by Robert Vollman
I identify Top-6 forwards by looking at their even-strength scoring per 60 minutes and making sure it is 1.7 or better. It can be difficult to determine what’s good without more experience, so here is a list of the various scoring levels of top-6 forwards, and the player who score at that level most consistently.
3.5: The last time was Thomas Vanek in 2006-07
3.4: Sidney Crosby at his best
3.3: Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay in 2006-07 (both 2.5 in 2008-09).
3.2: Daniel Alfredsson
3.1: Sidney Crosby’s usual
3.0: Pavel Datsyuk
2.9: Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik
2.8: Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa
2.7: Ilya Kovalchuk
2.6: Jason Arnott and Andrew Brunette
2.5: Martin St. Louis and Mike Cammalleri
2.4: Marc Savard, Pavol Demitra, Simon Gagne and Scott Hartnell
2.3: Nik Antropov and Kristian Huselius
2.2: Eric Staal, Keith Tkachuk, Nicklas Backstrom and Ales Hemsky
2.1: Colby Armstrong, Scott Gomez, Daymond Langkow, Milan Michalek, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise (until recently)
It’s not unusual for a third-liner to score in the 1.7-2.0 range, in fact you’ll see a few on this list (e.g. Randy Robitaille). That doesn’t mean they should be promoted to the top lines, it only means that they’re among the league’s best at generating offense while playing the third-line style.
2.0: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Niklas Hagman, Joffrey Lupul, Cory Stillman and Jason Williams
1.9: Ryan Malone, Raffi Torres, Jiri Hudler, Anze Kopitar, Robert Lang and Randy Robitaille,
1.8: Dustin Brown, Alex Kovalev, Joe Pavelski, R.J. Umberger, Richard Zednik and Sam Gagner
1.7: Arron Asham, Steve Bernier, Bill Guerin, Trent Hunter, Brooks Laich, Mike Modano, Markus Naslund, Lee Stempniak, Phil Kessel and Stephen Weiss
It’s possible to be considered a top-6 forward even if you’re consistently below 1.7, provided you’re good on the power play. For example, Brian Rolston generally scores 1.6, and Brad Richards 1.5, and occasionally great players do poorly, such as Patrick Marleau in 2007-08 (1.2), Alex Kovalev in 2006-07 (1.5), but generally 1.7 is the cut-off.
I could not fit some elite players onto the list either because they’re not consistent, or because they’re still developing and I’m not sure where they’ll level out just yet. Here are some of those players and their scoring range to date.
Jason Spezza 2.9 - 3.3 (until recently)
Martin Havlat 2.8 - 3.3
Evgeni Malkin 2.7 - 3.2
Alex Ovechkin 2.6 - 3.2
Joe Thornton 2.4 - 3.0
Henrik/Daniel Sedin 2.3 - 2.9
Rick Nash 1.9 - 2.8
Ryan Getzlaf 1.8 - 2.6