NHL Power Rankings: Top 20 players of 2020

NHL Power Rankings
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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.

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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.

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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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