It’s officially the start of a new decade. A lot of lists have come out lately as people reflect on the 2010s, from the best NHL moments to the most dominant teams, and everything in between. Well, now it’s my turn.
Today, I am going to rank who I consider to be the top five left wingers of the 2010s. This list will mainly focus on individual achievements, but I will also look at what kind of impact these players had on their teams’ overall success.
5. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers/New Jersey Devils/Arizona Coyotes
The 2010 first-overall pick has definitely been one of the most dominant left wingers of the decade. With 210 goals and 540 points, Taylor Hall sits sixth in scoring on the all-decade list at his position. He also boasts 0.90 points-per-game (P/GP), which ranks him fourth among his peers on the left side.
He spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers, in that span he led the team in scoring three times and led the club in goals twice. In the 2016 offseason, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Larsson. It was in his second season with New Jersey where Hall would have the best season of his career, picking up 39 goals and 93 points in 76 games. As a result of his impressive 2017-18 season, Hall was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP.
Due to Hall playing on some very bad teams through the first 10 seasons of his career, he has only made one appearance in the playoffs, but he made the most out of it, recording two goals and six points in five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hall was recently traded to the Arizona Coyotes, who currently hold onto the top spot in the Pacific Division, so there’s a pretty good chance that we will be seeing him in the playoffs once again.
4. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Although his point totals have dropped over the past couple of seasons, don’t let that overshadow just how dominant Jamie Benn was at his position for the majority of the decade. His 290 goals and 668 points rank him second among all left wingers in both categories, and his 378 assists rank second. His point totals in the early part of the decade were certainly respectable, but it was the 2013-14 season where he registered a 34-goal, 79-point season and really began to establish himself as a star in the National Hockey League.
The following season, Benn would continue his offensive success, recording 35 goals and 87 points while capturing the first Art Ross Trophy of his career. He wasn’t done yet, in the 2015-16 season he went onto register a new career-high in goals (41) and points (89), the only thing that stopped him from taking home his second Art Ross was Patrick Kane’s first 100-point season. Benn also sits eighth among left wingers in points-per-game with 0.87, fourth in power-play goals with 77, and he is tied for third in shorthanded goals with 12.
Benn was named captain of the Stars on Sept. 19, 2013, and under his leadership they have made the playoffs three times. The Stars were regular season Western Conference champions in 2015-16.
3. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin retired at the end of the 2017-18 season, but he still did enough this decade to come in at number three on my list. He is third in assists (365), fourth in points (579), and fifth in P/GP (0.87) among all left wingers.
His best season of the decade came in 2010-11 when he scored 41 goals and added 63 assists to finish the season with 104 points to take home the first and only Art Ross Trophy of his career. He was also awarded the Ted Lindsay Award that season as the league’s most outstanding player. Sedin’s point totals would begin to decline after that season, but he still put up some pretty good numbers. He never had a season with less than 40 points. In 2017-18 he was the recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy as the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice.
Sedin was a big reason why the Canucks were so dominant in the early 2010s, he helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 and led them to two straight Presidents’ Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Brad Marchand is a very talented player. Marchand sits fourth in goals (281) and assists (336), third in points (617), second in game-winning goals (55), seventh in P/GP (0.86), and first plus/minus (plus-217) among left wingers this decade.
Like Benn, Marchand put up respectable numbers in the early years of the decade, but it took a while before we really saw his point totals jump. In 2016-17, Marchand posted the first of back-to-back 85-point campaigns, which shattered his previous career-high of 61 points. In 2018-19, Marchand would reach the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career and became the first Bruins’ player since Joe Thornton in 2002-03 to score 100 points in a season. With 58 points through 40 games this season, Marchand looks like he is well on his way to another 100-point season.
Marchand has yet to receive an individual award at this point in his career, but he has helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final three times, including 2011 where Marchand and the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks to capture hockey’s biggest prize.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin was the best left winger of the 2010s, and it’s really not even close. He leads all left wingers in almost every statistical category including goals (463), points (829), P/GP (1.04), power-play goals (178), and game-winning goals (74). He also sits second behind only Benn in assists with 366. He had five seasons where he scored at least 50 goals and another where he finished the season with 49 goals. He took home the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy six times, the Ted Lindsay Award once, and the Hart Trophy once.
Ovechkin faced a lot of criticism this decade for being unable to carry the Capitals to any real postseason success, despite being one of the NHL’s best regular-season teams year after year. Many even believed that he would go down as the best player ever to never win a Cup. In 2018, he was finally able to silence his critics when he helped the Capitals defeat the Vegas Golden Knights in six games to capture their first Stanley Cup. Ovechkin recorded 15 goals and 27 points in 24 playoff games and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts.
Right now, Ovechkin sits first in goals and fifth in points in all-time left-winger scoring, and by the time it is all said and done, he will lead both categories by a wide margin.
There you have it, my list of the top five left wingers of the 2010s. Here’s to another decade of thrilling NHL hockey! Happy New Year, everyone!
Josh Vold covers the Edmonton Oilers here at TheHockeyWriters.com