Well its getting close to training camp time in the NHL, and that means it time for some preaseason predictions and rankings. I'll be putting my conference and award predictions up soon and here is my ranking of the top 60 players in the NHL.
1. Sidney Crosby - No brainer here.
2. Alex Ovechkin - Doesn't quite have the championship pedigree to reach Crosby, defenseman also starting to figure him out a bit.
3. Ryan Getzlaf - The pre-eminent power forward in the league, his combination of size and skill (his hands are amazingly soft for such a big player) is rivaled by only Malkin, but Getzlaf plays a much more physical game. Will be in line for a huge year if injuries don't get in his way again.
4. Ryan Miller - Will keep mediocre Sabre squads in the playoff mix for years, has the ability to carry a team on his back (USA 2010 Olympics) and is also a great leader off the ice.
5. Pavel Datsyuk - One of very few forwards who can play as well as he does defensively while keeping up a very high standard of offensive play. And his repertoire of offensive moves is seemingly endless.
6. Duncan Keith - The first in a group of very, very good young defenseman, Keith truly is an all around defenseman and his skating is second to none. His work at the Olympics was truly remarkable and he was jobbed out of a Conn Smythe this past spring after a phenomenal playoff.
7. Drew Doughty - This young man should at the very worst be a Norris finalist for years to come. His poise at such a young age bodes very well for the future and he proved in the Olympics he is able to play on a big stage. The definition of a franchise defenseman.
8. Shea Weber - That Weber has not won a Norris trophy yet is hard to believe with the performances he has had in recent seasons. His shot is pure power, he has had a shot literally go through the net, and if you still don't believe it, ask fellow Pred Martin Erat, who spent some time on the shelf last year with a broken leg thanks to Weber's rocket.
9. Nicklas Backstrom - On a team full of star power, Backstrom has flown under the radar his first few seasons but that is starting to change. One of the best, if not the best pure passers in the game today, he also excels on the defensive side and even garnered a few Selke votes this past season.
10. Evgeni Malkin - Once a no-brainer in the top three on this list, Malkin's status has slipped a bit due to injuries and he should have no problem vaulting back up this list with a motivated and productive season.
11. Joe Thornton - Erased some of the post-season questions last year, but the doubters will be there until he lifts the Cup. Still, his regular seasons performances can't be argued with and he should be in line for another 100 point season.
12. Jonathan Toews - The leader of the best team in hockey last year, Toews is mature beyond his years and knows how to put everything together on the ice. His point totals will never be quite as high as some other players on this list but he will gladly keep his Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy, thank you very much.
13. Henrik Sedin - Came into his own this past year when brother Daniel went out for a few games with injury, then after Daniels return was an unstoppable point-producing machine.
14. Zach Parise - Lost in shuffle of the Kovalchuk drama this off-season was the fact that one of the top wingers in the league is already playing for the Devils. He remains a little more unknown than he should be, but one big season from this reliable two way forward should change that.
15. Eric Staal - His list of accomplishments by his age is very impressive and he is now faced with the challenge of leading a Hurricanes team back to the playoffs. With the retirement of former captain Rod Brind'Amour, this team is now his in every sense of the word.
16. Zdeno Chara - The man is a beast. He's huge, he's strong, and he knows how to play the game. Look for the Bruins to lock up their cornerstone before he hits free agency this summer.
17. Mike Green - The best offensive defenseman in the game, Green flourishes under coach Bruce Boudreau's system and can be counted on to put up top offensive numbers from the blueline once again.
18. Ilya Kovalchuk - Pure offense, he will need to proof he was worth the hassle by producing now and in the playoffs and proving he isn't one of those guys destined to be a good player on perpetually bad teams.
19. Steven Stamkos - Last years breakout sensation, Stamkos was a co-winner of the Richard trophy and after another summer of Gary Roberts' rigorous off-season training he shouldn't take a step back at all.
20. Marc Savard - His season of turmoil was followed by an off-season of the same, with trade rumors swirling around all summer. When healthy, he always puts up huge numbers, and he should have plenty of room on the ice this season with bruising forwards Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton running around and putting his passes past opposition goalies.
21. Rick Nash - Seems destined to follow the Jarome Iginla path, loyal to the organization that won't get him the one thing he really needs, which is a true number one center. Still, one of the top forwards in the game and has added a defensive component in recent seasons.
22. Ilya Bryzgalov - Everyone on the Coyotes admits that this guy was the real reason that they were such a good team last year and always gives them confidence that he can make up for their mistakes.
23. Daniel Sedin - Produced at just as high of a rate as Henrik last year, only he missed a handful of games due to injury. Puts the puck in the net as often and as well as anyone else.
24. Martin St. Louis - Showed he still has it in him at his age, putting up his best numbers since his Hart Trophy season. New GM Steve Yzerman wisely made getting his name on a contract extension his top priority, and lucky for Tampa Bay fans St. Louis bought into Yzermans gameplan.
