NHL Top 10: Wingers

Hockey article at Knup Sports

While the NHL wing doesn’t require as many prerequisite skills as the center position, an elite winger is often identified by their undeniable goal-scoring ability, thrilling passes, and the ability to check and crash the net or skate fluidly along the outside.

While the wing doesn’t require as many prerequisite skills as the center position, an elite winger is often identified by their undeniable goal-scoring ability, thrilling passes, and the ability to check and crash the net or skate fluidly along the outside.

From hard-hitting snipers such as Alex Ovechkin to shifty stick handlers like Kirill Kaprizov and Patrick Kane, there are so many different player types that can fit the wing, which makes this a Top 10 that is hard to determine.

There are so many different ways to go with this, but here are my Top 10 Wingers in the NHL to continue this Top 10 series.

Honorable Mention: Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild

Kirill the Thrill smashed his way into the NHL scene last season with a literal “thrilling” rookie season.

Now I know, he has only played one NHL season, but this season in which he put up 27 goals and 51 points in 55 games came after multiple successful seasons in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) in Russia. His stellar season earned him the Calder Trophy award at the age of 24, one of the older winners.

While the Wild may have jumped the gun like me, they locked him up long-term this off-season with a 5 year, 45 million dollar contract on the day before free agency.

I think Kaprizov will continue to grow, and if he does, it will be a WILD ride in Minnesota.

#10: Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers

Huberdeau might be the most underrated player in the league.

Many people may not have him in their Top 10, let alone their Top 15.

He, along with his teammate in Aleksander Barkov, are two of the game’s most underrated talents due to the fact they play for a small market team in the Florida Panthers. The 28-year-old is coming off of another stellar season in 2020-21 in which he had 20 goals and 61 points in 55 games.

Over the past three seasons, he is seventh in total points, putting him ahead of David Pastrnak, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Mark Scheifele.

Put some respect on his name.

#9: Mitch Marner, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

The perfect compliment to Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner is arguably the best playmaker on this list, and his stats will prove that.

He has posted 228 points over his last 196 games, 166 of them being assists, making him undoubtedly one of the best players in the NHL, the only problem is that there are plenty of talented people up there with him that own higher spots on this list.

Marner has had all the success in the world in the regular season, but like his team, the Maple Leafs, that needs to translate into playoff success. He hasn’t tallied a goal in his last 12 playoff games for the Leafs.

#8: Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche

Mikko Rantanen is an absolute stud, and he deserves to be recognized for all that he has done in Colorado. The only reason he hasn’t yet been starred is because of his pairing with a now perennial contender for the Hart Trophy, Nathan Mackinnon.

He has averaged over a point per game over the last four seasons and has been integral to the maturation and growth of this Colorado team that is bound to break through for a championship sooner or later.

He doesn’t just contribute on the offensive end. His large frame at 6’4 allows for him to play hard in the defensive zone and layout the competition. He is a force for Colorado.

#7: Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights

The resident studly defender and two-way player of this list, Mark Stone is the biggest key to Vegas’ continued success in the Western Conference.

While the center position is often where you find the two-way players that dominate the Selke Trophy voting, Mark Stone has slid his name into the conversation as one of the best two-way guys in the league, leading to two Selke Trophy finalist nods.

Oh, and that’s just defensively. He still led the Knights in points with 61 and tallied 21 goals. And while it has felt he has been in the league for some time now, he is still only 29, so there are plenty of years ahead to add to his trophy case.

#6: Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

I am among the many haters of Brad Marchand, and in my opinion, it is warranted due to his useless antics. But I still recognize the undeniable greatness of Marchand on the ice.

He is a thorn in every team’s side as a pest, but he also torments them offensively, scoring over 28 goals in six straight seasons, and being one of the top offensive players in the league on a studly Boston first line.

At 33, Marchand has continuously grown in his ability offensively, and his pesty-ness has yet to deter. While it is typical for offensive skill to dip into the mid-’30s, his ability to get into the heads of his opponents will never subside.

#5: Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

We are now 16 years removed from the date that Alexander Ovechkin made his NHL debut in 2005 after being drafted first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. 16 years after that date, he is still one of the best wingers and goal scorers in the league, and will most likely go down as the best goal scorer of all time.

He sits at 730 career goals, just 165 goals short of passing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record that was once thought to be unbreakable. It also seems that Ovechkin has made it his mission to attempt to break that record, as he inked a new 5 year, 47.5 million dollar deal to stay in the Nation’s Capital.

His 9 career Maurice Richard Trophies are second only to the Great One and while he was nowhere near topping Auston Matthews last season, he still scored 24 goals in 45 games, and I don’t think anyone would put it past him to reach the top again.

#4: Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers

Much like Kirill Kaprizov, Artemi Panarin burst onto the NHL season in style back in 2015-2016 with 77 points for the Chicago Blackhawks and a Calder Trophy, and since then, he has consistently been one of the best players in hockey.

While he was great then, he is even better now since signing with the Rangers. He has taken his game to another level in the Big Apple and is a big reason for the buzz coming out of Madison Square Garden this season.

He totaled 58 points in 42 games last season, and 95 points in just 69 seasons in 2019-20. There is no doubt in my mind that he has a chance at reaching 100 points this season.

#3: Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Some may consider Kane the best American-born hockey player of all time, yet he is still 32 years old and has many years to add to his many American-oriented records.

After being selected first overall back in 2007, Kane has done nothing but score and lead the Blackhawks along with Jonathan Toews to the best of his ability.

He has just about every individual trophy you could want as an offensive-oriented player, and he also has three Stanley Cups to add to the trophy case.

While Chicago as a whole has fallen off as of late in terms of team success, that is not without Kane continuing to put up huge numbers. He had 15 goals and 51 assists in 56 games last season.

After an eventful offseason for Chicago, they will be looking to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and many people think they have a great chance to do so.

#2: David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

It says a lot about a player when it is considered an off-year and they still score over a point per game.

But that has just become the expectation for David Pastrnak. He took home a joint Maurice Richard Trophy with Alex Ovechkin back in 2019-2020 when they both scored 48 goals, and tallied 95 points that season as well in just 70 games.

He will play a huge role in how far the Bruins can go this season, as once again, it looks like they may not have secondary scoring help.

At 25 years old, he still has many more years to cement himself as one of the best in the game.

#1: Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov is the best winger in hockey and had Connor McDavid not existed, he may have been the best forward in the game. It is no surprise that his team, also spearheaded by the top goalie and top defenseman in the league, has won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Kucherov missed all of the regular season last year, but he made an instant impact for a Tampa Bay Lightning team that struggled to find their stride while he was out.

He scored 32 points in 23 games after returning from a season-long absence, something I doubt many other players can do.

Let us not forget that he put up 128 points in 82 games just two seasons ago. If he can stay healthy, there is a chance we see these types of numbers again.

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