As we near the end of 2021 there have been a lot of stellar moments in the NHL, with great goals, stellar saves, and the eventual return of the full 82 game season. Whether it be the possibility of a three-peat for the Tampa Bay Lightning, or Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl wanting out if the Edmonton Oilers can’t make a playoff push, 2022 seems like it will have just as many interesting storylines to follow. But what players really shone in 2021, and could be named the top performers in their position of the year? Well here’s our shortlist of players who could earn that all-important title of the best in their position for the year 2021.
Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid: 150 points in 2021 – Won the Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Frank J. Selke Trophy
McDavid has been fairly impressive ever since coming into the league, but 2021 was a great year for him. With 150 points in the year, he is arguably one of the top centers in the entire league. As captain of his team, he has made an amazing impact on the players around him, as well as performing at a top-level himself. While his team was not overall competitive after the season ended, his regular-season play was stellar and made a bunch of headlines throughout the year. On top of all of this, he won almost every trophy possible for a forward to win, putting his name in the record books yet again.
Edmonton Oilers, Leon Draisaitl: 129 points in 2021
Leon Draisitl has had almost as great of a year as McDavid, as well as currently being the tied point leader in the league for the 2021-22 season. The player has been overshadowed by McDavid, as the two play for the same team, and often contribute to each other’s point-scoring prowess. The player has made some amazing strides to break out as an individual player this season and has constantly been showing his skill to get past defenders and put up points.
Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews: 95 points in 2021 – Rocket Richard Winner
Auston Matthews has been a goal-scoring machine for the Toronto Maple Leafs, putting up a large number of points for the team and helping them across too many victories. It seems like whenever this player is on the ice he will manage to put up a performance to help his team, whether it be on the offensive side of the ice, or in forcing a conversion and taking the puck away for a breakaway chance. That’s a large reason why this player won the Rocket Richard this past season.
Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand: 94 points in 2021
Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins has been one of the most prolific left wings in the league, while also being one of the most notorious, for his history of licking players and causing trouble between the benches. In terms of point production, the short forward has managed a fair few points for himself throughout his entire career. While he is not one of the youngest in the league currently, he still has the same flare for both putting up points and causing trouble on the ice, as could be seen from the now-iconic Artemi Panarin glove throw from across the bench.
Florida Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau: 91 points in 2021
Jonathan Huberdeau is a strong player and is a huge part of the reason why the Florida Panthers are a top-of-the-league team this season. Overall, he has put up a lot of points and plays effectively in both directions on the ice. The player has laid some solid hits, as well as moving to make effective defensive plays with his stick position. With his speed, he is able to pick the puck off of players and push possession forward to make an effective play on the net on a breakaway rush.
Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin: 83 points in 2021
Alex Ovechkin is competing with the clock in his career, as he is making a push to beat Wayne Gretzky‘s all-time goal record. This push has seen the veteran player put up a ton of points for the Washington Capitals, and it does not seem like it is going to stop anytime soon. Defensively speaking, the player has still earned the title of a giant bear, as he has been able to lay massive hits and reverse hits to take out opposing players when required. Overall he has been a star player throughout his entire career – and continues to look this way in the latter stages of his career.
Colorado Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen: 89 points in 2021
Overall Mikko Rantanen has had a pretty storybook year, as he has continually put up points from the first line with the Colorado Avalanche. A huge part of his prowess has been his passing ability, as he seems to always be able to find a player in open space so that they can bury the puck in the back of the net. His career has been one full of offense, as each time he takes the ice, he has been able to make some kind of contribution to his team, even if it is just an offensive push that tires out the opposing goalie.
