NHL Positional Rankings – Right Wing Edition

Many hockey publications post their positional rankings each year before the regular season starts and using, what I guess to be, some type of grading system to be objective. I wanted to get involved in making my own positional rankings but didn’t want to be subjective and make a list based on which players I like the most. Instead ,I came up with a point system that values different aspects of a player’s repertoire and attempted to come up nice number that can be compared with other players. I started off by just counting points but felt that was unfair to players who were injured last season but are still really good, so I factored in the player’s point-per-game rate instead. There are still some issues with my system and when I rank the players it will mostly be based off the number I have calculated, but I also factored in my opinions on some players, how good they are on the ice, and the general perception of the players throughout the hockey world.

For Wings I Factor in:

  • Age Factor: I give the player one point for every year they are under the age of 30 and subtract one point for every year they are over the age of 30; Example: If a player is 32 years old, he gets a -2 for this category.
    • I included this category because the younger the player is the longer his peak is, if he has entered it yet, and the more long-term value that player can have.
  • Health Factor: I gave the player one point for every 75 game season the player has had the past three seasons; Example: If the player has played in at least 75 games twice in the past three seasons, he gets a +2 for this category.
    • To me, health has to be important in ranking players because a player is only valuable if he is on the ice. I only included the three previous seasons because some players are young and only have two seasons in the league.
  • Point-Per-Game Factor: I gave the player a half point for every tenth of a point-per-game that player was during the 2016-17 season; Example: If a player had a point-per-game of 0.78 last season, I gave the player +8 points, rounding to the nearest tenth of a point.
    • Like I mentioned above, using points-per-game instead of flat points removes the health element from how productive he is. I made this decision when I didn’t think it was fair to penalize Steven Stamkos for only playing in 17 games last season.
  • Plus/Minus Factor: I gave a half point for every +5 that player was and subtracted a half point for every -5 that player was during the 2016-17 season. There is no rounding in this category but the number must eclipse a multiple of five; Example: If a player had a +23 rating last season, I would give him +2 points.
    • I think that although the plus/minus statistic isn’t as highly regarded as it used to be, I still think it can be used to represent how good his team is when he is on the ice.
  • Shooting Factor: I gave a half point for every percent the player shot above 12% and subtracted a half point for every percent the player shot below 13% during the 2016-17 season. 13.7% was the average shooting percentage of the top 15 left wingers; Example: If a player shoots 14.4%, I would give him a half point.
    • Because centers are the only players who typically take faceoffs, I thought shooting percentage would be a suitable replacement for the other forwards.
  • Puck Possession Factor: I used Corsi For (CF) to measure this. CF is all shot attempts plus shots that missed the net and blocked shots while Corsi Against (CA) is the same measurement for the opposition. A percentage is determined when CF is divided by CF + CA. For this exercise ,I gave a half point for every percentage point above 50% and subtracted a half point for every percentage point below 50% he was during the 2016-17 season. I rounded to the nearest percentage point; Example: If a player has a 55.6% CF, I would give him +3 points.
    • Possession measurements are one of the important ways that advanced metrics have taken off in hockey.
  • Award Factor: I gave a point for every major award the player has won. These include Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng, Masterton, and Selke Trophies. This category encompasses a player’s entire career.
    • If awards play a factor in a player’s likelihood to get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, I felt it should be a category for this.
  • Playoff Factor: I gave a point for every playoff round a player’s team has won during the previous three seasons; Example: Pittsburgh has won consecutive Stanley Cups and lost in the first round prior season. That means that players who played on all three teams would be given 8 points.
    • I didn’t want to reward this category too much because second and third year players won’t have had the opportunities to be in the playoffs but I also wanted to reward them some for being key members on winning teams.

