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October 5, 2011
Player Power Rankings
Alex Ovechkin Tops List

by Timo Seppa and ESPN Insider

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A new season is nearly upon us, and Hockey Prospectus will again monitor the Hart Trophy race. Periodically throughout the season, the prospectus will provide updated standings for the top 10 skaters and top five goalies in the NHL -- Player Power Rankings -- based on HP's proprietary value metric, GVT, which includes both offensive, defensive and shootout components. To get things started for the 2011-12 season, Prospectus turns to its VUKOTA projections to see which players appear to be heading for big things in the campaign to come.

The following represents the most valuable projected players for 2011-12.

Player Power Rankings: Skaters

These rankings are based on VUKOTA projections.

Legend:

OGVT: Offensive GVT

GGVT: Goaltending GVT

DGVT: Defensive GVT

SGVT: Shootout GVT

GVT: Total GVT

Rank Player                                    OGVT/GGVT  DGVT  SGVT   GVT
1.   Alex Ovechkin, F, Washington Capitals     17.1       3.5    0.0   20.5

Comment: Ovechkin is so talented that a 32-goal, 85-point campaign was considered a bust. Although his shooting percentage (8.7 percent) should rebound, Washington's captain needs to prove that he still can get as many shots on net as in previous seasons.

2.   Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning    17.5       2.0   -0.1   19.4   

Comment: It has become a three-way discussion as to who is the best player in hockey, with Stamkos joining the big two. (No offense, Corey Perry.) We're projecting the Bolts' fourth-year forward for a league-leading 47 goals and a career-best 98 points.

3.   Sidney Crosby, F, Pittsburgh Penguins     15.7       2.7    0.1   18.5

Comment: Crosby was having a season for the ages that would have produced 64 goals and 132 points had he been able to continue at the same pace for 41 more games. It's all about health for the Pens' captain; this projection assumes 70 games played, which is likely optimistic.

 
4.   Corey Perry, F, Anaheim Ducks             14.7       2.9   -0.1   17.5

Comment: Last season's MVP, Perry headlines some top-shelf talent in Anaheim, including Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, Jonas Hiller and Lubomir Visnovsky. But the sorely lacking bottom half of the Ducks' lineup hasn't improved much.

5.   Daniel Sedin, F, Vancouver Canucks        14.1       2.7    0.0   16.8

Comment: VUKOTA pegged a downturn in production for the Hart Trophy-winning Henrik Sedin for 2010-11, and looks for twin brother Daniel to likewise come down from 104 points to 86. Alain Vigneault's favorable situational usage could mean that he splits the difference, though.

6.   Anze Kopitar, F, Los Angeles Kings        10.9       4.6    0.1   15.6    

Comment: Kopitar was having a Selke Trophy-caliber season before he missed the final couple of weeks with a broken ankle. He'll be in the hunt for the hardware again in 2011-12.

7.   Dustin Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets        11.1       4.5    0.0   15.5    

Comment: Byfuglien got some bad press this offseason, but his offensive talent from the blue line should make him a favorite in Winnipeg.

8.   Patrick Kane, F, Chicago Blackhawks       12.6       2.9    0.0   15.5     

Comment: Kane's primary assist rate dropped from 0.97 per 60 minutes to 0.59 per 60 minutes. That should improve, as should the former Calder Trophy winner's point total.

9.   Jeff Skinner, F, Carolina Hurricanes      13.0       2.1    0.0   15.1     

Comment: VUKOTA is normally quite conservative about projecting rookies for big improvements, so when you see a bump up to 36 goals and 78 points, take notice. Skinner might not have been a better Calder candidate than fellow finalists Michael Grabner and Logan Couture, but he just might have the best career.

10.  Jonathan Toews, F, Chicago Blackhawks     10.9       3.5    0.2   14.6     

Comment: The Chicago captain does it all, from offense to defense to faceoffs to shootouts. In fact, expect Toews to exceed the projection at least in terms of his shootout value.

Player Power Rankings: Goalies

These rankings are based on VUKOTA projections.

Rank Player                                    OGVT/GGVT  DGVT  SGVT   GVT

1.   Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers     16.8       0.3    0.8   17.9   

Comment: Rarely do players exhibit repeatable talent in the shootout, but Lundqvist has proved to be such a player. Although every point has counted for New York over the past couple of seasons, VUKOTA projects the young, talented Rangers to be near the top of the Eastern Conference. That means those extra points Lundqvist earns them in the shootout may just be gravy.

2.   Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens        14.6      -0.3    0.4   14.7     

Comment: The Montreal Canadiens have been better than average simply because of their excellent goaltending the past few seasons. They certainly need Price to be a top-five goalie to have a shot at the postseason.

 
3.   Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres               14.1      -0.3   -0.1   13.7

Comment: Miller is trying to follow in Tim Thomas' footsteps with a Vezina Trophy-winning season (.929 save percentage) followed by a good season (.916 save percentage) followed by another Vezina season. It's certainly possible.

4.   Pekka Rinne G, Nashville Predators        12.3       0.3    0.6   13.5

Comment: If you put stock in such things, Rinne is playing for a contract in 2011-12. With another above-average season, he'll garner a big-money deal, likely not in Nashville.

5.   Cam Ward, G, Carolina Hurricanes          14.2      -0.8    0.1   13.4    

Comment: Ward is coming off his best season. But where's all-world Tim Thomas? For those concerned, he's just a little below our cut line at 13.3 GVT.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.

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Stats and Fury (10/04)
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