HockeyBuzz Hotstove: Hotstove: Ranking The NHL’s Top-5 Wingers


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Welcome to another edition of the Hockeybuzz hotstove.

In the latest edition we ranked the top-5 centers, so we’ll follow that up by listing our top-5 wingers. Todd Cordell

1. Corey Perry – Perry does it all. He can score in tight, from afar, dominate in the cycle game, get under the skin of the opposition, etc.

He’s posted good possession numbers on a mediocre possession team for years, and when on is about as good as anyone.

2. Phil Kessel – He’s a lot better defensively than he’s given credit for, and he’s an elite offensive player. His release is exceptional, and he can skate with the best of them. If I’m not mistaken he’s top-3 in points over the last few seasons.

3. Jamie Benn – A lot that of the same that’s said about Perry can be applied to Benn. He skates well, he’s physical, he has a great shot and is a big time point producer in any situation. He might be a top-10 player in hockey.

4. Taylor Hall – Consistently puts up points and does well in possession on a terrible team regardless of who he has played with. Deadly speed + shot combo.

5. Alex Ovechkin – His 5v5 production has tailed off as have his possession numbers, but he still finds a way to consistently score 50. That’s hard to leave off the list. Ryan Wilson

1. Corey Perry – This guy is a beast. He drives possession as well as he drives opponents crazy. A rare blend of elite skill with equal parts sandpaper this guy is able to make a difference at both even strength and on the power play. Corey Perry ranked 2nd overall and 1st among wingers in points/60 at even strength last year with an amazing 3.04. Only his linemate Ryan Getzlaf was better.

2. Jamie Benn – Just recently both Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane called him the most underrated player in the league. I am not falling victim to that. Perry was #2 overall in point/60 at even strength, Jamie Benn was 3rd overall at 2.93. If you are sensing a theme here you are correct. I like my guys to be able to perform at even strength. Benn has 50 goal potential this season with a great center in Tyler Seguin and more offensive balance with the additions of Spezza and Hemsky.

3. Taylor Hall – It is tough to truly appreciate a player when he is consistently playing for a bad team but Taylor Hall flourishes despite not getting proper support from his teammates. Much like Perry and Benn his even strength offense is elite with 2.79 points/60 at even strength. That is no easy feat considering the Oilers bad possession numbers. On the surface Hall’s possession doesn’t look great but when compared to his supporting cast it is more than acceptable. He is the straw that stirs the Oilers drink. He needs help.

4. Marian Hossa – I don’t think this guy gets enough love. Since 2007-08 he has played in the Stanley Cup Final 4 times with 3 different teams. It isn’t a coincidence, he is a Hall of Fame talent who positively impacts his team. He plays Selke caliber defense but will never win the award because he plays on the wing, that doesn’t change how great he is at it. He has no weaknesses and elevates the play of his teammates around him.

5. Phil Kessel – This guy puts up awesome offensive numbers despite the fact he has never been put with a quality center in Toronto. The Leafs could help him out a little bit and give him Nazem Kadri but instead Kessel continues to get a heavy dose of Tyler Bozak. Kessel has great speed and a lethal shot and like the others on this list is able to produce at even strength. He has been a bright spot on a Leafs team that has had more downs than ups recently.

You will notice a rather large omission from this list. I did not include Alex Ovechkin. This isn’t a case of hating on Alex, it is a product of the things I am valuing on this list. Alex Ovechkin has been a very poor possession player the past two seasons and does not generate enough offense at even strength. His points/60 at even strength ranked 168th(!) among forwards last year, behind players like Nick Spaling and Cory Conacher. Right now Ovechkin is more of a power play specialist. Goals are goals and that isn’t lost on me, but he is on the honorable mention list due to his 5 on 5 play. If he plays like he did a few years back when he dominated even strength and the power play, he catapults to #1 on my list easily.

Other mentions include Patrick Kane, Max Pacioretty, Evander Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jeff Carter, Ryan O’Reilly, and Jaromir Jagr (guy still drives possession at 57.9%, it’s unreal)

Guys who can jump up on this list with a larger sample size of high level play are Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo. James Tanner

Well, this is bound to be controversial, but here goes: 1. Alex Ovechkin – When people asked why I said yesterday that offensive is undervalued, I was speaking about two players: OV and Toews. It is my opinion that there is nothing you can do defensively that will compensate for the fact that Crosby will get you 30 points more than Toews, and yet people always try to say Toews is better. Same with Ovechkin, if you score 51 goals, which more significantly, is 8 more than anyone else, I don’t think it matters if you’re minus 100 or 150. OV is the best winger and it’s not even close.

