Ranking the 10 best players in the Stanley Cup Final

    The 2024 Stanley Cup Final between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers begins on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET) with Game 1 in Florida.

    The Panthers are in the Final for the second year in a row, looking to win their first ever championship.

    The Oilers are looking to win their first since the 1989-90 season and help Connor McDavid claim his first title. Edmonton is also trying to become the first Canadian franchise to win the Cup since the Montreal Canadiens during the 1992-93 season.

    With the action set to begin, let’s take a look at the 10 best players in this year’s series.

    10. Sergei Bobrovsky, goalie | Florida Panthers

    Bobrovsky’s play has not been the most consistent this postseason, but he has been good enough to backstop the Panthers back here for the second year in a row. His .915 regular season save percentage was seventh best in the NHL, and a Stanley Cup ring might be enough to cement his status as a Hockey Hall of Famer. 

    9. Zach Hyman, forward | Edmonton Oilers

    Hyman has turned out to be one of the best free agent signings of the salary cap era. After signing a seven-year, $38.5M contract with the Oilers prior to the 2021-22 season, Hyman got a chance to play on the Oilers’ top line next to McDavid and has run with the opportunity. He scored a career-high 54 goals during the regular season and is leading the league with 14 goals in the playoffs. 

    8. Gustav Forsling, defense | Florida Panthers

    The Panthers acquired Forsling off of waivers a few years ago and have watched him quietly grow into one of the best and most effective defensemen in the NHL. He is not only an outstanding shutdown player, but he has also found an offensive element to his game with 39 points in 79 regular season games. 

    7. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, forward | Edmonton Oilers

    Nugent-Hopkins never became a megastar like a lot of other No. 1 overall picks have, but that does not mean he has not become a sensational, impact player. He is an outstanding playmaker and can either carry his own line if needed or play on the wing next to McDavid to produce a dominant scoring line at the top of the lineup. 

    6. Evan Bouchard, defense | Edmonton Oilers

    Bouchard has blossomed into the Oilers’ top defenseman and is a perfect fit for their style of play offensively. He was not only one of the top-scoring defensemen in the NHL during the regular season (82 points in 81 games), but he is also having one of the best postseason runs ever for a defenseman. His 27 points are already the fourth most in a single postseason for a defenseman, and he is just 10 points off the record held by Paul Coffey (37 points). He has a chance to match it. 

    5. Sam Reinhart, forward | Florida Panthers

    It is a testament to how good the talent in this series is that Reinhart only checks in at the No. 5 spot. Between the regular season (57 goals) and playoffs (eight goals), he has scored 65 goals this season and is also an outstanding defensive presence who can play in all situations (even-strength, power play, penalty kill). He has blossomed into a star since arriving in Florida three years ago and has set himself up to be the top free agent available this offseason. 

    4. Matthew Tkachuk, forward | Florida Panthers

    Tkachuk’s arrival in Florida before the 2022-23 season was a franchise-changer for the Panthers. He is one of the most complete players in the NHL, blending top-line offense, great defense, the ability to drive possession and help control the pace of play, physical toughness and a style of play that can get under the skin of every opponent. Every general manager in the NHL wants a player like this. But there are not many duplicates of him around. 

    3. Leon Draisaitl, forward | Edmonton Oilers

    On almost any other team, Draisaitl would not only be the clear-cut best player, but one of the top players in the history of most franchises. In Edmonton, he is simply the No. 2 guy ,and in this star-packed series he drops down to No. 3. But don’t let that take away from his offensive dominance and brilliance. He has scored at least 100 points in five of the past six seasons, and the only season he failed to do so was because it was a shortened 56-game season. He is one of the best offensive players in the league and a series Conn Smythe contender. 

    2. Aleksander Barkov, forward | Florida Panthers

    Barkov is in the discussion for best two-way player in hockey. He is as good as you will find in the league right now as a defensive forward and has consistently helped shut down every top player he has had to play against in the playoffs (Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Boston’s David Pastrnak, New York’s Artemi Panarin). He is also an elite offensive player who scores at a top-line rate. Seeing him go up against McDavid in this series will be tremendous. 

    1. Connor McDavid, forward | Edmonton Oilers

    McDavid is not only the best player in this series; he is the best player in hockey. There is nobody faster with better vision, better instincts, better playmaking and better finishing ability. He does it all. When the puck is on his stick, you better be on the edge of your seat anticipating brilliance because you never know what is going to happen next. He has the individual awards (MVP’s, scoring titles) and numbers. Now, he just needs to get the Stanley Cup. 

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