Every team in the NHL needs energy players.
Energy players are the guys who get it done when other players are struggling, guys who are willing to go the extra mile. Energy players are willing to do whatever it takes to light a fire underneath their team and get the guys going. They hit hard, they forecheck, they backcheck, they sacrifice the body to block shots, they go to the corners and to the net hard, they score clutch goals and they even get down with the fisticuffs if that's what their team needs.
Most importantly, they know how to win all the small battles.
We all know that hockey is a game of inches and these guys are the guys who do whatever it takes to grab that extra inch.
Here are 13 of the best energy players the league has to offer. Any team in the NHL would love to have one or more of these guys in their books.
Note: There are certainly other great energy players out there but only so many can be included—here are, in my mind, the 13 best ones.
Travis Moen isn't a guy who scores a ton of goals but he is a great grinder and really works hard. When he does score a goal it is due to sheer hard work.
Moen's strength—and the energy he brings to his team—is from his hard work in the defensive end and on the forecheck. Moen typically gets a lot of time on the penalty kill for Montreal and is always a threat for a shorthanded goal due to his speed and powerful skating.
No. 32 for Montreal is also good for an occasional fight or a not-so-occasional hit.
This guy also, even though he doesn't score often, tends to score at very clutch times.
Raffi Torres' quality as a high-caliber energy player was exhibited really well in the Stanley Cup Finals a few months ago.
Torres fit very well into Vancouver's system as a speedy forechecker but will likely be a quality addition to the Phoenix Coyotes roster this season. Torres is a consistent player who brings speed and energy to the lineup night in and night out.
Torres also has some great offensive upside. He's consistently a 30-point player and a good number of his goals are game-winners.
The former fifth overall pick brings a great physical dimension to the game as well and regularly gets under the opposition's skin. Enemy players' frustration and the way he energizes his team is understandable considering that a lot of the hits he lays are booming.
Raffi is a great presence on any team as a veteran who likes to work hard and get his hands dirty.
Here's a guy that likes to fight. Cody McLeod brings a great physical edge to the Avalanche roster with a consistent hitting game and the fisticuffs to boost his team and fire them up.
McLeod isn't one of the energy guys who scores a lot but he knows his role and uses his skill set well to accomplish his job well. With only four NHL seasons under his belt, he has a good number of YouTube-worthy fights to his credit already.
This player could really improve a lot, however, if he upped his offensive game. He has one 15-goal season to his credit, but in the other three seasons he hasn't put up great numbers. On a young, up-and-coming Colorado team, however, he really may have a chance to become a solid bottom-six guy.
Wayne Simmonds, who was acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers from the L.A. Kings over the summer, is a great all-around player and gives it 100 percent all the time.
The 23-year-old is entering his fourth full season in the NHL. It's no wonder that this kid has been so successful at such a young age—he can play on both the power play and penalty kill and works hard on both the forecheck and backcheck.
The kid shoots, hits, scores, dishes the puck well and plays solid minutes.
Watch for him to really shine in Philadelphia's system. The Flyers are a team that doesn't thrive so much on one player shining but on having lots of hard-working blue-collar players who like to play physical and convert goals through hard work. Simmonds was definitely a great pickup.
Here's another player entering his fourth full professional season at the age of 23. Again, it's easy to see why this young player is so successful—he led the NHL in hitting last year. Last season, Clutterbuck averaged almost 4.5 hits per game.
Along with all the body-banging, he also just missed the 20-goal plateau.
The value of guys like Clutterbuck, who contribute with such hard work and physicality on the forecheck, cannot be stressed enough. His kind of physical play and gritty goal scoring really serve to energize teammates.
Minnesota had a good offseason and is looking to be a much-improved team in a Western Conference that is looking fairly dismal this year, so look for Cal to really help lead his team to greatness with his energizing play this season.
On a pretty un-exciting Ottowa Senators team, Nick Foligno is usually pretty exciting to watch.
Ottowa's 2006 first-round pick is a very well-rounded, hard-working player. Foligno was good for 14 goals and 34 points last year to go with 119 hits (some of which were pretty booming), 41 blocked shots, 31 takeaways, 149 shots and almost two minutes of power-play time per game.
What's respectable about Foligno as an energy player is that he plays with such heart and intensity on a team that has seemed to be so on-and-off and lackluster in the last few years.
Brian Boyle is a phenomenal player.
Playing 71 games for the New York Rangers in the 2009-2010 season, Boyle was quiet and didn't produce much. However, last season he really grew into himself well and become an energetic, productive, dangerous force for the Blueshirts.
Boyle, drafted by the L.A. Kings in 2003 in the first round and then acquired by New York in 2009, really fits into the New York style of play.
Standing at 6'7" and weighing in at 244 pounds, Boyle seems like he should just be a brute enforcer.
But he's not.
Sure, he laid 240 hits, which I'm sure were not pleasant to be on the receiving end of, but he also blocked 86 shots and scored 21 goals.
