Ranking NHL Teams By Forwards

Last but not least, the forwards — the guys who get most the goals and thus most the glory.

If you can’t score, you can’t win, so this position is as important as any. It’s also as difficult to rank as any since there are 12 forwards in the lineup compared to just six defencemen and only two goaltenders.

Depth is important but star power wins the day when it comes to forwards. Yes, teams have four lines, but they can lean on their top line or their top few forwards to prevail on any given night. However, to have success in the long run — to make the playoffs and have a chance at the Stanley Cup — teams typically need to roll four lines, so depth is definitely a factor in the big picture.

In the third of a four-part series ranking the NHL teams by position, here is how the forwards ranked after the 2019-20 season and 2020 postseason — counting down from No. 31 to No. 1.

31) Detroit Red Wings

Tyler Bertuzzi-Dylan Larkin-Anthony Mantha

Darren Helm-Valtteri Filppula-Dmytro Timashov

Brendan Perlini-Robby Fabbri-Luke Glendening

Justin Abdelkader-Frans Nielsen-Christoffer Ehn

Adam Erne/Joe Hicketts/Taro Hirose

UFAs: Sam Gagner, Turner Elson, Chris Terry, Matt Puempel, Kyle Brodziak

ANALYSIS: The Detroit Red Wings struggled to score goals this season and after trading Andreas Athanasiou to the Edmonton Oilers, they became even more starved for offence. They finished dead last in goals scored with 145 and posted a goal differential of negative-122. Their leading goal scorers were Bertuzzi with 21 goals and Larkin with 19 goals. Everyone else scored less than 16 and no one broke the 60-point plateau. That’s just not the recipe for regular-season success. If they hope to make any strides next season, they have to score more goals, period.

Tyler Bertuzzi Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fabbri and Zadina have the potential to score more and Mantha should rebound from an injury-riddled season, so there is a bit of a silver lining. Yzerman should be busy in the trade market and free agency because this team needs a jolt of offensive power from somewhere.

30) Los Angeles Kings

Alex Iafallo-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown

Trevor Moore-Gabe Vilardi-Jeff Carter

Adrian Kempe-Blake Lizotte-Martin Frk

Austin Wagner-Alex Turcotte-Michael Amadio

UFAs: Trevor Lewis, Tim Schaller

ANALYSIS: The Los Angeles Kings had a hard time scoring this season with only Kopitar breaking 20 goals and 60 points. The next forward up was Tyler Toffoli at 18 goals, but he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks around the trade deadline. After that only Carter, Brown, Iaffalo, and Kempe could break the 10-goal mark.

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Basically goals were hard to come by for this team. Fortunately for them, they have a lot of solid prospects coming down the pipeline in Tyler Madden, Gabe Vilardi, Samuel Fagemo, and Rasmus Kupari. They also have the second overall pick in the upcoming draft and three second-round picks to help supplement them as well. Offence may be a struggle right now, but help is on the way very soon.

29) Columbus Blue Jackets

Liam Foudy-Pierre-Luc Dubois-Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Foligno-Boone Jenner-Cam Atkinson

Gustav Nyquist-Alexander Wennberg-Josh Anderson

Eric Robinson-Mikhail Grigorenko-Riley Nash

Nathan Gerbe/Devin Shore/Kevin Stenlund

IR: Brandon Dubinksy

ANALYSIS: After losing Artemi Panarin, Ryan Dzingle, and Matt Duchene to free agency, it was expected that the Columbus Blue Jackets would struggle to score goals. That’s exactly what happened as they finished 28th in goals for at the end of the season. They definitely have offensive talent with Dubois, Atkinson, and Nyquist, but they all did not produce a lot of goals.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Columbus Blue Jackets
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Atkinson battled injuries and was only able to manage 12 goals after a 41-goal season and Wennberg only turned in which put pressure on Dubois to produce more, which he did not do. However he was a beast in the playoffs with four goals and ten points in ten games, so that should give fans hope for 2020-21. Other highlights included Bjorkstrand’s second straight 20-goal season and Foudy’s emergence as a speedy, offensive threat. So there is hope for offence in the future.

