How many elite players are there in the NHL?

So earlier today I had a bit of a disagreement with Boston 98.5, the Sports Hub producer, Dan Lifshatz, on two different topics. The first one was because I think Bruins rookie forward Anders Bjork has the potential to become an elite winger, and Dan does not, but I will save that argument for another day. The second disagreement was about how many elite players there are. Dan thinks there are around 15 elite players where I think there are at least 30 elite players.

There are around 5-7 franchise players in my opinion (Connor McDavid, Erik Kalsson, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel). Then you have the next tier which is elite players (Backstrom, Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, Doughty, Kane, Benn, Barkov, Scheifele, Subban, Burns, Keith, Gaudreau, Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman, Tavares, Laine, Kopitar, Toews, Ekman-larsson, Weber, Ehlers, Malkin, Price, Holtby, Bobrovsky, Josi, Kessel, Draisaitl, Tarasenko, Forsberg, Seguin). That makes 33 players, and when you add in the players who I said were franchise players, you have 39.

Dan mentioned in a tweet above that he thinks Marchand is borderline elite because he takes so many penalties, and while I won’t look passed Marchand’s penalties, because Dan is right he does do a lot of dumb things, I don’t think it should take away from what he does that’s positive. It is very rare to find a player who can be a front of the line penalty killer and also score 39 goals in a season.

Also in a tweet above, Jared had a good point where he said offensive numbers aren’t all that matters, and that I will agree with, but with a player like Pastrnak you look passed some of their defensive deficiencies because their offensive skill is so much better than other players.

There is another part of elite players that I call “budging elite players”, which I think of as rookies or sophmores who are on their way to being elite in the very near future. That list includes McAvoy, Barzal, Connor, Hischier, Patrick, Boeser, Jost, Keller, Sergachev, Mantha, Nylander, Marner, Provorov and Werenski. Assuming none of the players in the top list fall off and all these guys make that next jump, which is a lot to ask, that makes 52 elite players in the NHL in my opinion.

Let me know how many elite players you think there are in the NHL.

Thank You to Dan and Jared for allowing me to use their tweets in this article be sure to follow them on twitter links are down below.




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