In every single NHL season, every single team has its best player and its worst. Well, surprise! This year is no different.
While we’re not even halfway through the 2016-17 campaign yet, we can already identify the cream that will rise to the top and the slag that, well – wont. So, right here, right now, we’re calling out the best and the worst player on all 30 NHL squads and no one in between.
You’ll probably nod your head in agreement with a lot of these selections and argue some others with a scowl of indignant disputation. But here, I’ve broken down each player’s value (or lack thereof) to his team at his position in a purely objective manner, isolated to the 2016-17 season alone.
I’ve considered things like offensive and defensive production, consistency and skill and ignored things that have nothing to do with his on-ice performance. No, I don’t care that your guy “always has a late-season surge,” has the highest salary for any goaltender or is an outspoken leader in the locker room. This list represents the players highest and lowest on the totem pole of on-ice capabilities during the 2016-17 season – nothing more and nothing less.
For the sake of fair comparability, I’ve only considered players who have suited up in at least half of their teams’ games so far this season and ruled ineligible those who haven’t, with the exception of anyone who missed time due to injury or suspension.
So let’s dive right in. Here is the ultimate list of the best and worst player on every NHL team this season.
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30 Anaheim Ducks
Best: Ryan Kesler
With talented guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg all gracing the Anaheim Ducks’ roster, it might seem like this would be a tough call. But once you take a magnifying glass to the numbers, Ryan Kesler clearly rules the roost. He’s a highly-dependable forward who tops the team in plus/minus and power-play goals and provides a steady, even stream of offense with his world-class passing and shooting capabilities.
Worst: Jared Boll
Maybe the Ducks are figuring out why the Columbus Blue Jackets bought out Jared Boll’s contract over the summer, because even though he suits up nightly, he’s barely even getting six minutes of playing time. And when he is on the ice? He’s either fighting or getting scored on. Worst. Free. Agent. Signing. Ever. He’s slow, he had one solitary point, an assist, through 21 games, and he’s got one of the worst plus/minus ratings on the squad. Yikes.
29 Arizona Coyotes
Best: Radim Vrbata
When they’re floundering near the very bottom of the standings as one of the worst teams in the league, it’s tough to say that the Arizona Coyotes could be worse off without their best player, Radim Vrbata, but just trust me on this one. Vrbata is one of the very few bright spots in the desert this year. He leads the team in points per game and is the best producer of offense on the roster, so all the Coyotes have to do is clone him a bunch of times and they’ll be back in the playoff hunt. Simple.
Worst: Lawson Crouse
On the opposite side of that argument, I’m pretty comfortable with making the claim that the Coyotes would be a lot better off without Lawson Crouse. The forward out of Ontario was a first-round pick in 2015 but so far has been a bane to Coyotes management, coaching, teammates, fans and people in Arizona in general. He was highly touted out of junior and came over from the Florida Panthers organization in an offseason in trade in August, and his NHL debut has not been pretty. He’s made a habit of taking bad penalties and not scoring – like at all. He’s down to just 10 minutes of ice time per game, so can we go ahead and call him a bust yet?
28 Boston Bruins
Best: Tuukka Rask
You might as well call him Stonewall Rask, because Tuukka is really the only reason the Boston Bruins are staying on the bubble of playoff contention. Through his first 20 starts this season, Rask was second in the league in wins, had a less-than-two GAA and save percentage over .930. He also had three shutouts and two assists for good measure. The Bruins will continue to lean on his phenomenal netminding as we get into the meat of the season while they try to keep their heads above water in the standings.
Worst: Jimmy Hayes
Bruins fans hold their breath every time fourth-liner Jimmy Hayes hops over the boards. His horrendous, team-worst plus/minus rating seems to just keep heading south. He only sees about 10 minutes of ice time a game, but it seems like every time he’s out there, the Bruins get scored on. He had contributed all of one goal and a whole lot of heartburn in Bean Town through 25 games this year.
27 Buffalo Sabres
Best: Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen is not only the best player on an awful Buffalo Sabres team but an important piece of the team’s future if they ever want to know the feeling of participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs again. The young, 22-year-old defenseman can hold his own in his own zone but can also make plays on offense – better than most of the other forwards, in fact. He’s keeping pace with team’s top scorers and plays well over 26 minutes every night.
