Top 10 Tri-State Area NHL Players
By Daniel Friedman
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York is the biggest sports market in the United States, and it’s a magnet for superstars. The Rangers, Islanders and Devils boast a plethora of talented players.
Here are the 10 best:
10. Frans Nielsen, Islanders
If the concept of a utility player exists in hockey, Nielsen fits the mold perfectly. He can pass, he can shoot, he can kill penalties, he wins faceoffs, he has an impressive track record of scoring on breakaways; basically — you name it, he can do it.
9. Derek Stepan, Rangers
Stepan has really established himself as a very good center, and in a relatively short period of time. Ideally, he’s not a first line center, but as a No. 2, he’s fantastic. Stepan’s a smart playmaker and a hard worker.
8. Kyle Okposo, Islanders
The No. 7 overall pick in 2006, Okposo finally established himself as a star on Long Island last season, recording 69 points in 71 games. Hampered by injuries and doubts surrounding his talent level, things weren’t looking good for him, but he’s picked himself up and rebounded very nicely.
7. Jaroslav Halak, Islanders
He hasn’t played a minute for the Isles yet, but there’s no questioning his talent. Halak is a premiere goaltender in this league and there’s no reason to expect anything less from him going forward.
6. Patrik Elias, Devils
Elias turned 38 in April and put up 53 points in 65 games this past season. He did that after putting up 36 in 48 games the previous year and 71 in 80 games the year before that. No biggie. He is 17 points short of 1,000 for his career.
5. Martin St. Louis, Rangers
Granted, he has not quite lived up to the billing since arriving in New York, but he’s had his moments and clearly got better as time progressed. St. Louis is still an elite talent, and the Rangers wouldn’t have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without him. He should be more like his usual self next season, now that he’s had time to adjust to his new surroundings.
4. Cory Schneider, Devils
How the Devils managed to pry Schneider away from Vancouver in exchange for a single draft pick should require an investigation. How Lou Lamoriello hasn’t been arrested for robbery is even more dumbfounding. Nonetheless, Schneider plays for New Jersey now. With Martin Brodeur on his way out, it’s Schneider’s crease — and probably will be for the next decade or so. He’s that good.
3. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers
Speaking of theft, Glen Sather managed to turn the Scott Gomez fiasco into a major, major plus, after Montreal essentially gift-wrapped this future stud in a trade that, to say the least, did not work out in its favor. McDonagh is either the best or second-best American defenseman, depending on who you ask. Either way, he’s an elite defender, a superb skater and a franchise cornerstone on the blueline.
2. John Tavares, Islanders
The only reason Tavares isn’t first on this list is because of someone else who’s arguably the best at his respective position, but we’ll get to him in a moment. “JT,” as he’s affectionately known in Islander Country, is probably as close to a Sidney Crosby as it gets. He can find the open man, he can find the top shelf, he thinks two steps ahead of the play and he can dominate a game. He’s already been an MVP nominee and probably will be up for that award many more times in the coming years.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
Many would argue that Lundqvist is currently the best goalie in the world. He is extremely steady and positionally sound. He’ll steal hockey games and make it look easy — even though in reality, it is anything but. The Rangers are already one of the better defensive teams in hockey, but combine that with an elite netminder and you’re going to win, often.
Honorable Mention: Rick Nash (Rangers), Dan Boyle (Rangers), Travis Hamonic (Islanders), Jaromir Jagr (Devils), Travis Zajac (Devils)
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