Welcome to Week 1 of the TWC Postseason Player Rankings: Road to the Smythe! Here at TWC, we use a statistical model to effectively rank players on a week to week basis. The model takes into effect individual statistics including goals and assists, as well as possession metrics like CF%, SCF%, HDCF%, and a correction for PDO. Each statistical category is weighed and scored differently, giving each player a unique TWC Score that determines their ranking after each week. All numbers are adjusted 5v5 values, and only players with a minimum of 25 minutes of 5v5 ice time are included. This value will increase as the playoffs continue. Don’t like where someone is ranked? Unfortunately, they will have to turn it around on the ice, as we take zero personal opinions into effect.
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Top 30 Forwards
With the small sample size of games so far and two incredibly lopsided series, there is no surprise that four of the top 10 forwards play for the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets. Jordan Eberle leads the pack so far, with four even strength points and dominant possession numbers. Perhaps the Edmonton Oilers (not featured) didn’t make the right call in offloading Eberle due to an underwhelming playoffs two seasons ago. He has been incredible for the Islanders through three games this Spring, and will look to sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins this week. Joining Eberle is teammate Mathew Barzal at number two, Anders Lee at 15, and Anthony Beauvillier at 20.
The Blue Jackets are having the most exciting first round series yet, and if they can finish off the Tampa Bay Lightning, will pull off one of the greatest upsets in NHL history. Currently up 3-0 in their series and outscoring the juggernaut Lightning 7-4 at 5v5, both Cam Atkinson and Matt Duchene are in the top 10.
The top five, however, is owned by the Vegas Golden Knights. After monster performances by Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, and Max Pacioretty on Sunday night, these three players find themselves in third, fourth, and fifth place respectively. The San Jose Sharks have not been able to contain this dynamite line all series long and they have powered the Golden Knights to a 2-1 series lead.
After dominating the regular season in offence and finishing first and second in goals scored respectively, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames have just one player combined in the top 30. This player is not one of the usual suspects. Not one that finished in the top 10 in NHL scoring, and not one that finished the season with 70+ points. Rookie Andrew Mangiapane, who opened the playoff scoring for the Flames with a simply sensational individual effort in game one, is 24th on the list. Despite playing fewer than 10 minutes at 5v5 per night, the winger has been the best player for the Flames so far this postseason.
Top 20 Defencemen
Dustin Byfuglien is the top ranked defender after putting on an absolute clinic Sunday night for the Winnipeg Jets. Byfuglien is a prototypical playoff performer, with the perfect blend of size and skill required to be a dominant force in the postseason. Not only is he the top ranked defenceman, but Byfuglien is ranked ninth overall among all skaters due to incredible possession numbers and being an offensive driver for the Jets.
No team has more than two defencemen in the top 20 through week one of the playoffs, but two teams that have multiple players are the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. Despite neither team winning a game so far, defencemen Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev for the Lightning, and Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton for the Hurricanes, have had a great start to the postseason. If their respective teams do mount comebacks, these defenders will have a big part of it.
An interesting name of note on the list is P.K. Subban. After a less than stellar regular season for the Nashville Predators, Subban has been fantastic to start the playoffs with over 60% in all three possession metrics along with a goal through two games. Subban and teammate Mattias Ekholm are sixth and fourth on the list respectively, and have been a huge part of the Predators evening up their series with the Dallas Stars and swinging momentum back in the direction of Music City.
What are your thoughts? Are you surprised where your favourite players landed this week? Let us know at @wincolumnblog.