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Chicago Blackhawks: Price Edges Toews As Best Player

By Matt Barbato
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The Hockey News released its 2015-16 NHL Yearbook this week, and in this publication it ranks the top 50 players in the league heading into the season. The player they picked as the best in the NHL may surprise you.

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Most people would mention Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby when asked to name who they think is the best player in the NHL. However, The Hockey News instead said that distinction doesn’t belong to any forward, but Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Here’s what The Hockey News had to say in its rationale of picking Price as the league’s best player:

“No team relies on one player more than the Canadiens do on Price. Duplicating his performance from last season will come down to whether he can handle that kind of pressure and workload. There’s nothing to suggest he won’t.”

There’s no doubt Carey Price is one of the premier players in the NHL. He led the league in save percentage (.933), goals-against average (1.96) and wins (44) and finished second among goaltenders with nine shutouts in 2014-15. He won the Vezina Trophy over Pekka Rinne by 84 votes, receiving all but one first-place vote, and ran away with the Hart Memorial Trophy, racking up all but 18 first-place votes. He rose from the 25th best player in the last yearbook to the top player on the most recent list.

However, it could be argued that the Chicago Blackhawks captain is deserving of being named the league’s top player. His case couldn’t be much stronger after willing his team to its third Stanley Cup championship. He put up 66 points in the regular season, but it’s his two-way play that makes him one of the league’s top players.

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Plus, while Toews was helping his team win another Stanley Cup, Price’s Habs faltered in the playoffs. Price also was far from a brick wall in the most recent postseason. As a matter of fact, he was actually quite vulnerable, surrendering 28 goals in 12 postseason contests (a 2.62 goals-against average).

There’s no doubt Price is the best goaltender in the league and is arguably a top-five player in the league, but it’s tough to expect Price to put up those career-high numbers again next season. Meanwhile, Blackhawks fans can expect Toews to produce offensively and be an incredibly reliable player on the defensive end and in the faceoff dot.

Two other Blackhawks placed in the top 11 of the rankings. Duncan Keith ascended to fifth on the list after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy during the postseason. He was ranked as the best defenseman and is behind only Price, Toews, Alex Ovechkin and Crosby. Patrick Kane came in as the 11th-best player in the league. The Hockey News gave Kane high praise, saying he has “replaced Pavel Datsyuk as the league’s preeminent dangler.”

As another season is just around the corner, the debate will surely rage on as to who the best player in the league truly is.

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