Ranking the Top 20 Deadliest Shots in the NHL

Ian MathesonContributor IIINovember 3, 2011

Ranking the Top 20 Deadliest Shots in the NHL

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    It takes a diverse collection of talent to form a winning team.

    Every team's management is charged with the task of compiling a roster that boasts an array of players, each with a different method of contributing to form a balanced team. 

    Though it takes all types of players to win, the importance of a clutch player with a lethal shot should never be understated.

    Players that can shoot top-shelf with unstoppable accuracy or use a blistering slap-shot to handcuff a goalie have the ability to change games and electrify a crowd with a single flick of the wrist.

    The shoot-first mentality is a common trait among players, yet to combine poise with accuracy and consistency, as well as the gift for finishing scoring chances, makes for something special.

    This list celebrates the league's top shooters.

20. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

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    Evgeni Malkin has a talent for scoring goals from difficult angles.

    The Penguins superstar can seemingly score from anywhere since his release is so quick and accurate.

    While you'll often see Malkin use his deadly one-timer as a weapon on the Pens power play, it's his ability to generate scoring chances on plays like this that land him a spot on the list.

    Last season, Malkin appeared in only 43 games due to injuries.

    2010/2011 Stats: 15 G, 22 A, 37 Points 

    This year, he's had early injury problems again, but has still managed seven points in six games.

19. Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks

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    Patrick Sharp can pick his spots.

    Unless you're a Hawks fan, you probably remember him best as that guy that came bursting down the wing and went shelf on your goaltender. Or perhaps he went in alone and shot stick-side to break open a tie game.

    Either way, "Sharpie" finds ways to score pretty goals, often at big times for his team. He's got great accuracy that he uses to put the finishing touches on his chances.

    2010/11 Stats: 34 G, 37 A, 71 Points

    Sharp's currently sitting third on his team in scoring, with 10 points in 11 games.

18. Thomas Vanek, Sabres

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    Thomas Vanek is one of a few highly underrated players in the league.

    The Austrian-born forward has steadily increased his production over the years, leading his team in goals and points last season.

    He's a shoot-first type of player who can score at key moments in the game for his team.

    With a powerful slap shot and laser-beam wrister in his repertoire, Vanek is fast becoming one of the league's best snipers.

    2010/11 Stats: 32 G, 41 A, 73 Points.

    This year he's off to a blazing start, posting 16 points in 11 games.

17. Mike Cammalleri, Canadiens

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    For a small man, Mike Cammalleri has a big shot.

    Fans around the league are familiar with watching the Habs sniper drop to one knee to whistle home a one timer. Chances are it's probably happened against their team at some point.

    Mike found his stride in the 2009-2010 playoffs, where he seemingly carried much of the offensive burden for his team throughout their remarkable run.

    His lethal power, accuracy and ability to provide clutch goal support land him at 17 on the list.

    2010/11 Stats: 19G, 28A, 47 Points.

    This year, he's posted five points in eight games.

16. Jeff Carter, Blue Jackets

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    Jeff Carter has had a slow start to his time in Ohio, already suffering an injury which has kept him out of the lineup.

    Before he was shipped out of Pennsylvania, however, Carter developed a reputation as a deadly shooter with the Flyers.

    He's been a steady point producer throughout his career, with a talent for finding the back of the net.

    Coming to Columbus will be a big test for him, but his heavy slap shot and quick release are an asset to any offense, and should help him find success.

    2010/11 Stats: 36G, 30A, 66 Points.

    So far, Carter's had a very slow start to the new year, picking up three assists in five games.

15. Marian Hossa, Blackhawks

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    The man they call "Hoss" in Chicago has a fantastic wrist shot.

    Over the past several playoffs, Vancouver fans have been left pulling their hair out in frustration as they've watched Marian Hossa burst behind their defense to score top-shelf countless times.

    This past postseason was no different, as you'll see "Hoss" once again do what he does best in Game 5 of the first round.

    Hossa's talents aren't limited to breakaway goals, however, as his career has been populated with creative and timely tallies.

    At the heart of his steady production is, surprise, a great shot.

    Like everyone else on this list, Marian finds holes in the opposition's defense and makes them pay.

    He's also a very clutch goal scorer and comes through with a perfect shot when the games matter the most.

    2010/11 Stats: 25G, 32A, 57 Points

    He's started the new year off with a bang, netting five goals and five assists in 10 games.

14. Marian Gaborik, Rangers

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    Marian Gaborik makes this list for one reason: accuracy.

