The NHL Network has revealed its full Top-50 players list in advance of the 2021-22 season. After initially releasing 10-player segments beginning with No. 50-40 four weeks back, the league’s American NHL leader included three members of the Winnipeg Jets on its annual rankings release.
Officially including four goaltenders, 11 defencemen and 35 forwards, the Top-50 players saw forwards take eight of the Top-10 spots, including positions No. 1 through six. Andrei Vasilevskiy (7) was the highest ranked goaltender, while Victor Hedman (8) was the No. 1 defenceman.
Winnipeg saw three players from its roster earn places on the list, including two forwards and one goaltender. Kyle Connor earned the 40th spot, while Mark Scheifele picked up the No. 24 ranking. Netminder Connor Hellebuyck is the No. 2 ranked backstop, finding a home at the 29 spot.
24. Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets
Scheifele led the Jets with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games last season and has finished third or better each season since 2015-16. He led Winnipeg in power-play points (17) and was second among Jets forwards in blocked shots (38; Andrew Copp, 41). Scheifele is one of two NHL players to have scored at least 20 goals and 60 points in six straight seasons (Brad Marchand). He also leads the Jets and is 10th in the NHL with 220 points (88 goals, 132 assists) the past three seasons.
“A great big, rangy guy, plays with a lot of pace, he’s got top-end speed and he’s a really great distributor,” Grimson said. “Sees the game exceptionally well, processes it at a higher level. … The kind of guy you want to have out there each and every night at the center position because he’s a bear inside the face-off circle but also very capable of shutting down top-six offensive players from the other side.”
29. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck, who won the Vezina Trophy voted as the best goalie in the NHL in 2019-20, was 24-17-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and four shutouts in 45 games last season. He faced the most shots (1,335) and made the most saves (1,223) among all goalies for the third straight season. Since 2017-18, Hellebuyck is second in the NHL with 133 wins, behind Andrei Vasilevskiy (149), and third with 18 shutouts, behind Marc-Andre Fleury (23) and Vasilevskiy (22).
“He checks all the boxes where elite-level goaltenders are concerned,” Grimson said. “He’s big, he’s rangy, very flexible, very determined. … Really a remarkable collection of attributes in Connor Hellebuyck.”
40. Kyle Connor, LW, Winnipeg Jets
Connor led the Jets with 26 goals last season and was second with 50 points, behind forward Mark Scheifele (63). Since 2017-18, Connor leads the Jets with 129 goals, 18 more than Scheifele. Connor has scored at least 26 goals and at least 11 power-play points in each of his past four NHL seasons. He is one of four players to score at least 26 goals in each of the past four seasons (Brad Marchand, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews).
“The hardest thing to do in the NHL is to score goals and Kyle Connor has a great gift of it,” NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson said. “We talk about his goal scoring. … You don’t score as much as he does without being able to score in every different kind of way. He has all the kinds of shots, whether it’s in tight, from distance, wrist shot, backhand, snap shot, dekes, whatever it might be, he can do it all.”
The full To-50 player ranking is listed below: