2022-23 NHL Rank: Top 100 player predictions across teams

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The top 100 NHL players for the 2022-23 season are difficult to rank, given the incredible depth of talent at almost every position.

To create our annual ranking of the NHL's top 100 players, we asked an ESPN panel of more than 50 hockey experts to rate players based on how good they will be in the 2022-23 season compared to their peers.

The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche were tied for the most players in the top 100 with six, along with the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks. Only three teams failed to place a player in the top 100 -- and the Arizona Coyotesare not one of the three.

Emphasis was placed solely on expectations for the upcoming season and predicting potential greatness, rather than past performance, career résumé or positional value. Hence, long-term injuries to players, such as the season-ending surgery for Robin Lehner of the Vegas Golden Knights, were taken into consideration.

There may be no greater indication of the NHL's depth than the fact that the center position -- the source of the league's star power for decades -- accounted for only seven spots in the top 20. Centers do encompass four slots in the top seven players, however.

After counting down from 100-51, here we present the top 50, including a significant change from last season's top three:

50. Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders

2021-22 rank: 18

Age: 25

Barzal earned an eight-year contract extension from the Islanders based on past performance -- as the team's perennial leading scorer -- and future returns. The center is eyeing an improved defensive game to complement his offensive abilities as an elite playmaker in New York's system. --Kristen Shilton

49. Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks

2021-22 rank: 41

Age: 26

Demko showed last season he was more than capable of handling the demands of being a No. 1 by starting 61 games and winning 33 times. --Ryan S. Clark

48. Dylan Larkin, C, Detroit Red Wings

2021-22 rank: 96

Age: 26

Blazing speed and 30-goal offense define this 26-year-old forward for Detroit. --Greg Wyshynski

47. Patrik Laine, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 rank: 100

Age: 24

Laine remains one of the NHL's elite goal-scoring threats, posting his highest goals per 60 minutes average (1.5) since his rookie season in 2021-22. --Greg Wyshynski

46. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets

2021-22 rank: 28

Age: 29

As more teams move to tandems, Hellebuyck continues to be one of those few goalies who can play more than 60 games and still give his team a chance to win every game. --Ryan S. Clark

45. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Carolina Hurricanes

2021-22 rank: 48

Age: 22

Svechnikov hit the 30 goal mark for the first time last season, many of them without the benefit of a lacrosse move. --Greg Wyshynski

44. Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

2021-22 rank: 44

Age: 21

The 56 points he scored last season were more than his first two seasons combined. Could this be the year that Hughes climbs even higher? --Ryan S. Clark

43. Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

2021-22 rank: 9

Age: 34

He's the player everyone loves to hate. And that only seems to fuel Marchand's fire. The 34-year-old led Boston with 80 points last season, and eclipsed the 30-goal mark for the fifth time in seven seasons. Deep into his career, Marchand remains one of the NHL's elite left wingers -- and the Bruins will feel his absence deeply to start the 2022-23 campaign, as the veteran continues recovering from offseason hip surgery. --Ryan S. Clark

42. Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights

2021-22 rank: 23

Age: 30

Stone, who played just 37 games last season, could answer all those questions about his back with another 20-plus goal campaign and suffocating two-way performances. --Ryan S. Clark

41. Jacob Markstrom, G, Calgary Flames

2021-22 rank: 58

Age: 32

While his postseason was quite porous, Markstrom led all goalies with nine shutouts in finishing second for the Vezina last season. --Greg Wyshynski

40. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

2021-22 rank: 22

Age: 33

Chicago may be taking steps back, but Kane isn't. The right winger is a reliable offensive force for the Blackhawks and proved it again last season with a 92-point campaign. What happens this year without Alex DeBrincat by his side, though? Kane will be quick to prove he can rise above losing a coveted linemate. The bigger question is if he'll still be doing it in Chicago? --Kristen Shilton

39. Zach Werenski, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 rank: 86

Age: 25

Werenski stepped outside the shadow of Seth Jones and posted his best offensive season (48 points in 68 games) while logging his highest average ice time (25:40). --Greg Wyshynski

38. Moritz Seider, D, Detroit Red Wings

2021-22 rank: NR

Age: 21

The man they call "Mo" won the Calder Trophy last season after scoring 50 points in 82 games and averaging the second-highest ice time for a rookie defenseman in the last decade (23:02). --Greg Wyshynski

