Who is the No. 1 player in the NHL today? That's the question that was once again posed to a special panel of hockey experts whose votes created the second annual TSN ranking of the Top 50 current NHL players.
Despite missing the second half of the 2010-11 season with a concussion and no return date just yet, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was voted the top player ahead of Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin for the second straight year.
Crosby was well ahead of the field in scoring when he suffered the injury in early January, posting 32 goals and 34 assists in 41 games. And he still finished the year as the Penguins' leading scorer.
Crosby has also reached topped the 100-point mark in four of his six NHL seasons. His points-per-game in the postseason ranks him third in NHL history with 1.34, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61). The NHL's premier player amassed 215 goals and 357 assists for 572 points in 412 games while winning the Stanley Cup, Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award.
The order was determined by a cumulative point system based on the individual rankings. In the end, six goaltenders, 10 defencemen, seven left wingers, 20 centres, and seven right wingers made the grade.
Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin tallied 85 points last year - the worst statistical output of his six-year NHL career.
Three-time Selke Trophy winner Pavel Datsyuk finished third, despite missing 26 games last season with injuries.
Also of note, Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin took fourth place in the voting after leading the NHL with 104 points (41 goals, 63 assists) last season. His twin brother Henrik, who led the league in scoring two years ago, was fifth after recording 19 goals and 75 assists last season.
The last two winners of the Rocket Richard Trophy placed sixth and seventh respectively, with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos placing sixth on the strength of his 45-goal season. Last year's Rocket Richard (and Hart Trophy winner) Corey Perry, who was 33rd on the list last season, rode the strength of his 50-goals and 98-point campaign into seventh.
Jonathan Toews (who eclipsed the 70-point plateau for the first time in his career) and Martin St. Louis (who finished last season one point shy of the 100-point mark) were eighth and ninth respectively.
Rounding out the Top 10 is Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who not only led his team in the regular season, but was a key factor in his club winning the Stanley Cup.
There were six players selected in goal, with Boston's Tim Thomas being the top goaltender, slotted in 14th by the panel. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne (28th), Montreal's Carey Price (30th), New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (34th), Buffalo's Ryan Miller (36th) and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (41st), were the other goaltenders to make the list.
Of the eight teams without any players in the Top 50, four are them are based in Canada - with the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers all left out.
Where player age is concerned, Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, 19, is the youngest player to be voted onto the list. At the other end of the spectrum, Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom is the oldest at 41 while Thomas is the second-oldest at 37.
Where countries of origin are concerned, Canada led the way with 26 players, followed by the United States with nine and Sweden with seven. Rounding out the list are four players from Russia, two from Slovakia and one player each from Finland and Slovenia.
Eleven players who rated in the Top 50 last season didn't make the cut this year - Marian Gaborik (20th in 2010), Mike Green (27th), Dany Heatley (36th), Daniel Alfredsson (38th), Mikko Koivu (39th), Alex Semin (41st), Miikka Kipsusoff (42nd), Johan Franzen (44th), Martin Brodeur (45th), Vinny Lecavalier (47th) and Brent Seabrook (48th).