Worst: Josh Gorges
It’s not so much that defenseman Josh Gorges is that bad, he’s just the default lowest-ranked guy on a team full of mediocre, underperforming skaters. He plays a solid 20 minutes a game and serves in an important role on the penalty kill, but when you have one point through 23 games and your team has the second-worst penalty kill in the entire league, you suffer the consequences – like being named the worst player on a bad team.
26 Calgary Flames
Best: Johnny Gaudreau
Third-year winger and former Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau is the big man on campus around the Saddledome these days. He is among the Calgary Flames’ points leaders despite missing a few weeks early this season with a broken finger, and he has the best points per game average on the entire team. As Gaudreau goes, so go the Flames.
Worst: TJ Brodie
A dependable D-man as recently as last season, TJ Brodie stumbled out of the blocks this year and has quite literally fallen flat on his face. As of this writing, he had the worst plus/minus rating in the entire league, let alone the Flames. He’s also way off the pace of his career-high 45 points from last season and is generally just a big liability on the Calgary blue line.
25 Carolina Hurricanes
Best: Jeff Skinner
After winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 2011, forward Jeff Skinner is again living up to his own standard in the NHL… finally. After a few mediocre seasons, he is once again the Carolina Hurricanes’ leading scorer and a valuable tool on the power-play. He’s even great on defense and leads the team in takeaways. All around, Skinner is the best player in Carolina this year.
Worst: Phil Di Giuseppe
Really, Phil Di Giuseppe is an AHL veteran masquerading as an NHL-er, but he appeared in 41 games with the Hurricanes last season and has been getting time this year while key players are out with injuries. Of course, when you play AHL-caliber guys, you get AHL-caliber performance. The 23-year-old forward appeared on the score sheet just twice through 17 NHL games, and his 12 minutes on the ice per game is something the Hurricanes just have to deal with while they have guys on the IR.
24 Chicago Blackhawks
Best: Patrick Kane
Little surprise here. Patrick Kane was last season’s MVP and the only player to breach the 100-point mark, and he’s doing similar things for the Chicago Blackhawks again this year. He’s leads the team in all sorts of offensive categories and is among the league’s points leaders. Watch for him to appear in his fifth All-Star game this winter.
Worst: Jordin Tootoo
Best known for fighting, it’s probably best that the Blackhawks keep Jordin Tootoo on the bench for all but a few minutes every game. The ‘Hawks signed him in the offseason after the departures of guys like Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, but really, they would have been just fine without him. He doesn’t score, he doesn’t really defend; he’s just kind of there.
23 Colorado Avalanche
Best: Matt Duchene
On a team jam-packed with immensely talented but underachieving young players, Matt Duchene takes top billing for the hapless Colorado Avalanche. He led the team in points last year, beating out captain Gabriel Landeskog by six points, and it looks like he’ll probably do the same again in 2016-17. He has a knack for scoring big goals and can do some good things on the power-play, but again, everything is kind of muted when you’re the best player on a terrible team.
Worst: Nikita Zadorov
The Avalanche want to make it work with Nikita Zadorov so badly. Unfortunately, he’s been a gigantic disappointment since he came over from the Buffalo Sabres in 2015. He has so many holes in his game, he can barely stay out of the minors. He takes bad penalties and has yet to realize the potential so many people think he has.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets
Best: Sergei Bobrovsky
Thanks in very large part to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky having a vibrant rebound season after last year’s bummer of a campaign, the once infamously bad Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix among Eastern Division leaders. He’s has one of the league’s best records, had three shutouts in his first nine games and is showing no signs of dropping off.
Worst: Ryan Murray
Murray, once a key piece of the blue line corps. for the Blue Jackets, has been relegated to the third pairing due to personnel shifts, but he hasn’t done much to earn a promotion back up to greener pastures. His ice time is down over four minutes from last year and he had yet to score through 19 games.
21 Dallas Stars
Best: Tyler Seguin
At a point-per-game pace, Tyler Seguin is on track to have one of his best years in the NHL despite some recent trouble putting the puck in the back of the net. He leads the Stars in points and really shines on the power-play, and at nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game, he is one of the hardest-working forwards in Dallas.
Worst: Dan Hamhuis
That two-year $7.5 million deal signed in the offseason isn’t looking like such a good idea for the Stars anymore. After 12 so-so years in the league, Hamhuis came to Dallas to help shore up the blue line and offer leadership to the group, but all he’s done so far is struggle to fit into the system. He had six assists and a -2 plus/minus rating through 26 games and has been averaging less than 20 minutes on the ice per game when he’s not a healthy scratch.
