Is Nico hardly a top 100 skater? really?

Last week, on Twitter, J Fresh Fans have taken surveys on who are the best players in the NHL in various locations. After completing each individual skater position, he then combined the results for the top 100 skaters as voted on by people. As he indicated, thousands of different people voted on this. Of course, we’ll never know the fan base and the actions of those thousands, but it’s still interesting to see any hockey fanatics (and they have to be fanatics to vote on the hockey player ratings at the end of the summer) thinking about who the best players in the league are.

The 100 best results can be found in This tweet is here. Here is a screenshot of the graph:

In this graph you will see 4 New Jersey Devils players who made the list. For a team that can’t get out of their own way, that’s not a bad thing for all things considered. 32 teams x 4 players equals 128 players, so the Devils have more than the average representation. Jack Hughes beats the Devils at 41st overall and was ranked 11th best in the league by the JFresh poll, so people are high, as they should be. The talent is clearly there, and there is still room for further improvement, so the upside, already combined with the raised floor, is impressive.

Next, Dougie Hamilton ranked 47th in the poll, and as the 15th best defensive player. Given his injury last season, it’s hard to argue with that overall. He may have ranked higher last summer after some real quality seasons in Carolina, but a shortened year wouldn’t help, even if he did well while he was. After Dougie, Jesper Bratt is ranked 73rd in the overall standings and 13th among the right wing. If you look at last season alone, that’s a huge insult to him. He was, given what I saw last year, a top 5-7 right winger and a top 50 NHLer, if not better (the top 5 right-wing players in this poll were Kucherov, Marner, Rantanen, Pastrnak and Kane. Those argue, then it was Stamkos 6). Given that we here at AATJ considered him the best player on the team this year, we might have put him above Jack at 41st. However, remember he only showed that dominance for one season, and that should be given some advantage. If he can repeat what he just did next season as well, I think his stock will jump massively among those who fill out these surveys.

Finally, and in my opinion, Nico Hescher was more legitimate than Pratt at 73, coming in at 94, and just making the top 100. He’s also ranked 28th best in the league, which is another terrible slight. Look at the other names that are directly above him at 94. Fans who took part in this poll consider him to be on the same level, or worse than, Ryan Bullock, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Trevor Zegras, and Pavel Bukhnevich. These are the skaters ranked 93-90, respectively. I’m sorry, but I take Niko on all four of them, and no discussion. Kuznetsov has struggled his career so far, only getting 78 points in 79 regular season games last year, but I still take Niko at 23 versus Kuznetsov at 30, especially since Evgeni gets most of his points from assists. He plays the greatest scorer of our generation. I don’t think I even need to bring in Pulock, and Buchnevich is kind of like Pratt in that he had a dominant year last season, otherwise he was good but not great in New York. Zegras could be a stalker and he’s someone you might want to argue about taking on Nico, but at the age of 21 and with very little NHL experience, he’s a real wild card.

I think it’s really true that those who don’t watch Nico on a regular basis and don’t follow the team as closely as we fans do, don’t realize how good Nico really is. Like, let’s jump 30 positions in the rankings here. #64 is Kevin Fiala, 65 is Brady Tkachuk, and 66 is Ryan O’Reilly. Do you want Nico above any or all of these people? I can definitely argue with him about any of these three, and I’m sure you can too. Now, right above them, I think he’s starting to get a little crowded with talent. Number 63 is William Nylander, 62 is Mark Shevelle, and 61 is Patrick Lane. Nylander and Scheifele are smitten in my opinion, and Laine might be a controversial player, but you can’t deny his talent. Now, you’d still want Nico on some or all of these guys, but it sure comes close. But that’s just one thing. I’d say the question of who’s going to take him, Nico or anyone else, is starting to get tricky at 63. Nico ranks number 94 on this list. At a minimum, this reduces the Demon Leader’s value by 30 places in the ranking.

Now, you may also want to direct some other criticism. I’m sure we all can. Another one, for example, is that Jonas Siegenthaler, the Devils’ best defender last season, is not on this list. He’s ranked #85 among NHL Defenders, not to mention making the top 100 overall. Meanwhile, Damon Severson ranked No. 57 among the men of defense, so it’s clear that Siegenthaler was slept by most of the people who took this poll. Another strong season of it and things have to change. You might even argue that Siegenthaler’s position is more weak than Niko’s, and it would be a good argument. But when I first looked at this, my initial shock was at Niko’s low ranking, and how obviously people outside of New Jersey don’t view it the way we do. Will that change? Great question, but only time will tell.

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