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NHL Power Rankings: The Top 25 Power Play Snipers

Michael StuartCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2010

NHL Power Rankings: The Top 25 Power Play Snipers

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    What a year of National Hockey League play we've witnessed so far.  We've seen ups, downs and everything in between.

    Since the start of the season, some beautiful goals have been scored.  In this slideshow, I'll be power ranking the top 25 power play snipers in the game today.

    Each of these players has a gift.  Each man has the ability to snipe the puck into the back of the net when their team is on the man advantage. 

    In today's NHL, it is imperative that every team has a good power play.  In order to have success in the league, special teams are a must. 

    Fans, I warn you that these are indeed POWER RANKINGS and not overall rankings based on opinions.  You may not see your player (i.e. Ilya Kovalchuk) on this list because he just hasn't been performing.  Don't fret, these standings could change in the coming days. 

    To make this slideshow interesting, I will show you how many power play goals each player has scored and how many they would be on pace for over an 82 game schedule.

    Hopefully you enjoy the read. 

    Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93

    ** I'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone who follows me on Twitter.  Follow for updates on my Bleacher Report articles, Hendricks Hockey blogs and general hockey news. 

No. 25: Dustin Byfuglien

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    When you think of Dustin Byfuglien, you don't really think of a pure National Hockey League sniper. 

    Byfuglien is a big body with a big, accurate shot that he can take from anywhere on the ice.  His play in Atlanta has been incredibly inspiring this year, especially on the man advantage. 

    As the only defenseman on this list, Dustin Byfuglien really deserves a lot of credit for his incredible play in a struggling market.  Hopefully the excitement he brings will help bring hockey fans into Atlanta.

    Take a look at some of Byfuglien's highlights.  He's been amazing.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 4

    On Pace For: 10

     

No. 24: Joe Thornton

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Jumbo Joe gets a lot of publicity regarding his passing ability.  He has long been one of the premier play making centers in the league.

    What is underrated about Joe is his shot.  He has one of the better shots in the Pacific Division.  When he chooses to use it, goalies have to be aware.

    Even on a struggling San Jose team, Thornton manages to put up the power play points with regularity. 

    Despite being a player who you don't really think of as a pure shooter, Joe can get it done.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 4

    On Pace For: 10

No. 23: Johan Franzen

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Detroit Red Wings are a funny team.  While you hear a lot about Datsyuk and Zetterberg, you don't hear too much about Johan Franzen and the second tier players on the wings.

    Franzen is a big body who can play on the boards, in front of the net, or even in the slot. 

    He's got the shot to score goals on the man advantage and the size to punish opposing players. 

    Interestingly enough, Johan Franzen has more power play goals than both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.  What does that say about this guy?

    In my opinion, it screams that he's underrated.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 14

No. 22: Daniel Alfredsson

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    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    It's a little bit unfortunate to see one of the game's true heroes, Daniel Alfredsson, start to slow down after such a great career in Canada's capital. 

    I've been an Alfredsson fan for years and it really hurts to watch his play slow down.  There is no doubt that he still has the talent, I'm just wondering if age is finally catching up to him. 

    Regardless of his age and lack of production recently, Alfredsson is still one of the premier snipers in the league.  He can play a power game and a finesse game during the same shift.

    His play has been inspiring over the last few years and I'm really hoping that he can get that back this year.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 13

No. 21: Michael Ryder

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    I would consider Michael Ryder the forgotten man in Boston.  All summer we heard that he was going to be the player moved to create cap room for the Bruins. 

    Quietly, and efficiently, Ryder is having a statistical season to remember.  He isn't lighting the world on fire, but he is looking like the player Boston wanted when the brought him in.  Still, I'm not sure he's worth what they're paying him.

    On a team that is loaded with depth and talent, Ryder manages to lead the team in power play goals.  It's an impressive feat when you consider names like Horton, Bergeron and Seguin. 

    Hopefully Michael Ryder can continue his successful year.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 14

No. 20: Kris Versteeg

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    A member of the Toronto Maple Leafs?  It must be Phil Kessel because everybody knows that he is that team's only true offensive threat, right?

    Think again, folks!  This is the Kris Versteeg show. 

    Yes, that's right, Kris Versteeg has beat out Phil Kessel as the only member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on this list.  To me, it's actually quite impressive that Versteeg has managed to light the lamp with the man advantage as much as he has.