25. Henrik Zetterberg - Numbers slipped a bit last year, but still an impressive two-way force every time he was on the ice.
26. Nicklas Lidstrom - His run of Norris trophies appears to be over, but still a top defenseman in the game and anyone who plays with or against him will attest he's better than ever.
27. Martin Brodeur - No one can deny he suffered from such a high workload in recent years, but the Devils offseason acquisition of Johan Hedberg to back him up shows that this may finally be the year he gets the rest he needs.
28. Miikka Kiprusoff - Realistically, probably the only thing keeping the Flames from being basement dwellers this year. Time will tell if he has enough to get them into the playoffs, but if he can replicate or even improve on his performance from last year they will have a chance.
29. Mike Richards - Disappointed himself with his performance in the Finals, but rest assured he will use it as motivation for the future.
30. Patrick Kane - One of the most exciting players to watch in the Western Conference, he is brash, confident, and all offense.
31. Anze Kopitar - Was holding the NHL scoring lead last season before linemate and mentor Ryan Smyth went down with injury, he should be able to return to those levels this year and his defensive game is above average as well.
32. Patrick Marleau - Signed an extension to stay in San Jose for the foreseeable future, which bodes well for his personal success and for the success of the team. At times he seems to score at will and playing with Thornton is a boon.
33. Jaroslav Halak - If ever a player deserved consideration for the Conn Smythe without even making it to the finals, its Halak. Blues management jumped on the opportunity to acquire him this season and won't regret it.
34. Marian Gaborik - All bets are off when it comes to him staying healthy for a second straight year, but he proved last season that when he can stay on the ice he is among the elite scorers in the league.
35. Dion Phaneuf - Has faltered dramatically the past couple seasons, but the change of scenery and confidence that has been shown in him by Leafs management should be enough for him to turn it around and he should be in line for a monster season.
36. Dany Heatley - There will always be questions about his off-ice issues, but Heatley remains one of the few players in the league who you can jot down for 40 plus goals and know you won't be disappointed.
37. Alex Semin - Although the way he disappeared in the playoffs was almost as impressive as the way he can put the puck in the net, Semin is a pure sniper and if placed in the right situations has the potential to score every time he's on the ice.
38. Dan Boyle - One of the more consistent defensemen in the league, Boyle has been playing at a high level since his Cup days in Tampa Bay and his experience on the blueline is huge for the Sharks.
39. Chris Pronger - Pronger always seems to know how to get everybody's attention focused on him, and he did this to perfection in the Finals against Chicago. Knows how to play the game and keep himself fresh to play as many minutes as he can.
40. Henrik Lundqvist - Stuck on a consistently disappointing team in New York, the Rangers would be a yearly lottery team if it wasn't for his heroics in net.
41. Daniel Alfredsson - Getting older, but his game is sharp as ever and he continues to produce. A gimme to have his #11 retired at the end of his playing days, Alfredsson is still the face of the franchise.
42. Jarome Iginla - No longer a lock to hit 40 goals, Iginla is still one of the top leaders in the game but the lack of a true number one center is affecting him more than ever these days. A very streaky scorer, he has the ability to once again carry this team on his back and perform as a top 10 player in the league, its just no longer a guarantee that he will anymore.
43. Roberto Luongo - Yeah, he was in net for Canada as they won gold in the Olympics, but anyone watching the tournament knows he didn't steal those games by any means, and his second straight poor playoffs resonates poorly. When on top of his game though, Luongo appears as though he can't be beaten.
44. Jeff Carter - Injuries limited his year, but managements unwillingness to trade his easily movable contract while they had cap issues of their own proved how much he means to the Flyers.
45. Paul Stastny - An offensive leader on a surprising Avs team and with him and Matt Duchene down the middle this team is in good hands for years to come.
46. Shane Doan - Will be one of the most motivated players in the league this year, he worked so hard to get his team to the playoffs last year and then to be injured after the second game of series with Detroit killed him. The leader of the Coyotes will be itching to get back to the playoffs all year.
47. Mike Cammalleri - His great playoff performance for the Canadiens was overshadowed by Halak's heroics but did not go unnoticed. Has scored at every level, and continues to do so. Cammalleri thrives with the media in a tough environment, a must in Montreal.
48. Brad Richards - Enjoyed a bounce-back season, putting up 91 points for a poor Dallas team. Entering his contract year, you can expect more of the same from the former Smythe winner.
49. Vincent Lecavalier - On this list due to his past performances, he needs to show he can return to that level this year. With a new, strong offensive cast around him this year in Tampa, he has the perfect opportunity.
50. Corey Perry - A guy who seems to win wherever he goes, he is one of the more reliable players in the league and one of the most effective at getting under the skin of his opponents.
Honorable mentions: Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, Jordan Staal, Mark Streit, Marc-Andre Fleury, Johan Franzen, Bobby Ryan, Brent Seabrook, Sergei Gonchar