28) San Jose Sharks

Evander Kane-Logan Couture-Timo Meier

Marcus Sorensen-Tomas Hertl-Kevin Labanc

Joel Kellman-Noah Gregor-Alex True

Lean Bergmann-Antti Suomela-Dylan Gambrell

UFAs: Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson, Stefan Noesen, Lukas Radil, Jonny Brodzinski, Anthony Greco

ANALYSIS: The Sharks are in need of a major overhaul in their forward ranks, especially in their bottom-six. Kane, Meier, Couture, Hertl, and Labanc produced well enough, but they got next to nothing from the bottom of their lineup this season.

San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture
Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks. (Josie Lepe/AP Photo)

In fact, no one broke 10 goals, and speaking of the top-six, their leading point-getter was Meier with 22 goals and 49 points. That’s just not good enough for a team that has aspirations of making the playoffs.

27) Anaheim Ducks

Sonny Milano-Ryan Getzlaf-Danton Heinen

Rickard Rakell-Adam Henrique-Jakob Silfverberg

Max Jones-Sam Steel-Troy Terry

Nicolas Deslauriers-Carter Rowney-David Backes

UFAs: Patrick Eaves, Blake Pietila, Kyle Criscuolo, Andrew Poturalski, Justin Kloos, Chris Mueller

ANALYSIS: The Anaheim Ducks’ days of being an offensive powerhouse are clearly over as they continue to rebuild their forward group. Their former leading man, Ryan Getzlaf, is on the decline with his second straight season under 50 points, Rakell turned in yet another campaign with less than 20 goals and only two players broke the 20-goal mark.

Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf is still a key member of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

There were some bright spots as Henrique had his best season as a Duck and Silverberg posted his second straight 20-goal season. Late season acquisition Sonny Milano also showed some chemistry skating alongside Getzlaf, so that could be something to watch in 2020-21.

26) New Jersey Devils

Miles Wood-Nico Hischier-Kyle Palmieri

Nikita Gusev-Jack Hughes-Jesper Bratt

John Hayden-Pavel Zacha-Michael Mcleod

Jesper Boqvist-Travis Zajac-Joseph Anderson

UFAs: Kevin Rooney, Ben Street, Brandon Baddock

ANALYSIS: The Devils were supposed to be an exciting offensive team with loads of depth in 2019-20. That never happened, as Hall and Blake Coleman found new addresses by the end of the season, and first overall pick Jack Hughes struggled to grab a foothold in the league until later in the season and finished with only seven goals and 21 points.

New Jersey Devils Kyle Palmieri
New Jersey Devils Kyle Palmieri (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Hischier had a career-low 14 goals and 36 points and their leading point-getter was Palmieri at 45 points. That’s how paltry the offence was in the swamp this season. Basically it was a disappointment all around after so much hope and excitement at the outset.

25) Arizona Coyotes

Lawson Crouse-Derek Stepan-Clayton Keller

Barrett Hayton-Christian Dvorak-Phil Kessel

Conor Garland-Nick Schmaltz-Christian Fischer

Michael Grabner-Michael Chaput-Vinnie Hinostroza

UFAs: Taylor Hall, Carl Soderberg, Brad Richardson, Markus Hannikainen, Beau Bennett

ANALYSIS: For a team that had the likes of Kessel and Hall, they sure didn’t do a lot of scoring. After coming over in trades with the Penguins and Devils respectively, everyone thought that they would push the Coyotes over the top offensively. That never really happened, as Garland finished as the leading goal scorer with 22 goals and no one else broke 20 goals.

Conor Garland Arizona Coyotes
Conor Garland, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Coyotes did have eight players get into the double digits, but no one stood out as a premier goal scorer on this team. They were superb defensively and got great goaltending from Darcy Kuemper, but to make the playoffs and beyond, they have to get more consistent high-level scoring from at least a few of their forwards.

