NHL

Ranking the NHL's Top 10 Power Forwards in the 2013-14 Season

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

Ranking the NHL's Top 10 Power Forwards in the 2013-14 Season

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    NHL teams will give up a king's ransom for a true power forward. The definition of the player is vague, but there is a general consensus. This is a big player with skill to succeed on scoring lines and toughness to play in the hard areas. 

    Power forwards are plentiful on a few teams, while others don't have any at all. One thing that is true of all teams: they're always looking for the next one. 

    Here are the 10 top power forwards in 2013-14. 

     

10. Evander Kane, LW, Winnipeg Jets

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Strength: Evander Kane combines size and speed into one reckless and effective combination. He displays skill and edgy play in equal amounts, and has impact potential.

    Skill: He scored 30 goals in the NHL when he was just a kid, and he could end up being a consistent 35-goal man for the Jets. When he plays with abandon, Kane is a dangerous hockey player.

    2013-14 Outlook: Kane has struggled with maturity issues and his former coach may have had a difficult time communicating with him. He is underperforming this season but has enormous ability.

9. Wayne Simmonds, RW, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Strength: Wayne Simmonds is a load. The Flyers have a much-sought-after winger who can crash and bang plus score goals.

    Skill: He is a big part of the Flyers power play. Simmonds is effective as a net presence and can score goals because of his quick hands. There are few board battles he can't win.

    2013-14 Outlook: The early part of the Flyers season was a struggle, but Simmonds warmed up in November. He's been close to a point per game player since December. At 25 years old, Simmonds is just getting started.

8. Andrew Ladd, LW, Winnipeg Jets

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Strength: Andrew Ladd lacks top-end scoring ability, but is a very physical winger who can play the two-way game on any line. He's often the most physical and defensively aware member of his forward unit. 

    Skill: He's scored close to 30 goals a couple of times, but is not a pure offensive player. Ladd's value comes from being physical, with enough skill to play with better offensive forwards.

    2013-14 Outlook: His current totals will fall shy of his point-per-game pace of last season, but Ladd's value goes beyond simple offense. The Jets have had a difficult season, but Ladd has supplied them with a veteran presence and is a responsible defensive player.

7. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Strength: Jamie Benn is a strong, thick player best suited to playing the wing. He can win battles along the boards and is deadly with the puck on his stick anywhere inside the offensive zone.

    Skill: Benn is a very good playmaking forward and because of it can also play in the middle. Dallas likes him on the outside and winning physical battles. 

    2013-14 Outlook: After struggling during the shortened 2012-13 season, Benn already has 20 goals this year. He's tracking for a career season and at 24 years old is coming into his own as an NHL power forward.

6. Milan Lucic, LW, Boston Bruins

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Strength: Milan Lucic is the most feared forward in the NHL. A man hard-wired to run over, through and into anything that moves, he's also blessed with very good hands and surprising offensive instincts. 

    Skill: Lucic is not an outstanding passer but can play with skilled men. His gift to the scoring line is twofold: He can score goals and cannot be moved from his chosen spot. 

    2013-14 Outlook: Lucic is outside the range of his best Boston seasons so far, but the entire team is adjusting to off-season moves. He is an integral part of the Bruins success. 

5. Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Strength: Marian Hossa is often overlooked in this category, but he's a tremendous possession player who can acquire and retain the puck. His passing is elite, he's an outstanding shooter and impossible to knock off the puck.  

    Skill: Hossa is a dangerous player anywhere on the ice, because he can beat the opposition in so many ways. He scores more goals off broken plays than many NHL wingers do in an entire season.

    2013-14 Outlook: Hossa's season looks very much like his previous years. He offers quality offense with glorious possession stats. At 35 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down. 

4. Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks

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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    Strength: Perry is average in size for a power forward (6'3", 210 lbs) but makes up for it in agitation and stick work. He is widely regarded as one of the filthiest skill players in the modern game. He is also famous for losing his temper. 

    Skill: Perry's ability to score goals is exceptional. A quick release and capacity to find open areas in the slot makes him a quality player. He is an impact scorer. 

    2013-14 Outlook: The former 50-goal scorer is on pace to score over 40 goals this season, and should post more than 85 points. The Ducks are having an outstanding season, and Perry is a big part of their success. 

3. David Backes, C, St. Louis Blues

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Strength: David Backes impacts the game with physical play and strength in puck battles. He combines defensive acumen and offensive flair in equal portions, and is a complete player. 

    Skill: Backes usually has over 200 shots a year, but is also a very good passer. His size makes him effective at puck retrieval and he's productive on the power play. 

    2013-14 Outlook: Backes is on pace for a career season offensively and has already tied his career high in power-play goals. At 29 years old, he is reaching new offensive peaks. 

2. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Strength: Ryan Getzlaf is among the strongest men in the NHL. When healthy, he can score goals, fill the playmaking role and dominate physically. Among the NHL's best centers when he clicks, he lacks consistency.

    Skill: He has a complete skill set. Getzlaf is a terrific shooter, a better passer and his size allows him to win battles and drive to the net.

    2013-14 Outlook: This might be his finest season. If he can continue at this current production level, Getzlaf will be strongly considered for the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP.

1. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Strength: Alex Ovechkin is a force of nature. His 282 shots tower over the rest of the league. His scoring prowess is the best of his generation and he's a devastating hitter who tracks the puck like a magnet. 

    Skill: His main skill is as a shooter. He scores from everywhere, and uses both quickness and power to overwhelm goaltenders. He's a machine when things are clicking. 

    2013-14 Outlook: Ovechkin is on target for 60 goals this season. Incredibly, that wouldn't qualify as a career high. He is having a wonderful year, and continues to build a resume that may eventually make him the best LW to ever play in the NHL. 

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