    When you consider just how bad Toronto's special teams are (pay no attention to where they statistically rank, watch the games), it's almost shocking that this guy has played so well.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 14

No. 19: Loui Eriksson

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    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    In my opinion, Loui Eriksson is one of the most underrated players in the league.  He plays in a struggling market, Dallas.  It's unfortunate that many die hard hockey fans don't get to see just how much talent this guy has.

    Not only has he consistently lit the lamp during his career in Dallas, he has done it on the man advantage.  Coach Marc Crawford is counting on Eriksson to get things done. 

    With Brad Richards setting him up, it's not a big surprise that Eriksson is on this list.  These two combine to make one of the most dynamic duos in the league. 

    I hope that the National Hockey League changes the way the schedule is made so that fans in the east get to see just how good this guy is.  He is truly something special.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 14

No. 18: Chris Stewart

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Okay, so I'll be the first to admit that you would be hard pressed to call Chris Stewart a true sniper in the league. 

    The reason he is on this list is that his production has been undeniable.  It's quite impressive to see such a young up and coming player come out and just light the league on fire.

    Unfortunately for Stewart, and the Avalanche, he is injured.  Hopefully he will pick up his hot pace when things start falling into pace.

    Some of his goals have just been pure domination and sheer perseverance.  I strongly suggest that you take a moment to look at some of his highlights.  This kid could be the next big thing in the West.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 18

No. 17: Patrick Marleau

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Patrick Marleau has been one of the most consistent players in the National Hockey League since the lockout in the '04-'05 season. 

    He has scored goals, tallied assists and been strong on both sides of the puck.

    Despite the struggles of the Sharks this year, Marleau continues to fire his rocket of a wrist shot to tally power play goals.  I love watching this guy play because he just seems to want to score.

    With Marleau locked up for years to come, San Jose fans can look forward to many more goals being sniped from all over the offensive zone.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 13

No. 16: Jarome Iginla

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    As a Los Angeles Kings Featured Columnist, I can honestly say that I think I've written more about Jarome Iginla than any other player (other than Marco Sturm, possibly) in the last few weeks.  He has been all over the rumor mill.

    The great thing about Iginla is that even in his later years, he is still managing to produce at such a high rate.  He scores at even strength in bundles and on the power play. 

    Although I live in Vancouver and I have seen Iginla burn the Canucks and Kings on many occasions, I still have a lot of respect for the way he plays.  His poise and patience on the man advantage has helped the Flames for so many years.

    Now, I can't start talking about Jarome Iginla without touching on his shot.  He has got a wicked slap shot and a great wrist shot.  I look forward to seeing Jarome snipe more goals from all over the ice.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 13

No. 15: Claude Giroux

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers are playing like the best team in hockey right now.  Since their dream run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, the Flyers have just kept their foot on the gas pedal. 

    When you think of the Flyers, you think of names like Carter, Richards and Briere.  This season, a new name has emerged.

    Claude Giroux is quickly establishing himself as one of the go-to guys on the team.  He plays in clutch situations and he produces. 

    His skills on the power play are so evident with stick handling, his shot and his great offensive awareness.  This season, Giroux is defining himself as a great player that coach Peter Laviolette can count on each and everyday.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 15

No. 14: Corey Perry

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Although the socks in the picture I've chosen aren't pretty, Corey Perry's play on the power play is beautiful. 

    Perry is a really well rounded player.  He has the grit, speed and skill necessary to be one of the premier players on the man advantage.  I remember watching Perry at the Olympics and just thinking just how versatile he can be.

    One of the great things about Perry is that you can put him anywhere on the man advantage.  He can play all over the ice.  Playing with names like Fowler, Getzlaf and Ryan, Perry has become one of the key cogs in Anaheim's machine.

    His shot is very underrated and he knows how to release it off his stick really quickly.  One of my favorite things about Perry is that he always know when to shoot. 

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 12

No. 13: Patrick Sharp

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    After such a hot start to the season, Patrick Sharp has really cooled down. 

    Now, that's not to say that Sharp hasn't played well, but he just hasn't been where he was. 

    However, Patrick Sharp remains as one of the best players on the man advantage in the entire league.  I love the way the Chicago coaching staff can throw him out there on the point, on the boards, in front of the net, in the slot or wherever else they can think of. 

    Patrick is lighting the lamp at a great pace this season.  His play on the power play has helped ease the loss of Dustin Byfuglien.  His shot is there, his heart is there and his drive is there.  Those three things combine to make one great power play sniper.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 13

No. 12: Joe Pavelski

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Although he hasn't been playing like the dominant force he was in last year's playoffs, Joe Pavelski is still putting up numbers that are really respectable.

