Which right wingers have had the strongest performances this season? In our weekly positional power rankings, we look at this year’s statistics only and rate players the same way we would if we were voting for a 2015-16 All-Star team. Here’s our monthly update on the top 10 performers at right wing this season.
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (52GP | 30G | 43A | 73PTS)
It wasn’t like we were going to pick somebody else. One good way to look at Kane’s scoring totals is to compare them to Steven Stamkos, who has 37 points on the year. Kane is almost doubling Stamkos. He’s also 16 points ahead in the scoring race of second place Jamie Benn; that’s as many points as Tyler Johnson has had all year. Last month: 1
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (50GP | 25G | 21A | 46PTS)
Only three players in the league have more goals this season than Blues sniper Tarasenko. He plays reasonably tough competition, has solid underlying shot metrics and is a finisher with few peers. Last month: 2
3. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (48GP | 13G | 32A | 45PTS)
The big difference between Tarasenko and Wheeler that’s in Tarasenko’s favour is goal-scoring. But Wheeler is the better defensive player. He plays tougher minutes at five-on-five, including a surprisingly high percentage of defensive zone starts for a skilled forward, and also handles regular work on the penalty kill. Last month: 3
4. Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins (47GP | 15G | 24A | 39PTS)
Eriksson is enjoying a brilliant year for the Bruins. His relative Corsi of +16.6 is the best total of any forward on this list; obviously there’s more to being an effective forward than controlling possession, but it’s the kind of skill that leads to offensive opportunities and reduces the amount of time spent in the defensive end of the rink. He’s spent significant time with three different centres and has been effective with each of them.
Eriksson has also produced on both special teams units. He’s put up 12 points in a net-front role with the Bruins’ power play, showing that a high-skill player can produce in what is often seen as more of a grinding role. He’s also averaging two minutes per night on the penalty kill, contributing two shorthanded points and boasting a ridiculously low on-ice shots against number in those situations. Last month: 4
5. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (48GP | 20G | 21A | 41PTS)
Kucherov had just three points in 12 October games, but since then he’s scored at a better than point-per-game pace. When he’s been on the ice at even strength, the Lightning have averaged a half-goal more per hour than their opponents and gone from being a break-even team on the shot clock to having a significant possession edge. Last month: NR
6. Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils (49GP | 20G | 15A | 35PTS)
The 24-year-old Palmieri has already eclipsed his previous career highs in both goals and points and settled in as a top offensive option for the Devils. His production would be impressive enough on its own merit, but he also has a number of disadvantages that many other top players don’t. He starts more shifts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone and plays against top opposition, yet despite this his line manages to drive possession for New Jersey. Last month: NR
7. Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings (48GP | 22G | 15A | 37PTS)
Toffoli has matured as a player, to the point where he now takes a regular shift on the Kings’ penalty kill. His key contributions are, however, still on the offensive side of the puck. His 22 goals put him inside the NHL’s top 10. Last month: NR.
8. Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (45GP | 15G | 18A | 33PTS)
What Jagr has done this season is extraordinary. He’s facing the toughest available competition on a nightly basis. He’s starting a shocking percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone; his zone start ratio looks more like Patrice Bergeron’s than it does for someone considered an offensive specialist. Yet despite this, he has fantastic Corsi and other numbers.
The only quibble here is that Florida’s wretched power play is undercutting his otherwise excellent offensive numbers. At five-on-five he’s scoring 2.21 points/hour, which is Tarasenko-level production. Last month: 6
9. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators (48GP | 17G | 25A | 42PTS)
Ryan’s something of an offensive specialist, but he contributes so much in that department that it’s extremely difficult to pass him over on this list. He’s averaging more than 2.0 points/hour at even-strength, a figure that ranks him among the NHL’s top 30 most efficient scorers and places him fifth among right wingers. Last month: 7
10. Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators (47GP | 11G | 22A | 33PTS)
Stone nearly fell off this list entirely after a tough month. He had a nice scoring run to start the year, but has only two points in January. Having said that, what sets him apart from so many other players on this list is that even when he isn’t producing, he’s valuable. Both his underlying numbers and his penalty kill usage reflect a player with significant two-way value. Last month: 5