The NHL’s Top 5 Most Skilled Players

Skill in the NHL is at an all time premium. With rule changes optimizing offense and intricate systems set up by coaches, skill is a necessary trait to survive at the NHL level. Third and fourth line “grinders” are slowly being replaced by players who can chip in some offense. When it comes to dragging fans out of their seats with all-world skill, here are the league’s five best:

5. Sidney Crosby

Crosby may be the league’s very best player when it comes to making plays in confined spaces. He has a knack for deflecting pucks in traffic, and is easily the league’s most elusive player beneath the goal line. Combine that ability with perhaps the best set of eyes in the league, and you get the most dangerous passer that any team will ever have to face.

4. Evgeni Malkin

If Mario Lemieux was the original, then Malkin is the remix. Stopping a player of his size is a difficult enough task, but when he can also completely undress defensemen and goaltenders like this, the task becomes nearly impossible. Not only is he a dominant one on one (or three) player, Malkin is also a gifted passer with an excellent vision of the ice. Pittsburgh fans should count their lucky stars every night that they have two of the league’s very best.

3. Vladimir Tarasenko

No other player in the NHL has enjoyed a bigger rise in popularity and recognition than Tarasenko this season. Consider this publication a passenger on the Official Tarasenko Hype Train. Funnily enough, he was already scoring beautiful goals last season. When he curls off the half wall, defensemen have to respect his laser of a wrist shot, which at times makes them over commit, allowing him to dangle right around them. Tarasenko is the real deal, giving St. Louis the goal-scorer they’ve desperately needed.

2. Pavel Datsyuk

The Datsyukian deke. Everyone has seen it, many have tried to replicate it, but none have quite captured its magic and fluidity. To reduce Datsyuk to one move though, would terribly undersell his insane skill level. Like Crosby, he’s extremely elusive and crafty beneath the goal line and along the boards. Just ask Logan Couture. The NHL’s original Youtube star, the crazy number of “Datsyuk Tutorial” videos out there are a testament to his greatness.

1. Patrick Kane

On a scale of one to ten, ten being ,”Holy crap, did he he really just do that?”, Kane is an 11. He’s utterly embarrassed goalies in the shootout, always topping his goals off with a hard fist pump, just for added emphasis. There’s no denying that Kane is absolutely cocky out on the ice, but he backs it up with the most amazing set of hands in the league and an absolute bullet of a shot. On top of his goal scoring ability, he may actually be an even better passer, delivering incredible spin-o-rama backhand passes. Love him or hate him, Patrick Kane is the most skilled player in the NHL.

27 thoughts on “The NHL’s Top 5 Most Skilled Players”

  1. Ah, the Kane haters are out in force! Truth hurts, I guess. Those calling him one-dimensional are either ignorant — or haven’t watched him play the last 3 seasons. And to suggest Ovechkin is in the same league is a joke. I do agree Datsyuk should have been on there (maybe as an ‘honorable mention’??) And Anthony is right — Johnny Toews should be on the list, too. :)

    • He doesn’t have any particularly great moves either. He has one highlight while sliding on his back and then a bunch of one-timers from the off wing on the power play. He doesn’t even know what his defensive zone looks like and even though he looks like he is going fast, it is really just a bunch of arms and legs flailing while the defenseman, inevitably, catches up to him. He has a really wasteful stride, Sergei Fedorov he is NOT.

  2. Jagr is one of the most skilled players of all time and is still great at 43. I saw an ESPN segment on the 10 greatest goals of all time and 3 of them were Jagr including #1 goal vs Belfour in the 92 playoffs.

    • So true, and since he is still in the league he should be on the list instead of Tarasenko, who has had a half a season of looking good but is far from establishing himself as one of the top 5 skilled players in the NHL.

    • This is a ‘Top 5 Most Skilled’ not the ‘Top Five Players That Have ONE MOVE’ when they get into the offensive zone: come in on the off wing, fake to the outside, cut a few feet to the inside and try to shoot through the defenseman’s legs from 45 ft. away from the net.

  3. You can’t exclude Stamkos from this list. He’s a 200 foot player. Oh, and the best pure goal scorer in the NHL. That’s why these opinion lists are dumb.

    • Sorry, I live in Tampa and have been a lightning fan for 15 years since moving to Florida but even I don’t think Stamkos is in the top 5 in skills in the NHL. He has an amazing shot but he doesn’t play a great 200 ft. game (as you claim – let me know when he is EVER in the Selke Trophy talk, I won’t be waiting by my phone for your call) and he isn’t particularly great at passing or deking like a Datsyuk or Kane is. He is a great player and has great skills, but not top 5.

  4. Apparently, someone hasn’t seen enough of ‘The Magician’ at work. It is interesting that nothing was mentioned about his ability to swipe the puck from all those in a scrum for it on a regular basis. Put all of the 5 choices that were mentioned in that situation and 2 of those 5 will come out on top – Pavel and Sid. Granted, Kane has speed, can read plays with the best of them, can stick handle in a phone booth, and scores with regularity, but as a two-way player, there is none better in the world than the Russian Magic Man.

    • He is the Top 5, the Top 10 and the best of all time, as far as pure hockey skills go. To have anyone above him is ridiculous and clearly written by a biased author.

      • Datsyuk is the most skilled player in the game, period. Kane has great hands and is from my home town so I should choose him, but you can’t deny the magic of Datsyuk. He is the best I have ever seen and I have been watching hockey for 35 years.

  5. Ridiculously stupid article. I hate Crosby but no one can question that putting him at anything other than 1 and leaving Ovechkin out of the top 5 is just ridiculous.

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