    On the power play, Joe Pavelski is one of the most versatile players in the league. 

    As we narrow this list down to the top ten, you will notice that versatility and still are going to become very apparent.  Pavelski doesn't quite crack the top ten, but he surely fits in with both of those words.

    A lot of people try to pin point why Joe has been so successful on the power play this season.  In my opinion, it has to do with how much he wants to win.

    In the league, there is a group of players that just wants to win more than anything.  Joe is a member of that elite club.  He uses that drive to better his shot, position and all around game.  Therefore, Joe is one of the leagues premier power play forwards.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 16

No. 11: Milan Hejduk

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Although Milan Hejduk is getting up there in age, he continues to dazzle team with his incredible skill and drive. 

    For the longest time, Milan Hejduk has been the dominant player on the Avalanche power play.  Despite his team being in a bit of a transition mode, Hejduk continues to lead the team both on and off the ice.

    On ice, Hejduk has the great talent that allows him to skate around opposing players.  He may not be the best skater in the league, but he has enough foot speed to get the job done. 

    Once he has danced around defenses, Hejduk has got one of the most confusing shots in the league.  It's not the hardest shot, it's not the most accurate shot, but it continues to daze goalies across the National Hockey League.

    For those reasons, Milan Hejduk is still considered one of the best power players in the league.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 5

    On Pace For: 15

No. 10: Thomas Vanek

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Despite having 40 goal seasons to his name, Thomas Vanek continues to be undervalued around the National Hockey League.

    He has got one of the most lethal wrist shots in the entire game.  In my opinion, right handed shots seem to confuse goalies more because there just isn't as many right handed players as there is left handed. 

    As I wrote this list, I knew that Thomas Vanek was going to be in my top ten.  Even though there are players with more goal and more points than him, Vanek continues to be one of the most dominant players in the game.

    If the Los Angeles Kings could acquire this guy, I would be the happiest fan in the world.  His help would propel the Kings' power play to the next level. 

    As I said in the opening slide, a successful power play is one of the most important things when you are looking for success in this league.  Thomas Vanek helps no matter where he is.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 16

No. 9: Ryan Malone

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Lightning line-up has so much talent laced throughout it.  You have Stamkos, St. Louis and so many more that make this team so good on the front end.

    One of the cogs that makes the Lightning what they are is Ryan Malone.  He is just so consistent and so determined to score for the team that calls Tampa home.  He plays with an edge, skill and he has experience. 

    Watch Malone play and you will see that he works incredibly hard to get his goals.  I really enjoy watching him play. 

    This season, Malone is near the top of the league in power play tallies.  For that reason alone, Malone deserves to be in the top ten.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 7

    On Pace For: 19

No. 8: Jonathan Toews

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    You would be hard pressed to find a player who works harder than Jonathan Toews.  In my opinion, he deserves to be the Canadian athlete of the year. 

    Look at all of his accomplishments; it's unbelievable when you think about how good this guy has been.  I really commend him for his great play.

    On top of winning the cup, winning Olympic gold and taking home the Conn Smythe trophy, Toews continue to produce this NHL season.

    Toews is another player who is right near the top of power play goals.  He just knows where to go and what to do with the puck whenever he gets it.  Despite not having the best shot or the fastest skating ability, Toews just knows what to do. 

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 7

    On Pace For: 17

No. 7: Ryan Kesler

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Ryan Kesler is the true definition of what a power play "sniper" really is. 

    For those of you who don't watch Canuck games, you have to see the highlights. 

    Prior to joining the Sedin twins on the number one power play unit, Kesler led the second unit to great success.  He knows where to go on the ice and he just has a knack for scoring.

    Kesler has almost patented his spot on the ice.  He skates into the slot and he just wires a wrist shot past opposing goaltenders.  It's one of the most exciting plays in hockey when you watch it. 

    Ryan Kesler hates to lose and hates not scoring.  These two factors have helped turn him into a dominant forward in the NHL.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 17

No. 6: Teemu Selanne

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Age just hasn't slowed Teemu Selanne down.  Even at 40 years of age, he continues to play at over a point per game pace.

    If you log onto NHL.com and look at the stats line for Teemu Selanne, it's really quite impressive.

