NHL Player Tiers: From Seth Jones to Alex Ovechkin, whose placement did we disagree on most?

Last Thursday we unveiled a listing of the Top 100 gamers in hockey going into the 2022-23 season, separated into tiers. It was an exhaustive challenge, meant to bridge the hole between analytical and conventional minds when it comes to evaluating gamers. That meant gathering opinions from throughout the league.

What we realized: everybody has their favorites.

Hockey is a really troublesome sport to choose when it comes to worth, as a result of what one particular person values ​​could also be drastically completely different from the following. It is perhaps why trades are so troublesome to come by as groups might merely not see eye-to-eye when it comes to how good a participant is. That’s form of the purpose of constructing this listing within the first place: making a little bit of a consensus listing based mostly on the trusted viewpoints of hockey insiders with the chilly exhausting knowledge from revered analysts.

But that additionally meant our personal disagreements from the ultimate listing. The 4 of us — Sean, Shayna, Dom and Corey — all had our personal favourite gamers we want had been increased. We additionally had gamers we want had been decrease. We’re all happy with the ultimate listing and proud of the collaborative effort, however that does not imply we would not change a couple of issues with full management.

If we did, these are the eight gamers who would have been moved up or down… relying on who you ask.


Sean

Andrei Svechnikov

Huh, this was harder than I believed. Guess I received most of my arguments. That stated, for the second straight season, I feel I used to be a little bit of a dissenting voice on Svechnikov. This is the place I’m obliged to say how good he’s, it doesn’t matter what, and the way a lot I like him (professionally and personally), and speak about how good he’s with youngsters and animals, and hyperlink to a Twitter of him doing one thing cute … no matter it takes. We love all these gamers with all our hearts — particularly those you want essentially the most.

That stated, I’m not bought on putting him one sub-tier behind one of the best wingers within the sport. I’m not bought on working him alongside Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane, regardless of how previous they’re. And I’m not fairly down with predicting a serious uptick in projection for a second consecutive season. At 22, in his fifth season, he is approaching “he’s what he’s” territory.


Andrei Svechnikov. (James Guillory/USA Today)

And do not get me fallacious; I’ll take a 30-goal, play-driving energy ahead on my first line any second of any day, however the usual for wingers in our little train is excessive, and we hardly ever give them the good thing about a beneficiant projection. I’m unsure why he is the exception to the rule for a second consecutive season. So it is a minor tweak, however for now — and for a minimum of yet one more season — he is a sub-tier increased than he needs to be. Mix in a brutal playoff and the decision will get slightly simpler.

Jordan Kyrou

I’m conscious of Kyrou’s defensive points — as Craig Berube definitely appears to be — however I nonetheless assume he confirmed sufficient final season to land someplace above 4C. It’s easy sufficient; he is a younger winger coming off a remarkably productive offensive season. He’s gotten higher, yr over yr, and I’m keen to wager that his five-on-five protection will get up to a suitable stage whenever you consider what he brings elsewhere.

Basically, if that is who he has — if he by no means improves, regardless of displaying himself to be a man who does simply that with every passing season — what he brings to the desk already makes him a top-100 participant for me. He deserves the identical advantage of the doubt we prolonged to guys like Jack Hughes and Trevor Zegras.


Shayna

Seth Jones

Tier 4A is crammed with flawed top-pair defenders, however I feel Jones’ flaws ought to push him down a sub-tier, a minimum of. He’s two seasons faraway from being the rover in Columbus which earned him the popularity that he at present has. And certain, the groups round him have actually disintegrated; the Blue Jackets’ inventory fell in his final season there and the Blackhawks are abysmal. While the standard of the crew round him is clearly out of his management, he isn’t separating himself sufficient from his teammates.

On the floor, it is simple to say he is coming off a 51-point season which was the second better of his profession, so there is no means his play has really suffered. But there are a couple of purple flags under the floor for Jones. His on-ice numbers are the worst of his profession. That is not totally shocking contemplating the standard of his groups, however Jones actually is not that a lot of a optimistic affect relative to his teammates. And these regarding developments trickle into his microstats as nicely, like the very fact he is struggling extra along with his breakouts and retrievals.

At this level, there’s sufficient proof to shift him decrease — not essentially off the rankings totally, however a sub-tier or two decrease as a result of Jones hasn’t been at his greatest and doubtless is not going to get there this yr, both.

Jack Hughes

Tier 3A is an excellent place to be, however I really assume Jack Hughes needs to be increased. He’s the participant that a number of sources pointed to as a riser who may discover himself a full tier forward a yr from now. Maybe it is banking slightly an excessive amount of on potential versus what we’ve really seen on the NHL stage to this point, however I feel there’s sufficient for that bump up to a minimum of 2C in the meanwhile.

Two key issues stand out for Hughes: his progress from his rookie yr and the extent he performed at when wholesome in 2021-22. After an terrible yr, Hughes progressed in his sophomore season with out the outcomes to present for it. Then he popped off with 56 factors in 49 video games when wholesome final yr, scoring at an 84-point tempo.