The Rankings

1. Patrick Kane

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
29 (+1) 2 1.09 (11) +11 (+1) 11.6 (-.5) 52.2 (+1) 4 4

23.5

  • Kane broke into the league by winning the Calder Trophy his draft year and has followed it up by always being a solid player. To me, between 2010 and 2015, he was almost forgettable, still close to or better than a point-per-game player but not dominating the league. That changed two seasons ago when he broke out with 46 goals and 106 points, both career highs and won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies. He followed that up with another nice season last year with 34 goals and 89 points and appears to have revitalized his career and is now a top five player in the league. His best skills include his playmaking and stickhandling abilities and can puckhandle in a phone booth. Can drive play like a center. Has an electric shot that is often overlooked. Could be stronger and better on defense.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
26 (+4) 3 0.91 (9) -1 (0) 13.6 (+.5) 52.0 (+1) 0 3

20.5

  • This spot came down to Tarasenko and Nikita Kucherov but I went with Tarasenko because of the longevity at which he has been scoring at a high level. Of the past three seasons, his lowest goal total is 37 and has accumulated no less than 73 points during that timeframe. Best known for his goalscoring abilities given his booming and accurate shot but is also a very skilled passer. Perfectly able to take on defenseman one-on-one and wins more often than not. Isn’t as good on defense as his team would probably like but his scoring ability more than makes up for it.

3. Nikita Kucherov

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
24 (+6) 2 1.15 (12) +13 (+1) 16.3 (+1.5) 55.7 (+3) 0 5

30.5

  • Kucherov is like Vladimir Tarasenko but two years younger and without the consistent elite goal scoring level yet. He had his best season last year, scoring 40 goals and 85 points in just 74 points, most of them without Steven Stamkos on the team. Is a dynamic skater with great acceleration and lateral movement. Able to beat defenders to the outside by using the wall to his advantage. Possesses one of the best shots in the league and loves to play a physical game, sometimes to his detriment.

4. T.J. Oshie

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
30 (0) 1 0.82 (8) +28 (+2.5) 23.1 (+5) 50.9 (+.5) 0 2

19

  • Oshie used to be known almost exclusively as one of the game’s premier two-way forwards but since coming to Washington, he has developed into a really good goalscorer. He set a career high in goals last season with 33 after riding a shooting percentage of 23.1, the highest in the league. Still one of the best two-way wings in the game and can play in any situation. Able to play a physical game despite only be 6′. Is opportunistic in his goalscoring but the question is whether or not he can shoot at such a high level as he did last season? How does he age with how aggressive he plays?

5. Patrik Laine

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
19 (+11) 0 0.88 (9) +7 (+1) 17.6 (+2.5) 48.7 (-.5) 0 0

23

  • Putting Laine in the fifth spot after just one season in the NHL may seem like a bit of a stretch but it is clear that he is one of the game’s best goalscorers. His 36 goals were seventh most in the league and second among all rookies but this number certainly would have been higher had he not missed nine games down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how well he plays in his sophomore season after riding a 17.6% shooting rate last season. Already has one of the best shots in the league that can be accurate from anywhere inside the offensive zone. Already has a man’s body and is difficult to move off the puck. Isn’t just a sniper but can handle the puck very well. Has already gotten better at playing defense but still needs to develop in the area. Isn’t the fastest or most elusive skater.

6. David Pastrnak

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
21 (+9) 1 0.93 (9) +11 (+1) 13.0 (0) 57.8 (+4) 0 0

24

  • Pastrnak broke out in a big way last season, his third in the NHL, after getting on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He commanded a big contract this offseason and it will be interesting to see how productive he is this season after getting paid. Has the potential to develop into one of the best scorers in the league with a good shot an is an even better skater. Can drive play and set up linemates very well. Is still undersized but because he plays on a line with Bergeron and Marchand, he doesn’t take the big hits other scorers do.

7. Phil Kessel

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
30 (0) 3 0.85 (9) +3 (0) 10.0

(-1.5)

47.4

(-1.5)

1 8

18

  • Kessel has never developed into the 40 goalscorer that it looked like he would when he in the early stages of his career. That plateau looked to be a foregone conclusion when he was traded to Pittsburgh in 2015. Instead, he has actually regressed in the goal department, scoring just 23 goals last season. He has become more of a well-rounded player, posting 70 points last season and has shown up in big ways during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup runs. His possession numbers were some of the worst of his career last season, and he attempted the fewest shots in a full 82 game season since his second year in the league. Still possesses one of the quickest shots in the league and can beat a goalie mid-stride. Despite hit size, he is a very good skater with deceptive speed. Isn’t the best defensive player and sometimes does too much with the puck.