    Everyone knows about his blistering speed and his rocket of a shot.  What a lot of people don't realize is just how old this guy is!  He's 40 years old and he continues to beat out kids in the league. 

    Think about that for a second.  It's really amazing.

    Selanne is counted on to be one of the main pieces on the Anaheim power play and for good reason.  He can score, pass, skate and he is one of the most poised and patient players in the league.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 19

No. 5: Alexander Semin

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Even though the Washington Capitals have been struggling this season, Alexander Semin has been really good. 

    A lot of people seem to think that his stellar play has something to do with him being in a contract year.  Would I be surprised?  No.  Do I think that's the only reason? No. 

    Alexander Semin has one of the most lethal wrist shots in the league.  He knows where to put it and he rarely fails.  Hopefully this is the year where his power play prowess translates into playoff success.  Believe me, the Capitals could use it.

    It's interesting to think that Semin has more power play goals than Alexander Ovechkin. 

    A casual hockey fan may not know who Semin is, but they surely know who Ovechkin is.  Interesting when you really think about this, isn't it?

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 15

No. 4: Dany Heatley

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The numbers don't lie; Dany Heatley has been one of the most consistent and prolific power play threats in the last five years.

    He has got a knack for taking his shots from the slot and opening up space to make wicked plays.  I remember his early days in Atlanta and Ottawa when he was just dominant.

    Playing in San Jose has really helped Heatley turn into a well rounded NHLer.  I really have enjoyed watching him play here.  His power play skills are so evident whenever his team takes to the ice.  He can dangle with the best players and he can shoot with the best players.

    It's a treat to have a player like this in the league.  I don't care about requesting a trade from Ottawa, he is one of the most respected power play snipers in the league. 

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 6

    On Pace For: 16

No. 3: Sidney Crosby

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Is there any doubt as to who the best player in the league is?  I really don't think so. 

    Sidney Crosby has distanced himself from just about everyone in the game of hockey.  His 20 game point streak is Gretzky-esque and he really looks like he wants to bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh.

    Watching Crosby play is really inspiring.  I remember last season when he just dragged Ottawa's Jason Spezza behind the net.  Wasn't that impressive?

    Not only is Crosby a great team player and captain, he can snipe with the best of them.  After working on his shot, Sidney scored 51 goals last season.  This year, it looks like he could be on pace for more. 

    A lot of credit has to go to his play on the man advantage.  It's really cool to watch.  Go to NHL.com and enjoy the long list of highlights courtesy of Sid-the-Kid.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 8

    On Pace For: 21

No. 2: Daniel Sedin

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    It must be tough being Daniel Sedin in Vancouver this season.  He is on pace to score over 100 points for the first time in his career and fans are harping on him for not being on his game. 

    Daniel is truly one of the great players in this league.  Along with brother Henrik, he makes one of the best duos in National Hockey League history. 

    This season we are seeing a different side of Daniel.  He has the ability to use his wicked wrist shot as always, but now we are also seeing him unleash a deadly slapshot.

    Having Daniel use a more versatile approach to playing on the man advantage has really helped lead the Canucks to the top power play in the game. 

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 8

    On Pace For: 23

No. 1: Steven Stamkos

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    To be honest, there was never any doubt in my mind as to who number one on this list was going to be. 

    Having watched a lot of Steven Stamkos over the last little while, I know that he is the best power play sniper in the game of hockey. 

    He's got a wicked slapshot that he unleashes from the half-boards and the point.  It's got to be one of the hardest shots in the league.

    On top of that, Steven also has the ability to use his incredibly deceptive wrist shot.  It's really something special to watch when he uses it. 

    Steven Stamkos is quickly turning into one of the NHL's elite players.  Within a couple of seasons, I wouldn't be surprised to see Stamkos crack the 30 power play goal mark.  He is that good.

    While he may not be the most well rounded player in the game, Stamkos is the best power play specialist in the world.

    Total Power Play Goals To Date: 11

    On Pace For: 29

Fast Facts...

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Some of your favorite players didn't make it onto this list.  Here's a small list of them and why they were cut:

    • Ilya Kovalchuk - only has 3 power play goals in 29 games
    • Mike Green - only has 3 power play goals in 29 games
    • Alexander Ovechkin only has 2 power play goals in 33 games (yikes!)

    Looking at the NHL leaders, those three players really stuck out to me.  Something has got to start working for each of those guys or it could be a long season for them.

     

    Thanks for reading!

    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/michaelstuart93

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