Independence Day in America is quite a time. Beer, barbecues, and parades as millions of Americans celebrate their independence. So, why not enjoy it with us by ranking the best American players in the national pastime… hockey. Okay, maybe hockey isn’t the national pastime, but it should be.
Without further ado, here is the top 10 American players in the game today.
#10- Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas announced that he is returning to the game of hockey and therefore he makes the list. Thomas’ career is a great underdog story about an American g0alie who had to spend years in Europe before finally getting his shot with the Boston Bruins.
Thomas didn’t pass up the opportunity. Two Vezina trophies, a Conn Smythe, and a Stanley Cup later, Thomas is now regarded as the best goalie to have ever worn the black and gold. Although his tenure in Boston ended in minor controversy with his political views and skipping last season, Thomas is still much beloved in Boston and will continue to be for years to come.
#9- Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller was the starting goaltender for the Silver medalist Team USA in Vancouver. Miller led all goalies in save percentage and very nearly helped the US win their first gold medal since the Miracle on Ice in 1980.
While Miller’s play has regressed throughout the years, he is still a sought after goalie and still has a bit of fight left in him.
#8- Paul Stastny
Although he was born in Quebec City, Stastny spend his childhood in New Jersey while his father, Peter, played for the New Jersey Devils. Stastny was also a member of Team USA during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Inheriting his style of play from his father, Paul is a smart player and a very strong skater on the ice. Former player Joe Sakic, who played with both Paul and Peter, says that Paul plays a lot like his father when it comes to ability to see the game.
After a relatively poor campaign this year with the Avalanche, Stastny was named the captain of Team USA in the 2013 World Championships. Stastny led the Americans to a Bronze medal and was second in the tournament in scoring.
#7- Dustin Brown
The first of two Los Angeles Kings on this list, the captain Dustin Brown is a tough as nails player that keeps the Kings playing at the top.
Brown continuously leads the NHL in hits and is capable of scoring 30 goals a season. His toughness and offensive prowess is what is giving Brown a leg up on the competition for making the 2014 Olympic team. Brown, along with Jonathan Quick, is a big part of the Kings resurgence and he is a very popular player among Kings fans.
Not only is he a talented player, but a charitable one as well. Brown donates money after every hit he makes to a local children’s charity. With Brown’s hitting ability, he forks over a lot of dough.
#6- Phil Kessel
A large part of Toronto’s playoff run can be attributed to this man: Phil Kessel.
Kessel really hit his stride after being dealt from the Bruins over to Toronto (that also helped Boston). Kessel scored 52 points in only 48 games as he ended the Maple Leafs playoff drought. He also scored six points in the epic seven game series against the Bruins and would have propelled them into the second round if not for the dramatics of Patrice Bergeron.
Although he was a non-factor in the 2010 Olympics scoring just two points in six games, he has realy come into his own since then and will be a better player for Team USA in 2014 in Sochi.
#5- Ryan Suter
Suter comes from a family rich in American hockey tradition. His father, Bob, was a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team and Ryan is keeping the tradition alive with his great play.
Not much of a goal scorer, Ryan Suter is among the best blueliners in the game today and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy this season, losing out to the Montreal Canadiens’ PK Subban. He left Nashville this past offseason for the Minnesota Wild for a 13 year, $98 million contract. The Wild believe he is worth it and right now he is.
Suter will most likely be a part of the Team USA hockey team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Hopefully, he’ll follow his fathers footsteps and bring home a gold medal.
#4- Ryan Kesler
With the Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, Ryan Kesler gets kind of overshadowed, but really shouldn’t. Although he only played in 17 games this season, he can play with the best of them when he is healthy. Kesler is still relatively young at 28 and can still get it done, if he stays healthy.
Kesler, a Michigan native, was a first round pick for the Canucks in 2003 and played 28 games with Vancouver that year. It wasn’t until 2005, when Kesler became a regular. Kesler played all 82 games, but scored only 23 points. In 2010-2011, Kesler scored 41 goals, a career high, and came within a game of winning the first Stanley Cup for the Canucks.
Kesler, again if he stays healthy, will probably make his second straight US Olympic team. In 2010, Kesler scored two goals for Team USA, while playing in front of his home crowd in Vancouver.
#3- Zach Parise
Although his father, JP, played for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, Zach Parise is all-American. The Minnesota native returned home this past offseason after signing a lucrative deal with the Minnesota Wild and deservedly so.
As a former New Jersey Devils captain, Parise led his team to an unexpected Eastern Conference title in 2012. Parise pretty much a star right off the bat for the Devils, scoring 30+ goals in all but two off his seasons in New Jersey. Although he had a s0-so year in Minnesota, the duo of Ryan Suter and Parise helped the Wild back into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Parise is also the holder of one of the greatest moments in recent American hockey. Parise scored a game tying goal in the final minute of the gold medal game against Canada.
It was short lived though as Sidney Crosby scored the gold medal winning goal in overtime. Still though, it was a great moment in American hockey.
#2- Jonathan Quick
The Connecticut bred goaltender has been a huge reason why the Los Angeles Kings are a perennial contender. Although Jontahan Quick had a down year, he is still among the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Prior to this season, Quick recorded 35+ wins the last three seasons and recorded a phenomenal 16-4 playoff record en route to the Los Angeles Kings first Stanley Cup title in 2012. Although Quick didn’t see playing time with Team USA in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, expect him to be a shoo-in for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and expect him to be the starter for the Red, White, and Blue.
Quick is still a very young goalie and his best years are ahead of him. The Los Angeles Kings could be contenders for years to come with Quick minding the net.
#1- Patrick Kane
Is there really any doubt about this. Patrick Kane is simply the best American in the game today. He is a key piece in two Stanley Cup winning squads with Chicago and the reigning Conn Smythe winner. The Buffalo, New York native had a down year in 2011-2012, but in the shortened 2012-2013 season Kane matched his previous season’s goal total with 22 goals.
Not only is Kane the best American player in the game, but he is among one of the best players in the game period. Kane single handedly won Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with two goals and he was the most obvious choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy and is just the fourth American all time to win the award.
The former number one overall pick is a very popular player among Blackhawks fans. With Kane (and a few other key members), the Blackhawks future looks very bright to repeat or winning multiple Cups in the future.
Do you think I forgot someone? Comment below