Coming up with a list of every NHL team’s most untouchable player means you’d really have to watch each club in action night in and night out. Other than that, you need to take certain factors into consideration such as the player’s history, his statistics, potential, strong points and weak points, value to his team and most definitely his age. In addition, general managers need to ask themselves if these players could be replaced with anybody better in a trade. These players are currently the league’s untouchables when it comes to each of the 30 franchises. Of course, things could change over the next year or two depending on the development of the younger players.
These are the 30 players each NHL team is unlikely to trade unless they’re offered a deal that can’t be refused. Anybody can be traded at anytime as we saw years ago when Wayne Gretzky was sent packing from Edmonton to Los Angeles. There are a couple of players in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel who made the list without ever playing an NHL game. You can bet the farm that the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers will give Eichel and McDavid a few years to show if they can become the superstars everybody believes they can.
There’s a very good chance most of these 30 players will remain with their current clubs for at least a few more seasons. Some of them are future Hall of Famers, while others are currently regarded as good players who may one day be great players. In addition, there could be two or three of them who don’t live up to their potential or continue to develop and may eventually be traded. While the list consists of players from all positions, it’s interesting to note that there’s just a pair of goalies on it.
30 Anaheim Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf
Team captain Ryan Getzlaf will be paid $9.25 million this season and the reason for this is simply because he, along with good friend Corey Perry are the Ducks best players. Getzlaf seems to be the engine that drives the team though with his consistent year-in-year-out performances. Perry may ultimately make $3 million more on his contract, but Getzlaf is just 30 years old still and is the team’s most valuable player. He’s scored 678 points in 710 regular season games and added 94 more in 97 postseason games. Perry may be a better goalscorer, but Getzlaf’s leadership makes him the most untouchable Duck.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
There’s no doubt the Coyotes have one of the most untouchable players in the league in defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson of Sweden. The 24-year-old scored 23 goals and added 20 assists last year to lead all NHL defencemen in goalscoring. In fact, his 43 points also led the Coyotes in scoring. Ekman-Larsson has scored 154 points in 340 career appearances and has averaged 23 minutes and 10 seconds of ice time per game during his career. The young blue liner will only get better when he reaches his prime.
28 Boston Bruins - Tuukka Rask
Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask could be just entering his prime at the age of 28 and he’s already proven to be one of the most reliable goalies in the NHL. The native of Finland has 136 wins and 81 losses in his career with a save percentage of .926 and a 2.17 goals-against average. Rask was a member of the Bruins team that won the 2010-11 Stanley Cup as backup to Tim Thomas. He has a 28-19 record in the postseason and his save percentage and GAA are even better in the playoffs at 2.11 and .930 respectively. The former all-star and Vezina Trophy winner has the best career GAA and save percentage for active goalies and the save percentage is the best in NHL history since the stat has been recorded.
27 Buffalo Sabres-Jack Eichel
The Sabres were the NHL’s worst team last year, but lost out on the Connor McDavid sweepstakes to the Edmonton Oilers. However, they grabbed arguably the second-best player in the draft when they chose American Jack Eichel. The 19-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch centre from Boston University is expected to be a franchise player for the Sabres. Eichel scored 26 goals and 45 assists for Boston University last season and should add a much-needed spark to the Sabres attack for years to come.
