The best thing about assessing the performance of NHL players in the calendar year of 2013 is you don’t have to worry about figuring out which of his 2012-13 stats belong to 2012 and which belong to 2013. Thanks to the spat between the billionaires and the millionaires, the 2012-13 season didn’t begin until Jan. 19.
There was a bevy of outstanding year-long performances in 2013, both in and outside the NHL. So with no further ado, here are thn.com’s Top 10 Players of 2013.
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: Crosby would have won the scoring championship in 2012-13 if he hadn’t missed the last quarter of the season because of injury. Although it wasn’t enough to win the Hart Trophy, Crosby managed to impress his peers enough to win the Ted Lindsay Award. Crosby leads all scorers at the Christmas break and despite his injury last season, no player has scored more than the 125 points, including playoffs, Crosby has in 2013.
2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: As of the NHL’s Christmas break, Kane had only two fewer points than Crosby in 2013. Kane’s two-way game has improved dramatically and more importantly, he made no headlines off the ice. His Blackhawks were one of the most dominant teams in NHL history and won the Stanley Cup, with Kane winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. So far this season, Kane has been the most productive player on the second-best team in the NHL.
3. Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild: Despite dealing with the effects of multiple sclerosis, Harding put up spectacular numbers with the Wild in the first half of the 2013-14 season and wrested the No. 1 job in Minnesota from Niklas Backstrom. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association thought so highly of his perseverance that they awarded him the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, despite the fact Harding played just five regular-season games in 2012-13.
4. Connor McDavid, Erie Otters: It was an exceptional year for an exceptional 16-year-old player. McDavid lived up to hype and more by winning the Ontario League’s rookie of the year in 2013, then performed his greatest feat when he led Canada’s Under 18 to the World Championship with 14 points while being named MVP of the tournament. After scoring 12 goals and 50 points in his first 31 games with Erie this season, McDavid cracked the lineup of the Canadian world junior team as a 16-year-old.
5. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Including playoffs, Ovechkin has scored a league-high 63 goals in 2013, but was limited to just one goal in seven games in the playoffs. He became the second player in NHL history to be named a first-team all-star at different positions and the first to be named to the first team at two different positions in the same season (ugh). Establishing himself as the league’s pre-eminent goal scorer, Ovechkin is back in a big way.
6. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche surprised the world by taking MacKinnon first overall and the 18-year-old rewarded their faith with an impressive start to his NHL career. He also won a Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads, winning MVP honors with 13 points in just four games.
7. Sergei Mozyakin, Metallurg Magnitogorsk: Who is Sergei Mozyakin, you ask? Well, he’s the most dangerous man in Russia these days. He was drafted 263rd overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002 and played four games for the Val d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec League. He also led the KHL in scoring last season and is leading it again so far in 2012-13. He was not invited to Russia’s Olympic team summer camp. Something to do with him being 32 years old. Not bad for an old guy.
8. Amanda Kessel, University of Minnesota: Blake Kessel’s little sister had quite a year on the ice, leading the University of Minnesota to the NCAA title and USA to the World Women’s Championship. She also won the Patty Kazmier Award as the top player in women’s college hockey and scored the game winner in USA’s 3-2 victory over Canada in the gold medal game of the world championship. Her other brother, Phil, also plays a little.
9. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens: Pernell Karl was named the winner of the Norris Trophy last season, largely on the strength of his offensive game and that has not dipped so far in 2013-14. No defenseman in the NHL has scored more points than the 69 Subban has registered – including playoffs – in the calendar year of 2013.
10. Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins: Might seem like an odd inclusion, but including playoffs, Kunitz has been on the ice for 48 more goals scored than against so far in 2013, which is tops in the NHL. He’s also one of the only players to maintain a high plus-minus last season and so far this season. And his play, with and without Sidney Crosby, has been exemplary.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. To read more from Ken and THN’s other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.