20 Detroit Red Wings
Best: Mike Green
Defenseman Mike Green is making even some of the best forwards on one of the historically better teams look awfully inferior this year. Green, who was a first-round draft pick in 2004, is in his second year with the Wings and is thriving on both ends of the rink. He’s been the catalyst for what limited success the wings have enjoyed this year. He is averaging over 24 minutes of ice time per game and was the team’s second-highest scorer through 27 games.
Worst: Riley Sheahan
Riley Sheahan, a first-rounder in 2010, at one time was a promising second- or third-line guy who had a path to greatness. But he has struggled mightily since his quality 36-point season in 2014-15. Instead of building upon the progress he made two seasons ago, he has gone backwards. He has a team-worst plus/minus rating, and his appearances on the score sheet are very few and far between.
19 Edmonton Oilers
Best: Connor McDavid
A healthy Connor McDavid is the best player hockey could ask for, and the direct beneficiary is the Edmonton Oilers organization. He leads the league in points, scores important goals and makes everyone around him a better hockey player. This is the biggest no-brainer of the year. He’ll make this list for years to come.
Worst: Benoit Pouliot
You know that feeling when your parents told you they weren’t mad, just disappointed in you? That’s how Benoit Pouliot feels this year. He turned 30 right before the season started, and apparently his age and offensive production have an inverse relationship. After three 30-point seasons entering 2016-17, he has become stagnant, and his bad habits are being magnified. His contributions are basically absent and he’s not playing to his past potential – not even close.
18 Florida Panthers
Best: Jonathan Marchessault
I know you wanted it to be Jaromir Jagr, but remember, this is a purely objective list, and centerman Jonathan Marchessault gets the nod for the Florida Panthers. Undrafted out of the QMJHL, Marchessault got a chance in the minors and has worked his butt off to become a top-line guy on an NHL squad. He’s the Panthers’ top goal-scorer this year and so far has far out-played his expectations.
Worst: Jussi Jokinen
A season ago, Jussi Jokinen would never have even been a consideration to appear on this list, but oh how far the mighty has fallen. A 60-point scorer a year ago, Jokinen’s offensive capabilities have seemingly evaporated over the course of an offseason. He has battled injury this season, and maybe that’s part of it, but the one-time dependable top-6 forward had just five points in his first 18 games. As President-elect Donald Trump would say, BAD!
17 Los Angeles Kings
Best: Jeff Carter
If it weren’t for Jeff Carter, the Los Angeles Kings would not be within striking distance of a playoff spot. With key forwards like Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar both missing significant time due to injury, Carter has been the star Hollywood hockey needed. He leads the team in scoring by a wide margin and had a league-leading six game-winning goals through 26 games.
Worst: Nick Shore
Nick Shore is just kind of meh. He’s a fourth-line centerman in his third NHL season who doesn’t do anything to write home about. He plays a little over 11 minutes per game and had five points through 25 contests. He may not be that bad, but he’s definitely not good. He doesn’t play any special teams or anything, he just kind of takes up room on the bench.
16 Minnesota Wild
Best: Devan Dubnyk
After 20 starts in 2016-17 veteran netminder Devan Dubnyk, finds himself atop almost every goalie stat chart in the entire league. He had a microscopic 1.65 GAA, a phenomenal .946 save percentage and a league-best four shutouts through Minnesota’s first 25 games. It’s crazy to think that just four seasons ago, he was floundering, struggling to stay consistent and even dropping down into the AHL ranks. This year, he’s the best goalie in the league and the best player in a Wild uniform.
Worst: Tyler Graovac
Since getting called up from AHL Iowa in October, Tyler Graovac is doing just enough centering the Minnesota Wild’s fourth line to keep him in The Show. Still, he’s in over his head. He had just five NHL games under his belt before joining the Wild this season, and through 17 games, he had all of two points. His playing time is decreasing the longer his time wears on in the NHL, and with just over nine minutes of ice time per game, he’s the low man on the totem pole in a league where he probably doesn’t belong.
15 Montreal Canadiens
Best: Carey Price
At the risk of repeating a badly played-out cliché, the Price is oh so right for the Montreal Canadiens. The 10th-year netminder is doing some really special things this year – special enough to appear on this list over guys like Alex Galchenyuk and Shea Weber. After missing most of last season with an MCL sprain, Price returned with gusto, becoming the first NHL goalie to win his first 10 games of the season. He’s also among the league leaders for wins, GAA and save percentage, which has propelled the Canadiens to a dominating spot near the top of the standings.
