Editorials

NHL Power Rankings: Top 50 Forwards, Nos. 24-1

By Colin Likas
Jan 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after being named the first star of the game against the New York Islanders at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after being named the first star of the game against the New York Islanders at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 22, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel (81) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (74) reach for a loose puck during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The recent first-time Stanley Cup winner is much better at hockey than his physique would suggest. He’s surpassed 50 points every season since the 2008-09 campaign and just constantly fills up the net — or helps his teammates to do so. He’s pretty consistently overlooked when discussing top forwards, but this is a great complementary player.. Right wing. . Phil Kessel. 24. team. 92

Right wing. . Nikita Kucherov. 23. team. 23. So, I accidentally put Kucherov toward the bottom of this list in yesterday’s post. Just replace him over there with someone else (Marian Hossa? Why not, it’s a Blackhawks blog), because he belongs far higher than at No. 48. Kucherov is just 23 years old and extremely talented, having posted 131 points in the last two seasons and displaying blazing speed and a nose for the net.

85. The Oilers are still extremely stupid for moving Hall, who sets up as a dominant Devil for the next several years. He hit 82 games for the first time in his NHL career last season, putting up 65 points in the process. He takes a ton of shots and has a really accurate shot, and he also protects the puck well. Not sure why Edmonton wanted to dump him so badly.. Left wing. . Taylor Hall. 22. team

Right wing. . Blake Wheeler. 21. team. 30. Wheeler broke out last season with 78 points in a full 82 games, putting in work in all three phases of the game. He’s a huge body who’s extremely hard to get off the puck, hence a 55.3 Corsi-for rate last season. He projects as a cornerstone piece for the Jets moving forward.

87. Jagr is 44 years old and still a top-20 forward in this league. Sure, you wouldn’t build a team around him at that age, but he’s still in top physical shape and is still an offensive dynamo. He put up 66 points in 79 games last season, and he’s brilliant in seeing the ice — hence his bevy of points while putting up just 143 shots, far fewer than many other names on this list.. Right wing. . Jaromir Jagr. 20. team

Center. . Dylan Larkin. 19. team. 72. From old to young, we get to the soon-to-be-20-year-old Larkin. The Red Wings dug up another diamond here. Larkin had 45 points in 80 games last season, his first in the NHL, giving him fifth place in Calder Trophy voting. He’s just really dynamic in the offensive end, a guy who can create his own shot from pretty much anywhere and blow you away with speed when you least expect it.

. Johnny Gaudreau. 18. team. 112. Gaudreau is pretty much the only reason the Flames weren’t the worst team in the league last season. Gaudreau’s 78 points in 79 games left him with one of the best points-per-game totals in the league. He played nearly 20 minutes a night last season despite his underwhelming lack of size. He’s like a slightly downscaled (talent-wise) version of Patrick Kane, in that he can get in and out of trouble in a hurry with his skating and stick-handling.. Left wing

team. 67. Kopitar is such a dominant defensive center that he gets pushed up to this spot — and that he earned L.A.’s captaincy this offseason. He’s also really strong in the offensive end, posting 74 points last season mainly through setting up his teammates. Being a career 51.7 percent faceoff winner helps with that. The guy just knows how to flip the ice and make an impact going the other way.. Center. . Anze Kopitar. 17

team. 103. As soon as MacKinnon can stay healthy for a season, he’s going to be among the league’s points leaders. He had a career-best 63 in his freshman season, the only one of his three in which he’s played all 82 games. He’s a ridiculous playmaker who sees the ice in a really special way. He’s also got enough size to bull his way through opposing defenses and win board battles.. Center. . Nathan MacKinnon. 16

120. Pavelski has proven extremely durable with the Sharks, playing a full season’s worth of games each of the last five years. His offense is only getting racheted up in that time, too, as he’s gone for 70 or more points each of the last three seasons. He’s got a dirty snipe and a keen eye for passing lanes that few others can see. And he’s dominant possessing the puck.. Center. . Joe Pavelski. 15. team

. Corey Perry. 14. team. 105. He might be a complete douche, but Perry is also one of the league’s best forwards. Anaheim’s team-wide struggles with offense for the first two months of last season diluted his point total (62 in 82 games), but Perry has gone as high as 98 points in a season. He’s got a nasty shot, but he also has the size to destroy defenders on his way to knocking over the goalie and forcing the puck into the net.. Right wing

94. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll get complaints about having him too low, but this is still a great ranking for Captain Serious. Many pieces of his impact are made off the scoresheet, but he’s also an offensive power (50 or more points all but one season) despite his linemates constantly being in flux. He’s a bull on the forecheck and backcheck, and he’s one of the Blackhawks’ most important forwards from a defensive standpoint — and one of the best in the league in that department.. Center. . Jonathan Toews. 13. team

Next: Nos. 12-1

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