As a Capitals fan, during the 2011 conference quarterfinals, I got scared every time Boyle was on the ice. The guy works hard and seems like he's just impossible to stop when he's determined. And he's determined and works hard pretty much every second of every shift.
New York is a blue-collar team and every player works hard and is willing to do whatever is necessary.. Boyle really stands out with his work ethic, which is pretty impressive.
Troy Brouwer is a gritty player. He plays hard and he plays tough. He was a crucial player for the Chicago Blackhawks during their Stanley Cup run and was a solid player last year. This year he looks to bolster the Washington Capitals roster in hopes of winning another Stanley Cup ring.
Brouwer is yet another incredible forechecker. He's fast and he's one of the best hitters in the league.
Also, he knows how to score.
The guy can play in all situations and knows the value of working hard every shift and winning the small battles on the forecheck, in the corners and in front of the net.
There's a reason George McPhee was willing to part with a first-round draft pick just to obtain negotiation rights with this energy player.
Remember when Shawn Thornton got the nod after Nathan Horton got his concussion in the Stanley Cup Finals?
In all seriousness, though, some may see this guy as just a pest or fourth-line grinder but he really brings a lot to the game. Thornton works extremely hard every shift and even though he can be pesky sometimes, his determination on the ice and his work ethic are truly impressive.
He doesn't always get a ton of ice time but when he does, he knows his role. He hits every chance he gets and he works and works until he or his linemates get the puck over the line.
To add, he also compiled 10 goals and 10 assists last season.
Here's a guy who might not be quite as well known around the league but I have to put him near the top of the list. As a Capitals fan and Washington, D.C. native, I have had the distinguished pleasure of seeing this guy play.
Former teammate Scott Hannan said of Hendricks:
He's battled, he's worked hard his whole career. It's good when you see guys like that get a chance and he's really taken it upon himself. …He does what it takes. He's constantly talking about the little things you have to do to win games. You always hear about it, he's one of those guys who does it every game.
I couldn't agree more.
Anyone who watched the 24/7 series leading up to the 2011 Winter Classic would know that Matt Hendricks knows what it takes to make it in the big leagues.
During an interview in the 24/7 series with a camera close-up on a badly bruised and stitched-up face, Hendricks said he knows what it takes to get a roster spot and he'll do whatever he needs to. He took up fighting and a more physical game in order to make the NHL with Colorado. Since coming to Washington, it has been evident that he has brought with him a great figher's work ethic.
The guy fights mentally and physically every single second of every shift to force the coaches to keep him in the big leagues and also to make sure that his team wins.
Hendricks is one of those guys who does it all. He plays on the man advantage and shorthanded. He's got soft hands for nice breakaway moves and also heavy hands for the fisticuffs. He's also a very smart player, which means he makes great plays on the ice and also knows when to turn it up to 110 percent and bust his tail in order to fire up his team.
I can't express enough respect for this guy as one of the league's best energy players.
Ryan Malone came through big for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their strong playoff performance in 2011.
Okay, so maybe he's a little more than just an energy guy. He's a consistent 40- to 50-point, 20-goal scorer but I have to put him in this list because of his great work ethic.
Too often it seems like the more talent a player has, the less hard they work.
Malone is not that kind of guy.
Malone has incredible talent. He's a fast, strong skater and he's got a nice shot. That doesn't keep him from playing every shift as if he has something to prove. He knows how to win the small battles and does everything in his power to win those battles. Whether by hitting, scrumming along the boards, going to the net or playing pretty, Malone knows how to get it done.
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher is a strict disciplinarian and doesn't except anything less than 100 percent effort every shift and hard play that inspires teammates, which is why Malone got great minutes last season.
OK, for those of you who haven't picked up on it yet, I am a die-hard Capitals fan and so saying anything good about any player on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster is entirely against my innate nature.
But I really can't help but say anything good about Tyler Kennedy. He is one of the best energy players to ever grace the NHL, in my mind.
Kennedy finally broke the 20-goal plateau this past season and he certainly earned it.
This is a guy whose passion and energy is infectious—even to someone like me who utterly despises the team he plays for.
Kennedy knows the value of hard work. Just about every shift, he can be seen powering down the boards, picking up every rebound he can get his hands on and playing with intense emotion and explosiveness doing whatever it takes to keep his team in the game or put them on top.
This guy is a quality player and an elite energy guy.
Whether you hate him or not as the pest that he can be, I cannot think of a more energetic and teammate-inspiring player than Brad Marchand.
He plays creatively and he skates hard.
This guy plays with such pent-up energy that, when he finally converts a goal through hard work, he just explodes and it's really inspiring to watch.
Energy players really know when to take it to the next level to inspire their team and Marchand really seems to have that sixth sense. It was plainly evident in the playoffs when he took it to a whole other level, but he plays hard night in and night out and his uncanny work ethic makes him one of the best energy players in the league right now.