NHL History: 30 best players in the 21st century (Updated 2023)

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connor mcdavid
Connor McDavid (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 3. Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid is very, very young, but unlike other young players that didn’t make the list because of lack of time played (Auston Mathews is clearly at the top of that list), he’s impossible to ignore since he’s considered the best player in the league almost immediately after entering the league.

In his five full seasons to start his career, he has a Hart Trophy, three 100-point seasons in an era where that’s rare (and would have made it four if last season didn’t get cut short), and he is undoubtedly considered the best player on the ice. He might actually have people looking at him like LeBron James, in that he’s so good that other players dominating around him might get more consideration for MVP just because they aren’t him.

McDavid is a superstar on just another level. The hockey world hasn’t seen skills like this since Mario Lemieux retired. He can skate through any defense in the league and weave in and out of whatever teams throw at him. His skating is so smooth while also being magical with the puck. He could retire tomorrow, and people would talk about how good he was on the ice for decades.

McDavid’s impact on this list is hard to bottle up since he’s only 26 years old. It is hard to argue he’s better than the best defenseman of the generation, but his impact is undeniable. The team has been a disappointment since then, but issues in goal seem to tank their ceiling. Now, he’s once again pushing the Oilers to be a consistent playoff contender every season. If he keeps it going, he will eventually be one of the main reasons why the Oilers win it all.