    Simply put, Gaborik has the ability to make a team look silly.

    For example, he could use his soft hands to create room for himself before picking a corner with ease, or he could turn the jets on to create a breakaway before snapping a well-aimed shot under a goalie's blocker.

    It doesn't matter how he gets there. When Gaborik has a good look at the net, he's going to place it where he wants to.

    2010/11 Stats: 22 G, 26 A, 48 Points

    Playing with Brad Richards is already paying off for Gaborik, as he's scored five goals to start the new year.

13. Sami Salo, Canucks

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    Finnish born defenseman Sami Salo has got a howitzer for a shot.

    While he isn't considered to be among the elite names in the game, the one thing that has kept him around in the league despite a long history of injuries is his release.

    He remains one of a very select group of players that can snipe with a slap shot without needing anyone to screen the goaltender for him.

    His team's past meeting with Minnesota is a prime example of the deadly force that Salo brings every time he winds up.

    Opposing goaltenders generally know that a point shot is coming from him, yet it arrives so fast they rarely have time to react.

    2010/11 Stats: 3G, 4A, 7 Points.

    Sami Salo missed most of the past season with an ankle injury. He returned in time to find his form prior to the playoffs.

    He's started off the new season healthy, which has translated into eight points in a dozen games.

12. Patrick Marleau, Sharks

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    Patrick Marleau has been a very smooth and consistent offensive player for the San Jose Sharks.

    He's well known for his shot, and he regularly burns teams with it, yet he remains a very well rounded player.

    He's a leader for his team and isn't strictly limited to offensive roles, logging big minutes on both the penalty kill and the power play last year.

    The fact that he can play in all these situations means that at any time, Marleau is dangerous and a constant threat with his shooting abilities.

    As shown above, Marleau has the ability to turn defense into offensive with some fast wheels followed by his quick release.

    2010/11 Stats: 37G, 36A, 73 Points.

    So far, Marleau's numbers are two goals, six assists and eight points to start the new season.

11. Jarome Iginla, Flames

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    The Flames captain remains one of the most skilled players in the National Hockey League despite being 34 years old.

    He's also the poster boy for consistency, recording over 30 goals every season for the last 10 years.

    Simply put, Jarome Iginla finds ways to just get it done.

    It's almost a shame that he's spent his entire career so far in Calgary with almost no help. A trade to a contending team would have almost certainly translated into championship rings for the Edmonton native.

    The fact that he has stayed loyal to the Flames despite many frustrating seasons is just another example of the quality character and dedication Iginla brings with him to the rink.

    Oh, and yes, he has a great shot as well.

    How else do you continue to score at the pace he has?

    Jarome Iginla is an elite, shoot-first forward, with remarkable consistency.

    2010/11 Stats: 43G, 43A, 86 Points.

    Known to be a slow starter, "Iggy" has done nothing to buck the trend, starting October with only four points. That number will improve drastically as the season goes on.

10. Corey Perry, Ducks.

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    I can't think of a better way to kick off the top 10 than with the league's only 50 goal scorer last season.

    Corey Perry had a remarkable year in 2010-2011, which ended with the Rocket Richard and Hart Trophy, awarded to the league's MVP.

    He's no slouch when it comes to shooting, either.

    Last season, Perry fired 290 pucks on goal, converting an impressive 17.2 percent of his shots.

    Perry's willingness to go to the tough areas with his potent shot is one of the many things that makes him successful.

    Anytime you can lead the league in goals, you're doing something right.

    2010/11 Stats: 50G, 48A, 98 Points

    Look for another strong year from the reigning Hart Trophy winner, who currently has five goals in 12 outings.

9. Alexander Semin, Capitals

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    Quite frankly, Alexander Semin only made the list because of his release.

    There are plenty of players around the league with more talent than the Russian winger; however, few possess his shooting abilities.

    Be assured his inconsistencies and one dimensional play are being temporarily overlooked here only to focus on the bullet he can fire when given enough time and space.

    Look no further than the first round of last year's playoffs against the Rangers to see evidence of his deadly shot.

    Simply outstanding.

    2010/11 Stats: 28G, 26A, 54 Points.

    Semin has started the new season with six points in 10 games.

8. Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs

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    With only a dozen games finished this year, it's hard to imagine a better start to the year than Phil Kessel has had in Toronto.

    For a player who had the misfortune of being the key piece in a risky deal with Boston a few years ago, it's nice to see Phil Kessel delivering for the faithful fans in Ontario.

    What makes the start better is how complete his game has looked at both ends of the rink, something that Kessel hasn't always been able to consistently bring to date.

