It is never too early to start looking at next season and the best NHL players 2023-24 has to offer. There are plenty of stars all over the league as hockey fans will surely be in for a treat watching the top current hockey players this upcoming year.
Best NHL players 2023-24
With so many great players in the game today, it is extremely difficult to put together a list of the best players in the world. At the top of the list are some obvious names of players who have dominated the game for more than a few years now. However, once getting through the first few superstars, the list becomes a lot harder to figure out.
Which young stars are making a name for themselves in the NHL? Are the older, experienced superstars still among the league’s elite? Who are the best defensemen, forwards, and goaltenders in the league? To get you ready for next season, here are the 20 top players in the NHL right now ranked.
20. Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin did not have his best season this past year, but a drop-off was expected after his incredible 2021-22 season.
Shesterkin has already made a name for himself in the league despite playing less than four full seasons in the league. He was the best goaltender in the NHL less than two years ago when he won the Vezina Trophy and led the league in save percentage and goals against average.
Although not comparable to the season prior, Shesterkin still had a pretty good year this past season. The 27-year-old won 37 games (a career high) and had a 2.48 goals-against average in 2022-23. New York Rangers fans are hoping Shesterkin returns as a Vezina Trophy candidate this upcoming year.
19. Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen does not get the attention he deserves as one of the best hockey players 2023 has.
Rantanen is coming off his best season in the league, registering 105 points. His 55 goals were the third most by any player last season.
Rantanen was a big reason for Colorado winning the Stanley Cup in 2022. He had 25 points in 20 postseason games during the run and is averaging more than a point per game in the playoffs so far in his career. He is already one of the league’s best, but at just 26 years of age, Rantanen has the potential to get even better as he enters the prime of his career.
18. Jack Hughes
Jack Hughes is already an elite goal scorer at just 22 years old. He had a career-high 43 goals last season, which was the eighth most in the league.
Hughes was the number one overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. His first couple of seasons were not great, but he has quickly established himself as someone who can get on the scoresheet at least once a game. In 78 games played last year, Hughes had a career-best 99 points.
If Hughes is able to progress like he has the previous two seasons, he will consistently surpass 100 points throughout his career.
17. Alex Ovechkin
Not only is Alex Ovechkin one of the best players in NHL history, but he is also arguably the best goal-scorer ever.
Ovechkin currently sits second all-time with 822 career goals. He is just 73 goals away from surpassing Wayne Gretzky for the most goals ever in the league. Even though Ovechkin will be 38 by the time the season begins, he shows no signs of slowing down.
Ovechkin had 42 goals in 73 games last season. If he continues at the pace he is at, Ovechkin will pass Gretzky’s record sometime during the 2024-25 season. Although his days of winning the Rocket Richard Trophy are likely over, we should still expect him to be around the top 10 in goals this upcoming season.
16. Tage Thompson
Tage Thompson made a name for himself this past season, scoring the sixth most goals in the NHL with 47.
In 2023-24, Thompson will be entering the first year of a seven-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres worth $50 million. After his production last year, it looks like the Sabres got a great deal and have the star they need to end their 12-season-long playoff drought.
At just 25 years old, Thompson has not even reached his full potential yet. If he can increase his level up another notch this upcoming year, the Sabres will finally get to play postseason hockey again.
15. Sidney Crosby
Crosby has battled injuries for much of his career but played 82 games last season for just the second time in his career. The soon-to-be 36-year-old collected 93 points last season, which was good for 16th most in the league.
Crosby is coming into this season just 82 points shy of entering the top 10 in career points in NHL history. With him averaging well above a point per game throughout his career, it looks likely that Crosby will accomplish the feat this year if he stays healthy.
14. Adam Fox
Adam Fox has been one of the best defensemen in the league over the last few seasons.
In 2021, Fox won the Norris Trophy in just his second season in the league. He has backed that up by having back-to-back seasons with more than 70 points. Fox finished second in Norris Trophy voting this past season after he had 72 points and was a +28 when on the ice.
In 285 career games played thus far, Fox has 235 points. He is also someone who elevates his level in the postseason, averaging more than a point per game in 30 playoff games in his young career.
13. Ilya Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin is one of the top goalies in the league. He has been the New York Islanders’ number-one goaltender since the 2021-22 season.
Last season Sorokin had a .924 save percentage, which was the third-best among all goalies. He also improved his goals-against average last year compared to the year prior, going from 2.40 to 2.34 goals-against average while also appearing in more games.
Sorokin finished the 2022-23 season with the most shutouts in the NHL. He has finished inside the top eight in shutouts and goals-against average every year since joining the league.
12. Jason Robertson
24-year-old left winger Jason Robertson has quickly become one of the game’s best players. He has improved drastically each year since playing his first full season in 2020-21.
During the 2021-22 season, Robertson scored 41 goals in 74 games. He surpassed that total last season, jumping to 46 goals while increasing his point total from 79 points to 109 points. His 109 points last year were tied for the sixth most by any player.
Robertson has proven to be a great goal scorer and an excellent passer, finishing in the top 10 in both of those categories this past season. The sky is the limit for this young star who is just in the beginning stages of his career.
11. Mitch Marner
Mitch Marner continues to produce as a point-per-game player in the league.
