Every season there are various resources that compile their list of the best NHL players for the upcoming season. Some use various pieces of data, advanced analytics, and personal preference as criteria to make their selections. Typically, when The Hockey Fanatic compile such lists we look at three year trends of player performance and overall progression of players.
For this year’s list I polled hockey fans, in person in rinks, online through social media and based on fan feedback that we have gathered over the past year. I wanted to put out a list of the Top 50 NHL players based on the perspective of the hockey fan. Of course, in doing so, you have some regional bias, but that balances itself out. Even the so-called professionals don’t get it right all of the time (I mean c’mon Connor McDavid receiving a fifth place vote for the Hart trophy after the season he had?). that is the beauty of such lists, you can use whatever criteria you want, but a list is open to the eye of the beholder. We can always argue player A vs. player B, but at the end of the day, some players are just a step ahead of others.
Here is a look at how we came to our list of the Top 50 NHL players for 2023-2024.
Criteria for Selection
At the Hockey Fanatic, we polled a number of hockey fans and simply asked them the following questions:
- Who is the best player in the NHL?
- Which NHL player means the most to their team?
- Who is the most exciting player in the NHL?
- Who is the best goaltender in the NHL?
- Who is the best shut-down defensemen in the NHL?
- Who is the best offensive defenseman in the NHL?
- Which goalie is most likely to steal a playoff series?
- Who do you think NHL players would say is the best NHL player in the game today?
- If you were building an expansion franchise and had access to any current (or up and coming) NHL player, whom would you select?
- Which NHL player would you want on your team in gamer seven of a Stanley Cup Final?
Top 50 NHL Players 2023-2024 Edition
While we compiled our list mainly on fan feedback, we did attempt to factor in some statistical data and point projections for the 2023-24 NHL season as well. Here is the Hockey Fanatic’s list of the top 50 NHL players in the game today.
#50. Shea Theodore – Defense – Vegas Golden Knights – a plus 62 over his past four seasons, Theodore plays 22.5 minutes per game and can also put up the points. (He ranks 13th in NHL point producing defensemen over the past four seasons.
#49. Jonathan Huberdeau – Centre – Calgary Flames – after an off season, we expect Huberdeau to get back to an 80 point season. He’s only one year removed from the 115 points he put up in 2021-22. After all he is ninth in NHL points over the past four seasons.
#48. Jacob Markstrom – Goaltender – Calgary Flames – perhaps a surprise selection on our list. Over the past four seasons, Markstrom is tied for fourth in wins (105) and is third in minutes played. Only Connor Hellebuyck and Andrei Vasilevskiy have started more games during this time.
#47. Jake Oettinger – Goaltender – Dallas Stars – outstanding in the playoffs a couple of seasons ago, Oettinger has one of the best goals against averages (2.42) of all NHL goalies over the past four seasons.
#46. Jacob Slavin – Defense – Carolina Hurricanes – sits plus 105 over his past four season, Slavin is a solid defenseman who anchors the Canes defensive zone.
#45. Kyle Connor – Left Wing – Winnipeg Jets – Connor is top fifteen in NHL points over the past four seasons playing nearly twenty one minutes per game.
#44. Tage Thompson – Centre – Buffalo Sabres – 2022-23 was a breakout season for Thompson as he tallied 47 goals and 47 points for 94 points in 78 games. Expect more of this to come from the former 26th overall pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
#43. Nico Hischier – Centre – New Jersey Devils – Hischier was plus 33 last season and tallied 80 points in 81 games.
#42. Clayton Keller – Right Wing – Arizona Coyotes – 86 points in 82 games last season, this kid just keeps getting better.
#41. Kirill Kaprizov – Left wing – Minnesota Wild – this guy can put up the points. Expect him to hover around the 85-90 points range this season.
#40. Devon Toews – Defense – Colorado Avalanche – Over the past four NHL season, Devon Toews leads all NHL players in plus/minus with +121. Playing nearly twenty four minutes a night, this d-man gives his team quality minutes every night.
#39. Mika Zibanejad – Centre – New York Rangers – Zibanejad was top twenty in the NHL in points last season and is fourteenth in the NHL in points over the past four seasons while being a plus 66.
#38. Aleksander Barkov – Centre – Florida Panthers – the heart ands soul of the Panthers, hard to believe that Barkov has 10 NHL seasons under his belt.
#37. John Carlson – Defense – Washington Capitals – Carlson is third in points-per-game for NHL defensemen over the past couple of seasons with 0.92. He’s fourth in goals by NHL defensemen with 51 in his last 239 games.
#36. Charlie McAvoy – Defense – Boston Bruins – playing twenty three and a half minutes a game over the past four season, McAvoy sites third in plus minus at +106. He put up 170 points over the past four season as well.
