Ranking the Top 10 Power Forwards in the NHL in 2014-15
NHL teams are in a constant search for power forwards, to the point where the first round is rife with failed draft picks spent in pursuit of these elusive players.
There is no universally accepted definition of a power forward, but the men who are labeled this way are bigger, score goals and are willing participants in physical battles. They are often the most popular players on their teams, and acquiring them is next to impossible.
Here are the top 10 power forwards in the NHL this season. These rankings are based on, but not exclusive to, points per game.
10. Milan Lucic, LW, Boston Bruins
How Good Is He Offensively? Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins is a quality scorer. He is one of the most famous players in the NHL and is the personification of the modern power forward. He is big, nasty and can post offense.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Lucic is a stunning physical presence, a train on skates. He is unique among NHL players in that he's skilled enough to be on the ice against good opposition and make them pay a price.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? He is not delivering the same offense as he did a year ago, and that is a concern. Lucic plays a style that exacts a price and may not have the same career trajectory as a less physical player.
9. Wayne Simmonds, RW, Philadelphia Flyers
How Good Is He Offensively? Wayne Simmonds is a consistent scorer for the Philadelphia Flyers. He has posted 28 or more goals in each of the last three full NHL seasons, including this year.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Simmonds is a difficult opponent because of his physical play. Excellent along the wall, he wins battles for the puck and is a punishing hitter. The Flyers' winger has exceeded 100 minutes in penalties three times in his career.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? Simmonds has been scoring at expected levels, and his shooting percentage—always impressive—is up slightly this season. Much of that success comes from spending a lot of time in the blue paint.
8. David Backes, C, St. Louis Blues
How Good Is He Offensively? David Backes of the St. Louis Blues is a big, two-way center with significant offensive ability. He is not an elite-level player, but he delivers a wide range of skills.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Backes hits like a truck and is very aggressive. He is a difficult player to go up against, despite once receiving votes for the Lady Byng Trophy.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? Backes is playing slightly less per game—about one minute less than a year ago—but has posted a season that looks like a carbon copy of 2013-14. He should have plenty of energy left for the grueling playoffs.
7. Scott Hartnell, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets
How Good Is He Offensively? Scott Hartnell of the Columbus Blue Jackets is a solid two-way winger who has been consistent offensively over the last two seasons.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Hartnell is an agitator but won't back down and will initiate contact. When healthy—and he's been healthy since 2013-14—Hartnell is a tough winger to handle.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? The Blue Jackets have had a very difficult season, but Hartnell has been a bright light. His consistent performance—save a downturn in November—has been a positive for Columbus this season.
6. Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
How Good Is He Offensively? Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks is a tremendous offensive player and has been for 15 years. At age 36, he remains a top contributor.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Hossa's physical skills—combined with his intelligent decisions—make him a possession giant. He's impossible to knock off the puck, and his active stick intercepts passes often, giving the Hawks plenty of offense off the forecheck.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? Hossa is once again a key element in Chicago's deep and rich offensive arsenal. His importance to the offense has increased with the injury to Patrick Kane. Hossa has delivered his normal splendid performance.
5. Andrew Ladd, LW, Winnipeg Jets
How Good Is He Offensively? Andrew Ladd is a fine offensive winger for the Winnipeg Jets. He is a consistent player, especially at even strength.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Ladd's impact on the physical side of the game shows in his forechecking and puck retrieval. He's a dogged winger who wins a lot of battles along the wall.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? Ladd is a strong two-way player enjoying one of his best seasons. He leads the Jets in scoring and has done more than his share to make up for Dustin Byfuglien's absence due to a shift back to defense. Ladd is absolutely one of the best power forwards in the NHL.
4. Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks
How Good Is He Offensively? Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks is an outstanding scorer and has been for a decade. He's dangerous anywhere in the offensive zone and scores a lot off broken plays.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Perry is very physical and effective as a sly agitator. He sometimes finds himself outside the rules. If there's trouble on the ice, Perry is likely involved in the confrontation.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? He missed some of the schedule but has once again cleared 30 goals and looks ready to wreak havoc in the playoffs. Perry is one of the main offensive players on the Ducks and a quality even-strength scorer.
3. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks
How Good Is He Offensively? Ryan Getzlaf is a strong offensive player for the Anaheim Ducks. He is relied on to play tough minutes and outscore opposition, something only a precious few can do in the NHL.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Getzlaf is a force of nature who can lean on opponents and overpower them consistently. He wins puck battles, has a significant nasty streak and hits hard.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? This year has been splendid for Getzlaf, although it was a little shy of his spectacular 2013-14 season. He is especially effective at even strength and will be a major factor in the playoffs.
2. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars
How Good Is He Offensively? Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars is an outstanding offensive player. He's been close to a point-per-game performer for the last two seasons and is entering his prime.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Benn is a powerful skater and is very physical, often using his body to separate player from puck and create offense from defense. His effectiveness as a physical player is tied to his offensive ability in a big way.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? Benn is well inside the top five in scoring this season, which reflects his status as one of the emerging superstars in the game today.
1. Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals
How Good Is He Offensively? Alexander Ovechkin is the best goal-scorer of his generation and may be one of the best of all time before his career is over. He leads the league in goals for the second year in a row and should pass 500 goals next year.
How Much Does He Bring Physically? Ovechkin is an overwhelming physical player, capable of actually running over opponents and delivering ferocious checks. Among impact offensive players in the NHL, he is unique because he'll flirt with the boundaries of the rules in order to impose his will.
How Much Did He Accomplish This Season? This is one of his finest years, as his 50 goals and 11-goal edge on the nearest contender reflects. Alexander Ovechkin remains an impact player in his prime who is devastating in his effectiveness.