Like the rest of us, the NHL Network is trying to find fun and exciting ways to fill the time before the new season starts (or heck, before preseason starts). Their methodology has taken the time honored form of something called “a listicle,” or when it’s on TV a Top ________ Show. So far they have compiled the following lists: Top 20 Centers Right Now, Top 20 Defensemen Right Now, Top 20 Wings Right Now and Top 10 Goalies Right Now. Alex Pietrangelo ranked 9th on their list of defensemen; Vladimir Tarasenko ranked 11th on their list of wingers.
As the summer winds down, the NHL Network has compiled their final list: the Top 50 Players Right Now. Alex Pietrangelo is at a low, but do-able 41. Tarasenko? Just ten spots above him at 31.
Did we get it right? Are you surprised at this portion of the list? Let’s debate! #NHLTopPlayers pic.twitter.com/IvlZ3EjbZh— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) September 10, 2018
Taking off my Blues colored glasses for a moment, and looking at this, it seems low. Analyst Bill Lindsay had this to say about the right winger:
“He’s got one of the [most solid] lower halves that you’ll see, and the release is in a blink of an eye and it’s laser-like accurate. When he gets in the shooting position, it’s on the stick, off the stick, and this is his repertoire: he’s able to find that seam and he’s able to cradle that puck. He has those hands close together and that a lot of times is why players don’t have a great one-timer because they won’t slide it down. He just keeps those hands close together and when you have your hands close together like that, you’re able to just cradle the puck and get it off so quickly. Tarasenko has that type of shooting, that it gets it done and just beats goaltenders from all over.”
That’s some pretty ok praise for someone ranked 31st overall.
Last year was an off season for Tarasenko, who had 33 goals and 33 assists. This was good for... let’s see... 44th in the league in scoring. And 24th overall in goals. Last season he was 10th in the league in scoring and fourth overall in goals.
His goal total is six off of last year’s total and seven off of his career high of 40 from 2015-2016.
So, based on one-year drop-off, maybe this list is pretty accurate after all. From 2013-2014 to last year, however, Tarasenko’s 18th in points with 331 and 5th in goals, with 170.
If you’re looking at overall goal and points totals, Tarasenko’s ranking in the list seems low. When you take into consideration his lack of a consistent center and the fact that he was on a team that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn past November last year, Tarasenko’s ranking looks very low. Doesn’t he deserve at least a bonus spot or two for having to play with Jori Lehtera?