#35. Juuse Saros – Goaltender – Nashville Predators – With 109 wins, Saros ranks third in NHL netminders over the past four seasons. He also ranks fourth in minutes played.
#34. Dougie Hamilton – Defense – New Jersey Devils – his 13 GWG over the past four seasons are second amongst NHL defensemen behind only Cale Makar. Hamilton is also +54 over this team and has tallied 186 points.
#33. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Centre – Edmonton Oilers – this guy is a very solid two way player, the fact that he put up 104 points last season (good for ninth in the league) is just icing on the cake. He’s been an underrated, but very good player, for a long time now.
#32. Brayden Point – Right Wing – Tampa Bay Lightning – Point was 14th in NHL for points last season with 95. Over his past four seasons he’s been producing at a 0.98 points-per-game pace. This is definitely one player you want on the ice in game seven of a Stanley Cup Final.
#31. Erik Karlsson – Defense – San Jose Sharks – Karlsson hit the 100-point plateau as a defenseman in 2022-23 with 101 points.
#30. Ilya Sorokin – Goaltender – New York Islanders – tied for the lead in save percentage over the past four seasons with .924.
#29. Jason Robertson – Left Wing – Dallas Stars – 46 goals and 109 points for Robertson last year. Also had 18 points in 19 playoff games, so he can perform when it matters most.
#28. Johnny Gaudreau – Left Wing – Columbus Blue Jackets – a bit of a tough year his first in Columbus but Gaudreau can still put up the points.
#27. Brady Tkachuk – Left Wing – Ottawa Senators – Tkachuk had 83 points in 82 games along with 126 penalty minutes. His 418 penalty minutes over the past four season leads the NHL. The young leader of the Sens continues to develop his game each season.
#26. Tim Stützle – Left Wing – Ottawa Senators – this is one of the NHL’s emerging superstars. Stützle has only played three NHL seasons but his point totals have gone from 29 to 58 to 90 last season. He’s only going to get better.
#25. Andrei Vasilevskiy – Goaltender – Tampa Bay Lightning – Vasilevskiy led the Lighting to back-to-back cups and is the winningest goalie over the past four season in the NHL.
#24. Quinn Hughes – Defense – Vancouver Canucks – third in defenseman scoring over the past four seasons, his 109 powerplay points over the past four seasons lead all NHL defensemen. Hughes is a star in the making in Vancouver.
#23. Brad Marchand – Left Wing – Boston Bruins – a plus 94 over his past four seasons, Marchand has put up 303 points in 266 games during this time. The pesky forward is still an effective player for the Bruins.
#22. Alex Ovechkin – Right Wing – Washington Capitals – the great eight can still score and his physical play comes in handy as well. He’s still over a point-per-game player in the NHL.
#21. Mikko Rantanen – Right Wing – Colorado Avalanche – tenth in NHL points over the past four seasons, Rantanen is putting up points at a 1.21 points-per-game pace. Also has a Stanley Cup on his resume.
#20. Linus Ullmark – Goaltender – Boston Bruins – the reigning Vezina trophy winner as the league’s best goaltender had a phenomenal season last year with a 40-6-0-1 record and a miniscule 1.89 GAA, his numbers continue to get better every year.
#19. Elias Pettersson – Centre – Vancouver Canucks – on an also ran team with the Vancouver Canucks, Petterrsson continues to grow his game. He’s averaging 1.01 points-per-game over the past four seasons due in part to his strong 102 point performance last season.
#18. Jack Hughes – Center – New Jersey Devils – narrowly missed his first 100 point season this past year where he put up 99 points. One of the league’s stars of the future.
#17. Nikita Kucherov – Right Wing – Tampa Bay Lightning – with 113 points last season Kucherov showed that he can still put up solid offensive numbers. In the two seasons when the Lightning won back-to-back Cups, Kucherov posted post season totals of 34 and 32 points respectively.
#16. Sidney Crosby – Center – Pittsburgh Penguins – while “Sid the Kid” is no longer a kid, he is still one of the great NHL players. He put up 93 points in 82 games last season.
#15. Viktor Hedman – Defense – Tampa Bay Lightning – every other team in the NHL would take Hedman on their blueline. The veteran D-man is strong in his own end and is fifth in defensemen scoring (234 points) over his last four seasons.
#14. Artemi Panarin – Left Wing – New York Rangers – the ‘Breadman” (still one of the best nicknames in hockey) is fourth in NHL scoring over the past four seasons and has a 1.27 points-per-game pace during this time.
#13. Adam Fox – Defensemen – New York Rangers – Fox is a +87 over his past four NHL seasons where he has amassed 235 points in 285 games. He plays nearly 23 minutes per night.
