Virtually every team in the league seems to want a power forwarda player who can add offense while providing either massive size or a dominant physical presence up front. Power forwards are exceptionally rare commoditiesby one method of tracking, Alexander Ovechkin is the lone player to qualify as one every year of the last collective bargaining agreementand thus this list features some fudging on that score, including some big skaters not known for an overly aggressive game, and some slightly smaller forwards who play as scrappily as anyone.
All 10 players could add something to an NHL roster, and all of thembarring extensionswill be available this summer. Of most current interest, some of them are likely to switch jerseys by the trade deadline.
1. Corey Perry, Anaheim
Nine goals, 15 assists, 24 points in 25 games
$5.3 million cap hit
The 2010-11 Hart Trophy winner and goal-scoring leader is without question the marquee free agent for this coming summer, and should he hit the free market, he won't have any trouble landing a massive contract. The 6'3", 209-pound winger has topped 25 goals and 100 penalty minutes in each of the last five seasons and is valued not only for his excellent offensive game but also for his willingness to play at the edge of legalitywhich was demonstrated by a late hit on Tuesday night against Minnesota. Only 27 years old, Perry is a true star who regularly plays a power vs. power game and has a surprisingly heavy defensive zone start for an offensive player.
2. Jarome Iginla, Calgary
Seven goals, 12 assists, 19 points in 24 games
$7.0 million cap hit
What to do with Iginla has been one of the dominant storylines for the Flames, a team that finds itself just hoping to compete for one of the final playoff spots in the West. The 35-year-old Iginla has played his entire 1,212-game NHL career in Calgary, but there is a compelling case that it makes sense for the team to move him to begin a necessary rebuild. If they choose toor should he choose not to re-sign when he becomes a free agent this summerthere will doubtless be great interest in a player who has scored 30+ goals in each of his last 11 seasons.
3. David Clarkson, New Jersey
10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points in 26 games
$2.7 million cap hit
Long seen primarily as a grinder, the undrafted Clarkson forced the NHL to take notice with a 30-goal, 138-penalty minute campaign in 2011-12. He has now hit double digits in goals in five consecutive seasons, and has always been a reasonable shooter in terms of volume despite limited minutes early in his career. One of the toughest physical players on this list in terms of hitting and fighting, Clarkson is also enjoying a very strong possession season after years of middling play in that category, with the Devils leading their opposition by 22 shot attempts per hour in 5-on-5 play with him on the ice, and barely breaking even with him off it.
4. Nathan Horton, Boston
Seven goals, five assists, 12 points in 24 games
$4.0 million cap hit
Horton, the third overall pick in the legendary 2003 draft, has never had brilliant offensive numbers but has continually scored at a reasonable rate and done a superb job of keeping the puck in the opposition zone and generating shots. The 6'2", 229-pound winger haswhen healthyscored 20+ goals and 45+ points like clockwork. He also routinely excels in shot metrics: including missed and blocked shots, Horton has been 10+ shot attempts per hour better than his team average over each of his last three seasons. That's particularly impressive given he was able to do it on a quality team in Boston.
5. Brenden Morrow, Dallas
Six goals, five assists, 11 points, 23 games
$4.1 million cap hit
An injury-filled 2011-12 campaign that saw Morrow reduced to less than 30 points has diminished his value, but the Stars' captain can hold his own in tough minutes and was a 33-goal scorer as recently as 2010-11. Morrow is a bit on the small side for a power forward list (5'11", 210 pounds) but plays an aggressive physical game.
6. Ryane Clowe, San Jose
Zero goals, eight assists, eight points in 23 games
$3.6 million cap hit
The 30-year-old Clowe could have looked forward to a much better contract one year ago than he can now, even if he manages to return to form somewhat over the second half of the short 2013 season. He is not far off his usual shot rate with 55 in 29 games, but the career 11.2% shooter has not been able to buy a goal this year. He has been a solid possession player for years and still has decent numbers this year, with the Sharks outshooting the opposition with him on the ice, but his lack of goals, ugly plus/minus, and the Sharks struggles are all going to weigh against him. He is not especially old, but given the style of game he plays, some will doubtless fear that he has worn down. On the other hand, if it's just one of those years (which it could be, particularly since Clowe didn't play in Europe during the lockout) then a team might find themselves a bargain here.
7. Dainius Zubrus, New Jersey
One goal, three assists, four points in nine games
$3.4 million cap hit
The 34-year-old Lithuanian has seemingly been around forever; he never reached soaring offensive heights but has managed a better than 1,000 games in his NHL career while providing complementary scoring. Despite low penalty minute totals, he plays a physical, grinding game. Zubrus is a utility forward who can play any position, in any situation, and he has consistently been a positive possession player over his career. He is a very strong fit for a middle-six role on any team in the league, and that versatility makes him a coach's dream. Only real fears are impacts of wrist surgery and age.
8. Nik Antropov, Winnipeg
Two goals, 10 assists, 12 points in 26 games
$4.1 million cap hit
Antopov is sort of the reverse image of Morrow as a power forward in that he has great size (6'6", 240 pounds) but has never played the grinding physical game that everyone wants to see from such a big man. Despite a 92 penalty minute season in Toronto in 2007-08, he has settled into the 40-minute range. Ideally, he is a middle-six NHL winger: he provides decent offense and defense, as long as he isn't put in situations where he is out of his depth, such as against the other team's best line or in a ton of defensive zone situations. Antropov is a mediocre possession player, and has always been a high accuracy rather than high volume shooter, which is hurting him this season, given that his 7.1% shooting is a career worst, and half his career average.
9. Raffi Torres, Phoenix
Five goals, four assists, nine points in 18 games
$1.8 million cap hit
Despite his modest frame (6'0", 218 pounds), Torres is one of the most feared hitters in the leaguein no small part because of his predatory nature and willingness to cross the line on occasion. He did it in 2006 during Edmonton's postseason run, knocking out Sharks forward Milan Michalek, a hit widely credited with helping to turn that series around; he did it again for Phoenix last season against Chicago's Marian Hossa, which ended up earning a 25-game suspension (reduced to 21 games on appeal). He is a dangerous forward who regularly reaches double digits in goals and can outscore the opposition in a third-line role.
10. Dustin Penner, Los Angeles
One goal, seven assists, eight points in 18 games
$3.3 million cap hit
Penner is on this list more due to his imposing size (6'4", 240 pounds) than his willingness to play a physical gamehis laidback style has frustrated coaches in Anaheim, Edmonton, and Los Angeles. He likely would have been bound elsewhere after a disappointing 2011-12 season that featured off-ice distractions, except that he found his form in the postseason and helped the Kings win the 2012 Stanley Cup. Aside from the championship, his personal career has hit a low ebb in L.A., with declining point totals and ice time, but he has shown himself to be an excellent complementary scorer in previous NHL stops. He is also a routinely strong possession player, mostly because from the blue line he is very difficult to stop with the puck.
Jonathan Willis is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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