Worst: Artturi Lehkonen
Finnish winger Artturi Lehkonen had a strong training camp and earned his first spot on an NHL roster with the Canadiens this year but so far has been largely ineffective. The 21-year-old forward has shown flashes of brilliance in the Swedish Elite League and even earned a spot among the top-6 forwards to start the year, but after three points in 12 games and then a badly timed injury, Lehkonen is playing with house money. Through 18 games, he had five points, and despite his speed and vision for the game, the Canadiens would be just fine without him.
14 Nashville Predators
Best: James Neal
If the Predators are celebrating a goal, it’s a good bet that forward James Neal started the party. The ninth-year veteran is Nashville’s leading goal-scorer who carries the sometimes sluggish Predators offense almost all by himself. His points-per-game average also leads the team, and he contributes regularly on the power-play. His consistency is key here, and yes, if you were wondering, P.K. Subban was runner-up.
Worst: Yannick Weber
The Predators signed NHL also-ran Yannick Weber over the offseason to help fill the void left by Shea Weber, who was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Subban. When he’s not getting pummeled in fights against the Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin (YouTube it; you’ll understand), Weber is busying himself playing barely satisfactory defense and not scoring in the meager 11 minutes of playing time he sees every game.
13 New Jersey Devils
Best: Taylor Hall
Former first-overall draft pick Taylor Hall has the ability to singlehandedly change the pace of a game when he goes into goal-scoring mode, and he did it for six seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. Now with the New Jersey Devils, Hall is doing the same thing and is on pace for a career-high in scoring, with better than a point-per-game average through 18 games this season. The Devils’ offense isn’t half as good without Hall in the lineup, and that makes him the best player in a New Jersey sweater.
Worst: Sergey Kalinin
I’m not sure that you can call it a sophomore slump when you only had 15 points in your rookie season, but Devils forward Sergey Kalinin is not having a good year. Through 19 games, he had a lone point and was among the worst on the team with a plus/minus rating well south of zero. Kalinin fills a fourth-line role but not very well.
12 New York Islanders
Best: John Tavares
John Tavares is another case of a good player stuck on a bad team. The 26-year-old has been with the Islanders since he debuted in the league in 2009 and has provided steady, dependable scoring every year. Through 26 games in 2016-17, Tavares had a team-high 21 points on eight goals and 13 assists and was still in the black in the plus/minus column, which is hard to do with a porous defense like the Islanders’.
Worst: Travis Hamonic
He requested a trade last year but then rescinded it, and now general manager Garth Snow is probably wishing he had dealt him, because Travis Hamonic is the thorn in the side of basically every hockey fan in Brooklyn these days. He was sporting a disgraceful -14 plus/minus rating through 23 games and despite contributing seven points, he’s doing more bad than good for a team that needs to start winning a lot of games if they want to land in the playoffs come next spring.
11 New York Rangers
Best: Kevin Hayes
Kevin Hayes is finally coming into his own now in his third season in the world’s best hockey league. The first-round draft pick in 2010 out of Dorchester, Massachusetts has had decent seasons in his first couple of years but has really stepped up in 2016-17 as one of the top scorers on a high-caliber offense. Hayes is dangerous in the offensive zone and has a habit of finding ways to score when the odds are stacked against him. He is a threat in all facets of the game and the best player in New York this season.
Worst: Kevin Klein
Defenseman Kevin Klein is having a bad year, and Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault has even publically called him out for his lackluster effort. Vigneault went so far as to make Klein a healthy scratch for a game early in December in favor of a guy who had played just a handful of games all season. Klein had a goose egg in the goals column and seven assists through 24 games, and his ice time has been shrinking along with the quality of his play.
10 Ottawa Senators
Best: Erik Karlsson
This oughtta blow your mind. Erik Karlsson is a defenseman for the Ottawa Senators and is the most defensively gifted player on the team. But Erik Karlsson is also the most offensively gifted player on the team. He is a literally everywhere on the ice. It’s impressive enough that he leads the team in scoring by a wide margin as a D-man, but he is also one of the best defenders in the entire league. He leads the league in blocked shots and is also in the top-5 in average ice time. You could say he’s an astonishingly good two-way player, but that would be grossly underselling it.
