Top 10 players of 2013 (Puck Daddy Year in Review)
No one is looking back on the NHL lockout with much fondness, but you have to give some credit to the labour stoppage after looking at this list. For one thing, by chopping the 2012 part off the 2012-13 schedule, it made it really easy to count total points in 2013 for the purposes of this countdown. Thanks lockout!
But more than that, it gave several of the league's top players a chance to reevaluate and refind themselves after spotty years. In a lot of ways, 2013 was about re-establishing order, as guys like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, once the twin kings of the league, disproved anyone who feared they wouldn't be able to find their way back.
It started a little funky, and for a while, there was a sour taste in all of our mouths, but in the end, 2013 was a pretty good year. Here are our top 10 players.
2013 was John Tavares's coming-out party, as the New York Islanders' center established himself as not just the best Tavares since Tavares, but one of the league's elite stars. Tavares finished the shortened 2013 season with 28 goals and 47 points in 48 games, but more than that, he almost singlehandedly dragged the Islanders into the playoffs for the first time since 2007. That -- and it was definitely that -- earned him his first-ever Hart nomination, as well as the Islanders' captaincy after Mark Streit left in the summer.
The captain of the team that "saved hockey" simply has to be on this list, no? Now, the Blackhawks may not have actually saved the league, but they were the league's top team in 2013, winning the shortened regular season in a walk and then hoisting their second Stanley Cup in four years. Now they're leading the league again, and all the way along, much of their success has been due to the play of their captain. In terms of individual accomplishments, Toews won his first Selke in 2013, and he was consistently productive, with 87 points in 89 games.
What an incredible story. In November of last year, the Minnesota Wild goaltender announced that he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But it didn't keep him off the ice in 2013. He played backup to Niklas Backstrom for much of the shortened season, but was there when called upon, including in the first round of the playoffs versus the Blackhawks. When the season ended, he was a no-brainer for the Masterton. But now he's chasing an even bigger trophy: the Vezina. Harding has been the NHL's top goaltender for the first half of the 2013-14 season, as his story just keeps getting better and better.
He could make this list for his legs alone, but the 37-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning forward also had a pretty good year. His 60 points in the shortened 2013 season were enough for his second Art Ross trophy -- his first came in 2003-04, before the other lockout -- and his 98 points total put him third in offensive production for the calendar year. With 2 points in his final game of the year Sunday night, he would become one of just 3 or 4 players to put up 100 points in 2013.
The premier defensive forward in the NHL, in this guy's opinion, although he was this year's Selke runner-up, Bergeron is the heart and soul of the Boston Bruins, who were the class of the Eastern Conference in 2013. He may not have put up the points of some of his counterparts on this list, but that's only because he was so busy preventing said counterparts from putting up points. The Bruins understand what he brings. They re-signed the center to an eight-year extension worth $52 million in July, a month after Bergeron led the club to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years.
His biggest game was probably Game 7 of the first round versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he scored the game-tying and series-winning goals in a once-in-a-lifetime third-period comeback. And once he'd pushed the Bruins through to the Final, he laid it all on the line. At the end of the series, he looked like the picture of death, and when everyone else went home, he went straight from the ice to hospital, to deal with the broken rib that had pierced his lung. Bergeron exemplified hockey at its most, well, hockey in 2013.
Acquired to push Steve Mason in Columbus, Bobrovsky went above and beyond, pushing Mason right out the door, claiming the starting job, and then nearly dragging the Columbus Blue Jackets into the postseason. While they ultimately didn't make it, finishing ninth, there was no doubting why they were so close. Bobrovsky put up 21 wins, to go with his career-high 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage. For that, and, again, almost making a playoff team out of the Blue Jackets, he won the first Vezina of his career.
Subban got a late start to 2013, sitting out the first month of the year during a contract dispute with the Montreal Canadiens. And when he signed his deal, a two-year, $5.75 million pact, people thought he'd lost the holdout. But then he put in his best year ever, recording 38 points in 42 games and winning the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. He put up 65 points, the most of any defenceman in 2013 and, if there's any justice in the world, he'll be on the Canadian Olympic team. And now he gets to negotiate next a new contract summer. Pretty good year for Pernell Karl.
2013 wasn't adversity-free for Crosby. He missed 12 games after a puck broke his jaw. But even despite that, he was the top scorer in the calendar year, with an absurd 111 points in 76 games. After missing big blocks of time over the past few years with concussion problems, leading some to even suggest he should retire, Crosby returned in 2013 with a vengeance, re-establishing himself as the best player in the world.
Speaking of players re-establishing themselves, a lot of people said Ovechkin's time as an elite goal-scorer was over. Then 2013 happened. After being moved to the right side, Ovechkin thrived. Not only did he put up 97 points over 84 games in the calendar year -- 62 of those points were goals. 62! He won the Rocket Richard and the Hart. Plus he made the 2013 All-Star team. Twice!
One last redemption story: when 2013 began, some folks in Chicago were talking about trading Patrick Kane. On January 07, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article titled "Lockout ends, so Kane trade talk can begin". The argument: move Kane for a center:
Point is, there are a lot of centers who are better than Kane but they might be available because they don’t have Kane’s flash.
Kane is exactly that kind of pretty, shiny thing that other teams could market to fans who might not realize that the only category Kane ranked among the top 10 last season was overrated. And maybe over served.
Safe to say nobody is talking about trading Kane anymore.
As mentioned, Sidney Crosby was the top scorer in 2013, with 111 points. In second place, and the only other player on the planet with over 100 points in the calendar year at the time of this writing? Patrick Kane, with 108.
Kane came back from the lockout ready to play. He toned down the partying, he cut back on the mouthguard-chewing (which, apparently, made a difference), and he just scored and scored and scored. 55 points in the shortened season, good for fifth in the league. 53 points already in 2013-14, good for second. Factor in his playoff scoring -- 19 points in 23 games, which earned him his first Conn Smythe trophy in his second Stanley Cup win -- and you have the most productive player of the year and, simply, the player of the year.
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