Marner was one point shy of reaching the 100-point mark last season, finishing with 99 points in 80 games. He had his best season yet on the power play, scoring nine of his 30 goals with the man advantage in 2022-23.
Where the Toronto Maple Leafs would love to see Marner improve is during the postseason, as he only has 10 goals in 50 career playoff games. At only 26 years old, Toronto hopes that Marner’s best seasons in the regular season and postseason are still to come.
10. Victor Hedman
Victor Hedman is coming off of a down year, but it is fair to assume that he will bounce back this upcoming season.
Hedman has finished in the top three in Norris Trophy voting in six of the last seven seasons, with last year being the only exception. It is not hard to forget that Hedman is a Norris Trophy winner, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and a two-time Stanley Cup champion.
Battling injury during Tampa’s first-round loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hedman will surely be motivated next season to prove he is still one of the best defensemen in the league at 32 years of age.
9. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Andrei Vasilevskiy is another Tampa Bay player hoping to bounce back after a tough year.
Last season Vasilevskiy finished with a .915 save percentage and a 2.65 goals-against average, both of which are worse than his career average. However, Vasilevskiy has proven for many years that he is one of, if not the best, goaltender in the NHL. He has led the league in wins in five of the previous six seasons and has been in the top six in Vezina Trophy voting every season since 2017-18.
For a goalie that has a career .919 save percentage, Vasilevskiy should have a ton of confidence in his ability to perform as one of the best NHL players.
8. Nikita Kucherov
I think it is fair to say that Nikita Kucherov is the best player on the Tampa Bay Lighting. He is currently coming off of a 113-point season, which was tied for the third most points in the league.
Kucherov has now had three seasons in which he has had at least 100 points. His best season came in 2018-19 when he had 128 points and won the Hart Trophy.
Kucherov is a player to watch out for on the power play. Last season, he finished with the fourth most power-play points in the NHL with 50. He should get a lot of attention this upcoming season, especially after finishing in the top three in total points and assists last year.
7. Matthew Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk stole the spotlight for the majority of the postseason. He helped lead the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final with 24 playoff points and four game-winning goals.
Tkachuk was also great in the regular season, having the best year of his career. His 109 points were the sixth most in the league as he ended up finishing third in Hart Trophy voting this past season.
With back-to-back 100-point seasons, who knows where Tkachuk takes his level from here? At just 25 years old, it looks like he will be a star in this league for many years to come.
6. David Pastrnak
As far as best NHL players 2023-24 go, David Pastrnak is high up on the list.
Pastrnak is one of the game’s elite goal scorers, scoring the second-most goals in the league this past season with 61. He had a career year, surpassing his previous career highs in goals, assists, and points. Pastrnak went from 77 points in 2021-22 to 113 points last year.
He gives himself many opportunities to score every time he is out on the ice. He led the league last season in shots and game-winning goals and finished second in Hart Trophy voting.
5. Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews has dipped slightly on this list compared to a season ago due to a down year for the 6’3” Maple Leafs center.
After a 2021-22 season where he won the Hart and Rocket Richard Trophy, Matthews had his lowest goal total in four years. He finished last season with 40 goals and 85 points in 74 games played.
A big reason for his drop in scoring was his shooting percentage, which was the lowest in his entire career at just 12.2%. If he is able to take more shots this upcoming season, his goal total should climb back up.
4. Cale Makar
Cale Makar has accomplished a ton in the league already at just 24 years old and is well on his way to becoming one of the best players in NHL history.
In his first season in the league, Makar won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. He has since followed that up with a Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup, and a Conn Smythe Trophy. Makar has also finished top three in Norris Trophy voting in each of the last three seasons.
Despite missing more than a quarter of the season last year, Makar still finished sixth among defensemen with 17 goals. There is no doubt Makar will be a top defenseman in the NHL for many years to come.
3. Leon Draisaitl
Leon Draisaitl has been one of the best players in the NHL for a while now. In his past five seasons, he has surpassed 100 points in four of them.
Draisaitl had a career year this past season. His 128 points were a career-high and were the second most in the league. He has proven to be a big threat on the power play, leading the league in power-play goals for the second time in his career last season.
Draisaitl has also been a big-time performer in the playoffs. In 49 postseason games, he has scored 31 goals and has 77 points.
2. Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon had an incredible year this past season. He notched a career-high 111 points in just 71 games.
MacKinnon has never won the Hart Trophy but has been close on numerous occasions. He finished fifth last season and finished second in voting in 2018 and 2020. MacKinnon is entering his 11th season in the NHL this upcoming season, and yet will only be 28 years old.
MacKinnon is one of the most consistent players in the league. Over the last six seasons, he has shown why he is one of the best players in the game today. If he can stay healthy, he will surpass 100 points many times over the course of the next five to seven seasons.
1. Connor McDavid
Not only is Connor McDavid one of the best NHL players 2023-24 has to offer, but he is also already one of the best players in NHL history.
McDavid finished last season with a career-high 153 points. To put that in perspective, he is only the sixth player ever in the league’s history to reach the 150-point mark. McDavid led the league in goals, assists, and points last year for the first time in his career.
At just 26 years old, McDavid has already won three Hart Trophies, four Ted Lindsay Awards, and five Art Ross Trophies. He is the league’s best player by a wide margin and will be for the next decade. There is no debate that McDavid is the greatest NHL player heading into the 2023-24 season.