ESPN has published it’s list of the top 100 forwards in the NHL.
Now, there are those who will deride the ability of ESPN, the American sports network to gauge, the quality of NHL players considering they give short shrift to the league on air.
So, before we get started, let’s get the “shooting the messenger” nonsense out of the way right off the bat.
ESPN polled an impressive panel of knowledgeable hockey observers for their list:
Martin Biron, TSN/RDS/NHL Network
Scott Burnside, ESPN.com
Mike Brophy, NHL.com
Craig Custance, ESPN The Magazine
Sarah Goldstein, ESPN.com
Paul Grant, ESPN.com
Tim Kavanagh, ESPN Insider
Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune
Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com/TSN
Dave Lozo, Bleacher Report
Vince Masi, ESPN
Victoria Matiash, ESPN Fantasy
Sean McIndoe, Grantland
Barry Melrose, ESPN
Risto Pakarinen, Co-author “This is Russia: Life in the KHL”
Scott Powers, ESPN Chicago
Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
Michael Russo, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Timo Seppa, Hockey Prospectus/ESPN Insider
Frank Seravalli, Philadelphia Daily News
Katie Strang, ESPN.com
Rob Vollman, ESPN Insider
Ryan Wagman, Hockey Prospectus/ESPN Insider
Aaron Ward, TSN
Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun
Those folks know a thing or two about hockey, if ever there was a concern. Fair?
So, in looking at the list, I don’t see a lot of surprises but I thought it interesting that the best players are not always 1st overall draft picks when many draft junkies always tout taking the “Beat Player Available” when drafting. (which of course is nothing more than opinion and, often, bending to conventional wisdom.
What I find interesting is which of these players were selected #1 overall and how they stack up.
1) Crosby (1st)
2) Stamkos (2nd)
3) Tavares (4th)
3) Kane (6th)
3) Ovechkin (9th)
4) Nathan MacKinnon (17th)
5) Joe Thornton (21st)
6) Taylor Hall (24th)
7) Rick Nash (35th)
8) Ryan Nugent Hopkins (61st)
There are only 8 #1 overall picks on the list and 92 who were picked later. So much for BPA.
Of the remaining 92, there are many picked later in the 1st round and even more who were selected after the 1st.
Also striking is that the Oilers’ much ballyhooed 1st overall picks are ranked 24th and 61st while the 3rd member of the Oilers 3 1st overall picks, Nail Yakupov, likely would not make a list of the top 500 forwards in the NHL based on his performance.
Of note as well is that Colorado has 4 players on the list in MacKinnon (17th), Duchene (25th), O’Reilly (38th) and Landeskog (42nd) while the St. Louis Blues have 5 despite drafting much lower than most teams.