Top 10 Active NHL Forwards
Top 10 Forwards in the NHL today
The NHL is considered among the Big Four of North American sports but sometimes gets cast away in certain markets and brushed aside in others but with the talent level in my opinion being the highest it has ever been I think people should start to take the NHL a little more seriously. This league is full of world class talent and while it is tough to narrow down a list of just 10 superstars I will take a shot at it here and compile my list of the best forwards currently in the NHL.
1. Sidney Crosby: C – Pittsburgh Penguins – There should be nobody else in this spot and while I expect some input on the order of this list there is no doubting that Crosby is the best in the world on the ice. While he will always be in the discussion with Alex Ovechkin over who is better it seems as though that conversation is years in the past as Crosby has flown to the top of the talent pool and has left everyone else behind. The Penguins captain has a Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals, and is fresh off the 2014 Art Ross and Hart Trophies all before his 27th birthday. If the injuries can subside and Crosby has a decently clean bill of health moving forward there is a distinct possibility he will go down as one of the best of all time.
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2. Jonathan Toews: C– Chicago Blackhawks- Captain Serious continues to climb his way up the ranks among the NHL’s elite and to me is the closest person in the league to matching Crosby in terms of overall talent. Toews has everything in his game as he can score with the best of them, has great vision on the ice, and has as much heart and soul and anybody and is someone that many General Managers would take to build their team around if they started from scratch. Toews also has two Olympic Gold medals but has also captained the Blackhawks to two Stanley Cups in the last four seasons and has been instrumental in both of those playoff runs. Some might dispute Toews’ rank on this list but it was evident that the Hawks are a much better team with him in the lineup and his new contract extension was his reward for being such a vital part of the Chicago organization and for the growth of this league.
3. Steven Stamkos: C – Tampa Bay Lightning – The NHL is one league where more so than others the top end picks end up making an immediate difference with their clubs and in the case of a couple of recent picks they have changed the course of a franchise. That is exactly what happened in Tampa Bay when they selected former Sarnia Sting forward Steven Stamkos and it is clear that he is going to be one of the poster boys of this league for many years to come. Stammer is coming off a shortened season in which he suffered a broken tibia but before the injury he was on pace to put up video game numbers. Stamkos to me is the best pure scorer in the league and while some may refute that point arguing he was a product of Martin St. Louis on his line I think that relationship was two ways. Stamkos is lethal with the puck and has a case full of trophies coming his way over the span of what we can hope will be a lengthy career.
4. Evgeni Malkin: C – Pittsburgh Penguins – It was difficult to put Malkin as far down as the number four spot here as to me he could very well sit in the two spot when he is at the top of his game but the recency effect has knocked him down a bit after an inconsistent regular season. Malkin was slow off the hop and while it is very understanding as all players go through their ups and downs I think value slipped a little bit behind Toews and Stamkos due to a lackluster season by his standards. Malkin is still a legitimate top five player in this league and has been leaned on heavily over the last two seasons when Crosby was out with injury and is someone that can be rallied around with his pure skill and awareness on the ice. Malkin was unable to lift Russia to Olympic gold in Sochi but the entire Russian team was a disappointment so you can’t fault Malkin for that disaster but I would like to see him get back to taking over games and finding himself atop the league table in points.
5. Claude Giroux : C – Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers captain has asserted himself as a franchise player over the last few seasons and it is still a bit of a shock to me that he was left off the Canadian Olympic team that competed in Sochi. Giroux is in a group of very few that are considered top goal scorers and is right up there with Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Phil Kessel as one of the best natural goal scorers in the game. However, aside from Stamkos I think Giroux is the best of the lot in terms of possessing a complete game and it is clear that the guys in the Philly dressing room, the front office, and the fans all love number 28. Giroux is someone I see continuing to prove his worth and will be a player that will attract free agents to come to Philadelphia as his style of leadership and his play on the ice make him a guy other players want to play with.
