41 points in 55 regular-season games and led the group with 13 playoff points to help capture the Stanley Cup.
Svechnikov‘s 2022-23 season was hampered by injuries. The Carolina Hurricanes forward may have appeared to underwhelm statistically as a result, but his per-game offensive numbers were on par with the ones he authored in 2021-22. Sebastian Aho is the Canes’ superstar up front and Martin Necas is coming off a breakout campaign, but Svechnikov is still a dependable second scoring option for Carolina.
Lindholm was an underrated piece of Boston’s historic 2022-23 regular season, registering a career-high 53 points and dominant defensive metrics while boasting the league’s best plus-minus at plus-49. His efforts were enough for a second-team All-Star nomination, a fourth-place finish in Norris Trophy voting, and a significant jump in our top 100 rankings.
Guentzel is a goal-scoring machine. He’s averaged 35 per 82 games in his seven-year career, and he’s added an impressive 34 tallies in 58 postseason contests. With a $6-million cap hit, he’s one of the league’s best bargains – but he’s due for a sizeable raise when his contract expires at the end of the season.
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Pietrangelo added a second Stanley Cup ring to his collection in June, reminding the league of his value as a top-pairing blue-liner in the process. The 33-year-old led the Golden Knights by averaging 23:25 in the postseason, nearly a full three minutes clear of second on the team.
Burns‘ first season in Carolina went swimmingly. With defensive stalwart Jaccob Slavin at his side, the 38-year-old enjoyed his best offensive campaign since the 2018-19 season, posting 61 points in 82 games. What’s more, Burns ended up 10th in Norris Trophy voting, marking his return to the ballot for the first time in four years.
Kopitar has long been one of the NHL’s most reliable two-way players, and the veteran Los Angeles Kings center proved last season that he can still play at a high level. The Slovenian forward, who turned 36 in August, notched 74 points in 82 games and finished in the top five in Selke Trophy voting for the sixth time, including the two occasions he won it.
Nugent-Hopkins was a key piece of Edmonton’s lethal attack last season, exploding for a career-high 104 points – 35 more than his previous best. It remains to be seen if the veteran became a new player at 30 years old or if his magical 2022-23 is a one-off but, either way, Nugent-Hopkins is a prime offensive threat on one of the league’s best teams.
A full season in New Jersey should do wonders for Meier, who scored 40 goals between the Sharks and Devils last season. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound power forward is the ultimate compliment to some of New Jersey’s smaller forwards like Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt.
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Connor‘s scored at a 30-goal pace every season of his NHL career, and that didn’t change in 2022-23. The 26-year-old didn’t hit the same heights as his 47-goal, 93-point campaign from a year prior, but he was still prolific enough to lead the Jets in scoring for a second season in a row.
Gaudreau wasn’t the 115-point man he was with the Flames in 2021-22, but his first season in Columbus wasn’t a total disaster by any stretch. He led the Blue Jackets with 74 points in 80 contests and he will certainly look for more heading into the second campaign of the seven-year, $68.25-million blockbuster extension he signed as a free agent last summer.
As a defense-first blue-liner, Slavin is constantly overlooked, but the 29-year-old Hurricane remains one of the NHL’s most responsible rearguards in his own end. Slavin tied for third in the league in takeaways with a career-high 88 last season, all while playing fewer games (76) than everyone else in the top 10. He should get more Norris consideration, but at least he finished in the top four in Lady Byng voting for the fourth straight campaign, including his 2021 win.
Morrissey hit a new level offensively with 76 points last season while racking up more than 24 minutes per contest for a Jets team that desperately needed his Herculean contributions on the back end. Questions about the sustainability of Morrissey’s offensive breakout are valid, as are the ones about his defensive metrics, but he’s proven to be indispensable for Winnipeg.
Ullmark won the Vezina Trophy and led the league in wins (40), goals-against average (1.89), and save percentage (.938). For those who think his spectacular season was simply a product of playing for the defensively sound Bruins, think again. Obviously, the team in front of him helped, but Ullmark still finished third in the league with 38.21 goals saved above expected. He comes in as the list’s sixth-ranked goalie, as our editors need to see another big year before considering him truly elite.
(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)
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