    Still, he hasn't earned a top 10 spot based solely off of a good start. 

    Kessel is clearly a solid player with a skill set strong enough to make him a top draft pick in 2006, and a steady 30-goal scorer.

    He also has a lethally accurate shot.

    Kessel has never been described as anything but a gifted sniper, and he continues to earn that title every season. 

    While it's still early in the year, it's already looking like it could be a breakout year for the Leaf's star forward.

    Look for his patented snap shot on highlight reels all season long.

    2010/11 Stats: 32G, 32A, 64 Points.

    Kessel leads the league so far with 20 points in 12 games.

7. Shea Weber, Predators

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    Shea Weber has a bomb.

    His shot is so hard that it went through the netting against Germany in the Olympics, and no one knew it was in.

    Except for Shea, of course.

    Weber has quickly emerged as one of the best defensemen in the game, earning a Norris Trophy nomination last year for his efforts.

    He is the backbone of his team in Nashville and the recipient of the biggest arbitration handout in NHL history, which only proves his value as a premier player in the league.

    Whether Shea Weber remains in Nashville after this season is still a mystery, though, especially since the organization has just handed out a big chunk of its payroll to Vezina nominee Pekka Rinne.

    If Weber does hit the market this offseason, the free agent frenzy will hit a new high.

    His deadly shot from the point is one of the many things he would bring to any team that wanted to finance him, and make no mistake about it, he's worth his 7.5 million dollar cap hit.

    His shot and skill set is that good.

    2010/11 Stats: 16G, 32A, 48 Points.

    He's started the new season off with five points in 11 games.

6. Ryan Kesler, Canucks

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    Ryan Kesler enjoyed a breakout season last year, posting career numbers and establishing himself as an elite, two-way forward.

    He single-handedly carried his team through the second round of last year's playoffs and continued to compete in the finals despite a serious hip injury that required surgery following the season.

    What most people don't realize about the Selke Trophy winner is that he has one of the smoothest wrist shots in the game.

    Kesler's office is in front of the net on the power play, and he does some of his best work on the back check, but it's his great release that earns him top marks.

    Folks, Kesler can rip it.

    He broke 40 goals for the first time last year on the strength of his wrist shot.

    His shot makes him dangerous in all situations and keeps goalies honest when thinking about playing the pass.

    When you're sniping from the blue line without winding up, you know you have a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

    2010/11 Stats: 41G, 32A, 73 Points

    Kesler missed the opening of the season because of offseason surgery, and has since posted five points in seven games.

5. Zdeno Chara, Bruins

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    It's hard not to include the player that owns the league's hardest shot in the top five.

    Zdeno Chara is a very large man with a very large shot.

    In fact, he set another shot record last year in the All-Star competition, clocking in at 105.9 mph.

    He admits that he lets up a bit in games to avoid hurting people, but he still manages to wire it on a regular basis.

    His shot makes the Bruins power play a constant threat and causes defenders to think twice before sprawling out to take one for the team.

    He led his team to a Stanley Cup Championship this past season and remains one of the best defensemen in the game.

    2010/11 Stats: 14G, 30A, 44 Points.

    He's started the new year off with six points in 11 games.

4. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks

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    Patrick Kane is one of the most creative and skilled forwards in the league.

    He owns one of the game's softest pairs of hands that can be used to thread the needle to either a teammate or past a goaltender.

    The decision to move him from the wing to center on the Hawks second line has been brilliant, and he's found some good chemistry with his linemates already.

    What sets Kane apart from other shooters, though, is his vision with the puck.

    He doesn't get rid of the puck as soon as it comes to him, but looks around and makes the best play with it.

    If that involves using a pin-point accurate wrist shot to exploit even the smallest hole in a goaltenders positioning, Patrick Kane is the man who can deliver. His shot is amazing.

    However, look no further than his spin-o-rama set up for Marian Hossa last week to see the other talents his elite vision brings to the table.

    A former first-overall pick in the draft, Kane has had to learn how to use his many skills to his advantage to compensate for his lack of size.

    But while Patrick isn't a big player, he uses an elusive, skilled game that's worthy of its high-billing to make up for it. 

    2010/11 Stats: 27G, 46A, 73 Points

    Kane is currently leading his team in scoring with 11 points in 11 games.

3. Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils

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    Ilya Kovalchuk has had one of the best shots in the league for a long time.

