From the ruler-straight blades used by stars like Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovalich, to the banana curves introduced by Bobby Hull and perpetuated by players such as Alexander Ovechkin, the equipment that NHL players use has changed dramatically over the years.
In the same way, the benchmark of what makes up a great player is always evolving. Every year new, exciting, and very different players enter the NHL starting a new debate regarding which skills the best forwards need to possess.
Alexander Ovechkin’s game is nothing like Sidney Crosby’s, yet they are both considered to be great players who are carving out careers that seem to be heading to the Hall of Fame.
What I am going to attempt to do is mix together all the forwards who I think were the best at each particular part of the game in order to create the ultimate forward.
The skills that are essential to being a forward, and from which I will be choosing the best from are: slap shot, wrist shot, skating ability, goal scoring ability, physical presence, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, passing, leadership, toughness, and durability.
It is very hard to compare the skills of contemporary NHL forwards to those in the past as I will be including players from all eras of hockey in my decisions.