37. Robert Thomas, C, St. Louis Blues

2021-22 rank: NR

Age: 23

Everyone fixates on the 77, points but the two-way game is what makes the 22-year-old a more, well-rounded threat. --Ryan S. Clark

36. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ottawa Senators

2021-22 rank: 76

Age: 24

DeBrincat has scored the ninth-most goals (160) since coming into the NHL in 2017-18. He is another reason why so many eyes will be on the Sens this season. --Ryan S. Clark

35. Kyle Connor, LW, Winnipeg Jets

2021-22 rank: 31

Age: 25

Scoring 47 goals and 93 points last season made it difficult for anyone to ignore Connor's place among the game's most dangerous scorers. --Ryan S. Clark

34. Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins

2021-22 rank: 21

Age: 24

The Bruins' top-pairing defenseman is the total package -- a great skater with good instincts, physical and an excellent puck-mover with an elite first pass. McAvoy's value may be felt most in how well Boston survives - or doesn't - the start of this season without him as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. --Kristen Shilton

33. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 rank: NR

Age: 29

Gaudreau used last season to remind the NHL he is one of the game's most dangerous wingers. He will look to do the same now that he is in Columbus after eight years in Calgary. --Ryan S. Clark

32. Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks

2021-22 rank: 16

Age: 23

Pettersson hit career-highs in goals (32) and points (68) last year and is committing to an improved defensive game, which includes being stronger on the puck and adding some physicality. That's the balanced approach the Canucks need from their top center. --Kristen Shilton

31. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ottawa Senators

2021-22 rank: 50

Age: 23

He's a 30-goal scorer who appears to be on the brink of potentially more for a Senators team that looks like it could be a serious problem this season. --Ryan S. Clark

30. Jason Robertson, LW, Dallas Stars

2021-22 rank: 99

Age: 23

Robertson took a promising rookie campaign and went off for 40 goals in his second full season. He's still young, but he's already averaging nearly a full point per game in his career. --Ryan S. Clark

29. Juuse Saros, G, Nashville Predators

2021-22 rank: 72

Age: 27

Saros was already important to the Predators. But his value was nearly immeasurable in 2021-22 when he went from being part of a tandem to a near-nightly fixture with a league-high 67 starts. --Ryan S. Clark

28. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars

2021-22 rank: 26

Age: 23

Heiskanen might not score a ton of points like some of his contemporaries on the blue line. But his two-way prowess means he can be trusted in practically every situation throughout an entire game. --Ryan S. Clark

27. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nashville Predators

2021-22 rank: NR

Age: 28

Getting his first 40-goal, 40-assist season elevated his place among the game's premier left wingers. And he did that in just 69 games. --Ryan S. Clark

26. Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

2021-22 rank: 19

Age: 26

Five straight 20-goal seasons and he is a reliable two-way center who can play in all situations. Again, there is a reason why Tampa Bay continues to remain in contention. --Ryan S. Clark

25. Jack Eichel, C, Vegas Golden Knights

2021-22 rank: NR

Age: 26

Everyone has seen what a fully healthy Eichel can accomplish. Now it is a matter of seeing what he can do on a team with heavier expectations for a full season. --Ryan S. Clark

24. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche

2021-22 rank: 12

Age: 26

Rantanen might not receive attention like MacKinnon and Makar, but he finds himself in the running for the NHL's top right winger because he is a threat to score at least 30 goals and have 50 assists. Is this the year he gets the elusive 100-point campaign? --Ryan S. Clark

23. Adam Fox, D, New York Rangers

2021-22 rank: 8

Age: 24

Already a Norris winner, Fox is one of the players at the vanguard of the young, puck-moving defenseman movement that is making a mark in the NHL. Fox is more than just offense and he is also someone who can be trusted in every situation, having averaged nearly 24 minutes of ice time last season. --Ryan S. Clark

22. Sebastian Aho, C, Carolina Hurricanes

2021-22 rank: 29

Age: 25

Is it the six straight 20-goal seasons? The continued offensive growth? Or the consistent defensive contributions? Regardless, it makes Aho one of the NHL's more complete centers. --Ryan S. Clark

21. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

2021-22 rank: 25

Age: 26

If Pastrnak can sidestep any distraction over his yet-to-be-finalized contract extension, then the Bruins' top goal-scorer should be in line for another impressive season. Pastrnak paced Boston in goals last year (40) and averaged over a point-per-game with 77 in 72 games. David Krejci being back in Boston should help, too. --Kristen Shilton

20. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

2021-22 rank: 55

Age: 32

Remember those discussions about how much Stamkos has left? Well, his response was posting his first 100-point season while finishing tied for the league lead with 11 game-winning goals. --Ryan S. Clark

19. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Florida Panthers

2021-22 rank: 49

Age: 24

His 104-point season a year ago was the exact number he had in his previous two seasons combined. So how will it all work now that he's in Florida? --Ryan S. Clark

18. Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers

2021-22 rank: 13

Age: 30

There are times when it feels like he can score at a moment's notice. But what makes him arguably more lethal is the fact that McDavid and Patrick Kane are the only players with more assists since Panarin debuted in the 2015-16 season. --Ryan S. Clark

17. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

2021-22 rank: 15

Age: 37

The Great 8 produced another 50-goal campaign last season -- the ninth of his career -- and will continue to chase Wayne Gretzky's all-time mark of 894 goals scored (Ovechkin enters 2022-23 with 780). It'll be fascinating to watch how Ovechkin can adjust his game to maintain that blistering scoring pace. Even at 37 years old, he has showed no signs of slowing down. --Kristen Shilton

16. Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers

2021-22 rank: 30

Age: 29

Zibanejad scored a career-high 81 points while showing he could be trusted in every situation imaginable for the Rangers. --Ryan S. Clark

15. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Calgary Flames

2021-22 rank: 42

Age: 29

Huberdeau cemented his status as one of the game's best creators with a league-high 85 assists in 2021-22. Only McDavid has more assists since the 2018-19 season. --Ryan S. Clark

14. Roman Josi, D, Nashville Predators

2021-22 rank: 24

Age: 32

He scored 96 points, played in every situation and was on the ice for nearly half the game. There is a reason he finished a close second to Makar for the Norris. --Ryan S. Clark

13. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

2021-22 rank: 11

Age: 35

Even at age 35, Crosby's still got it. The Penguins' band leader and ultimate student stayed healthy and hit elite numbers last season (31 goals and 84 points in 69 games) and there's boundless potential for Pittsburgh's top line when Crosby is centering Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell. The team's core is intact for another run, and it'll be Crosby's elite two-way play and unparalleled commitment to excellence driving the bus. --Kristen Shilton

12. Mitch Marner, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

2021-22 rank: 14

Age: 25

Marner is coming off a career year in 2021-22 (35 goals and 97 points in 72 games) that highlighted how the Leafs' forward has matured his overall game. The winger (mostly) rode shotgun with Auston Matthews on Toronto's top line and projects to do so again, where Marner's elite playmaking ability will be on full display. --Kristen Shilton

11. Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers

2021-22 rank: 32

Age: 26

Meet the man who looks to overtake Vasilveskiy as the NHL's top goaltender. Shesterkin is the reigning Vezina winner who could use this season to take the Rangers farther, claim another Vezina and potenitally walk away with the Hart too (where he finished third last season). --Ryan S. Clark

10. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning

2021-22 rank: 10

Age: 28

Vasilevskiy continues to maintain his position as the No. 1 goaltender in the game for a reason. But there is competition for that title. Still, he has five straight seasons of more than 30 regular-season wins and is one of the key reasons why Tampa remains a perennial contender. --Ryan S. Clark

9. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

2021-22 rank: 4

Age: 27

Barkov has long been the standard pick for "NHL's most underrated player" and that needs to stop. Florida's captain can put on a clinic any night. He tallied 39 goals and 88 points in 67 games last season while remaining one of the league's most consistently dominant defensive forwards. Barkov's skill lets him do it all with ease, from creating offense to blocking shots to lifting sticks and getting pucks back. Nothing "underrated" about it. --Kristen Shilton

8. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning

2021-22 rank: 7

Age: 31

Hedman apparently gets better with age. Tampa Bay's blue-line stalwart does it all: a perennial Norris Trophy finalist who's as dependable and consistent with his defensive details as he is at producing offense. Hedman has used that booming shot from the point to score 45 or more points in seven straight seasons. The Lightning's defensive personnel might change, but Hedman is the consistent anchor holding the group together. --Kristen Shilton

7. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild

2021-22 rank: 20

Age: 25

Scoring 27 goals and averaging nearly a point per game as a rookie set the stage. Scoring 47 goals and 108 points the following season has allowed Kaprizov to climb the rankings while mounting a serious Hart Trophy challenge. --Ryan S. Clark

6. Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers

2021-22 rank: 6

Age: 27

The Oilers' (other) top forward has been an offensive stalwart for years -- with and without that McDavid guy by his side -- but Draisaitl has evolved into more than just a regular 100-plus point producer. Since winning the Hart Trophy in 2020, Draisaitl has emerged as an upper-tier defensive center, trustworthy in all situations and as effective on the penalty kill as the power play. And his gutsy performance playing hurt throughout the playoffs last spring showed his commitment to guiding these Oilers back to contender status. --Kristen Shilton

5. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

2021-22 rank: 17

Age: 29

Let's say he plays a full 82-game season last year. Kucherov would have been on pace to score 120 points and finish three points shy of the scoring lead. Yeah, he's pretty good. --Ryan S. Clark

4. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

2021-22 rank: 2

Age: 27

Even MacKinnon admitted he needed time to find his way. Once he did, he turned into an NHL superstar who is one of the reasons why the Avs could parlay their collective success beyond just one Stanley Cup. --Ryan S. Clark

3. Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs

2021-22 rank: 3

Age: 25

Matthews hit the 60-goal mark last season, joining an elite group of just nine NHL players who've accomplished that feat in the past 30 years. And Matthews' 106 points in 73 games put him on par with Alex Ovechkin as the only active player to go for 60-plus goals and 100-plus points in a season (Ovechkin did it in 2007-08). What will Toronto's top-line center do for an encore? Matthews' unmatched release makes his shot dangerous, and that 6-foot-3 frame cuts an imposing figure on the ice. Is there any limit to his potential from here? --Kristen Shilton

2. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

2021-22 rank: 5

Age: 23

There hasn't been a Hart Trophy-winning defenseman in the NHL since Chris Pronger in 2000. Makar, entering his fourth pro season, could realistically be next. He earned a Norris Trophy last spring for his 28-goal, 86-point regular season, and followed that by winning Conn Smythe honors for a 29-point effort during Colorado's Stanley Cup run. Makar, 23, is an elite skater with excellent offensive ability that complements a sound defensive game. He's a threat everywhere, on every shift, with an uncanny ability to make the competition look silly. --Kristen Shilton

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

2021-22 rank: 1

Age: 25

McDavid's play can't be adequately described. But it simply can't be missed. "He's the most exciting guy to watch in the league," Washington goaltender Darcy Kuemper said. "Whenever [Edmonton] is on, it's kind of much-watch TV." Case in point: McDavid scored a hat trick in Edmonton's season opener to seal a comeback victory over Vancouver. Because, of course. Oilers' coach Jay Woodcroft calls McDavid "otherworldly," and that about sums up what McDavid accomplished last season, hitting 44 goals and 123 points in 80 games. That's a 1.54 points-per-game pace. Edmonton's captain has a more well-rounded game than ever, which drives his production and leaves little doubt, night in and night out, about who is the best player in the league. --Kristen Shilton

Honorable mentions

Frederik Andersen, G, Carolina Hurricanes

Jesper Bratt, LW, New Jersey Devils

Brent Burns, D, Carolina Hurricanes

Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Winnipeg Jets

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Minnesota Wild

Roope Hintz, C, Dallas Stars

Nico Hischier, C, New Jersey Devils

John Klingberg, D, Anaheim Ducks

Darcy Kuemper, G, Colorado Avalanche

Anders Lee, LW, New York Islanders

Elvis Merzlikins, G, Columbus Blue Jackets

Max Pacioretty, LW, Carolina Hurricanes

Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars

Nick Suzuki, C, Montreal Canadiens

Shea Theodore, D, Vegas Golden Knights

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