Who's the Best Right Winger in Hockey?
Oh those were the days seeing Kurri bury passes from 99, or Bossy flying down the wing blowing shots pass goalies, or seeing Guy Lafleur flying hair and all gliding around the ice effortlessly. Those were some of the greatest Right Wingers in the game. But today there is some good ones in their own right. Here is the top 10.
1. Jarome Iginla – Perhaps the best player in the NHL never mind just RW. He does it all for the Flames. He is their spiritual and emotional leader. He leads through reason or by example. He is perhaps the league’s best goal scorer and he does it without the aid of world class talent around him. He can carry the offence and a team on the back of his shoulders and will the Flames to victory. He plays even better when the games matter more. He can play physical, has great hands, a terrific shot and is dangerous on offence every shift. He has the size and speed that is ideal for a power winger. He IS the Flames.
2. Jaromir Jagr – When Jagr is feeling good, there may not be a more dominant hockey player in the world today. When Jagr is on his game he is near impossible to knock off the puck. His vision and creativity are matched by few, he can score at will or find teammates out of nowhere. He can make something out of nothing. His size and long reach are huge assets. He has deceptive speed and unbelievable hockey sense. When he wants to he can carry a team for months. He is probably the most dangerous guy on the powerplay. The thing is, it is unknown if he will show up for games or if he will even play as he is hurt often. But that doesnt overshadow his skills. They are first class.
3. Marian Hossa – talent wise, one of the best in the league regardless of position. The numbers dont lie. The man is productive. He can beat you with his great speed and quickness. He can overpower you with his great strength as he is difficult to contain and knock off the puck. He has such a well rounded game that it often goes unnoticed if he isnt making a highlight reel play. He is a sniper with a great pair of hands. But he can read plays well and make things happen. Many may argue he is more productive now than Jagr and as productive and Iginla but he has yet to prove he can carry a team on his shoulders and deliver when it counts most. His disappearing act in the playoffs is rather surprising for a guy this talented.
4. Martin St Louis – St Louis was not just handed the MVP for nothing. He earned it the hard way. He is underrated due to him playing with players who were stars in their teens. His biggest asset is his speed. One of the fastest players in the NHL, he is shifty, quick and near impossible to catch. He is great at both ends of the ice and is one of the best in transition. The new rules were made for players like him. His other big asset is his heart. He is a terrific leader, leading by example never giving up on any play.
5. Todd Bertuzzi – He will forever be remembered for the Steve Moore incident. But people forget he is a great hockey player. The man can dominate games. When the Bertuzzi train is rolling, there is no stopping it. He will go to the net and park himself there and be impossible to move. He can be devastating physically making opponents sorry they challenged him. But he not only has the size he has great speed for a big man, terrific hands that help him around the net and is swift like no other big man around. he is a threat every time he is on the ice. He simply needs to stay out of the penalty box to maximize his ice time and his effectiveness.
6. Dany Heatley – The adversity that Heatley has faced overshadows his career so far. Hopefully this will make him a stronger and better person in the end. But there is no denying his talents. If he can get back to focusing on playing hockey, Heatley will be one of the best. He is always dangerous on the ice. He sees the play in another dimension and is a terrific passer. But he is a goal scorer too who can light it up. He has good size, deceptive speed and really is one of hte more creative players around. How well he does depends on himself and whether he can regain his form. But there is no denying it. He is a top end talent.
7. Milan Hedjuk – Perhaps the most overlooked man in hockey. It’s a product of playing with Sakic, Forsberg, Bourque, Roy, Blake, Foote. Simply put, Hedjuk is a goal scorer. The man can score at will and perhaps may be the best goal scorer in the NHL. one of the last to notch 50 goals, he has the talents to do it again. He has terrific hands. His release is so quick that it catches goalies off guard. While eyes are often on the Avs other stars, Hedjuk can quietly find the open space and get himself into dangerous offensive position. you cant teach these kind of smarts. he has great speed and is a danger whenever he is on the ice.
8. Daniel Alfredsson – He is often made fun of for his crusty the clown hairstyle (which he has now gotten rid of). He sometimes speaks his mind too much making off the wall predictions of Cup wins but underneath all that is a terrific hockey player. He plays with sandpaper which is courageous for a player that small. His work ethic is second to none. He owns one of the best wrist shots from the point and is usually dangerous every shift. He will either create things using his blazing speed or his puck skills. What is often overlooked is his defensive play. that is first rate. He is an underrated penalty killer and checker. He is a leader. Yes his performances in playoffs are nothing great, but is the undisputed leader of the Sens. One of these days he must deliver on some of his promises.
