Canada boasts plenty of talent in the National Hockey League, but some players’ greatness has separated them from the pack.
In honor of Canada Day on July 1, let’s dive into the top five current Canadian greats in the NHL.
1. Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
Even though Connor McDavid has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup, it’s hard to make an argument against him at the top of this list. Team success ultimately does play a factor, but McDavid continued to put up absurd numbers this season, leading the NHL with more than 105 points for the second consecutive season. If you were starting a franchise from scratch, not picking McDavid would be a criminal offense. He’s 25 years old and has already won two Hart Trophies, four Art Ross Trophies, and three Ted Lindsay Awards. If McDavid can continue to perform like this and add some Stanley Cups to the mix, there’s little doubt he’ll go down as one of the greatest players ever to play the game.
2. Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)
Cale Makar solidified his position in the second spot after winning a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and the Norris Trophy in the same season. You can make a case that his Colorado Avalanche teammate should be ahead of him, but the way that Makar controls a game with his high skill level and elite skating makes him a player that is incredibly unique in today’s NHL. There are debates about whether a number one center or number one defenceman is more important, but Makar is in a class of his own amongst the NHL’s best defensemen, which helps him take this spot on the list. The Calgary, Alberta native finished his third NHL season with 86 points, including 28 goals.
3. Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
The Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup since 2001 this season, and a lot of that credit can go to Nathan MacKinnon. The star center finished the team’s playoff run with 24 points, tallying 88 in just 65 games during the regular season. MacKinnon’s lack of hardware has him outside the top two, with a Calder Trophy in 2014 and a Lady Byng in 2020 to his name. He is one of the most competitive players in the NHL and is still in his prime at 26 years old. With speed, power, and two-way efficiency a part of his arsenal, MacKinnon will continue to be a significant threat in the league for the next decade.
4. Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Many people wondered whether Steven Stamkos would start to decline after all the injuries he’s dealt with, but that wasn’t the case last year as he led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final for a third straight year. Even though they ultimately fell to the Avalanche, Stamkos recorded 19 points in 23 playoff games and broke the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career at age 32 with 106 points. Stamkos has continued to be an elite threat in the NHL, and even if he’s about to enter the twilight phase of his career, it’s difficult not to include the former Maurice Richard Trophy winner on this list.
5. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
No list of top current Canadian NHLers would be complete without including the legendary Sidney Crosby. We’d be here for a long time if we were to list all of his career accolades, but some include being a multi-time Conn Smythe and Hart Trophy winner and a three-time Ted Lindsay Award winner. The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups in the Crosby era, and he’s been a massive part of their success since they drafted him first overall in 2005. Crosby saved hockey in Pittsburgh, and even if he’s winding down his remarkable career, he needs to be on this list and will likely go down as a top-five player of all time.
Canada is filled with immense depth in the NHL and produces so many star players. You can make a real argument that any of these three names listed above could jump into the top five, but what makes these lists fun is the debate they create and the personal preference that each star brings to the table.
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