2. Phil Kessel – It will be interesting to see if anyone else puts him this high. I do though because of his consistency. Since he played his first game for Toronto, he hasn’t missed a game and if you pro-rate the lockout season, he’s scored 30 for six straight season. He’s also done it on a team with no elite centres and no second line to take some of the heat off. 3. Taylor Hall – Hall might deserve to go ahead of Kessel. He put up 80 points last season despite poor showings by Hopkins, Eberle and Yakupov. Expecting all three to improve drastically this year, Hall only stands to get better. He’s the youngest on this list and his ceiling is huge – he could win a scoring title one day. 4. Patrick Kane – I always look at the scoring leaders and am surprised he’s not ranked higher. It’s also surprising that his career high is 30 goals and that he is 30 points off being a career point per game player. Regardless, no one scores nicer goals and he plays on a team where offense is spread around quite a bit. He is only 25 and I expect him to smash his career high this year. 5. Max Pacioretty – It’s actually really difficult to pick a fifth best winger, but I will go with Max Pacioretty because his 39 in 73 means he could have challenged for second place had he played all the games. Tim Chiasson

1. Patrick Kane – Consistent point-per-game winger that drives Chicago’s offense. Kane is probably the most clutch winger in the game.

2. Phil Kessel – He’s the only player in the top ten in scoring each of the last three years. Known more for goals, Kessel figured out how to add a bit of playmaking to his game the past few seasons. If he’s not in the Toronto market he gets a lot more credit.

3. Taylor Hall – Hall came alive last year and went over a point per game on a horrible team. He’s the focal point of Edmonton’s offense for years to come. Progressively he’s a lot like Tavares.

4. Jamie Benn – Jamie Benn had a lot to do with Tyler Seguin’s success last year. He’s a hard-nosed player willing to go anywhere to get the job done. He could hover around a point a game for a long time.

5. Alex Ovechkin – There’s no denying Ovechkin scores a lot of goals but he doesn’t do as much for his team as the first four on the list. He’s easily the best power play player in the league and you can’t keep a 50 goal scorer out of the top five. Michael Stuart

1. Corey Perry – He scores a lot of goals. He’s got size. He gets under the skin of his opponents. He’s a leader on one of the best teams in hockey. There’s a lot to like about what Perry brings to the Anaheim Ducks. He scored 43 goals last season and 50 goals just a few years ago. He’s a dominant winger.

2. Taylor Hall – A lot has gone wrong over the course of Edmonton’s rebuild. One thing that has gone very right, however, is the development of Taylor Hall. Simply put, he’s evolved into a star. He plays a power game and has a knack for finding the net. Last year was a big year for Hall, as he scored 27 goals and 80 points. Look for him to continue on that upward trajectory with the Oilers improving around him.

3. Jamie Benn – Like Hall, Benn plays a big man’s game. On a Dallas team that looks frighteningly dangerous, Benn is one of the offensive leaders. He set career highs in both goals and points last season, with 34 and 79 respectively. With the continued development of Tyler Seguin, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Benn doesn’t remain one of the premier wingers in hockey.

4. Phil Kessel – Certain media personalities in Toronto like to rag on Kessel. They like to say that he doesn’t try hard enough, that he doesn’t give it 110%. Until you show me some way to quantify his effort, which I don’t believe to be an issue, I’ll just continue taking his 30+ goals to the bank every season. This is a player who has played on some dreadful Toronto teams over the years, and yet he continues to be one of the league’s offensive leaders. Imagine what kind of damage Kessel could do if Tyler Bozak wasn’t his center. He’s a dominant sniper.

5. Alex Ovechkin – He’s a polarizing figure. Some people probably have him at number one on their list. Others probably have him nowhere near their list. The fact of the matter, though, is that goals matter. Ovechkin scores a lot of them. Are there deficiencies in his game? Sure. While +/- is an inherently flawed statistic, that -35 he ‘earned’ last year shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honor. That said, it’s hard to deny that Ovechkin has been one of the most impactful wingers in hockey over the last few years. I’m curious to see what happens to his game under Barry Trotz.

Honorable Mention – Patrick Kane


Which lists do you agree/disagree with? What would yours look like? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. Recent posts Ranking the top-5 centers Stanley Cup predictions How many Canadian teams will make the playoffs? Western Conference breakout players Eastern Conference breakout players Western Conference bold predictions Eastern Conference bold predictions

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