Yesterday we looked at ESPN’s list of the top 50 ranked defenseman. Justin Schultz made the list coming in at number 40 and today the experts ranked the leagues top 50 forwards, or so who they believe to be deserving of such a nomination. Not surprising the Oilers again are represented and this time it’s a pair of players who wear the copper and blue. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle both made the list to no one’s surprise. But the rankings may not sit well with some Oilers fans.
Hall came in at number 27 with a ranking of 7.52. Remember, the experts base the players on a scale from 1 to 10 based on their play. Eberle wound up at number 39 with a value of 6.78, leaving both players lower than they should be.
Let’s start with Hall. He’s coming off his best season as a pro where he averaged over a point per game last year with the Oilers. Hall has emerged as the team’s leader and true identity, finishing in the top ten of league scoring least season, albeit an abbreviated schedule. Quite an accomplishment none the less.
When looking at some of the players that finished with a higher rating than Hall, it’s simply mind boggling. David Krejci of the Boston Bruins slightly edged out Hall, as did Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. Both are great player and deserving of being on the list but if I had to choose between the two of them and Hall on who to take with the first pick, it’s a no brainer. Hall all the way.
Phil Kessel was shown some love by the media coming in at number 20 on the list, but then again the Toronto media both love and hate Kessel. Clearly on this day they love him and feel he’s deserving of such a high ranking.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks landing at number 13 on the list. Last season he finished with 37 points in 48 games and over the course of his career, he has similar numbers to Hall. Couture has played in 232 career games to Hall’s 171 and their point per game average comparison tilts to the Oilers star forward. Couture has a 0.71 PPG while Hall is at 0.84 PPG through the first three years.
So how Couture is deserving of such a high ranking while Hall is left outside the top 25 is beyond me. Again, the media adores Couture which perhaps has something to do with it. Call me bias if you want, but Hall deserves to be higher on the list.
The same could be said for Eberle but to a lesser degree. Coming at 39th is not reflective of Eberle’s talents when you consider the likes of Loui Erikkson, Brad Marchand and Ryan Callahan ahead of him.
Marchand plays a different style of game and has been the beneficiary of playing on the Bruins top two lines to help pad his offensive numbers. Erikkson and Callahan are both excellent players, again I’m taking Eberle with his dynamic hands and ability to read the ice if having to choose between the aforementioned trio of players.
There have been plenty of rankings on the top forwards this summer, who will finish in the top 25 in league scoring, who’s the better defenseman etc. In the end, this Oilers fan tends to feel players like Eberle and Hall get the shaft and don’t get the recognition they deserve. Watching these two dazzle on a nightly basis is somewhat of a treat and maybe the underdog role will only help prove doubters wrong this season, providing these two can lead the Oilers back to the playoffs. If they can accomplish that mission then perhaps they’ll get the full credit they so rightfully deserve.
Then again, this is ESPN we’re talking about who didn’t include Nail Yakupov in the top 100 and instead of have Sven Baertschi of the Calgary Flames in the last spot. Really ESPN?
It is worth nothing that both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner were mentioned in the ESPN article, they just weren’t in the top 50. RNH narrowly missed the list coming in at 51 with a 6.78 ranking while Gagner was further down at number 69 with a 6.35 ranking.
Take it for what it’s worth, but it’s fun to sort through the lists and see where the media feels the Oilers young stars are in comparison to the leagues best players. Not surprising Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin finished 1,2 on the list.