NHL Countdown: Top 10 Right Wingers

kane-perry-faceoff-feature
Patrick Kane and Corey Perry are frequently thought of as the NHL’s top two right wings. But is their crown up for grabs this season?

Every top NHL line needs three plus producers. You’ve got your stud center, your star left winger, and hopefully your gifted right winger. Right wingers come in lots of shapes and sizes nowadays. Between power forwards, snipers, and playmakers, the NHL’s top 10 right wingers are a steady diet of skill, speed, and attitude. Here’s Overtime’s top 10 NHL right wingers.

Honorable Mentions:

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers:

Zuccarello certainly may not seem like the best player the deep New York Rangers have, but he is definitely in the discussion. Generously listed at 5’7″ and 179 lbs, Zuccarello has some of the finest hands in the league. His ability to thread the needle with passes is among the league’s best.

T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals:

Oshie was exactly what the Capitals needed. Another setup man for Alex Ovechkin? Check. A two-way winger? Check. A speedy sniper? Check. Oshie can do it all for Washington. The line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Oshie is one of the league’s most dangerous.

Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers:

The ageless wonder, Jagr is still a power forward’s power forward. The 6’3″, 230 lb winger is still a menace in the corners and has the best hands in the NHL. His ability to complete touch passes at age 43 is amazing. Jagr’s lower body may be more susceptible to injury now, but when healthy, he is a great mentor for a young Panthers team.

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers:

Another premier power forward, the “Wayne Train” is quite a physical specimen. Simmonds is a lanky 6’3″ (only 185 lbs), but he plays like he weighs 225. He is impossible to remove from the front of the net and is always one of the NHL’s top power play scorers. And oh by the way, he’s only making $3.975 million,  a bargain for a cap-strapped Flyers team.

10. Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders:

Okposo gets a major benefit in playing alongside John Tavares in Brooklyn, but Okposo can certainly fend for himself. After a slow start to his NHL career, the former 7th overall draft pick in the 2006 NHL Draft  has played at an almost point-per-game level since 2013, scoring 137 points in 151 games. Okposo isn’t an overwhelming power play man, but the fact that that doesn’t detract from his scoring totals illustrates his stellar even-strength play.

9. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers:

Eberle is one of few first round picks that has actually worked out for the Oilers so far. He has scored 34 goals and amassed 76 points before, and he’s still only 25 years old. Eberle recently returned from an injury; spotty health is the only thing holding him back from a spot in the NHL’s top 5 right wingers in the near future. Edmonton’s future is bright with Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, and others set to be in town for a long time.

8. Rick Nash, New York Rangers:

Since coming to the Rangers in 2012, Rick Nash has been quite the enigma for the Blueshirts. He has twice scored 40 goals, but has also had a couple of slow seasons (including his current campaign), and has been ripped mercilessly by New York media and fans for his lackluster playoff performances. But Nash is a burly power forward who’s hard to knock off the puck, and his shot is envied around the league. Nash can also play left wing, a useful quality for head coach Alain Vigneault.

7. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets:

Wheeler has been a Jet for 6 seasons already, and he has improved in all of them. He is a fast skater and is lethal on the power play and the penalty kill. Wheeler’s point totals have increased from 45 to 64 to 69 to a projected 82 this season. Wheeler is the Jets’ best player, and one could only imagine what he could do with a bona fide number 1 center (no offense, Bryan Little). Wheeler has the look of a future captain in the ‘Peg.

6. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins:

Kessel was shipped out of Toronto this summer after many a 35-goal season but virtually no playoff success and consistent questions about his fitness level and defensive involvement. But Kessel has had a fast start for the Penguins. Playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin at center, Kessel is a projected 40-goal scorer this season. He is a power play threat and has surprisingly good skating ability for a player of his size. The Penguins just made their already solid offense even better with the addition of noted sniper Kessel.

5. Jake Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers:

Voracek has had an interesting career in Philly since coming over from Columbus in 2012. He has finally capitalized on his sky-high potential, scoring 49, 46 (in 48 games), 63, and 82 points. But his shooting percentage has only once topped 10%, while he has grown an unlucky penchant for hitting posts in Flyers games. But Voracek’s real value comes in his passing game, strong transitions, feisty corner play, and excellent speed. He signed a well-deserved 8-year, $66 million contract extension this summer.

4. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks:

One half of Chicago’s famed right wing tandem (more on the other half later), Hossa has remained a 60-plus point player as he approaches 37 years of age. Hossa is also able to combine his finesse shot and famously smooth hands with excellent defensive play; he and teammate Jonathan Toews are not only star offensive players but also part of the NHL’s finest penalty killing tandem. Hossa is paid a high salary, but he has certainly earned all of it with his pivotal role on three Chicago championship squads.

3. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks:

Perry is a real pest, but also insanely skilled. A former MVP and 50-goal scorer, Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf are the core of the Anaheim Ducks. Perry combines a blistering shot with strong physical play that doesn’t cross the line. He is one of those players that you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Perry has endured a couple of slow seasons in a row, but his slow seasons still entail at least 30 goals and 60 points. If that is considered a “down year”, then Perry at his best is one of the NHL’s most elite.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues:

The “Tarasenk-Show” began two years ago when Tarasenko put up 21 goals in his second year in only 3/4 of a season. It continued last year when Tarasenko became the league’s preeminent dangler and scored 37 goals. But Tarasenko has really taken off in this his fourth NHL season. He has already accumulated 12 goals and 20 points in 19 games, leading to speculation that he could hit the 50-goal plateau. With a pricy contract extension in his back pocket, the Blues’ Russian star is ready to take St. Louis to the promised land.

1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks:

Oh, if only Kane could be as smart off the ice as he is on the ice. If that was the case, Kane could be the NHL’s most marketable player. But still, Kane is on the NHL’s current Mount Rushmore and with good reason. The first overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft, Kane has actually scored 30 goals only once in his NHL career, but he seems to find the right time to score them (See: Stanley Cup Playoffs, 2009-2015). His smooth hands allow for sick passes and Datsyukian dekes on a regular basis, and his skating ability has never been questioned. Kane is off to his best start ever in 2015-16; he has 12 goals and a whopping 31 points in 20 games.

Conclusion:

The stock of NHL right wingers is trending up currently. The majority of them are burly power forwards with elite shots that complement the smaller, more pass-oriented centers and left wingers. You cannot win a hockey game without strong board play, which is what the right wingers do best.

 

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