Who is the No. 1 player in the NHL today? That's the question that was posed to a special panel of hockey experts whose votes created the first TSN ranking of the Top 50 current NHL players.
And Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was voted the top player, edging out Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin and Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews.
Last year's co-winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy, Crosby finished second in the league in points with 109; the fourth time in his five seasons he has hit the century mark. His post-season production ranks him third overall in NHL history with 1.34 points per game, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61). The young phenom amassed 183 goals and 323 assists for 506 points in 371 games over five NHL seasons while winning the Stanley Cup, Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award.
Falling slightly behind Crosby in voting was Ovechkin, one of only two active players with three 50-goal campaigns (Teemu Selanne being the other) and just the third to post three in his first four seasons.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was voted third overall. The Winnipeg native ranked second on his team last season with 25 goals and had a career-high 43 assists for 68 points in 76 regular season games.
The order was determined by a cumulative point system based on the individual rankings and in the end, five goaltenders, 10 defencemen, five left wingers, 19 centres, and 11 right wingers made the grade.
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin recorded 77 points last season (despite missing 15 games with shoulder and foot injuries) and is ranked fourth heading into the 2010-11 season, while Blackhawks blueliner Duncan Keith, placed fifth on the list. Last season, Keith finished with a career-high 69 points - the most points by a Chicago defenceman since Chris Chelios' 72 in 1995-96.
Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin was voted sixth on the TSN Top 50. Sedin scored 29 goals and assisting on 83 others for a league-best 112 points.
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk comes in at No. 7, while Norris trophy runner-up Drew Doughty is voted in at No. 8.
Washington's Nicklas Backstrom - ranked sixth in the NHL in assists over the last two seasons - and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos - tied for fifth in the league in points with 94 last season - round out the top 10.
In goal, Buffalo's Ryan Miller was voted the top goaltender, placing 12th by the panel. New York Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist (30th), Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff (42nd), Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (43rd), New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (45th) were the other goaltenders to make the list.
The defending champion Blackhawks have six players voted into the Top 50, the most represented on the list. The Red Wings, Capitals and Canucks have four players from each club voted in, with the Canucks having two in the Top 20. The Calgary Flames have two players on the list while the Ottawa Senators are represented by one player.
Teams without any players in the Top 50 include the Atlanta Thrashers, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Broken down by age, Stamkos is the youngest player to be voted to the list. At the other end of the spectrum, Devils netminder Martin Brodeur is the oldest at 38 while Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger is the second oldest at 35.
Where countries of origin are concerned, the Great White North led the way with 27 players, followed by Sweden with eight, five players from Russia and four Americans. Rounding out the list are Slovakia (three), Finland (2) and Slovenia (one). The 27 Canadian players represent 54 percent of the list, which is directly proportionate to the number of Canadians in the NHL last season (Canadians comprised 55 percent of those who played at least one game in NHL in 2009-10).
Also, 19 of Canada's 23 gold-medal winning Olympians from the 2010 Games made the Top 50.