Worst: Cody Ceci
While it’s not for a lack of playing time, defenseman Cody Ceci, the first-round draft pick of the Senators in 2012, has struggled to produce much this season. And maybe he’s getting too much action, because while he’s averaging over 23 minutes a game so far this year, he has the worst plus/minus rating on the entire team. He had two points – both assists – through his first 27 games and has proven to be a gigantic liability to a team who needs to play good defense considering their struggling offense.
9 Philadelphia Flyers
Best: Jakub Voracek
Philadelphia Flyers right-winger Jakub Voracek is one of those guys that makes everyone around him better. That’s why he’s the Flyers’ best player this season. He is right near a point-per-game average thus far and has a vision for the game that helps him be a leader on the ice while setting up his linemates with plenty of offensive opportunities. He earns almost twice as many assists as he does goals, and he’s consistently one of the Flyers’ top point-getters.
Worst: Dale Weise
You could say that the Flyers offseason signee Dale Weise is off to a slow start, but you’d still be giving him too much credit. Of course, I’m not sure what the Flyers had in mind when bringing the 28-year-old sixth-year skater in. He’s never had more than 29 points in an NHL season, and now he’s on his third team in less than two years. He’s on a less than 0.2 point-per-game pace and is largely underwhelming and disappointing.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins
Best: Sidney Crosby
Who else? Not Evgeni Malkin, though he was the closest challenger. Not Phil Kessel, though he might have been the best on almost any other team. Love him or hate him, Sid The Kid is a superstar, and he proves that fact over and over again every season. He just has a knack for scoring goals. He leads the Penguins in that category and has been either at or near the top of that list for the entire league all season. His points-per-game average is also the best of anyone in the NHL, although Connor McDavid is giving him a run for his money. Best player in Pittsburgh? Obviously.
Worst: Brian Dumoulin
When there are a lot of good players crowding one NHL roster, it can portray a decent second- or third-pairing D-man as a weak player. So goes the story for second-year defender Brian Dumoulin. He’s played as high as the first pairing and as low as a healthy scratch, but the fact is that while he does OK in his own zone, he’s still in the red as far as plus/minus goes, and he only had four assists through his first 26 games.
7 San Jose Sharks
Best: Brent Burns
Don’t let the scraggly, unkempt facial hair distract you. Defenseman Brent Burns is the best skater in a San Jose Sharks uniform this season. From his blue line post, he plays just as big a role in the Sharks’ offense as the top-6 forwards do. He led the team in goals through 26 games with 11, is a special teams expert and plays the most minutes of any other player in San Jose. Plus, he somehow finds a way to average more than four shots on goal every game. Yes, you can already consider him a Norris Trophy finalist.
Worst: Brenden Dillon
Last season, blueliner Brenden Dillon was the biggest hole in the Sharks defense. This season, with a better defensive partner, he’s still the biggest issue on the roster, but to his credit, it’s a smaller issue than it had been. Still, he struggles to produce. He is a decent defender in his own end and can clear the zone well enough, but he had a single point through 25 games and only manages about a shot on goal per 60 minutes.
6 St. Louis Blues
Best: Vladimir Tarasenko
Left-winger Vladimir Tarasenko, the 24-year-old Russian phenom now in his fifth season with the St. Louis Blues, is quietly building towards superstar status. He entered this season with back-to-back 70-point seasons and is now on pace to break 80 points on one of the best teams in the Western Conference. His combined speed, stickhandling, and vision for the game are far advanced for the typical forward of his age, and he will challenge for the NHL scoring title every season. He currently leads the Blues in all scoring categories and combines with Kevin Shattenkirk for one of the best power-play duos in the league.
Worst: Jay Bouwmeester
This one was a little bit tough to identify, but once you take a deep dive into Jay Bouwmeester’s defensive numbers, he gets the unfortunate nod for worst on the Blues. Once a productive two-way rearguard, Bouwmeester has failed to eclipse the 20-point plateau the last couple of seasons, and it doesn’t look good for this year either. But he’s still got his solid defending skills to lean on, right? Try again. He is currently worst on the team with 16 giveaways and his plus/minus rating is bad and falling. He’s not the most terrible player in the league, but he’s bad enough to earn worst in St. Louis.
