With the NHL preparing for a 24-team playoff, theScore will be counting down the top 50 players who will be taking part in this unique event, as voted on by our hockey editors. We’ll reveal 10 players every day until the top 10 is unveiled on June 10.
20. John Tavares, Maple Leafs
Tavares is as consistent as they come from a production standpoint, having played near or above a point-per-game pace in each of his last three seasons. The star pivot’s more talented teammate rightfully owns a higher spot in these rankings, but the Maple Leafs captain deserves recognition as one of the best centers in the game.
19. Mark Stone, Golden Knights
One of the NHL’s most intelligent wingers, Stone can do it all – whether it’s scoring goals, dishing assists, or shutting opponents down defensively. After logging six goals and six assists in seven postseason games with the Golden Knights last year, Stone managed to keep the ball rolling during the 2019-20 regular season. He’ll need to be at the top of his game once again if Vegas wants to make some noise in the playoffs.
18. John Carlson, Capitals
Carlson was the league’s top offensive defenseman this season, and he’s likely to win the Norris Trophy thanks to his eye-popping production. A legitimate game-breaker on the back end, he’s a key cog in the Capitals‘ second-ranked offense that should see its firepower carry over despite a lengthy layoff.
17. Steven Stamkos, Lightning
The Lightning captain is fully recovered from core muscle surgery and will be itching to make a major impact after he had another strong individual season cut short. Armed with one of the most lethal shots in the game, Stamkos is a perennial scoring threat. The native of Ontario hit the 25-goal mark for the 10th time in his career this season to join the 400-goal club.
16. Aleksander Barkov, Panthers
Barkov regressed offensively this year after collecting 96 points in 2018-19, but it’s his ability at both ends of the ice that makes him one of the game’s elite players. He isn’t overly physical despite his 6-foot-3 frame, but he does have an excellent stick. He finished second in the league with 100 takeaways last season and ranked 30th with 51 in 2019-20. The Panthers captain has finished top five in Selke Trophy voting each of the last two campaigns.
15. Roman Josi, Predators
It appears a significant portion of the hockey world has finally caught on to Josi‘s superstar skill set, but he still seems a bit underappreciated. The Predators blue-liner ranked third in the NHL in average ice time this season and finished tied with Alex Pietrangelo for second in goals by a defenceman; Zach Werenski was the only rearguard to net more tallies in 2019-20.
14. Artemi Panarin, Rangers
Few players were better than Panarin in 2019-20. He turned in an MVP-worthy debut campaign with the Rangers, notching 20 more points than the next-highest scorer on his team. All eyes will be on the Russian winger in the expanded postseason, and the Rangers may ultimately go only as far as Panarin can take them.
13. Victor Hedman, Lightning
If one was building a team from scratch and had to start with a defenseman, Hedman would be the man for the job. The towering Swede is the most complete blue-liner in the game, imposing his will on a nightly basis on both sides of the puck. The Bolts’ forwards get most of the credit, but don’t discount the impact of their No. 1 rearguard.
12. Brad Marchand, Bruins
Marchand continues to be a versatile force for one of the league’s most consistent clubs. The Bruins‘ ultimate pest ranked second in the league in drawn penalties this season and plays a vital role on both special teams units. Seemingly improving with age, the 32-year-old was on pace to become the first Bruins player since Adam Oates in the early ’90s to post back-to-back 100-point campaigns before the league suspended play in March.
11. Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs
Matthews took a major step forward in his development this season. He tied for the league lead with 35 goals at even strength and also tied a career high with 12 power-play markers. Without the puck, he tied for first among all NHL forwards with 78 takeaways. He’s easily one of the most dangerous snipers in the game, and he’s beginning to masters his defensive craft. He’ll need to be a catalyst for the Maple Leafs if they hope to enjoy a deep playoff run.