6. Ryan Getzlaf: C – Anaheim Ducks – This guy is a stud. While the league has moved a little bit away from the bruising, power forward days of Cam Neely and Eric Lindros it is Getzlaf and a couple of others who have re-introduced and reinvigorated the role. Getzlaf is not only a physical specimen he has great hands and can put the puck in the net making him one of the most complete players in the game. Getzlaf won a Cup early in his career and while he and Corey Perry have yet to get back to the Cup Finals they are on the brink of doing something special as the Ducks are one of the league powerhouses. Getzlaf has also been instrumental in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic victories for Canada and was among the top three players in the league this past year in the Hart Trophy voting.
7. Patrick Kane: RW – Chicago Blackhawks – Kane isn’t the most physically imposing threat with his 5’10, 185-pound frame but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for with his wizardry and speed. Kane is the first American on this list and to me is the best forward from the USA in the league right now and I think will go down with the likes of Brett Hull, Mike Modano, and Pat Lafontaine as one of the best ever. Kane has a knack for scoring big goals and netted the overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers to claim Chicago’s first of two Stanley Cups over the last four years and with he and Jonathan Toews both locked up long term it is clear that Kane will continue to be leaned upon to score those big goals. His off ice troubles are a bit concerning to some but management clearly has no issue with the Buffalo native and with the way he plays on the ice it is clear his focus during the season is with the Chicago Blackhawks.
8. Alexander Ovechkin: RW – Washington Capitals - The Great Eight was considered one of the game’s best over the last six or seven years but he has fallen out of favour of sorts in the last two seasons despite continuing to light the lamp. Ovechkin signed a ridiculous contract with the Capitals and at the time he deserved every cent of it as he has racked up a handful of Hart, Art Ross, Pearson, and Richard Trophies but it seems like the last couple of seasons have taken their toll on him mentally. Whether it was a disagreement with the way things were run by Dale Hunter or not fitting into Adam Oates’ system it seems like Ovie was always the focal point of negativity and such the Caps have fallen hard from Cup Contenders to lottery pickers. Ovechkin certainly has the skillset to turn things around and he is undoubtedly one of if not the best goal scorer in the league but right now it is clear something is off and as such his game has fallen.
9. John Tavares: C – New York Islanders: It is tough to think that someone who plays for the Islanders would be among the game’s top players as they have been a league doormat for years but Tavares is something special. He was the first player granted exceptional status in the OHL entry draft as a 14 year old and ever since then he has dominated and to me is someone that is only going to be better as he gains more experience in the league. Tavares is coming off a tough injury he suffered in Sochi but is expected to return in time for the start of training camp and there is no denying that he is one of the top forwards in the game today. He has plenty of size, great hands, and has the mentality of a professional which is something you can only gain from being in the spotlight as early as 14 years of age.
10. Anze Kopitar: C – Los Angeles Kings: Originally I had Kopitar ahead of both Ovechkin and Tavares and it is hard to argue his worth as he has been a vital aspect of the Kings’ two Stanley Cup victories over the last three seasons but I had to drop him a little bit as I think more so than Toews and Kane in Chicago that Kopitar had more guys around him. That isn’t to take anything away from the Blackhawks or Kopitar as I think both are very talented but I think he is still a little back from the pack but is on the ascent. Kopitar got his first crack at international representation as the Slovenians qualified for the Olympics and if he can continue to dominate his opponents physically while contributing up front I think he will only continue to climb in thse rankings.
10. Phil Kessel: RW – Toronto Maple Leafs: While it is a bit of a cop out placing a tie for the 10th spot in this list I just don’t think Kessel can be omitted when talking about the game’s best forwards. Kessel gets criticized heavily as he was the centrepiece of the trade that ultimately sent Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin to Boston but Kessel silenced that argument with his efforts since donning the blue and white. He is one of the best goal scorers in the league and has been right in the mix in terms of league leaders in points and while he is constantly under the microscope in Toronto it is clear that the fan base loves him and he is a centrepiece of the team moving forward. The Leafs need a couple of pieces to complement him and alleviate some of the pressure to score every goal but at this point to me he should be considered among the top 10 forwards currently playing in the NHL.