24) Ottawa Senators

Brady Tkachuk-Colin White-Bobby Ryan

Rudolfs Balcers-Chris Tierney-Connor Brown

Anthony Duclair-Nic Paul-Drake Batherson

Artem Anisimov-Logan Brown-Jace Hawryluk

UFAs: Mikkel Boedker, Matthew Peca, Jordan Szwarz, Scott Sabourin, Morgan Klimchuk, Ryan Callahan, Clarke MacArthur

ANALYSIS: The Senators are a young team with a bright future, and despite being at the bottom in goal scoring, they have a lot of promising scorers either on the roster or in the pipeline. Tkachuk remained remarkably consistent with almost the exact totals as last season and Duclair re-emerged as a legitimate offensive threat with a career-high 23 goals, so there are some bright spots right there.

Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Throw in the fact that the Sens have three first-round picks in the 2020 Draft in October, the stable could be filled with even more talent in the coming months.

23) Buffalo Sabres

Jeff Skinner-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart

Dominik Kahun-Marcus Johansson-Victor Olofsson

Rasmus Asplund-Casey Mittelstadt-Kyle Okposo

C.J. Smith-Curtis Lazar-Jean-Sebastien Dea

UFAs: Wayne Simmonds, Michael Frolik, Jimmy Vesey, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Scott Wilson, Dalton Smith, Taylor Leier

ANALYSIS: The Sabres once again started the season like gangbusters, then fell off a cliff at the end. The offence was backed solely by Eichel, Reinhart, and rookie sensation Victor Olofsson after Skinner fell drastically from his 40-goal campaign in 2018-19, finishing with a measly 14 goals. After him, only Girgensons broke double digits.

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The depth that was touted at the beginning of the season did not come into play as Vesey, Sheary, Okposo, and Johansson never got into any offensive rhythm. With five regulars entering free agency, the Sabres will have some work to do to rebuild the offence and make Eichel happy after missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

22) Nashville Predators

Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson

Calle Jarnkrok-Matt Duchene-Kyle Turris

Austin Watson-Nick Bonino-Rocco Grimaldi

Yakov Trenin-Colton Sissons-Michael McCarron

UFAs: Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith, Colin Blackwell, Daniel Carr, Frederick Gaudreau

ANALYSIS: Similar to the Stars and Devils, the Predators were expected to score a lot in 2019-20. With forwards like Turris, Duchene, Johansen, Arvidsson, Forsberg, and Granlund, how could they not? On paper, they should have been a strong, deep team steeped in goals. Unfortunately, the game is not played on paper. Every one of those forwards struggled, save for Forsberg as defenceman Roman Josi led the team in points and the aforementioned Forsberg paced everyone in goals with 21. With all that talent, they should have scored more.

Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Predators may have had a high ranking at the beginning of the season, but they have dropped drastically in these rankings. If they hope to have success in 2020-21 and beyond, at least a few of these players have to step up their game and put the puck in the net.

21) Calgary Flames

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane-Mikael Backlund-Matthew Tkachuk

Milan Lucic-Sam Bennett-Dillon Dube

Mark Jankowski-Derek Ryan-Glenn Gawdin

UFAs: Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, Alan Quine, Buddy Robinson, Austin Czarnik, Byron Froese, Ryan Lomberg

ANALYSIS: The Flames were in the bottom half of the league in offence this season, mostly due to the decline in production from their top forwards. Monahan failed to hit 30 goals for the first time in two seasons and Gaudreau hit career lows in goals and points as well. Lindholm was the only bright spot on that line with a career-high 29 goals to his credit.

Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mangiapane had a breakout season with 17 goals, and Dube had a strong postseason with four goals, but if the Flames are going to avenge the lack of a playoff appearance, their stars have to bounce back in a big way next season.

