The 10 best NHL players of the decade - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

The 10 best NHL players of the decade

The reign of the elite two-way center is reflected in the players who dominated the past 10 years. We count down the best men's players of the era and yes, it's a controversial list.
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Ohhh, I am sure we will get comments on this list, but list we must. The following ranks the top 10 men’s players of the past decade and let’s just get down to brass tacks: Connor McDavid is not on the list. Why? Because he was in the NHL for less than half of the decade and as you will see from the criterion below, he just doesn’t make the cut. Will McDavid be the player of the decade 10 years from now, assuming the Internet still exists? Of course he will be. But one playoff appearance, one Hart Trophy and two Art Ross trophies just doesn’t cut it with this group, if you can imagine.

To figure out this list, I looked at Olympic and Stanley Cup success, total points (or wins in the case of goalies) and individual trophies. Only one player managed to make the cut without winning a championship and he’s a bit of a mould-breaker, so we’ll let it slide. Without further ado, here are the 10 best players of the past decade. Don’t @ me...

10. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Choosing a goalie for the list was the hardest of all. Marc-Andre Fleury actually holds the wins title during the past 10 years and he does have two rings from his time in Pittsburgh, but Quick won two Stanley Cups as the starter in Los Angeles and he has a Conn Smythe to boot (plus, he's second in wins). One of the most intimidating netminders of the decade, Quick also won two Jennings trophies with the Kings. Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne were other top candidates - but none of them have rings.

9. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Yes, another Hawk. But with three Cups, two Olympic golds, one Conn Smythe and two Norris trophies, it would be pretty disingenuous to leave off Chicago’s most elite defenseman. Keith formed a devastating pairing with Brent Seabrook during those salad days, narrowly beating out Drew Doughty of the Kings (who had a pretty excellent decade himself).

8. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
A dominating center during an era where that meant everything, Kopitar was at the helm of two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles, while also taking home two Selke trophies and one Lady Byng Trophy along the way. It may seem like an eternity ago now, but the Kings were incredibly scary in the playoffs and Kopitar was a big part of that.

7. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators/San Jose Sharks
It is rare for a defenseman to influence the game the way Karlsson has and even though he has yet to win a title, his skills are undeniable. The elite puckmover won two Norris trophies and probably should have won a third in the past decade, while also leading the NHL in points by a blueliner.

6. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
The best second-best player on a team ever, ‘Geno’ doesn’t play in the shadow of Crosby so much as he politely waits his turn to show the world how good he is when the Penguins need him most. Malkin won two Stanley Cups this decade, one Art Ross Trophy, one Hart Trophy and one Ted Lindsay.

5. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
There simply has never been a better defensive center in the game, ever. Bergeron���s two-way prowess lorded over this decade, leading to a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and two Olympic gold medals with Canada. Most impressive however, are the four Selke trophies won during a time when Kopitar and Crosby were around. And Bergeron still has the Bruins at the top of the NHL pile.

4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
‘Captain Serious’ feasted on the past decade as the captain of the Blackhawks for three Stanley Cups. He won one Conn Smythe, two Olympic gold medals and one Selke during that reign, elevating the importance of an elite two-way center as he did.

3. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
The highest-scoring player in the past 10 years, Kane was also instrumental in Chicago winning three Stanley Cups. He got a Conn Smythe Trophy during one of those efforts and also earned a Hart Trophy and a Ted Lindsay Award. His Blackhawks lorded over the playoffs in the first half of the decade and Kane is still producing at an impressive clip this year.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Maybe the best goal-scorer ever, Ovechkin is certainly the best scorer of the 21st century as his six Rocket Richard trophies will attest. The captain of the Washington Capitals also presided over the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, earned a Conn Smythe Trophy, one Ted Lindsay Award and one Hart Trophy. Ovechkin is also the only player to score more than 400 goals this decade.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Was there ever going to be another answer? This was the heyday of ‘Sid the Kid,’ who was very much The Man during this stretch. Two Olympic gold medals, two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe awards, two Ted Lindsay Awards, two Rocket Richard trophies and one Hart Trophy. Crosby also ranks second in total points during this span, though his 1.23 points per game ranked higher than the winner, who you’ll meet soon.

Over the next two weeks, The Hockey News will be wrapping up the 2010s with a look back at the best – and worst – of the decade. Find more here.

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