In a sport where scoring is king, the 2010s can be defined by the prowess of some of the best forwards to play the game. As the decade comes to a close, let’s look back at some of the NHL’s best right-wing forwards who dominated the decade.
While scoring will play a major role in deciding the top-five, more than just points will be taken into account. With that caveat out of the way, here are the top five.
#5: T.J. Oshie
In many ways, T.J. Oshie had one of the most memorable decades of any player in the NHL. While his scoring totals may not have been the best in the league (he sits eighth overall among right wingers, with 488 points in 682 games) it’s everything he did that puts him in the top five.
Nine 20-goal seasons? Check. One of three right wingers to go plus-100 throughout the decade? Check. Stanley Cup winner? Check. Six shootout attempts to become an Olympic hero in 2014? Check.
From top to bottom, Oshie had a complete, successful decade. He was electric on the ice, leading his teams as a true, consummate professional. At 33 years old, he will likely see a downturn in play throughout the 2020s, but in the 2010s he was a breakout star.
#4: Blake Wheeler
By all metrics, Blake Wheeler has been one of the elite players of the decade. He posted 666 points, ranked third overall for right wingers while playing in 780 games, ranked second at his position.
Unfortunately, he has never won the individual awards one would expect for a player of his caliber. Besides making the All-Star Game in 2018 and 2019, he has mostly been in the background, producing points at a steady clip.
Related: Top 15 NHL Power Forwards
Perhaps in the 2020s, Wheeler will win an award, but by all accounts, he has nothing to prove. He has been one of the best forwards this decade, earning nothing but respect for his play on the ice.
#3: Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov has been on a tear since he entered the league in 2013-14. He has posted 503 points in 484 games, putting him sixth overall at his position. He is also the only right winger in the top-20 in scoring with under 500 games played, making his all the more impressive.
If you look at his 2018-19 season alone, you can understand why Kucherov is among the elite. He posted 128 points, the most of any player in the decade.
In all, Kucherov has gone from scoring on his first shot in 2013, to a true NHL superstar. Also, at only 26 years old, it’s likely that he will continue to find success throughout the 2020s.
#2: Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel is one of the most charismatic players in the NHL. Wherever he has gone throughout his career, the media can’t help but cover his larger than life personality.
What is often lost in the discussion, however, is just how consistent he was throughout the 2010s. His 286 goals and 697 points put him second among all right wingers; his scoring prowess helped define what it means to be a winger in the modern era.
Kessel has done everything that you could hope for from an elite forward in that decade. Even if he was traded twice, he still won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and is looking to help the Arizona Coyotes win their first Cup in 2020.
#1: Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane was not only the best right winger of the last decade, but he was also one of the best players, period. His 802 points were the most scored by any player in the 2010s, and he sits in the top four in both goal scoring and assists.
Kane did it all throughout the 2010s. His three Stanley Cups alone put him in elite company in the NHL history books. He also won the Conn Smythe and the Hart Trophies, the Ted Lindsay award and became the first American to win the Art Ross Trophy in 2016.
Right-Wingers Saw Incredible Play Throughout the 2010s
Unfortunately, because the list is limited to only five players, some truly great right wingers of the decade were left out. Jakub Voracek, for example, posted 608 points in 764 games, making him one of the top performers of the decade.
However, all of the players on this list deserve to be here. The 2010s were defined by their play, with many of them playing leading roles for their franchises while acting the face of their franchise and the NHL.
All statistics taken from NHL.com/stats.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.