Kane, Hossa among the elite of deep right wing pool
Who are the best 14 players in the NHL at each position as teams prepare for the start of the 2014-15 season? Arpon Basu, Brian Compton, Corey Masisak and Dan Rosen have cast their votes and the result is NHL.com's "Top 14 for '14-15" project. Each first-place vote is worth 14 points, each second-place vote is worth 13, continuing in descending order to each 14th-place vote being worth one. There are two tiebreakers. First, which player appeared on more ballots? Second, which player had the highest individual ranking? If the voting was exactly the same for each player, it was declared a tie. Does NHL.com's list match your rankings for the best players in the League entering the 2014-15 campaign?
There certainly is no shortage of talent at right wing in the NHL.
Seven right wings scored at least 30 goals last season, and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached the 50-goal plateau for the fifth time in his career. The position also boasts an impressive mix of young and veteran players, from Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers to Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils.
The abundance of talent at right wing made it extremely difficult to determine the top 14 players at the position. Three players received first-place votes, including Chicago Blackhawks sensation Patrick Kane, who was selected No. 1 by two of the voters.
Here is NHL.com's list of the top-14 right wings:
Ovechkin will be playing for yet another coach (Barry Trotz) when training camp opens, but he continues to produce regardless of who is behind the bench. The 28-year-old scored 51 goals for Adam Oates last season and now has 422 goals in 679 games, all with the Capitals.
Ovechkin was the only player in the NHL who scored more goals than Perry last season; it marked the second time in Perry's career that he scored at least 40 goals. He followed with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Kane's blazing speed and dazzling stickhandling make it easy to see why two voters selected him as the top right wing in the League. The No. 1 selection at the 2007 NHL Draft scored 29 goals for Chicago last season and averaged a point per game. Kane and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews signed eight-year contract extensions on July 9 worth $84 million.
Kessel scored 20 goals in the shortened 2012-13 season, then reached 30 goals for the fifth time in his career last season. The 26-year-old has 459 points (222 goals, 237 assists) in 586 games and is a threat to score every time he's on the ice.
One of the best two-way forwards in the sport, Hossa continued to show consistency in Chicago last season when he reached the 30-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career, despite missing 10 games because of injury. Hossa enters this season five points shy of 1,000.
The 39-year-old struggled after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the NHL Trade Deadline, but St. Louis found his game in the playoffs and helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Now that he's more acclimated to New York, it's likely we can expect the type of production we've seen from St. Louis over the course of his career (981 points in 1,060 games).
A solid two-way forward, O'Reilly led the Avalanche with 28 goals (nine on the power play), a career high. O'Reilly had six points in seven playoff games, but Colorado was upset by Minnesota in the Western Conference First Round.
Neal averaged more than a point per game last season, which turned to be his last with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Neal, who was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling on June 27, scored 88 goals during the past three seasons with the Penguins. Eleven of his 27 goals last season were scored on the power play.
The 25-year-old has emerged as one of the top right wings in the game since being acquired by Philadelphia from the Columbus Blue Jackets in June 2011. He set career highs in goals and points in 2013-14 and did not miss a game for a second straight season. Voracek had two goals and two assists in Philadelphia's seven-game loss to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round.
He's had issues in the past with line chemistry and injuries, but Gaborik has found a home in Los Angeles. After being acquired by the Kings from Columbus at the NHL Trade Deadline, the 32-year-old had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 19 regular-season games and made a strong case to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the top performer of the postseason when he had 14 goals and 22 points in 26 games to help Los Angeles win the Stanley Cup.
One of the all-time great scorers in NHL history, Jagr continues to produce nearly a quarter-century after being a first-round pick by Pittsburgh (No. 5, 1990). Jagr, now 42, did not miss a game for New Jersey last season and his 67 points led the team. He has 705 goals and 1,050 assists in 1,473 regular-season games.
The Oilers failed to meet expectations last season, but Eberle wasn't to blame; the gifted 24-year-old tied with David Perron for the team lead with 28 goals, and Eberle's 65 points ranked second behind Taylor Hall's 80. A first-round pick (No. 22) in 2008, Eberle has already scored 96 goals at the NHL level.
Many believe Okposo finally turned the corner for the Islanders during their first-round playoff series against the Penguins in 2013, and he built off that performance last season. With captain John Tavares sustaining a season-ending injury at the Sochi Olympics, Okposo ended up leading the Islanders in scoring with 69 points in 71 games. His 27 goals are a career high.
A model of consistency, the 37-year-old scored 30 goals in a season for the 12th time in his career, helping the Boston Bruins win the Presidents' Trophy. Iginla signed as a free agent with Colorado this summer, and there's no reason to think he can't score another 30 goals in 2014-15. In 1,310 games, Iginla has 560 goals and 607 assists.
Others receiving votes: Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators (7 points); Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings (5 points); Jason Pominville, Minnesota Wild (5 points); Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes (2 points); Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins (1 point); Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers (1 point); Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings (1 point)
|TOP 14 RIGHT WINGS (VOTING BREAKDOWN)|
||Brian Compton||Corey Masisak
|1. Perry||1. Kane||1. Ovechkin||1. Kane|
|2. Ovechkin||2. Ovechkin||2. Kessel||2. Perry|
|3. Kessel||3. Perry||3. Perry||3. Ovechkin|
|4. Neal||4. Kessel||4. Hossa||4. Hossa|
|5. Hossa||5. Iginla||5. Kane||5. Gaborik|
|6. O'Reilly||6. St. Louis||6. Gaborik||6. Kessel|
|7. Kane||7. Hossa||7. Voracek||7. St. Louis|
|8. Voracek||8. Ryan||8. Jagr||8. Okposo|
|9. Eberle||9. Jagr||9. St. Louis||9. O'Reilly|
|10. Pominville||10. Okposo||10. O'Reilly||10. Jagr|
|11. Nyquist||11. Voracek||11. Neal||11. Iginla|
|12. St. Louis||12. Eberle||12. Eberle||12. Eberle|
|13. Okposo||13. Neal||13. Semin||13. Neal|
|14. Hornqvist||14. Simmonds||14. Williams||14. Nyquist|