Which right-wings 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.
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (35 GP, 21G-29A-50PTS)
Who else was going to slot in at No. 1? In a league where only two other right-wings are above the point-per-game mark, Kane is just shy of 1.5 points/game. This is a player who put up points in 26 straight games, skipped one, and has now scored in three consecutive games since. The big difference from a goal-scoring perspective this year is on the power play, where his 11 goals are already just two shy of his career-high of 13.
Overall, he’s tallied 21 goals, which is just nine shy of his career-high of 30 with more than half of the season still to be played. He’s also already eclipsed last year’s mark of 21 even-strength assists, having managed 23 this year.
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (33GP, 21G-15A-36PTS)
Tarasenko has goals in five consecutive contests and seven of his last eight games, and he’s moved to within a single goal of the NHL lead in that category. His underlying numbers are also good, as the Blues enjoy a significant edge in shots and shot attempts when he’s on the ice.
3. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (32GP, 10G-23A-33PTS)
Wheeler has been an all-situations workhorse for the Jets this season. In addition to significant duties at even-strength and on the power play, he’s also averaging nearly two minutes per night on the penalty kill, where he’s scored two short-handed goals.
Still, his primary gifts are obviously offensive. He isn’t the goal-scorer that some of the other players on this list are, and he’s not enjoying a particularly hot season in terms of shooting percentage — at 11.5 per cent he’s bang-on with his career average — but he’s racking up assists. Winnipeg’s on-ice shot metrics also shoot up dramatically when he’s on the ice; the Jets shot attempt differential improves by about 10 per 60 minutes when he steps off the bench.
4. Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins (32GP, 13G-15A-28PTS)
This is the player Boston thought it was getting in the Tyler Seguin trade. He’s killing penalties, he’s driving puck possession at even-strength and above all he’s making a difference offensively.
5. Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators (32GP, 7G-21A-28PTS)
Ottawa is enjoying a pretty great year at even-strength despite being outshot badly, thanks to the combination of above-average goaltending and a sky-high shooting percentage. Stone is an exception to that rule; when he’s on the ice the percentages haven’t particularly favoured the Sens but the shot clock has.
Stone’s goal production is down year-over-year because his personal shooting percentage fell from an astronomical 16.6 per cent as a rookie to just 10.9 per cent this year, but he has helped offset those losses with an increased number of assists. More importantly, his two-way game is progressing rapidly. He was good enough to play on the penalty kill as a rookie and he’s only evolved since.
6. Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (31GP, 10G-14A-24PTS)
The ageless wonder is riding a hot shooting percentage to some degree, but even so, he’s had a brilliant season. Not only is he the focal point of Florida’s offence, but he’s also driving shot differential. The Panthers allow 29 shots per hour at 5-on-5 whether he’s on the ice or not; the difference is that when he’s out there they average 33 themselves and when he’s not they manage just 26.
7. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators (34GP, 11G-21A-32PTS)
Just call him opposite-Mark Stone. Though Ryan’s offensive results have been impressive, it’s largely driven by the percentages, though some of that stems from his obvious finishing ability. The Senators tend to get outshot and out-chanced when he’s on the ice.
8. Justin Williams, Washington Capitals (32GP, 10G-13A-23PTS)
The veteran winger has been a nice fit on one of the most dominant teams in all of hockey. He’s long been an analytics darling because of the effect he has on his team’s shot metrics, an effect which has continued in Washington, and he’s also producing offensively.
9. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens (22GP, 9G-10A-19PTS)
Although the injury to Carey Price deservedly gets most of the attention in any list of reasons for Montreal’s recent struggles, it’s important not to overlook Gallagher. A feisty competitor and quality two-way player, he was scoring at just under a point-per-game pace before going down to injury in late November. If he had played more games, he’d be higher on this list.
10. Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings (33GP, 12G-9A-21PTS)
Nyquist remains one of the league’s more formidable pure shooters, and he’s also one of the rare Red Wings who managed to post a strong Corsi number in the early season. He’s on pace to top his previous career high in goals (28) if he stays healthy.