At five-on-five final season, Hughes was a wonderful supply of offense; he was a optimistic for the Devils, relative to his teammates in shot quantity and high quality and in purpose scoring. Hughes was one of many prime forwards at bringing the puck into the offensive zone with management, typically simply carrying it in himself; few gamers had been ready to match what he created in transition. And the middle’s means to keep possession led to cycle possibilities as nicely. Along along with his premier playmaking, Hughes generated a excessive price of scoring possibilities himself and not like in his second NHL season, had the ending expertise to make an affect with these pictures.

That three-year basis — particularly the terrible first season — weighs down his projection for 2022-23. But the expansion over that span is what instills confidence in him to outperform it, together with the truth that he needs to be in a greater place to succeed. Hughes’ 2021-22 play, and the way it ought to assist him hit the bottom working this yr, ought to energy him up a tier.


Dom

Jason Robertson

Last yr there have been 4 prime traces who earned 60 p.c of the anticipated targets collectively: Boston’s, Toronto’s, Calgary’s and Dallas’. Boston’s line consists of three franchise gamers, Toronto’s featured one MVP and one franchise participant and Calgary’s had two franchise gamers. Dallas? Not almost as a lot love, not even shut. Robertson ranked the best in Tier 3C — a placement that feels far too conservative.

It’s troublesome for a prime line to put up these sorts of numbers with out an elite driver. The firm Dallas’ line is in is telling of that. That’s a part of the rationale Robertson grades out so excessive by GSVA: He’s a big-time scorer and nice issues occur at five-on-five each time he is on the ice — particularly offensively. Since coming into the league, Robertson is one in every of 12 forwards to be on the ice for over three anticipated targets per 60 and three.5 precise targets per 60. Eight of the opposite 11 are in Tier 2 or increased and the opposite three are linemates of gamers in that tier.


Jason Robertson. (Sergei Belsky/USA Today)

What makes it extra spectacular is that he is doing it in Dallas, the place offense is difficult to come by. Relative to teammates, nobody drives targets greater than Robertson during the last two years the place Dallas scores 1.14 extra targets per 60 with Robertson on the ice. He additionally ranks sixth in relative anticipated targets for. Combine that with a possible point-per-game season and Robertson initiatives to be value 4 wins subsequent season — the best in all of Tier 3. And but, there he’s on the backside of it.

I see the explanations for placing him decrease. His supercharged line makes it troublesome to correctly assess his particular person worth and he isn’t essentially the most dynamic participant both. But it is exhausting to ignore the outcomes. I’d have him on the prime of Tier 3.

MacKenzie Weegar

“The Big Mistake” is a troublesome factor to shake for a defenseman and Weegar realized that large time this offseason after a large one within the second spherical.

Despite his modest price ticket and the crew’s lack of defensive depth, the Panthers spent the summer time actively procuring him earlier than together with him within the deal for Matthew Tkachuk. His inventory dropped closely and that was mirrored on this yr’s participant tiers the place he stayed put in Tier 4A regardless of one other glorious season. Last yr, we wished to see him ship on the promise he confirmed in 2021. He did, however the drop in his league-wide popularity was troublesome to ignore for the sake of the challenge.

Personally, Weegar can play on my crew any evening and belongs someplace in Tier 3. Over the final two seasons, Weegar has earned a 58 p.c anticipated targets price which charges within the league’s prime 5 behind Charlie McAvoy, Devon Toews and Cale Makar — all whereas enjoying robust minutes. In 2021, his play away from Aaron Ekblad was exemplary and proof that he can drive a pair on his personal. Last yr he was the crew’s greatest defender at limiting zone entries and by far their greatest puck-mover — not Ekblad. At five-on-five, the 2 have been equally environment friendly level producers with a points-per-60 proper round 1.3 factors, good for prime 10 within the league.

Weegar deserves much more credit score for his play than he is getting proper now. While there’s some concern relating to how he’ll fare on a brand new crew away from Ekblad, he ought to have loads of help on a deep Calgary blue line. In all honesty, it’s going to be extra attention-grabbing to see how Ekblad does with out Weegar.


Corey

Alexander Ovechkin

I discovered myself on an island arguing that Ovechkin was a transparent Tier 2 participant. I used to be fairly stunned two years in a row how little help I bought from my colleagues for him, particularly after how productive he was final season. Yes, he is getting older, he’ll be 37 at the beginning of the season, and ultimately he is going to hit a wall, and sure, he isn’t the primary man over the boards I would like for a vital defensive state of affairs. But Ovechkin continues to be a reasonably particular participant. He’s a bodily power to cope with given his dimension, body, pace and physicality. He nonetheless will get buckets of possibilities due to these bodily traits and his pure offensive contact. The final time he did not get 4 pictures on purpose per sport was the 2016-17 season. I have a look at a few of the wingers we have in Tier 2 and assume he is proper there if not above a few of them.

Brady Tkachuk

Tkachuk has emerged as a premier energy winger within the NHL. He’s an elite scoring probability and shot generator, he was tenth within the league in pictures on purpose and is a singular kind of participant. His compete stage is off the charts to go along with his nice dimension and talent, permitting him to dominate the high-percentage areas of the offensive zone. If the Senators make the playoffs anytime quickly, I feel he’ll be a power within the postseason. He initiatives to be an affect ahead for a very long time and I feel he might be simply pretty much as good if not higher than he was final season. He could be nicely into Tier 3 for me, 3B at a minimal and arguably 3A.

(Top photograph of Alex Ovechkin: Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

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