Looking Forward: Who will be the NHL top players of the 2020 decade?
Every year there is always the debate, who is the best in the game? Who plays the best at each position? I decided with a new decade starting I would try to predict the future and chose my top players by position for the 2020 decade.
My Pick: Connor McDavid - Age: 22
Connor McDavid takes the cake for centerman. As his speed, skill and awareness is above and beyond of anyone else. As a generational talent this is an obvious choice. But that’s no slouch on the other top centermen in the game. This might be the youngest, but most talented group we have ever had in the NHL. Injuries and playoff success may contribute to this decision in a decade, but if he continues the way he has been then there is no question that McDavid will take the honours.
In the Hunt:
- Nathan MacKinnon - Age: 24
o If it wasn’t for McDavid, he would be the face of the NHL. Top notch skill, playmaking and speed. To bad he doesn’t play the wing.
- Auston Matthews - Age: 22
o The best 5 on 5 scorer in the NHL, one of the best shots. Has the ability to score over 50 goals every year.
- Jack Eichel - Age: 23
o A healthy Eichel is a lethal Eichel. Injuries have slowed his career, but when he is healthy, he is one of the leagues top performers.
My Pick: Alexis Lafreniere - Age: 18
Alexis Lafreniere hasn’t even been drafted by an NHL team, but seeing his skill level in the junior level he is well and above his competitors. He is a lock for the #1 pick this off-season and whoever is lucky enough to get this generational talent will end up being very happy with his success over the next decade.
In the Hunt:
- Leon Draisaitl - Age: 24
o Always in McDavids shadow, he has shown elite skill but his defensive zone blunders might become his legacy.
- Johnny Gaudreau - Age: 26
o Johnny hockey always puts up points with those silky mits. He is this decades Patrick Kane, but time will tell if he can capture a few Stanley Cups like Kane did.
My Pick: David Pastrnak - Age: 23
Pastrnak may play on the best line in hockey, but I believe any line he is on might be considered the best. His shot, along with awareness where others are on the ice is elite caliber. He is the driving force on any line, and will continue to score goals at will. He was on pace for 50 in 50 at one point this season. A decade is a long time, but being 23 years old and already being this established, boasts well for the talented scoring Czech.
In the Hunt:
- Patrick Laine - Age: 21
o He is a leading force when it comes to goal scoring. Once scored 18 goals in a month. But he followed that up with 9 goals the rest of the season. Talk about inconsistency. If he could ever put the pieces together for a full season, he could be a threat.
- Mitch Marner - Age: 22
o One of the leagues most dynamic double threats. Marner’s creativity puts him high on this list because he continuously puts up points offensively and defends like no other forward. He is on the ice for all zone situations, and a lot of these players can’t compare to that.
- Nikita Kucherov - Age: 26
o Arguably the leagues top forward the past couple of seasons, out producing McDavid. Over the next decade time will tell if he is able to continue to produce at that high rate.
My Pick: Cale Makar - Age: 21
This may be the hardest position to project. But seeing what Cale Makar is doing in his rookie season makes me believe he is an elite NHL defenceman. Once he is locked up long-term in Colorado, there is no question he is going to anchor that backend. Quarterbacking that powerplay is going to be deadly for years to come and I project he will establish himself as the top point producer from the back end over the next decade.
My Pick: Victor Hedman - Age: 29
Hedman has been a dominate force on the backend of Tampa Bay’s blueline for many years and I can see that continuing. Age might slowly decrease his usefulness over the next decade, but I believe that he will still be used as a top defender until his late 30’s. He is a big man who can play both ends of the ice.
In the Hunt:
- Roman Josi - Age: 29
o Underrated for several years, he has elite talent but age will become a factor.
- Dougie Hamilton - Age: 26
o Bit of a late bloomer, the best of his career could be in front of him. Already being considered for the Norris, his future looks bright.
- Morgan Reilly - Age: 25
o If he could ever find consistency in his game, he could top the list. He has played more of a shutdown roll lately. If the Leafs ever found him a stay at home defence partner, he could unleash his offensive side once again.
- Seth Jones - Age: 25
o Top notch skill, Jones has a tendency to disappear at times. He has proven to be one of the leagues best offensive defencemen, but only shows waves of it.
- Charlie McAvoy - Age: 22
o It’s a young mans game, if he could avoid injuries he could show his abilities. He is about to hit the prime of his career and will be heavily relied on for the Bruins.
My Pick: Andrei Vasilevskyi - Age: 25
Goaltenders might come down to Stanley Cups won and I believe Vasilevskyi has the best chance. He has won one Vezina already, and seems to just be starting into a long career. Being on a contender year after year will help his chances and seeing what Tampa has built, I believe he will continue to dominate over the next decade.
In the Hunt:
- Fredrick Anderson - Age: 30
o Severely underrated, Don Cherry’s pick for best goalie. His age might slowly decrease his playing time.
- John Gibson - Age: 26
o Has the ability of being elite caliber goaltender. A different scenery may help his chances
- Matt Murray - Age: 25
o Losing his net at the beginning of 2020 doesn’t look good for Murray. But if he can regain the play of his Cup years he will be in the running.
- Jordan Binnington - Age: 26
o Still such a small sample size, but continuing to put the same numbers as his cup run has him in the hunt for a Vezina and a chance over the next decade.
- Ilya Samsonov - Age: 22
o The soon to be starting goalie for the Capitals looks to be in for a long career. After studying under Holtby, he has a chance to be one of the leagues top netminders.
- Carter Hart - Age: 21
o Hart is just dipping his toes into the league, and considering he is already the starter shows Philly has faith. Lets just hope they don’t waste his talents like Montreal wasted Carey Price.
All of these players are fantastic talents and the future sure looks bright for the NHL. It truly is a young mans game and I look forward to seeing what the next decade brings for the NHL.
Who cracks the top of your list?