Last week, on Twitter, JFresh did fan polls to find out who the best NHL players are in different positions. Once each individual position was completed for the skaters, he then combined the results of the top 100 skaters as voted on by the people. As he noted, thousands of different people voted for it. Of course, we’ll never know the fandom and disposition of those thousands, but it’s always interesting to see what hockey fanatics (and they have to be fanatics to vote on the hockey player rankings in the middle of summer ) think about who the best players in the league are.
The overall top 100 results can be found in this tweet here. Here is a snapshot of the graph:
In this table, you will see 4 New Jersey Devils players on the roster. For a team that can’t get out of its own way, that’s not terrible all things considered. 32 teams x 4 players would equal 128 players, so the Devils have more than average representation. Jack Hughes leads the Devils with 41 total points, and he was ranked the 11th best center in the league according to the JFresh poll, so people are high on him, as they should be. The talent is clearly there, and there is still considerable room for improvement, so the positive side, already combined with a high floor, is enticing.
Next, Dougie Hamilton ranked 47th overall and was the 15th best defender. Considering his injury last season, it’s hard to argue with that overall. He might have been ranked higher last summer after a few quality seasons in Carolina, but a shortened year isn’t going to help, even if he was good when he was available. After Dougie, Jesper Bratt ranks 73rd overall and 13th among right wingers. If you only look at last season, that’s a huge insult to him. He was, given what you saw last year, absolutely one of the top 5-7 right wingers and one of the top 50 players in the NHL, if not better (the top 5 right wingers in this poll were Kucherov, Marner , Rantanen, Pastrnak and Kane. Difficult to argue them, then Stamkos was 6 years old). Given that we here at AATJ considered him the team’s MVP this year, we could have placed him above Jack at No. 41. However, remember, he only showed that dominance. for a season, and it has to be earned. If he can repeat what he just did next season as well, I think his stock will rise significantly among those filling out those polls.
Finally, and in my opinion, a more legitimate lightweight than Bratt at 73 is Nico Hischier, who came in at 94th, just making the top 100. He was also ranked 28th best center in the league, another terrible lightweight . Look at the other names just above him at 94. Fans who responded to this poll consider him on the same level, or just worse, than Ryan Pulock, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Trevor Zegras and Pavel Buchnevich. These are the skaters ranked 93-90, respectively. I’m sorry, but I take Nico out of the four, and without debate. Kuznetsov has had one hell of a career so far and only had 78 points in 79 regular season games last year, but I still take Nico at 23 vs Kuznetsov at 30, especially since Evgeny gets most of his points from assists. and plays with the greatest goalscorer of our generation. I don’t think I even need to bring up Pulock, and Buchnevich is kind of like Bratt in that he had a dominant year last season, and otherwise he was good but not amazing in New York. Zegras might be a stud and the one you might want to discuss Nico’s takeover, but at 21 and with so little NHL experience, he’s a real wildcard.
I think it’s really true that those who don’t watch Nico regularly and follow the team as closely as we fans just don’t realize how good Nico really is. Like, let’s just jump 30 spots up the leaderboard here. Number 64 is Kevin Fiala, 65 is Brady Tkachuk and 66 is Ryan O’Reilly. Would you like Nico on any or all of these guys? I could certainly argue for him on any of those three points, and I’m sure you could too. Now, just above them, I think it’s starting to get a little more crowded with talent. Number 63 is William Nylander, 62 is Mark Scheifele and 61 is Patrik Laine. Nylander and Scheifele are stallions in my opinion, and Laine might be a controversial player, but you can’t deny his talent. Now, you might still want Nico on some or all of these guys, but it’s definitely coming close. But that’s just the thing. I say the question of who to take, Nico or someone else, starts to get tough at 63 in total. Nico is ranked No. 94 on this list. At a minimum, that underestimates the Devils captain by 30 positions in the standings.
Now you might want to do some other reviews as well. I’m sure we all could. Another, for example, is that Jonas Siegenthaler, the Devils’ best defenseman last season, is not on this list. He was ranked 85th among NHL defensemen, not to mention the top 100 overall. Meanwhile, Damon Severson was ranked No. 57 among defenders, so obviously Siegenthaler was put to sleep by most people responding to this survey. Another solid season from him and things should change. You could even say that Siegenthaler’s position is lighter than Nico’s ranking, and that would be a decent argument. But when I first watched this, my initial shock was how low-ranked Nico was and how people outside of New Jersey obviously don’t watch him the way we do. Will this change? Great question, but only time will tell.