26 Calgary Flames - Sam Bennett
The Calgary Flames have some excellent young players in Johnny Gaudreau, T.J. Brodie and Sean Monahan, but the best of the bunch could turn out to be 19-year-old, 6-foot centre Sam Bennett. The teenager, who was chosen fourth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft missed most of last season due to injury. He played just one regular-season game and chipped in with an assist. He was healthy for the playoffs and scored three goals and an assist in 11 contests while averaging 14:01 of ice time. Bennett is still unproven at the NHL level, but the former Kingston Frontenac could make Gaudreau or Monahan expendable if he lives up to his potential.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Justin Faulk
The Hurricanes are one of the league’s lower echelon teams, but they have a few good youngsters in Jeff Skinner and defenders Elias Lindholm and Justin Faulk. Even though Faulk’s a couple of years older than Lindholm at 23, he’s going to edge him out for this list. He led Carolina defencemen in scoring with 15 goals and 34 assists, was second overall in scoring and averaged 24:26 of ice time, which was also a team high. The Minnesota native has 118 points in 262 games on a weak team and is one of its leaders in hits and blocked shots.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Jonathan Toews
The Stanley Cup champs have some fine players on their roster and that’s why they’re often close to the salary cap limit. Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg have already been sent packing and Patrick Kane has more off-ice troubles. This leaves centre Jonathan Toews as the team’s untouchable since he’s just 27 years old and defenceman Duncan Keith is now 32. Toews is an excellent captain who’s led his team to three Stanley Cup championships and has scored 506 points in 565 career games. He’s added another 102 in 117 postseason outings and is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders in the league.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Tyson Barrie
The Avalanche has some skilled forwards in Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, which means they could afford to trade one of them if the right deal comes along. This makes defenceman Tyson Barrie a hot commodity since he’s a high-scoring defenceman who’s good in both ends of the ice. Barrie scored 12 goals and 41 assists to lead the team’s blue liners in scoring and was also a plus-5. Barrie just turned 24 years old and has 104 points in 186 regular-season games along with two assists and a plus-3 rating in three playoff outings. He should anchor the defence for years to come and should also improve with each passing season.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Johansen
Twenty-three-year-old centre Ryan Johansen came two points behind Nick Foligno for the team’s scoring lead last season with 26 goals and 45 assists, but he gets the edge here since he’s five years younger. Johansen has the goods to become a star in the NHL, especially at 6-foot-3 and about 225 pounds. Johansen, a fourth-overall draft pick, came into his own two years ago when he racked up 33 goals and 30 assists and added six points in six playoff encounters. He’s scored 167 points in 271 career games and should soon be close to a point-per-game player.
21 Dallas Stars - Jamie Benn
This was a tossup between centre and captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Benn just turned 26 while Seguin is 23, but Benn offers more of a physical game and leadership while still putting up the points. His 35 goals and 52 assists were good enough to with the Art Ross Trophy last year as the league’s scoring leader. He’s a dependable player with 359 points in 426 games and has five more in six playoff matches. Also, Seguin seems to have some off-ice issues and that’s why he’s already been traded once at his young age.
20 Detroit Red Wings -Petr Mrazek
Detroit’s best players at the moment are their oldest ones, such as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, When it comes to younger players, the ones with the most potential are forwards Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and goaltender Petr Mrazek. We’ll be going with Mrazek of the Czech Republic as the 22-year-old, 6-foot-1-inch goalie has the potential to be an elite player in the NHL. Mrazek has appeared in just 40 regular-season games so far and has 19 wins and 14 losses. His goals-against average stands at 2.23, his save percentage is an impressive 92.0 and he’s recorded five shutouts. Mrazek has gone 3-4 in the postseason with a 92.5 save percentage, 2.11 GAA and a pair of shutouts.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid
With all the fuss made over junior scoring star Connor McDavid there’s no doubt the 18-year-old, number one draft pick makes this list. McDavid, a centre, scored 285 points in just 166 junior contests with the Erie Otters. He also added 68 more points in 34 playoff games. It may take him a year or two to get used to the NHL game, but the Oilers are definitely going to be patient with him and give him time to develop.
