'Multi-National' Hockey League players top TSN's mid-season Top 25 list
Woe, Canada? Pro, world? Take your pick.
Unanimous No. 1 Connor McDavid is the only Canadian in the upper echelon of TSN’s mid-season NHL Top 25 Players.
The next 11 players, Nos. 2 through 12, represent six hockey countries: Germany, Czechia, USA, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
The modern NHL isn’t so much the National Hockey League as the Multi-National Hockey League.
Higher rankings aside, Canada is well-represented in the Top 25 with seven players, tied for most with the United States.
McDavid remains the unrivalled best player in the world, receiving all 10 first place votes in the mid-season poll of TSN hockey experts.
He enters the NHL All-Star Game break leading the league in goals (41), points (92), primary points (76) and points per game (1.84).
McDavid, also the unanimous No. 1 in TSN’s pre-season poll, is a lock to score 50 goals for the first time and appears certain to win his third straight, and fifth overall, Art Ross Trophy.
German Leon Draisaitl was a narrow choice over Czech David Pastrnak for No. 2 in the poll of 10 TSN experts. Draisaitl received five second-place votes and No. 3 Pastrnak, four. Russian Nikita Kucherov received the other No. 2 vote.
Not receiving a single second-place vote was Auston Matthews, reigning Rocket Richard winner, Ted Lindsay winner and definitive pre-season choice as the NHL’s No. 2 player in TSN’s annual Top 50 Players ranking.
The Toronto centre plummeted to No. 23 in the mid-season poll despite scoring 25 goals and enhancing his status as one of the league’s best two-way forwards before a knee injury sidelined him. He is tied for 21st in points per game (1.13).
Edmonton centre Draisaitl moved up two places from No. 4 in the pre-season to replace Matthews.
Pastrnak, meanwhile, rocketed (goal pun intended) from No. 25 to No. 3. With 38 goals, the Boston right winger is McDavid’s stiffest competition for the goal-scoring title.
Comparing pre-season and mid-season rankings is a measure of projection vs. performance.
Not unexpectedly, Buffalo sensation Tage Thompson’s 2022-23 performance has exceeded pre-season projections more than any other NHLer: he went from unranked in TSN’s pre-season poll to No. 4 at the unofficial halfway mark.
The top-ranked American has 34 goals and 68 points in 48 games, highlighted by a five-goal, six-point performance vs. Columbus Dec. 7.
Rounding out the top five is Tampa Bay right winger Kucherov, who entered the season at No. 8 on the TSN list.
Two goalies are in the mid-season Top 25: No. 8 Linus Ullmark (Boston) and No. 16 Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg)
Canada had three of the top five players in the pre-season poll with a pair of Colorado superstars, defenceman Cale Makar at third and centre Nathan MacKinnon at fifth, joining McDavid in the elite group.
MacKinnon stands No. 18 at mid-season, even though he’s fourth in points per game (1.46) with 54 points in 37 games. He has missed 11 games. Makar is No. 19, averaging a point per game (45 points in 44 games).
The biggest mid-season omissions from the TSN pre-season Top 50 are Tampa Bay defenceman Victor Hedman (No. 6 pre-season), Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (No. 7), Florida centre Aleksander Barkov (No. 9), Nashville defenceman Roman Josi (No. 13), Calgary left winger Jonathan Huberdeau (No. 14) and Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin (No. 15).