Prior to the 2021-22 season beginning, I put lists together on the top 10 players for each position, as well as coaches. It goes without saying that it is a very tough list to do given how subjective it is, but nevertheless I am here to do it once again.
With the 2021-22 season now half way through, there are some players who have lived up to their rankings, some who have dropped off, and some who have forced their way on with great play. With that being said, here are the top 10 right wingers for the first half of the season.
10. Patrick Kane
It has been a disappointing season for both Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks this season. After a few big moves this summer, the hope was that this team would get back to being a Stanley Cup contender, but that has been far from the case as they have managed just 17 wins through 47 games.
While the struggles haven’t been his fault, Kane hasn’t been at his best in 2021-22. Despite recently talking about how frustrated he is with his own play, however, he still has 43 points in 43 games. It goes to show just how much is expected of him, as for most that is a great first half of a season.
9. Andrei Svechnikov
Given that it is already his fourth season in the NHL, it is easy to forget that Andrei Svechnikov is still just 21-years-old. The second overall pick in the 2018 draft took a slight step backward a season prior after a great 2019-20 campaign, but has turned things around through 42 games in 2021-22 with 18 goals and 42 points.
Aside from Sebastian Aho, Svechnikov has turned into the most dangerous offensive threat on a superb Carolina Hurricanes team. He will only get better in the coming years which is a scary thought for opposing teams.
8. Bryan Rust
Had he not been forced to miss time earlier in the season, Bryan Rust would likely be much higher on this list. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward has been fantastic when healthy, but the issue is he has only suited up for 26 games. In those 26 games, he has put up a very impressive 16 goals and 35 points.
If he is able to remain healthy for the remainder of the season, Rust should easily surpass his career highs in goals (27) and points (56). Though he remains quite underrated throughout the league, he is one of the Penguins best offensive talents.
7. Mats Zuccarello
The Minnesota Wild have turned into one of the league’s top teams in 2021-22, and Zuccarello is a big reason why. Many questioned the organization choosing to sign him to a five-year, $30 million deal during the 2019 offseason, but to this point the deal has worked out great.
Zuccarello, who has found great chemistry with the dynamic Kirill Kaprizov, has 14 goals and 42 points through 36 games this season. If he is able to remain healthy for the remainder of the year, he should have issue surpassing his career high 61 points set back in 2015-16.
6. Mitch Marner
For his standards, Marner got off to a slow start in 2021-22, and was then forced to a good chunk of time with a shoulder issue. Since returning, however, he is back to the Marner of old, putting up multi-point efforts in seven of his last nine games.
The recent hot stretch has him sitting at 40 points through 35 games. It should also be mentioned that 16 of those are goals, which is just 10 shy of his career high 26 he registered back in 2018-19. Expect Marner to continue putting up big numbers for the remainder of the season.
5. David Pastrnak
Similar to Marner, Pastrnak had a bit of a slow start to the season, but is on fire as of late. The 25-year-old Boston Bruins forward, who has one of the most lethal releases in the entire NHL, has put up 16 goals in his last 17 games played.
Through 45 games, Pastrnak is sitting with 24 goals and 45 points. It will be close, but at this point he has a great shot to not only surpass his career high 48 goals, but break the 50-goal plateau. The 2019-20 Rocket Richard winner is one of the games truly elite wingers.
4. Troy Terry
What a season it has been for Terry. Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, he was looking like a fringe NHLer, but that has all changed. In 44 games on the year, Terry has put up 25 goals and 42 points and is a huge reason why the Anaheim Ducks are shocking many and currently sit in a playoff spot.
It was evident years ago watching Terry at the World Juniors for Team USA that he had an abundance of skill, and it is great to see that he is finally figuring out how to put it all together at the NHL level. All of a sudden with players like himself, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, the future of this Ducks team is rather bright.
3. Matthew Tkachuk
Few players received more criticism around the league than Tkachuk in 2020-21. Many questioned his maturity level after reports came that teammates were growing tired of his act, which cast doubt over whether or not he was the right person to become the next captain of the Calgary Flames.
Though he has not become the teams captain as of yet, he is quickly proving his doubters wrong and is helping the Flames get back to being a threat in the Pacific Division. In just 44 games, Tkachuk has already passed last seasons point total with 49 thus far, and is in a great position to pass his career high 77 set in 2018-19. Once the 24-year-old is signed to an extension, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him get the ‘C’ placed on his jersey.
2. Timo Meier
After being taken ninth overall in 2015, Meier registered 66 points in just his second NHL season in 2018-19 and appeared well on his way to becoming a star talent. That soon changed, however, as he then had two extremely disappointing years in a row, casting doubt over what type of player he would be moving forward and what his future looked like as a Shark.
In 2021-22, the now 25-year-old is back to looking like a true star, with 21 goals and 47 points through 41 games. Even more impressively is that he is doing so on a team that doesn’t possess much offensive talent up front. It is safe to say that with the season he is having, the Sharks are no longer questioning what to do with him.
1. Mikko Rantanen
Because he happens to play on a team with Nathan MacKinnon, Rantanen doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, but make no mistake; this guy is an elite, elite talent. The 25-year-old Colorado Avalanche forward is both strong and sturdy at 6-foot-4, yet can skate like the wind and is as skilled as anyone in the league.
Through 42 games this season, Rantanen has recorded 24 goals and 55 points. Like many others on this list, he is in a great position to surpass his career high in points, which is 84 set back in 2017-18. With both him and MacKinnon up front, the Avalanche are one of the scariest teams to face off against in the entire league.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.