You’ve seen our 2019 NHL Rank list, our projection of the top 50 players for the 2019-20 season. And now our experts weigh in on the results.
Which player was snubbed? Who was ranked too high or too low? And who is a lock to make the list in 2020? Let the debating begin.
Who was the biggest snub?
Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders. There’s some recency bias here because his offensive numbers took a hit post-John Tavares and in coach Barry Trotz’s defensive system, so let’s take the long-range view: He’s a top-30 player in goals (25.2) and wins above replacement (4.5) among forwards despite that. One of the most dynamic playmakers in the NHL, with an improving defensive game. — Greg Wyshynski
Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs. I was surprised not to see Rielly on the list. Perhaps he just gets overshadowed by the Maple Leafs’ star-studded forward group. Rielly finished third in defensive scoring last season (72 points) and first in goals (20); he probably should have been a Norris Trophy finalist thanks to his strong overall play as well. — Emily Kaplan
Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues. I’m not sure how we could leave off one of the league’s best all-around centers. Coming off of a Selke Trophy and a Conn Smythe Trophy, I wonder if the potential for Stanley Cup hangover knocked him down our collective list. The guy finished 13th in Hart Trophy voting last season, and I think there are so few players who play the game as effectively as he does in all areas of the ice. — Chris Peters
Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers. What more does the guy have to do to get his proper due at this point? He had 33 goals and 76 points; he chewed up the sixth-most minutes among all forwards; he had a massive positive impact on his team’s underlying numbers; he drew 13 more penalties than he took; and he rejuvenated Claude Giroux‘s career after it looked as if the Flyers icon’s best days were behind him, by bumping him to the wing and taking the defensive responsibilities of a center off his plate. — Dimitri Filipovic
Jamie Benn, C, Dallas Stars. The numbers aren’t what they used to be, but Benn remains entrenched as the engine that drives the Stars. When asked who’s toughest to compete against, skaters in the Western Conference most often reference the one-time Art Ross Trophy winner (along with Predators defenseman Roman Josi). That counts for a lot. Also, for what it’s worth, many anticipate a rebound campaign, numbers-wise, from the 30-year-old Stars captain this season. — Victoria Matiash