Size, strength and skill; they are three cornerstones capable of catapulting a player to stardom. You don’t find many excellent NHL power forwards which is why the majority of them captain their squads.
Why that is? Their talent goes well beyond goals and assists. If they’re in the midst of an off day with the puck, physicality joins the arrangement in hopes of building up energy. Because power forwards have multiple uses, we won’t just assess by their statistics.
We will compile them by their scoring expertise, aptitude at playing the body and willingness to throw fists all combined. A few won’t possess all three making their rank lower. While some aren’t the biggest of athletes, they still display the triple distinctly.
Height matters in most of these cases and you should know why.
15) Johan Franzen (Detroit Red Wings)
In the space of just one year, this 29-year-old Swede went from anonymity to hot property, scoring 27 goals in the 2007/2008 campaign, many of them due to his wonderful stick-handling and crashing of the net.
Franzen, as Patrick Kane will testify, can be a bully. Marian Hossa’s exit puts goal-scoring responsibility on the Mule all the more and after lighting the lamp 61 times in two years, 40 goals could be right there.
14) Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Columbus’ finest asset has refined his talent consistently to the point where he is now an elite winger. Nash can fight off defenders while dominating in the corners with his low center of gravity. Playmaking is the section keeping him from being one of the most outstanding forwards.
A powerhouse Canadian, Nash will give the best of defenders plenty to think about in the coming years.
13) Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes)
Having one-upped Zdeno Chara in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Staal showed that he is a handful for all including the largest NHL player. Carolina was vastly different when he was held scoreless in the postseason (7-1 in games he scored, 1-9 if he didn’t).
A key figure who picked this franchise up off its feet, Staal is a perennial threat with the puck. He may never win the Rocket Richard Trophy with today’s plethora of scorers but his name won’t be far behind.
12) Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks)
One moment Joe looks magical (regular season) and the next only monochrome (playoffs). Thornton’s ability to shield the puck before sneaking a pass to a teammate is brilliant but his fighting spirit is a downfall.
He is 6’ 4” yet threw less hits last season than the 5’ 11” Joe Pavelski. And his fight with Ryan Getzlaf in game six during the opening round of the playoffs was too little too late.
11) Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes)
A big fish in a small pond, Doan has been remarkable in Phoenix without top tier linemates. The veteran is glancing at a 10th straight season of 20 goals or more and continues to serve as a dependable leader to the younger Coyotes members.
At the age of 32, Doan’s birth certificate may be fading a touch but the legs and hockey brain of this captain remain incredibly active.
10) Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning)
What Lecavalier calls an awful year (67 points), most would file as a wonderful campaign. When needed, he will drop the gloves and spark his team although they would consider it a loss to lose their leader for five minutes in the penalty box.
For a big man, Lecavalier has awesome talents which make him unique: superb skating, creativity, a prompt scoring impact and exquisite hand/eye coordination.
9) Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks)
Perry has the right mix of skill and sandpaper for the Ducks. Along with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan this line is being hailed as one of the best in the league. Since his rookie year, his statistics have only gotten better and he shows up in the postseason.
So long as he’s healthy, expect more of the same from Perry. Somewhat of an agitator, Evgeni Nabokov thinks of him more as a ‘cry baby’.
8 ) Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
This is a list that Ovechkin doesn’t find himself near the top of actually for a few reasons. While he has a great relationship with goals, his physical nature has received massive criticism as a body of supporters believes he throws hazardous checks.
The Russian’s lone fighting major came in 2006 following a boarding on Daniel Briere but he didn’t swing back. Maybe Ovechkin doesn’t have to scrap because he does enough scoring and hitting already.
7) Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers)
Often found in the middle of scrums, Hartnell plays an edgy game and contributes on the score sheet for the most part. Traded to Philadelphia in 2007 with Kimmo Timmonen, he has molded into the Flyers system perfectly.
The winger with a wild temperament and even wilder hair has proven his worth in all aspects of the game.
6) David Backes (St. Louis Blues)
Get used to seeing the Blues in the win column. They’re hungry, gifted, loaded offensively and bound for great things. I’m hoping Backes’ 31-goal 2008/2009 campaign wasn’t a mirage because he does it all and competes respectably.
He can score goals, set them up, hit, fight, kill penalties and bang in powerplay markers. What’s there not to like?
5) Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins)
Often mentioned in the same breath as Cam Neely, Lucic is armed with a new three-year contract extension. He’s not exactly someone whose bad side you’d want to test and at the same time, underestimate his offensive gifts.
Having turned into somewhat of a clutch performer, he has the comfort of knowing how much the Bruins appreciate and need his style.
4) Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)
In fantasy hockey after the big three selections, the No.4 pick has come to be known as the Datsyuk or Getzlaf choice indicating how awesome this Duck is. At home centrally, Getzlaf extracts maximum benefit from his massive frame and never relents in his quest to take on and beat defenders.
Unquestionably one of the best playmakers on this list, he has an underrated howitzer of a shot that he can pick corners with.
3) Mike Richards (Philadelphia Flyers)
True story: Richards fought Corey Perry, a good friend, during the 2005 Memorial Cup just months after being teammates in the World Juniors. Although he did most of the damage and sparked a 3-2 win, his Kitchener Rangers eventually fell to the London Knights in the semi-finals.
Friendship is out of the equation when the puck drops. Richards has blossomed in a hurry becoming a monster penalty-killer and dependable powerplay anchor. But he is the Flyers leader first and their top scorer (so far) second.
2) Brenden Morrow (Dallas Stars)
Morrow is a smaller power forward (5’ 11”) but pays the price in front of the net to score. Uncompromising defensively, he is a classic example of a tenacious Canadian ready for whatever is thrown his way.
Still not convinced? Have a peak at this clip and try not to respect the heart of this tremendous winger. Pound for pound, Morrow is possibly the league’s toughest competitor.
1) Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames)
Having reached the Stanley Cup Finals, Iginla knows what it takes to win in the postseason. When envisioning the phrase blood, sweat and tears, it’s Calgary’s rugged winger fighting for the logo on the front.
Partnered with less skilled forwards in the past, that problem is history thanks to Olli Jokinen’s arrival. Iginla is always ready and you’ll rarely see him take a night off.