    In Atlanta, fans knew once he started positioning himself down the wing on the power play that he was looking for the big shot. And when he finally got the pass he was looking for, there was hardly a goaltender in the league fast enough to react to his release.

    It became apparent during the 2009-10 season that Kovalchuk was looking to go to a contending team, and he was eventually traded to the New Jersey Devils.

    He signed long-term with the Devils during the summer, but he hasn't been the same player since the move.

    Last season, New Jersey had an appaling start to the season and were sitting in the basement at Christmas, wondering what happened. Ilya was under a lot of pressure to produce, and he simply wasn't bringing it.

    It took the hiring of coach Jacques Lemaire to turn the season around, but the damage was already done.

    Kovalchuk is looking to bounce back from his inconsistent 2010-2011 season, and the return of Zach Parise will certainly help him in his quest.

    However, the one thing he won't have to struggle to regain is his ability to snipe, because that's a talent that has never left him.

    Kovalchuk has arguably the best slap shot of any forward in the game, and he uses it to his full advantage.

    He's a two-time 50-goal scorer and fully capable of consistently notching 40 each year.

    It's a crucial year for him in New Jersey, and to have success. he'll need to have his slapshot working overtime.

    2010/11 Stats: 31G, 29A, 60 Points.

    He's off to a decent start, picking up seven points in 10 games.

2. Steven Stamkos, Lightning

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    When Stamkos was picked first overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Lightning had high hopes for the young sniper from the Ontario Hockey League.

    So much so that they marketed him to the fans as the future of their franchise as soon as they'd picked him. They were that confident in the player they had acquired, and boy, he hasn't disappointed anyone. 

    Stamkos' big year was his sophomore season, where he broke out with 51 goals and 95 points.

    The Lightning now had a bonafide offensive star to join the veteran ranks of talent such as Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

    He continued to impress everyone in his third year, notching points at a frenetic pace before cooling off for a slow finish to the season.

    He got his first taste of playoff hockey, however, and helped his team to Game 7 of the Conference Finals before losing to the Bruins.

    With some postseason experience now and two back-to-back offensive seasons under his belt, Stamkos is poised for great things again.

    His world class shooting has got him here and continues to propel him to new heights.

    His slapshot is arguably better than previous entry, Ilya Kovalchuk's, and has consistently found the back of the net two seasons in a row.

    His wrist shot is just as good, too.

    Look for Stamkos to have another monster year and continue to impress his peers with his skill and deadly shooting.

    2010/11 Stats: 45 G, 46 A, 91 Points.

    Stamkos is off to a good start, with six goals in a dozen games.

1. Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals

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    What sets Alexander Ovechkin a part from his peers is his ability to score goals in ways that no one else would even think about attempting.

    He's an innovator and a goal-scoring enthusiast, and he has the best shot in the league bar none.

    This isn't a difficult sell; just look at his impressive highlight reel goals to see just how much individual skill this human being possesses.

    He scores goals from his back, sitting down, falling over, from one knee and even with one hand on his stick.

    Moreover, he can skate, deliver punishing hits and when the occasion calls for it, drop his gloves and try to fight.  

    Last season, when the Capitals changed their style of play to a defense-first game plan, he got on board and rounded out his defensive game as well.

    But let's get back to his dizzying shot, shall we? 

    Alexander Ovechkin can pick corners with both a wrist shot and a slapshot, using incredible speed, quickness and accuracy. He's the poster-boy for sniping in the league, and he's a four-time 50-goal scorer because of his tremendous skill with the puck. 

    Last season was an off year for the Russian star, yet he managed to post 85 points in spite of his struggles.

    Ovechkin truly is a complete package, one that includes the deadliest shot in the league.

    2010/11 Stats: 32G, 53A, 85 Points.

    Despite his recent appearance in the headlines, Ovechkin is off to a solid start, with 10 points in 10 games.

Honorable Mention

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    It's hard to narrow a list of shooters down to 20, and there will always be people who think there should have been other players featured in the list.

    However, I tried to include the players I felt brought consistency to their game, as well as tremendous skill and ability.

    Also, keep in mind that this list isn't ranking the best players in the league, but only the best shooters, so the exclusion of names like Sidney Crosby or Ryan Getzlaf is intentional.

    Just the same, I'm including a list of a some of the players that I wanted to mention, yet didn't feel made the top 20.

    Dallas: Loui Eriksson

    Ottawa: Daniel Alfredsson

    Philadelphia: Claude Giroux

    Carolina: Eric Staal

    Minnesota: Dany Heatley

    St Louis: Chris Stewart

    Dallas: Sheldon Souray