18 Florida Panthers - Aaron Ekblad
Defenceman Aaron Ekblad is just 19 years old and led the Florida Panthers in scoring from the blue line as a rookie with 12 goals and 39 assists. He also became the first defenceman since Barret Jackman in 2003 to win the Calder Trophy. The 6-foot-4-inch, 216 lb workhorse was also a plus-12 on a bad team. He hits and blocks shots and undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him in the NHL. Not many defencemen are already this good at 19 years old.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Drew Doughty
An argument could be made for goaltender Jonathan Quick, centres Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar and defenceman Jake Muzzin, but defenceman Drew Doughty tops the list in L.A. The 25-year-old is the most effective blue liner in both ends of the ice and has 267 points in 524 regular-season outings with a plus+ 38 rating. He’s helped the Kings win two Stanley Cups and averaged 28 minutes of ice time per game last year. He’s scored 50 points in 76 playoff games and averaged 27:39 minutes in them.
16 Minnesota Wild - Ryan Suter
With 238 points in 542 regular-season games, Ryan Suter isn’t the highest-scoring defenceman out there, but the 30-year-old is the anchor of the Wild’s defence. He’s plus-43 for his career and has averaged over 29 minutes per game for the last two seasons. He’s struggled in the playoffs with a minus-22 ranking in 67 games, but he’s still the cornerstone of the franchise for the time being.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Carey Price
It’s hard to say just how good or bad the Montreal Canadiens would be without goaltender Carey Price. He’s the glue that holds the team together and is regarded as one of the league’s top netminders. Price went 44-16-6 last season with a 1.96 goals-against average. The 28-year-old is 426-223-153 for his regular-season career with a 91.9 per cent save percentage and a 2.44 GAA with 34 shutouts in 435 games. He’s already won a Hart, Ted Williams, Vezina and William Jennings Trophy and is the Habs’ most valuable player.
14 Nashville Predators - Filip Forsberg
This was another tough decision as defenceman Roman Josi is also an excellent young player as the 24-year-old had 55 points last year. But centre Filip Forsberg just turned 21 and is coming off of a 63-point season which consisted of 26 goals and 37 assists. He was also a plus-15 player. He also chipped in with four goals and two assists in six postseason encounters. Josi will also be an excellent player, but Forsberg gets the nod mainly because of his age.
13 New Jersey Devils - Cory Schneider
The pickings are pretty slim when it comes to the Devils. Centre Adam Henrique is a good young player, but there are many better than him in the league. On the current roster, goaltender Cory Schneider gets the nod. The 29-year-old is 197-97-72 for his career with a 92.5 save percentage, 2.17 goals-against average and 17 shutouts. He had five shutouts last year with a 2.26 GAA and 92.5 save percentage on an offensively-challenged team. The Devils need scoring help, but are fine in net with Schneider.
12 New York Islanders - John Tavares
Centre John Tavares is hands-down the best player on the Islanders and one of the top five in the league. The 25-year-old captain has 401 points in 432 regular-season fixtures with 11 more in 13 playoff games. He’s a fine leader and the face of the franchise. The Islanders have a future Hall of Famer in Tavares, but need to surround him with some other top players to take advantage of his hockey and leadership skills.
11 New York Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
Defenceman and captain Ryan McDonagh is a prime candidate here for the Rangers, but Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is still young enough at the age of 33 to backstop the team for another five years at least. Lundqvist has gone 339-208-65 in his career with a goals-against average of 2.26 and a save percentage of .921 with 55 shutouts. His GAA is 2.22 in the playoffs and his save percentage stands at .923. He went 30-13-3 last season and had a fine playoff outing. Lundqvist has spent his entire 10-year career with the Rangers and the former Vezina Trophy winner is almost second-to-none when it comes to NHL goalies.
