NHL Power Rankings: Top 20 players of 2020

NHL Power Rankings

Pro Hockey Talk is taking a look back at the year in hockey. We’ll be presenting you with the best goals, saves, moments, players and more as we remember 2020.

In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we are taking a look back at the top players from 2020.

A few important points to consider for this week’s rankings.

• This is not a ranking of the best players going into the 2021 season, or an overall ranking of NHL players today, or a ranking of overall career accomplishments. It is exactly what it says — the top players from 2020.

• We are only taking into account what took place during the calendar year of 2020. So performances from Jan. 1, 2020 through the end of the playoffs 

Who all makes the list?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche. MacKinnon had a great end to the regular season and looked like the single most dominant player in the bubble. His 25 postseason points were fourth best in the playoffs even though his team did not play beyond the Second Round. Every shift he looked like he was going to take over the game by himself. This is why he tops this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

2. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. For all of the superstar talent the Lightning have at forward, Hedman is probably the most impactful player on the team. Dominant performance in the playoffs that saw him win the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. It is almost unfair to put a goalie this good behind a team this good. Vasilevskiy played 49 games in 2020 (regular season and playoffs combined) and posted a 36-12-1 record to go with a .928 save percentage. He also played every single minute of hockey for Tampa in the bubble on their way to a Stanley Cup. He was the only goalie to play every minute for his team in the bubble. He did it for a Stanley Cup champion, and at a ridiculously high level.

4. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. Just a dominant offensive season that wrapped up with 48 points in 29 regular season games after January 1. That would be a 137-point over 82 games. He followed that up with a pair of three-point games in the bubble, only to have the Oilers lose both games. I can’t hold that against him. He did his part.

5. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers. Injury limited him to just 22 regular season games after the new year, but he was still one of the most dominant offensive players in the league.

[MORE: 25 best players under age 25]

6. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. Another magnificent year that was capped off by being the top scorer in the postseason.

7. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars. If the Stars had won the Stanley Cup he probably would have been the Conn Smythe winner to cap off a remarkable postseason performance. The Norris Trophy is in his future.

8. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Tampa pipeline just keeps churning out stars. He not only had big numbers, he also scored scored a series-clinching goal in overtime, ended a five overtime game, and set up another series clinching goal.

9. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers. Zibanejad was incredible for the Rangers during the season, and closed out the regular season with an insane run starting on January 1 that saw him score 25 goals and record 44 points in 31 games. Do not expect him to score on 20 percent of his shots again, but he has been a top-line player in New York for three years now.

10. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers. Panarin’s first season in New York produced one of the finest offensive seasons in franchise history. 

11. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks. Pettersson is one of the young emerging superstars in the league and is going to help put Vancouver back on the NHL map. Must-see player every game.

12. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins. The 2019 portion of his season was better than the 2020 portion, but that does not mean the latter part was not also great. He tied Alex Ovechkin for the goal scoring crown this season. He might win it outright this season.

[MORE: Seattle Kraken coaching candidates]

13. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored 22 goals in 34 games (regular season and playoffs) after January 1 (a 53-goal pace over 82 games) and posted dominant possession numbers. Not his fault the Maple Leafs flamed out again.

14. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. He is still able to put the Penguins on his back and carry them. He was also one of the few bright spots for them in the bubble.

15. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes. A magnificent two-way player, and he was sensational in the playoffs for the Hurricanes.

16. Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights. He does not usually get mentioned among the league’s elite defensemen, but he played like one in 2020 and was one of the best players in the bubble.

17. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars. What a journey his career has been. Always a strong backup, Khudobin took advantage of his opportunity in Dallas this year and ran with it, helping to carry the Stars to the Cup Final. He had a .922 save percentage in 39 games in 2020.

18. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins. He knew he needed to have a bounce-back season, and he did. The playoff showing in the bubble, like the rest of his Penguins teammates, was rough though.

19. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Still the last player you want to see on the ice when your team is shorthanded. He played 35 games after January 1 (regular season and playoffs) and scored 28 goals, including No. 700. That is insane.

20. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks. Toews has bounced back offensively the past two seasons, and he had an especially strong finish in 2020. He was one of the driving forces behind their play-in round upset win over Edmonton.

Just missing the NHL Power Rankings cut

Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Roman Josi (Nashville Predators), J.T. Miller (Vancouver Canucks), Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres), Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks), Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), Kyle Connor (Winnipeg Jets), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers), Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche), Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina Hurricanes)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

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    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

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    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.