By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins received some love from the NHL Network’s latest countdown of the game’s Top 20 wingers, as the production from the B’s first-line threat of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak was enough to propel both onto this list.
Marchand’s landing spot was the most impressive, as the 5-foot-9 winger came in at No. 5 overall. This meant that only the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, Stanley Cup champion and Rocket Richard winner Alex Ovechkin, and the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov were better than Boston’s No. 63. And for good reason.
Over the last three seasons, Marchand’s 110 goals rank as the third-most among all NHL forwards (only Ovechkin and the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko have scored more), while his 231 points are the sixth-most among all wingers. Averaging a career-best 19:43 of time on ice per game last season, Marchand set a new career-high in assists (51) and matched his career-high in points (85) in 12 fewer games than the 80 he needed to set that mark a season ago.
“Just focus on the skill and the puck play, he’s as good as there is in the NHL,” 11-year NHL veteran Mike Johnson said of Marchand. “You know shorthanded he’s a threat, he can score goals, he can set up plays. You start looking at the trajectory that he’s been on in his points-per-game in the last four years, it’s been a steady rocketship up.
“He is absolutely growing into one of the best wingers in the game and it’s rare for players do that at his age, find that kind of level. But he’s been an abnormality in that he’s been able to take his game to new heights at his age.”
Pastrnak, meanwhile, found himself sandwiched between the Penguins’ Phil Kessel and Nashville’s Filip Forsberg at the No. 14 overall slot. The 2017-18 came with Pastrnak’s biggest boom yet, as he set career-best marks in goals (35), assists (45), and points (80) before he put up a ridiculous postseason featuring six goals and 20 points in 12 postseason contests.
“He plays with really good players and that’s a compliment to him, not a detriment, because it takes a certain kind of player to play with these guys. But what I like about David Pastrnak [is] it’s so incredibly rare for a player like him to make the kind of moves he makes in tight spaces and to beat defenders one-on-one,” Johnson said of Pastrnak. “It’s not easy.
“There’s just nothing he can’t do offensively with it, whether it’s off the rush, off the cycle.”
The Presidents’ Trophy winning Nashville Predators were the only other team to also have at least two wingers featured on this list (Forsberg finished at that aforementioned No. 15 spot while Viktor Arvidsson rounded out the list at No. 20).
Here’s the complete list…
- Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
- Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
- Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
- Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
- Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
- Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
- Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
- Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
- Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets
- Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
- Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
- Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
- David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
- Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
- Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
- Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche
- Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
- Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
- Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville Predators
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.