10 Ottawa Senators - Erik Karlsson
Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson is arguably the most gifted offensive blue liner in the league. He may not be the greatest in his own end, but more than makes up for it when he’s on the attack. The team captain had 21 goals and 45 assists last campaign and the 25-year-old has twice broken the 70-point barrier, with his career-best being 78. He has 303 points in 397 regular-season games and has chipped in with 19 more in 29 postseason outings. There’s probably no better attacking defenceman in the league at the moment.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Claude Giroux
Jakub Voracek has had a couple of great years, but 27-year-old centre Claude Giroux has five of them in a row. The captain is the straw that stirs the drink and is one of the top players at his position. Giroux is just reaching his prime and has already posted 450 points in 496 regular season games. He’s also racked up 61 more in 57 postseason contests. Giroux’s an excellent leader for the Flyers and will remain so for the next few seasons at least.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby will remain a Penguin as long as he’s considered to be one of the world’s best hockey players, which will likely be for the remainder of his career. Every hockey fan knows what the Pittsburgh captain has already accomplished and what he’s capable of. And at just 28 years of age, his best years could still be ahead of him. Some might make the argument for Evgeni Malkin, but it's really hard to fathom Pittsburgh ownership signing off on a Crosby trade.
7 San Jose Sharks - Brent Burns
Defenceman Brent Burns is a physical presence on the ice at 6-feet-5-inches tall and 230 lbs. He just turned 30 years old and is easily one of the Sharks’ and the league’s top offensive D men. Burns scored 60 points last season on 17 goals and 43 assists and had 22 goals and 26 helpers the year before. He has plenty of experience with 348 points in 715 regular-season contests. He played a few seconds shot of 24 minutes per game last campaign and was a team leader in hits and blocked shots.
6 St. Louis Blues - Vladimir Tarasenko
Right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia had a breakout year for the Blues last season with 37 goals and 36 assists for 73 points. He has plenty of upside since Tarasenko is still just 23 years old. He’s scored 135 points in 179 regular-season games and is a plus-48 player. He can also turn things up a notch in the postseason where he has 10 goals in 13 career outings. Tarasenko is creative and exciting and the Blues would be foolish to part ways with such a talent.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Steven Stamkos
It was hard to come up with just one player to make this list from 2014-15 Stanley Cup finalists Tampa, since the club has several excellent young players such as Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and goaltender Ben Bishop. However, there have been rumors that Stamkos isn’t as happy as he should be in Tampa. The centre/winger is just 25 years old and already has 276 goals and 498 points in 492 regular-season outings. He’s added 35 points in 48 playoff games and is almost a sure bet to reach the 600-goal plateau or beyond in his NHL career. You can’t teach players to score goals and that’s why the Lightning needs to hold on to Stamkos.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Morgan Rielly
Young defenceman Morgan Rielly heads the Leafs list more or less by default. There simply aren’t any untouchable players on this team and nor should there be. The 21-year-old is a gifted offensive defenceman, but like his good buddy and fellow Leafs blue liner Jake Gardiner, he struggles in his own end of the ice. Rielly has produced 56 points in 154 regular-season games up to now, but is a minus-30. However, he should continue to improve with each passing game.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Bo Horvat
Considering he just turned 20 years old, centre Bo Horvat should be a player the Canucks can build around in the future. It might take some time for him to develop, but he showed some fine signs during his rookie season with 13 goals and 12 assists in 68 regular-season games. He then added another four points in six playoff contests. The Canucks' roster is filled with ageing players such as the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata and since their best defenceman Alex Edler just turned 29, Horvat seems to be the best bet to stay with the Canucks for a long time.
2 Washington Capitals - Alexander Ovechkin
Russian winger Alexander Ovechkin is a certain Hall of Famer and should end up being a one-team player during his NHL career. Ovechkin has led the league in goals several times, isn’t afraid to play a physical game and is definitely a character. The 30-year-old has scored 475 goals and added 420 assists for 895 points in regular-season fixtures and for all the fuss about his defensive play is a plus+57 player. Ovechkin’s hit the 50-goal mark six times and has 70 points in 72 playoff games. He should reach the 700-goal mark before he retires as a Capital.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Mark Scheifele
Centre Mark Scheifele has good size at 6-feet-2-inches and has just turned 22 years old. He played 11 games with the Jets as a teenager before cracking the lineup two seasons ago. Since then, he has contributed with 84 points in 156 regular-season games and has a plus+20 rating, If he keeps developing at the same rate, Scheifele could soon be one of the top guns on the Jets’ offence.
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