(Puck Daddy presents its annual look back at the year in hockey. Check back every day through the New Year for our many lists and hot takes.)
The top 10 players of 2015 put up impressive numbers, took home impressive trophies and made their mark on the game at all levels. And all of them are likely to finish with fewer all-star votes than John Scott.
Our approach to the Year in Hockey’s Player Of The Year 2015 honor is to take last season and the start of this season into account. Stats, individual awards and impact on their respective leagues were the primary factors; along with the roles they played in their teams’ success.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have your own top 10 list? Please pop them into the comments below.
And now, the Top 10 Players of 2015 in hockey …
10. Tyler Seguin
Seguin followed his breakout season in 2013-14 with an equally impressive one: 37 goals and 40 points in 71 games for the Dallas Stars. Through 30 games in the 2015-16 season, he had 40 assists in 30 games. All that, and he became the first NHL player to pose naked with only a large rubber duck covering himself. Quite the achievement.
9. Jack Eichel
Eichel was the first freshman player in 12 years to be a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the NCAA’s best men’s ice hockey player. He then became the first freshman to win it since 1993 (Paul Kariya). He led Hockey East in scoring with 26 goals and 44 assists in 39 games. And then he went No. 2 overall in the NHL Draft to the Buffalo Sabres, sparking Eichel-mania.
8. Duncan Keith
Keith’s 31 minutes and six seconds of average ice time in the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff run were the most notable stat for the star defenseman, beyond the 18 points in 23 games he posted. But it was his outstanding defense, leadership and stability on the blue line that earned him the Conn Smythe in the Hawks’ Cup victory.
7. Alex Ovechkin
Another year, another Rocket Richard Trophy for the best goal-scorer of his generation. The Washington Capitals captain led the NHL in goals for the third straight season, posting 53 in 81 games, his highest total since 2009. He finished second in the Hart Trophy voting as well. In the playoffs, he had nine points in 14 games … and failed to make the conference title game, again. But things are looking good for the Caps in 2016.
6. Connor McDavid
McDavid won CHL Player of the Year, Subway Scholastic Player of the Year and the coveted Jack Link’s Top Prospect of the Year, a.k.a. our favorite award sponsored by beef jerky. His 120 points in 47 regular-season games was third in the OHL, but that was only due to time lost to injury. He finished with nine fewer points than league-leader Dylan Strome despite playing in 21 fewer games. He won IIHF gold with Canada, and was then was the top pick in the NHL Draft. Alas, a broken collarbone meant that he would have to try to win the Calder in 2016 based on points-per-game.
5. Jamie Benn
Was it a down year for scoring? It was. Should that diminish the fact that the Dallas Stars scorer secured his first Art Ross Trophy, with 87 points? Hey, someone had to lead the league in scoring. He’s followed it with a blockbuster offensive season (40 points in his first 30 games) in leading the Stars to the top of the conference.
4. Hilary Knight
Knight had a goal and an assist in helping the Boston Blades to the CWHL’s Clarkson Cup championship, becoming the first American to win that League’s MVP award. Her OT goal gave the U.S. the Four Nations Cup title over Canada for the third time in five years and sixth time overall. Then she made another kind of history: Leaping over to the new National Women’s Hockey League and the Boston Pride, becoming that league’s leader in goals and points through its first two months of existence. Her star power helped launch the first women’s hockey league to pay its players, and the sky's the limit for Knight.
3. Erik Karlsson
The Ottawa Senators defenseman won the Norris Trophy thanks to a great all-around season, but the dude finished stronger than perhaps anyone else in the NHL: 31 points in 34 games, as the Sens made their miracle run to a 2015 playoff seed. Through 30 games in 2015-16, Karlsson has 32 points and is playing on another level right now among NHL D-men.
2. Carey Price
The Montreal Canadiens goalie swept the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP; the Vezina Trophy for the NHL’s top goalie; the Jennings Trophy for the giving up the fewest regular-season goals; and the Ted Lindsay Award as the Players Association’s player of the year at the 2015 NHL Awards. His Hart victory made Price the first goalie to sweep the MVP and top goalie honors since Jose Theodore did it for the Habs in 2002. In the process, Price edged ahead of Henrik Lundqvist for Best Goalie On Earth honors, at least for 2015. Alas, an injury has limited his appearances in 2015-16.
1. Patrick Kane
There’s no doubt that that every achievement and accolade for Kane this season is going to come with a caveat for many fans: That he was investigated for sexual assault in Buffalo; that the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks reacted as they did; and that, in the end, Kane wasn’t charged by Erie County prosecutors, which isn’t synonymous with exoneration.
These concerns are valid, but they also don’t invalidate what he’s accomplished on the ice in 2015.
Kane had 64 points in 61 games in the 2014-15 regular season before breaking his collarbone. He returned for the postseason, and posted 23 points in 23 games in helping to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
In the 2015-16 season thus far, he has broken the record for longest points streak by a Blackhawks player and by a U.S. born player.
Love him, loathe him, condemn him or defend him, there’s no denying that based the numbers and the impact, Patrick Kane is the player of the year for 2015.
Tomorrow: Top 10 hockey people of the year.
Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
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