20) Minnesota Wild

Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Kevin Fiala

Like Kunin-Joel Eriksson Ek-Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway-Ryan Donato-Kirill Kaprizov

Ryan Hartman-Victor Rask-Marcus Foligno

UFAs: Mikko Koivu, Alex Galchenyuk, Kyle Rau, J.T. Brown, Sam Anas, Colton Beck, Michael Liambas

ANALYSIS: The Wild were a middle of the pack team offensively in 2019-20, but most of their goals came from some aging veterans in Staal, Parise, and Zuccarello. They accounted for 59 goals and they are all over the age of 30. Fiala emerged as a star with 23 goals and 54 points in the regular season and three goals and four points in the playoffs, but he’s going to need some help in the future.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Koivu is clearly on the decline and is approaching free agency in a couple of months, so they will need someone to step in for him. Kunin, Greenway, Hartman, Eriksson-Ek all have potential, so goal scoring could see an uptick if one or two of them break out in 2020-21. In addition to that, potential superstar Kirill Kaprizov could be coming over from Europe, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

19) Montreal Canadiens

Tomas Tatar-Phillip Danault-Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin-Nick Suzuki-Joel Armia

Artturi Lekhonen-Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Max Domi

Paul Byron-Jake Evans-Alex Belzile

Jordan Weal/Charles Hudon

UFAs: Dale Weise

ANALYSIS: The Canadiens had obviously resigned themselves to the fact that they were missing the playoffs in 2020, however, the NHL pause and subsequent play-in round format had other ideas. They ended up getting a chance to make the playoffs as the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, then ultimately did after dispatching the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games.

Nick Suzuki Montreal Canadiens
Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

That gave players like Suzuki and Kotkaniemi an opportunity to shine, and shine they did. By the end of the first round, they had combined for eight goals and 11 points, and Suzuki had taken over the number one center spot from Daneault. Kotkaniemi also rebounded from an otherwise uninspiring season to give fans hope that he could still be that solid second-line center they were hoping for when he was drafted third overall in 2018. All in all, the Canadiens have a bright future with them leading the way.

18) Chicago Blackhawks

Dominik Kubalik-Jonathan Toews-Brandon Saad

Alex DeBrincat-Kirby Dach-Patrick Kane

Alex Nylander-Dylan Strome-Drake Caggiula

Matthew Highmore-David Kampf-Ryan Carpenter

LTIR: Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith

UFAs: Anton Wedin, Joseph Cramarossa

ANALYSIS: Just like the Oilers, the Blackhawks were led by a dynamic duo. The familiar twosome of Kane and Toews were prominent again with 33 and 18 goals respectively and helped lead their team to a surprising playoff appearance against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

24-year-old rookie Dominik Kubalik also surprised with 30 goals of his own, while DeBrincat fell off a bit with a somewhat pedestrian 18 goals after posting 41 goals in 2018-19. Even though Kane and Toews are 31-years-old now, they are still the prominent figures of this team. However, the young guns are starting to show some pop as Dach, Kubalik, Strome, Nylander and DeBrincat have shown some promising growth recently.

17) Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor-Mark Scheifele-Patrik Laine

Nik Ehlers-Blake Wheeler-Andrew Copp

Jansen Harkins-Adam Lowry-Jack Roslovic

Kristian Vesalainen-Mathieu Perreault-Mason Appleton

IR: Bryan Little

UFAs: Cody Eakin, Nick Shore, Gabriel Bourque, Logan Shaw, Mark Letestu, Andrei Chibisov, JC Lipon, Seth Griffith

ANALYSIS: The usual suspects of Connor, Scheifele, Laine, Ehlers and Wheeler led the charge on offence for the Jets as they combined for 142 goals on the season. They faced some early adversity losing Brian Little only seven games into the season but managed to recover and punch a ticket to the postseason, where they were dispatched quickly by the Flames after losing Scheifle to injury one game into the series. Despite all that, their forward group had a successful season and will be around next season, unless the rumours of Laine being moved are true.

Mark Scheifele Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

16) Edmonton Oilers

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Connor McDavid-Josh Archibald

Andreas Athanasiou-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto

James Neal-Jujhar Khaira-Zack Kassian

Tyler Benson-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson

Patrick Russell/Cooper Marody

UFAs: Riley Sheahan, Tyler Ennis, Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, Brad Malone, Josh Currie

ANALYSIS: The Oilers were once again led by the dynamic duo of Draisaitl and McDavid as they combined for 77 goals and 207 points. Their offence was top-heavy though, as Nugent-Hopkins was the only other forward to have a 20-goal season. Neal appeared to be a good acquisition from the Calgary Flames but bottomed out towards the end of the season after scoring all 19 of his goals before the calendar turned to 2020. In fact, he scored 11 of them in October alone, so he was not a consistent threat throughout.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Yamamoto had a solid season overall with 11 goals and 26 points in 27 games, but he was shuttled between the Oilers and Bakersfield Condors all season long. If the Oilers want to make a dent in the postseason, they need more scoring from players not named McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins. They ultimately did not make it because of their lack of secondary scoring, as they only got three goals from them during their 3-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.

15) Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller-Elias Pettersson-Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson-Bo Horvat-Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel-Adam Gaudette-Brandon Sutter

Tyler Motte-Jay Beagle-Jake Virtanen

Micheal Ferland/Zack MacEwen

UFAs: Tyler Toffoli, Josh Leivo, Tyler Graovac

ANALYSIS: The Canucks ended up being a formidable group on offence, especially in their top-nine. Pettersson put up similar numbers to his rookie season, Horvat continued his consistency with another 20-goal season, and newcomer J.T. Miller had a career season with 27 goals and 72 points. Gaudette and Virtanen also contributed with some offence as well as they both broke double digits. If the season had continued, they probably could have had 20-goal seasons as well.

Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson
Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The offence spilled over into the playoffs as Pettersson, Horvat, and Miller scored 23 goals and 48 points between them and showed everyone why the league should pay attention to the Canucks in the future. If they can somehow manage to re-sign Toffoli to a budget-friendly deal after getting him in a trade with the Kings, they will be a force next season as well.

14) Dallas Stars

Mattias Janmark-Joe Pavelski-Alex Radulov

Jamie Benn-Radek Faksa-Blake Comeau

Jason Dickinson-Tyler Seguin-Corey Perry

Joel Kiviranta-Roope Hintz-Denis Gurianov

Andrew Cogliano

ANALYSIS: Despite the plethora of talent on the Stars’ roster, they had a difficult time scoring goals. They may be in the Western Conference Finals right now, but it’s not on the strength of their offence. They only had one 20-goal scorer in Gurianov and star forwards Benn and Seguin struggled throughout the season. Radulov, Pavelski and Perry also didn’t generate their usual offence either. In the end, that put a lot of the onus on their goaltender and defensive system, which worked out pretty well as they avoided the qualifying round and are three wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Even though the Stars struggled to generate offence during the regular season, they are getting some production from their top players in the playoffs as Benn, Pavelski, and Radulov have 20 goals between them. That along with their solid system and the power of Heiskanen and Klingberg is why they are in the position they are right now.

13) New York Islanders

Anders Lee-Matt Barzal-Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Josh Bailey

Derick Brassard-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Ross Johnston

Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck

Leo Komarov/Andrew Ladd/Tom Kuhnhackl/Michael Dal Colle

ANALYSIS: With the addition of Pageau from the Senators, the Islanders boast a deep lineup with four centermen that can produce offence. It was evident throughout the season, and it’s continued to be in the playoffs as they find themselves in the Eastern Conference Final against the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning. Barzal continued his ascent into stardom with his second straight 60-plus point season and is a key reason why they are eight wins away from a Stanley Cup, as he already has 5 goals and 13 points in 16 games.

New York Islanders Mathew Barzal
Matt Barzal of the New York Islanders. (Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nelson and Lee both posted their fifth 20-goal seasons and also have been key pieces in the playoffs as well with 14 goals between them. In fact, scoring has come from everywhere as seven players have three or more goals in the playoffs so far.

12) Carolina Hurricanes

Andrei Svechnikov-Sebastian Aho-Teuvo Teravainen

Ryan Dzingel-Vincent Trocheck-Nino Niederreiter

Warren Foegele-Jordan Staal-Brock McGinn

Jordan Martinook-Morgan Geekie-Martin Necas

UFAs: Justin Williams, Max McCormick, Brian Gibbons

ANALYSIS: After signing an offer sheet with the Canadiens in the offseason, I’m sure many people wondered how Aho would perform this season with the Hurricanes. Judging by his stats, it never bothered him at all. He scored a career-high 38 goals in 68 games and was their best player once again. In four seasons in the NHL, he already has 121 goals and 263 points and he’s only 22-years-old. You can definitely see why the Canadiens took a chance at signing him.

Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes
Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for the rest of the forwards, it was a young man’s game as the oldest player with 10 or more goals was Niederreiter at 27-years-old. Necas, Svechnikov, Teravainen, Foegele, and Wallmark are all under 25 and they all hit double digits in goals. They are clearly led by the fab-three of Aho, Svechnikov, and Teravainen, but they do have depth to spare as well.

11) St. Louis Blues

Jayden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist

Zach Sanford-Ryan O’Reilly-David Perron

Sammy Blais-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Alex Steen-Ivan Barbashev-Jordan Kyrou

Jacob De La Rose/Mackenzie MacEachern/Niko Mikkola

IR: Vladimir Tarasenko

UFAs: Troy Brouwer, Jordan Nolan, Nick Lappin

ANALYSIS: The Blues were again a strong group offensively with two-way force Ryan O’Reilly leading the way with 61 points. They didn’t have Tarasenko for most of the campaign but still managed to finish just outside of the top ten in offence. Most of that had to do with the strength of their offence from the blueline, but they still ended with three 20-goal scorers and six players with ten or more tallies. They basically had four lines that could provide offence, even without the services of their top sniper.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

10) Pittsburgh Penguins

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Kasperi Kapanen

Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust

Jaren McCann-Nick Bjugstad-Patric Hornqvist

Brandon Tanev-Anthony Angello-Teddy Blueger

IR: Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon

UFAs: Conor Sheary, Patrick Marleau, Philip Varone, Adam Johnson, Riley Barber, Thomas DiPauli, Kevin Roy

ANALYSIS: Even though the Penguins bowed out in the qualifying round to the Canadiens, they still are the envy of the league when it comes to their forward group. With the recent re-acquisition of Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs, they could be even more potent offensively. He will probably slot in where pending UFA Sheary used to be on the top line with Crosby and most likely score at least 25 goals. Though that’s next season, let’s get back to 2019-20. Crosby battled injuries again, but still managed to put up 47 points in 41 games, so he’s still producing at 32-years-old. Malkin posted his 11th season with 70 or more points, so no issue there either with him approaching his 15th season in the NHL.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for the rest of the forwards, McCann had a solid second season with the Pens posting 14 goals and 35 points and even though Guentzel didn’t put up 40 goals, he still had his third straight 20-goal season. Overall, this group is still a threat to score and should be again in 2020-21.

9) Vegas Golden Knights

Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith

Nick Cousins-Chandler Stephenson-Alex Tuch

William Carrier-Nicolas Roy-Ryan Reaves

ANALYSIS: The Golden Knights probably boast one of the more lethal top-sixes in the NHL. They may not have someone who will put up 90-100 points, but they have multiple players who can easily hit 50-60, and that can sometimes be even more dangerous in the end. They also have speed throughout their lineup and a top-six that can score at least 20 goals every single season. Pacioretty paced them with 32 goals, but each of them is capable of doing the same damage every single season.

Max Pacioretty #67, Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Their bottom-six doesn’t score a bunch, but they can forecheck you to death and wear you down so that their top forwards can score at will. It’s a pretty sound system, and it’s one that has got them to the Conference Finals against the Stars. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, this team is not going anywhere anytime soon.

8) Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Ondrej Kase

Nick Ritchie-Charlie Coyle-Karson Kuhlman

Anders Bjork-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner

UFAs: Joakim Nordstrom, Ryan Fitzgerald

ANALYSIS: The Bruins have arguably the best top line in the league, and they proved it once again in 2019-20. Pastrnak led the NHL with 48 goals and the entire unit accounted for 107 goals and 238 points. I would say that’s pretty good for a top line.

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins
David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

They also got solid production from Debrusk, Coyle, and Krejci during the regular season and playoffs as they accounted for 11 goals in the postseason. With the perfection line going strong and the depth they have throughout the lineup, offence was not a problem in 2019-20 and will not be in 2020-21 either.

7) Philadelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Oskar Lindblom-Morgan Frost-Michael Raffl

UFAs: Tyler Pitlick, Derek Grant, Nate Thompson, Chris Stewart, Kurtis Gabriel

LTIR: Nolan Patrick, Samuel Morin

ANALYSIS: The Flyers were projected to have a strong top-six at the beginning of the season, and they did not disappoint. Konecny led the way with 24 goals and 61 points and Couturier was not far behind with 22 goals and 59 points of his own. Giroux declined a bit from the 85 points he generated last season, but still posted a solid 21 goals and 53 points. Overall, the offence flowed pretty freely for Vigneault in his first go-around in the City of Brotherly Love.

Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

By the end of the season, Vigneault had eight players hit double digits in goals. He even had 19-year-old Joel Farabee contribute with eight goals in the regular season and three goals in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he could not get the same production from his top players as he only saw Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny score three goals between the three of them. Ultimately I think that’s why they could not get by the Islanders and into the Eastern Conference Finals.

6) Florida Panthers

Jonathan Huberdeau-Aleksander Barkov-Frank Vatrano

Dominic Toninato-Noel Acciari-Brett Connolly

Dryden Hunt-Lucas Wallmark-Colton Sceviour

Aleksi Saarela-Eetu Luostarinen-Owen Tippett

UFAs: Mike Hoffman, Evgeni Dadonov, Erik Haula, Brian Boyle, Danick Martel, Jack Rodewald, Joel Lowry, Paul Thompson, Ryan Haggerty

ANALYSIS: The Panthers did not have any trouble scoring this season as they boasted five 20-goal scorers and three others who hit double-digits. They were led by pending-UFA Mike Hoffman’s 29 tallies and another solid season from Huberdeau who put up 78 points. Barkov also continued to climb the ladder of elite centers with his fifth-straight campaign with 20 or more goals.

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Panthers also had some pleasant surprises with Acciari hitting 20 goals for the first time in his career and Connolly fitting in nicely after spending the last three seasons with the Capitals. Overall, they were a pretty lethal group offensively. However, with Hoffman and Dadonov entering free agency, they will have to make some tough decisions quickly or risk losing 54 goals out of their lineup.

5) New York Rangers

Artemi Panarin-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich

Chris Kreider-Ryan Strome-Kaapo Kakko

Phil Di Giuseppe-Filip Chytil-Julien Gauthier

Brendan Lemieux-Brett Howden-Tim Gettinger

UFAs: Jesper Fast, Greg McKegg, Micheal Haley, Steven Fogarty, Vinni Lettieri, Danny O’Regan, Matt Beleskey

ANALYSIS: Panarin was everything and more for the Rangers this season, and was full value for the contract he signed in the offseason. He led them by a wide margin with a career-high 32 goals and 95 points in 69 games and was their best player night in and night out. Not far behind was Zibanejad, who also put up career numbers with 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games. They were quite the dynamic duo for the Blue Shirts.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Beyond them, they had five more players with ten or more goals and even though highly touted prospect Kaapo Kakko didn’t have the best rookie season, he still has the potential to be an impact player down the road. Throw in the fact that Alexis Lafreniere will most likely join the team next season, the Rangers will not have any problems scoring for the foreseeable future.

4) Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin-Lars Eller-Travis Boyd

Richard Panik-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway

UFAs: Ilya Kovalchuk, Liam O’Brien

ANALYSIS: The Capitals boast one of the league’s better top sixes and have for years now. They displayed their firepower yet again this season with Ovechkin posting his third straight season with 40 goals or more and eclipsing 700 goals in his career. Oshie, Vrana, and Wilson put up 20-goal seasons, and Kuznetsov and Eller could have done the same if the season had finished with its usual 82 games. That’s how dominant their offence was again this season.

Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals 700 goals
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, acknowledges the crowd as he is honored for scoring 700 career NHL goals, Feb. 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Kovalchuk joined the team later in the season to further supplement the offence, but couldn’t help them get over the hump that was the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the disappointment of not making it past the opening round for the second straight season, this team remains an offensive juggernaut capable of beating any team on any given night.

