NHL Network ranks top 50 hockey players, Avs have two of the five best

Oct 11, 2022, 12:08 PM
Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar...
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche have some of hockey’s best players, and when a team amasses as many as Denver has, you can end up winning the Stanley Cup.

The Avs were crowned champions earlier this year, and before they kick off another season of games, NHL Network has released its list of the game’s top 50 players. The ranking is littered with Avalanche players, as 10% of it is burgundy and blue. It came as no surprise to see this many Avs on this list, but the order they’re in may shock some.

Coming in first was not an Avalanche, but a player they knocked off on their journey to the top. Connor McDavid was again named the league’s best player and his co-star Leon Draisaitl was ranked fifth. The NHL’s MVP from this past season, Auston Matthews, came in at third.

Splitting the Oilers duo and surrounding the Maple Leaf are Cale Makar at No. 2 and Nathan MacKinnon at No. 4.

“This guy is absolute dynamite,” NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes said. “He brings you out of your seats. … This guy is so fun; he’s so dynamic. … The only person that can stop Connor McDavid is Cale Makar. We saw it in the postseason. … The fact that Cale Makar is coming on the scene and is doing what he’s doing … he is revolutionizing the position.”

Makar has already won nearly every major trophy in hockey, taking home the Norris for league’s best defenseman and Conn Smythe for playoff MVP. The 23-year-old is the first player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, Norris Trophy, Stanley Cup and Hobey Baker Award as the top men’s player in NCAA Division I hockey.

Some in Colorado may still consider MacKinnon, the better player, but it’s hard to see anyone in Avalanche territory having a heated argument over which one is greater. They’re both awesome, and Denver gets to see them both every night.

“No matter which defenseman he’s matched up against or which opposing forward, he can make them pay with his lethal agility and acceleration,” Weekes said. “… He drives the culture out there in Colorado; he approaches the game properly.”

MacKinnon tied for the NHL lead with 13 goals in the playoffs last season. The 27-year-old is tied for fifth in the NHL in assists (275) and is third in points (442) since the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

Makar and MacKinnon also came in at No. 2 and No. 5, with Draisaitl ahead of MacKinnon on Sportsnet’s ranking.

But on the NHL Network list, three more Avs got the cut, Mikko Rantanen was No. 19, Devon Toews No. 39 and Gabriel Landeskog No. 46.


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NHL Network ranks top 50 hockey players, Avs have two of the five best