Toronto Maple Leafs, Mitchell Marner: 88 points in 2021
Mitchell Marner exemplifies a star passing player, no matter who he’s on a line with this player is able to gain points to his assists tally. Overall the player has done an amazing job in terms of adaptability, as he has moved up and down the forward lines throughout 2021. While currently, he is out due to an injury, his stats on the ice have really helped his team in moving forward and up the lines. Marner has thus far been unable to make a huge impact in scoring for himself, his passing abilities have been top-notch which has allowed him a lot of opportunities to contribute all over the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Kane: 88 points in 2021
Patrick Kane has been a known scorer throughout the league for his entire career and put up a performance that shows that even in his veteran years he still has a fair bit of skill left to give that could secure his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. There may be a chance that this player could continue to have a further impact on his team as he continues to push through an extraordinary career for the Chicago Blackhawks. As a sniper, Kane has the ability to score from anywhere, and it makes it hard for goalies to know where the shot is going to come from. It’s because of this that Kane continues to be on the top line, and could see him play on yet another all-star team in the near future.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Victor Hedman: 72 points in 2021
Victor Hedman has been one of the most prolific defensemen in the league ever since his entry, and his performances have definitely helped his team reach back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, with the possibility of a three-peat in the coming year. Overall, Hedman has managed another great year defensively, with a +/- rating of positive 18, and a lot of points, with his passing ability being top-notch and making sure that each time he is on the ice he makes an impact for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nashville Predators, Roman Josi: 58 points in 2021
Roman Josi is a stellar player with a lot of jump to his game. The leadership abilities of this Josi are just one of the reasons why his team’s defensive coordination has been so great. With his skating abilities, cannon of a shot, and level head, he has helped the Nashville Predators come out on top through a fair few games in the league.
Vegas Golden Knights, Shea Theodore: 58 points in 2021
Shea Theodore has been great with the Vegas Golden Knights, as he has contributed effectively from the first line, as well as on the second line. Overall fans have come to expect a lot from the player, as he has managed to help make the Golden Knights defense one of the best in the league, while also contributing a fair bit of offense, as he also manages to contribute on the power play and help his team along through the season.
New York Rangers, Adam Fox: 74 points in 2021 – James Norris Memorial Trophy Winner
Adam Fox is one of the best young defensemen in the league, and as such, it is no surprise to see him win a Norris Trophy for the New York Rangers. Overall he has made a big name for himself and has likely made the Carolina Hurricanes regret trading him away for Brady Skjei, despite the player also being a skilled defenseman. In terms of offense, Fox has put up a solid number of points while managing to make himself an imposing and large presence on the ice.
Washington Captials, John Carlson: 68 points in 2021
John Carlson has been one of the strongest defensive players on the ice throughout his entire career and has kept up this pace through his veteran years. As an alternate captain for the Washington Capitals, the player has made it clear how effective he is as a leader, and in helping to coordinate the defensive lines of his team and rally them around him. Even through injuries, the player still manages to put up a fair amount of points and help to win them games.
Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar: 67 pints in 2021
Cale Makar is another one of the young defensive players in the league, as well as being an easy candidate for the Canadian National Team in the coming Winter Olympics. The former Calder winner started making a name for himself from his first NHL game, showcasing his elite edges and a powerful cannon of a shot for the Colorado Avalanche. The player has made a fairly large impact since joining his team, which is a large reason why he has so been given the role of first-line defensemen even with his young age.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Andrei Vasilevskiy: .925 Save Percentage in 2021
Andrei Vasilevskiy is a huge presence in the net, as he is seemingly a brick wall of a player in the net, and overall has been a stellar player which has seen his team win back-to-back Stanley Cups for the Lightning. The Russian goalie has been a save machine and is a big reason why his team has such a high goal differential. Overall, this player still has a fair bit of time left in his career, and could really move to make his career one for the history books, as at his current pace he could become one of the first dynasty goalies in the league, and one of the biggest goalies in the league since Martin Brodeur.
Toronto Maple Leafs, Jack Campbell: .928 Save Percentage in 2021
Jack Campbell is probably one of the most humble goalies in the league, as he came from humble beginnings in the league as a backup with the Los Angeles Kings, to be a backup with the Maple Leafs, and then finally being given his chance as a starter, which he has taken advantage of and then some. Overall the player looks like one of the best in the league, with the highest save percentage in 2021, and a strong move that suggests that he may maintain this level of performance through the next year.
Calgary Flames, Jacob Markstrom: .915 Save Percentage in 2021
Jacob Markstrom has had an amazing start to the 2021-22 season and had a pretty solid 2021 overall, as he has managed to push through a fair few shutouts. Overall, Markstrom has made a name for himself with the Calgary Flames and made the Vancouver Canucks regret losing him, as his team’s performance and his individual performance have both put them close to the top of the league, while the Canucks have moved towards the bottom of the league fairly consistently. So far Markstrom is on pace for over 20 shutouts this season, as through 20 games he has five shutouts and has seemed absolutely amazing. This player is a Vezina candidate for sure and certainly sees himself belonging on this list of top goalies.
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