9. Alex Kovalev – perhaps the best pair of hands in hockey. there is no player I find more mesmorizing than Kovalev. His moves borderline on the unreal. He is the best stickhandler in the league. He can blow by you with great speed, or power by you with his strength. He has one of the best shots and can be a devastating sniper. But he can also create something out of nothing with his terrific moves and wonderful vision. Perhaps a bit complacent, perhaps too fancy, perhaps too soft, but perhaps one of hte most exciting players to watch in the league. Often leaves everyone wondering how he did that?
10. Bill Guerin – Bloated contract or not, Geurin is one of the primier power forwards in the game. He is strong, big and very willing to mix it up physically. He has great wheels that really help him on the forecheck. The man is a great sniper who can annually pot 30-40 goals a year. He has a terrific shot. His days as a Devil turned him into a very good two way player. But he is a bull with a mean streak, going to the net willingly and making things happen with his speed and strength.
There are many quality right wingers that simply didnt crack the top 10. Players like Marian Gaborik, Zigmund Palffy, Shane Doan, Pavol Demitra, Brett Hull, Mark Recchi, Glen Murray, Miro Satan are all deserving of some consideration but simply do not cut it against the guys listed above.
The future is bright in the NHL as there are several young stars who are ready to carry the torch and be the next group of top RWers in the game.
1. Tuomo Ruutu – strong, gritty and skilled, the perfect player to turn Chicago back to the old blackhawks of their glory days in the Stadium. Could be an even more skilled version of Esa Tikkanen.
2. Nikolai Zherdev – Has all the tools to be the next exciting player to enter the league. great speed, terrific hands, great puck skills, offensive smarts he has all the offensive tools to be a dangerous player for years.
3. Patrice Bergeron – has a nose for the net, terrific offensive skills and good speed. Will be one of those guys who gets overshadowed by bigger name players but who in the end you will see on the scoresheet almost every game.
4. Michael Ryder – showed off great speed and skills in very productive rookie year. has great size to be a power winger without the physical player. reminds me of another maritimer Glen Murray.
5. Jonathan Cheechoo – this kid is a highlight reel. can score some amazing goals. has the size you like, the willingness to mix it up to make the play and speed that reminds me of a young Glen Anderson.
The star winger will get all the press time but many teams rely on certain players in all situations especially defensively. it’s these players that go a long way to determining a team’s success. Their impact may not be on the score sheet but their contributions are invaluable.
1. Steve Yzerman – turned from being one of the most dangerous players in the 80s and 90s on offence to a defensive stalwart. Perhaps the best leader in hockey. He is an inspiration to all players. unfortunately injuries are far too often for him to be effective long term.
2. Jere Lehtinen – one of the best two way players in the game, can win a selke but pot 30 goals. speed and smarts are why he is so strong on defence.
3. Scott Walker – Brings defensive smarts, grit and leadership to the table every night. Can give you 25 goals but also yoemen work in the trenches. is the face of the Preds, speed, grit, determination.
4. Martin Lapointe – Player that opponents and fans love to hate. The guy is an agitator. He scores big goals, throws big hits and can check a top player into the ice.
5. Jamie Langenbrunner – can fill in any role asked of him. He has good size, speed and skills but leaves many asking for more. comes up huge in big games.
Well there you have it. The best the NHL has to offer in terms of Right Wingers. There will be plenty of arguments here as I have made controversial picks in Daniel Alfredsson and Bill Guerin in the top 10. There may be guys excluded who have better skills than Alfie but I love what this guy brings to the table every game. Bottom line is that if he isnt scoring, he is doing many other little things that impact the team. And Guerin is a proven winner, and a guy who is one of the league’s better scorers. Power forwards are at a premium but he has shown to be one of the best. The guy hits, fights and score. Gotta love that in a hockey player even if he is a total you know what. you may love to hate these players as I do (i wrote a hateful article about Guerin once and as a Leafs fan I dispise Alfie) but as hockey players they are two of the better ones in my mind.