5 Tampa Bay Lighting
Best: Nikita Kucherov
Dynamic, skillful, on fire. They’re all terms that have been used to describe fourth-year winger Nikita Kucherov this season –and for good reason. Through 27 games, he led the team in basically every offensive category: points, goals, assists, power-play points, game-winning goals and plus/minus rating just to name a few. He has stepped up with a workhorse dedication in the absence of the injured Steven Stamkos, and the Lightning are a better team because of it.
Worst: Jason Garrison
What Jason Garrison lacks in offensive output, the D-man also doesn’t quite make up for in the defensive zone. Sure, he’s a big dude who plays with grit and dishes out some hard hits, but the fact is that he has one of the worst plus/minus ratings on the Lightning and has a deficit of more than two times the amount of giveaways as he does takeaways. Sorry, Jason, but you’re the worst.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs
Best: Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews solidified his spot on this list very early, when he became the first player in the modern era to score four goals in his very first NHL game. The Toronto Maple Leafs took him with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and wasted no time injecting him into the lineup. Through 25 games this year, all the 19-year-old out of Scottsdale, Arizona had done is score a team-high 11 goals, eight assists and hurl an average of nearly four shots on goal each game. He has ridiculous stickhandling skills, a nasty wrist shot and a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. This kid is going to be good for a long, long time.
Worst: Morgan Rielly
Don’t get me wrong; Morgan Rielly has the ability to get some points. In fact, he led the Maple Leafs with 13 assists through 25 games, so the offense is there. But, man, he is a turnover machine. Like, for real. He just doesn’t have puck discipline. Twenty-five games in, Rielly had a whopping 34 giveaways. That’s how you end up with one of the worst plus/minus ratings on the team. For as much as he contributes offensively, he’s much worse on defense. It should tell you something that he’s never finished better than a -14 in a season.
3 Vancouver Canucks
Best: Henrik and Daniel Sedin
These identical twins are so much alike, they are literally an exact mirror image of each other on the ice. That said, it’s hard to put one ahead of the other as far as skill and value to the team. Hence, both. Obviously they are the best skaters in Vancouver. Anyone with a pair of eyes and a lick of knowledge about hockey knows that. But what is crazy, is that their stat lines are nearly indistinguishable. They lead the team in points, power-play points and points per game and even have a matching faceoff winning percentage. It’s uncanny, I’m telling you.
Worst: Jack Skille
There’s not a whole lot to say about Jack Skille. He’s a fourth-liner who has bounced around both the AHL and NHL ever since he turned pro in 2007. He’s proven to be a solid AHL guy, but he just can’t quite hack it in the big leagues. His career-high was 28 points with the Florida Panthers back in 2011-12, but now on his fifth NHL team in Vancouver, he’s barely getting eight minutes a game and had three points through 20 games.
2 Washington Capitals
Best: Nicklas Backstrom
Nope, not Alex Ovechkin. This season, centerman Nicklas Backstrom has been the best player on the Washington Capitals. He leads the team in assists, points, power-play points and points per game. You can’t say that about Ovechkin no matter how good he has been in the past. Mr. Consistency, Backstrom is right on pace to have his fourth consecutive 70-point season and compliments the goal-scoring abilities of linemate Ovechkin quite well.
Worst: Lars Eller
Forward Lars Eller hasn’t adjusted very well to his new team. He was traded to Washington from the Montreal Canadiens over the summer, and despite his past effectiveness as a defensive, two-way player, he has been inconsistent this year. Plus, he’s taking a lot of penalties, something quite uncharacteristic of him. He only had three points through 24 games this year and was worst on the team in the plus/minus department.
1 Winnipeg Jets
Best: Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele is the only Winnipeg Jet who is averaging a point per game this year. He leads the team in scoring, has a lethally accurate shot and can even foil opposing forwards in the defensive zone with a well-timed stick-lift. He is strong on the puck and can make difficult plays in his sleep. Yes Patrik Laine will top him on this list eventually, but give him a break. The kid’s only 18 and has a few more things to learn. Scheifele gets the nod here.
Worst: Alexander Burmistrov
You wouldn’t know it by the way he plays the game, but Alexander Burmistrov was a first-round pick only six years ago. Nowadays, he just wallows around on the Jets’ fourth line looking like a lifetime fourth-liner. It’s sad, really. He was a highly touted scorer coming out of the OHL but hasn’t done anything to live up to those expectations. This season, he had no goals and a mere two assists through 23 games and was being tossed around in the trade rumor mill.
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