3) Colorado Avalanche

Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Andre Burakovsky-Nazem Kadri-Joonas Donskoi

Tyson Jost-J.T. Compher-Valeri Nichushkin

Matt Calvert-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Logan O’Connor

UFAs: Vladislav Namestnikov, Matt Nieto, Colin Wilson, Jayson Megna

ANALYSIS: The Avalanche can also put in a claim for the league’s top line as the dominant trio put up 75 goals and 178 points with MacKinnon leading the way with 35 goals and 93 points. They also got much-needed depth scoring from newcomers Kadri and Burakovsky who scored 39 goals between the two of them. Overall they actually got a lot of help from the rest of the forwards as six players eclipsed the 10-goal mark.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The scoring continued in the playoffs with MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog combined for 18 goals and 59 points while Kadri and Burakovsky stepped up with 16 goals and 35 points of their own. Unfortunately, they hit a wall with the Dallas Stars as they were eliminated in seven games after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit. Regardless, their offensive power remains strong going into next season.

2) Toronto Maple Leafs

Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander

Andreas Johnsson-John Tavares-Mitch Marner

Nicholas Robertson-Alex Kerfoot-Ilya Mikheyev

Pierre Engvall-Frederik Gauthier-Denis Malgin

UFAs: Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Miikka Salomaki, Garrett Wilson, Tyler Gaudet, Matt Lorito

ANALYSIS: The Maple Leafs were a powerhouse offensively yet again with Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, and Marner leading the way. They finished third in goals for and boasted a 47 goal scorer in Matthews and a 31-goal scorer in Nylander. Tavares didn’t dominate, but he still put up his 11th straight campaign with 24 or more goals.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Next season the Maple Leafs will be without Kapanen, but solid debuts from Robertson and Mikheyev made that trade possible since one of them will be taking his spot in the lineup. Overall, this team is just a defence core away from contending for the Stanley Cup every season.

1) Tampa Bay Lightning

Ondrej Palat-Brayden Point-Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn-Anthony Cirelli-Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow-Yanni Gourde-Blake Coleman

Mitch Stephens-Cedric Paquette-Pat Maroon

Carter Verhaeghe/Mathieu Joseph/Alex Volkov

IR: Steven Stamkos

ANALYSIS: The Lightning remain the toast of the NHL when it comes to offence. They started the 2019-20 campaign first in offence, and end it the same way. Kucherov didn’t dominate the league, but he still put up a respectable 33 goals and 85 points.

Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Stamkos didn’t play every game and remains out in the playoffs, but he still put up 29 goals in 57 games. Beyond him, Point, Killorn, Cirelli, Palat, Gourde, Coleman and Johnson all eclipsed the 10-goal mark and were thorns in every team’s side throughout. The point is, this team just knows how to score from their top line, all the way to their fourth line. That’s why they are well on their way to punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

Sign up for our 'DAILY BEST Newsletter' for the latest & greatest hockey news & analysis.

Recapping Forward Rankings

1) Tampa Bay Lightning

2) Toronto Maple Leafs

3) Colorado Avalanche

4) Washington Capitals

5) New York Rangers

6) Florida Panthers

7) Philadelphia Flyers

8) Boston Bruins

9) Vegas Golden Knights

10) Pittsburgh Penguins

11) St. Louis Blues

12) Carolina Hurricanes

13) New York Islanders

14) Dallas Stars

15) Vancouver Canucks

16) Edmonton Oilers

17) Winnipeg Jets

18) Chicago Blackhawks

19) Montreal Canadiens

20) Minnesota Wild

21) Calgary Flames

22) Nashville Predators

23) Buffalo Sabres

24) Ottawa Senators

25) Arizona Coyotes

26) New Jersey Devils

27) Anaheim Ducks

28) San Jose Sharks

29) Columbus Blue Jackets

30) Los Angeles Kings

31) Detroit Red Wings

Feel free to disagree with those rankings and share your own in the comments below.

All depth charts taken from CapFriendly.com as of Sept 8, 2020