NHL Network released its top 20 forwards list, and two Chicago Blackhawks are on it
As the month of August rolls around, hockey fans begin to really feel the itch for the NHL season to begin. Prospect camps are over, free agency has less of a buzz and it’s still over a month until training camps begin.
So the people at the NHL Network have begun to roll out their NHL rankings to help pass the dog days of summer.
Below you will find the first of such lists, naming the top 20 forwards in the NHL, right now:
There is a galaxy worth of star power on the list, highlighted by a couple of multi-time Stanley Cup winners, 60-plus goal scorers and some of the brightest talents yet to reach their full potential. Essentially a “who’s who” of players you could start a franchise around.
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But there is only one team that can boast having two players in the top five of the list, and that would be the Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews at No. 5 and Patrick Kane atop the list at No. 1.
Kane, Toews Leading The Blackhawks
The Blackhawks, for the better part of the last decade, have had the kind of success in the NHL that every team dreams of. Since the lockout of the 2004-05 season, only the Blackhawks and Penguins have been to the Stanley Cup Final more than twice, with Chicago winning the Cup in all three of its trips and Pittsburgh winning two out of three. Not to mention five trips to the Western Conference finals and a President’s Trophy for the Blackhawks.
So it’s no surprise to see the Blackhawks are the only team to have multiple players in the top five of the list, and of course it’s the duo that started the Blackhawks’ renaissance with Kane and Toews. Also, Kane has led most-to-all of the early fantasy hockey rankings in recent weeks, so one could see this coming.
While an argument could be made against Toews being in the top five of the list, one would be hard-pressed to find a hockey fan dense enough to truly believe that Toews is not one of the best five forwards in the game. Is there any other player you would want to be on the ice in a critical moment of any game?
Toews can produce on the powerplay, excel shorthanded, score big goals, see the ice better than most players in the league and has the intangibles to get the most veteran of locker rooms to run through a wall with him. There is a reason he was named the third-youngest captain in NHL history at 20 years old, and will be the longest-serving captain in Blackhawks history, surpassing Dirk Graham‘s seven-year tenure with the captaincy from 1988-95.
As for Kane, what more can you expect from the reigning NHL MVP and leading scorer? Like EJ Hradek says in the video above, Kane really is one of the few players who alone gives you a reason to buy a ticket to a game.
Kane’s scoring ability, unparalleled puck-handling skills and his ability to elevate the game of those playing around him makes him the most electrifying player in the NHL today. Just ask Artemi Panarin what playing with him can do for your career.
Moving into the 2016-17 season, the spotlight will be brightest on Kane as he comes off of his most successful individual season of his career. Add in the fact the Blackhawks are currently tied with defending the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins as having the best odds to win the 2017 Stanley Cup, and the expectations in Chicago will be sky-high.
Luckily for the Blackhawks, Kane and Toews will be leading the way as Chicago hopes to make another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and make the long summer without hockey for Blackhawks fans, a little bit shorter.