Ranking the best forwards from Round 1 of the North Division playoffs
With the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, theScore counts down the North Division's top five players of the postseason so far in all three positional groups. Players on eliminated teams are eligible for this list, as these rankings are explicitly based on performances in Round 1.
5. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Others scored more goals and produced more points in the first round than McDavid, but the likely impending Hart Trophy winner made a significant impact as usual despite his team being bounced in four games. The Oilers superstar drove possession at an elite clip while logging over 30:00 per contest amid multiple overtime affairs.
4. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
Wheeler had a solid series for the Jets. The Winnipeg captain played nearly 37 minutes in Game 4, an impressive feat for the 34-year-old. That had to be reassuring for the team, considering he missed time in April due to a concussion.
3. Mark Scheifele, Jets
Underlying numbers aside, Scheifele was his typically reliable self in the opening round. His steady play was particularly critical to the Jets' success in the clinching game. The talented center scored twice in that contest, netting the tying goal in the third period after opening the scoring in the first. He also won 52% of his 98 faceoffs in the series.
2. Leon Draisaitl, Oilers
It certainly wasn't Draisaitl's fault the Oilers got swept. The 2019-20 MVP's efforts deserve recognition despite the series outcome, and three of the four games included a combined five overtimes, thereby weakening any claims of a small sample size. Draisaitl's impressive workload led all North forwards, and he drove possession at a brilliant rate despite his team's surprisingly swift exit.
1. William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
Yes, the Maple Leafs blew a 3-1 series led and fell to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games, but that doesn't change the fact that Nylander outperformed all other North Division forwards in the opening round.
The 25-year-old led all North forwards in goals and points in Round 1 while tying for second in the league in the former category and fifth in the latter. Nylander benefited from playing more games than his counterparts in the other matchups, but he picked up the slack for superstar teammates who underachieved.
(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)