No. 45 through 41
(45) Sean Couturier – PHI (Age: 27/Cap Hit: $4.33M/2 Years Left)
Couturier is one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL and is a finalist for the Selke Trophy this season as the best defensive forward in the league.
While his defensive exploits are incredible, the Flyers centre has rounded into a dangerous offensive player, as well. After back-to-back 76 point seasons, Couturier notched 59 points in 69 games this season, leading Philly to the playoffs.
The Phoenix native is entering his prime, having just turned 27 years old. He has two years left on his deal at an annual cap hit of $4.33 million. For his career, Couturier has put up a gaudy plus-92 rating and is a stellar cornerstone for the Flyers.
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(44) Roman Josi – NSH (Age: 30/Cap Hit: $9.059M/8 Years Left)
Josi has been the model of consistency for the Predators and was rewarded with an eight-year contract extension that will pay him $9,059,000 annually.
Over the past seven seasons, Josi has recorded at least 40 points and has been a plus-72 player. He is the captain of the Predators and has been criminally underrated throughout his career. That may be changing as Josi was nominated for his first Norris Trophy as the league’s top defender.
The only thing hurting his ranking is that he is now 30-years-old and has a massive contract to live up to while entering the final years of his prime. Otherwise, this is one of the few defencemen that you would feel comfortable starting your franchise with.
(43) Darcy Kuemper – ARZ (Age: 30/Cap Hit: $4.5M/2 Years Left)
Kuemper was playing at an elite level for the Coyotes before a December lower-body injury. In 29 regular-season games, Kuemper recorded a 2.22 GAA and .928 SV%.
During the playoffs, his GAA ballooned to 3.47 thanks to some porous defence and an Avalanche squad that was burying everything. Kuemper’s save percentage remained high at .913 in the playoffs.
Looking at advanced stats in the playoffs, the Saskatoon native had an expected goals against of 1.88 per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 time. The goals were a result of far too many penalties and disgusting defence in front of him.
Kuemper is 30 years old, which is still young enough for a goaltender and has a fair two-year extension starting this season at $4.5 million per year.
(42) Alex Pietrangelo – STL (Age: 30/Pending Unrestricted Free Agent)
Easily the top unrestricted free agent heading into the offseason, the Blues’ Captain is as steady as they come on the blueline. The Blues are doing everything they can to free up the cap space to re-sign Pietrangelo.
And with good reason, he is a nasty, physical defender who is a nightmare for top forwards to play against. This season he also compiled 52 points in 70 regular-season contests and a plus-11 rating.
Pietrangelo was a beast in last season’s run to the Stanley Cup and would typically have a massive payday coming to him. With the NHL’s salary cap remaining flat, it will be interesting to see what kind of deal he gets in the offseason.
(41) Victor Hedman – TB (Age: 29/Cap Hit: $7.875M/5 Years Left)
After being drafted second overall by the Lightning in 2009, Victor Hedman has not disappointed. Routinely in the conversation as the NHL’s best defenceman, Hedman is nominated for the Norris Trophy for the sixth time in seven seasons. He won the award once in 2017-18.
Hedman continued his consistency this season with 55 points in 66 games. He has recorded at least 47 points in five straight seasons, and during that time, is a ridiculous plus-107.
The Swede brings everything you want to the table in the modern NHL with a mix of physicality and offensive prowess. At $7.875 million, Hedman is a bargain for Tampa in the next five years.
COMING SOON: PART 3- PLAYERS 40 THROUGH 31
What do you think of the players ranked from 50 through 41? Who do you think is coming in the Top 40? What Leafs and Sabres do you think will be on the list? Let us know in the comments below!