#12. Steven Stamkos – Centre – Tampa Bay Lightning – Stamkos won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership award this past season and has won Stanley Cup Championships in 2020 and 2021. He has a 1.13 points-per-game average over his past four seasons.
#11. Connor Hellebuyck – Goaltender – Winnipeg Jets – second in wins over the past four season with 121, Hellebuyck is pretty close to still being the NHL’s best goaltender.
Top 10 NHL Players 2023-23
Here is a look at the top ten NHL players as of 2023-2024.
#10. Roman Josi – Defense Nashville Predators – over the past four seasons, no NHL defenseman has put up more points than Roman Josi of the Preds. He plays over 25 minutes per game and is a star in Nashville.
#9. Mitch Marner – Right Wing – Toronto Maple Leafs – a 1.24 points-per-game clip based on 330 points in 266 games over the past four seasons illustrates just how important Marner is to the Leafs offensive output. Look for him to have an even better season this year.
#8. Igor Shesterkin – Goaltender – New York Rangers – over his past 160 games or so, Shesterkin has put up a .924 save percentage tied for best in the NHL with Ilya Sorokin. He’s quickly moving up the charts in wins and goals against average as well. Arguably the best goaltender in the NHL today.
#7. David Pastrnak – Right Wing – Boston Bruins – Pasta is sixth in NHL points over the past four season with 333 in his last 272 games good for a 1.22 points-per-game average.
#6. Matthew Tkachuk – Left Wing – Florida Panthers – Tkachuk is eight in NHL points over the past four seasons and sixth in penalty minutes. We carried the Panthers into a Cinderella-like playoff run this past season. Oh how Calgary fans miss this player.
#5. Cale Makar – Defense – Colorado Avalanche – there is a general consensus that the Western Conference is the weaker of the two, but I’d have to disagree. The last two Stanley Cup Champions are from the Western conference and Cale Makar was a big part of the Avalanche winning the Cup in 2022 when he won the Norris trophy as the league’s top defenseman, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. 246 points in 238 games over the past four seasons for a 1.03 points-per-game-average is not too shabby.
#4. Auston Matthews – Centre – Toronto Maple Leafs – Over the past four seasons, Matthews leads the NHL in goals with 188 (seven more than the Oilers Leon Draisaitl). He’s also a +91 with a 1.25points-per-gamer average and is only a couple of seasons removed from a 60-goal campaign.
|2016‑17||Toronto Maple Leafs||19||82||40||29||69||14||2||8||0||8||14.3|
|2017‑18||Toronto Maple Leafs||20||62||34||29||63||12||25||5||0||5||18.2|
|2018‑19||Toronto Maple Leafs||21||68||37||36||73||12||-9||12||0||5||14.7|
|2019‑20||Toronto Maple Leafs||22||70||47||33||80||8||19||12||0||5||16.2|
|2020‑21||Toronto Maple Leafs||23||52||41||25||66||10||21||10||0||12||18.5|
|2021‑22||Toronto Maple Leafs||24||73||60||46||106||18||20||16||0||10||17.2|
|2022‑23||Toronto Maple Leafs||25||74||40||45||85||20||31||13||0||8||12.2|
#3. Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche – With a Stanley Cup under his belt, Nathan MacKinnon became one of today’s greatest players. Over the past four seasons, MacKinnon has put up 357 points in 287 games, good enough for 1.41 points-per-game which is third behind the Oilers Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
#2. Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers – Playing with McDavid in Edmonton, sometimes Draisaitl’s numbers get a little overlooked, even though Draisaitl won the Hart trophy and Ted Lindsay award as the NHL’s most valuable player in 2020. Over the past four season’s, Leon Draisaitl has put up 432 points in the regular season, second only to Connor McDavid’s 478. He has a 20% shooting percentage during this time (which is nearly four points higher than that of Auston Matthews). He has become the games most lethal goal scorer and with his big body can play a physical game to boot.
#1. Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers – As Paul Coffey has said, “Connor McDavid is re-writing the history books”. He put up an astounding 153 points last season including lighting the lamp on 64 occasions. McDavid became only the sixth player in NHL history to tally 150 or more points in the regular season. He put up the 15th mot points ever in the regular season. The only players who put up more were Wayne Gretzky (nine times), Mario Lemieux (four times) and Steve Yzerman (once). (Source: Quanthocket.com)
Connor McDavid is one of the greatest NHL players of all time. You have to think that he is close to winning a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers. He is electric and does things with the puck at real-time speeds that we have never seen before. He has 850 points in 569 NHL regular season games and could be one of the fastest players to 1,000 points ever. He is the top NHL player in the game today and the top hockey player in the world. If you ask the question who the best hockey player in the world is, even AI cannot get this one wrong, it’s Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
There has been a resurgence of youth in the NHL in recent years and you can see that from out list, the number of younger players that are dominating the NHL game.