8. Mitch Marner

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
20 (+10) 1 0.79 (8) 0 (0) 10.8 (-1) 50.8 (0) 0 0

18

  • Marner is another player coming off an excellent rookie season with lots of potential. Marner isn’t the most potent goalscorer on this list but that’s not his game and it’s not what the Maple Leafs need him to be. Instead, he is a gifted passer who can play anywhere from the first to the third line. Has a great hockey mind and combines that with good skating to be productive. Needs to get bigger or he could deal with injuries throughout his career.

9. Leon Drasaitl

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
22 (+8) 1 0.94 (+9) +7 (+.5) 16.9 (+2) 52.1 (+1) 0 1

22.5

  • I decided to rank Draisaitl as a right wing because that is where he is playing to start this season rather than a second line center which is his natural position. Playing on Connor McDavid’s wing helped to elevate Draisaitl’s production last season, finishing with 29 goals and 77 points in 82 games. Plays like a center even if he is on the wing. Excellent passer but also a natural scorer. Good in the defensive zone as well but needs to work on not taking bad penalties.

10. Wayne Simmonds

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
29 (+1) 3 0.66 (7) -18 (-1.5) 13.8 (+.5) 50.2 (0) 0 0

10

  • Simmonds has scored 30 goals just twice in his career and his career high in points is 60 putting him at the lower end production-wise compared to others on this list. That being said he is extremely talented and is lethal on the powerplay, scoring 16 of his 31 goals with a man advantage. Simmonds is the type of player who knows where to go on the ice to score goals, often setting up right in front of the goal and deflecting shots. Never gives up on a play and is a good skater. Knows what his role is and plays it well but can take bad penalties.

11. Cam Atkinson

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
28 (+2) 3 0.76 (8) +13 (+1) 14.6 (+1) 48.8 (-.5) 0 0

14.5

  • Atkinson played a pivotal role in helping the Blue Jackets get back to the playoffs and set a career high in goals and points last season. His goal production has increased every season since he has been a full-time NHLer and shot more with a higher shooting percentage than at any other point in his career. Despite being undersized compared to the rest of the league, Atkinson has brought great speed and stickhandling skills to his game and he has found success.

12. Blake Wheeler

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
31 (-1) 3 0.90 (9) +6 (+.5) 10.0

(-1.5)

55.0 (+2.5) 0 0

12.5

  • At 6’5” and 225 pounds Wheeler is a giant on the ice and uses his size to his advantage, with a long reach and never being afraid to go to the gritty areas. His willingness to go to the net in addition to his great shot has led to him being a consistent 25-28 goalscorer. He is difficult to move off the puck and skates well. Doesn’t play as physical as someone with his body type usually does. Is a streaky scorer.

13. Jeff Carter

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
33 (-3) 3 0.80 (8) +2 (0) 12.8 (0) 54.4 (+2) 0 0

10

  • I certainly could have ranked Carter among the centers but wanted to include him on the wing considering he has played there a lot too. He is primarily a goalscorer but is skilled enough to thread pucks through tight areas with his vision. On last year’s Kings team he was the only bright spot on a team full of underperforming players, scoring 32 goals and 66 points, his highest in both categories since the 2010-11 season. Is an excellent skater and an accurate shot from all areas. Can play in all situations and is strong on defense.

14. Corey Perry

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
32 (-2) 2 0.65 (7) +2 (0) 8.8 (-2) 50.4 (0) 2 4

11

  • Perry has been one of the best goalscorers of the past decade, leading the league in goals for the 2010-11 season and winning the MVP as well. Throughout his career he has been counted on for 30 goals nearly every season but regressed to just 19 of them last season. That is why he has landed this low on my list after shooting just 8.8% last season, tying his career low. Perry has the shot, the physical attributes, and tenacity to continue to excel in the league even as he ages. Has a high hockey IQ and knows where to go on the ice to score. Loves using his size to his advantage, even to problematic levels. Nearly impossible to strip him of the puck. Is likely too streaky of a scorer for someone of his talent level.

15. Joe Pavelski

Age Factor
Health Factor
PPG Factor
+/ Factor
Shooting % Factor
CF% Factor
Award Factor
Playoff Factor
Total
+1 every year under 30,
-1 every year under 30
+1 for every 75 game season last three years
+1 for every .1 point per game
+.5 for every 5 pts positive,
-.5 for every 5 pts negative
+.5 for every % above 13%,
-.5 for every % below 13%
+.5 for every % above 50%,
-.5 for every % under 50%
+1 for every major award won in career
+1 for every round won in last three years
 
33 (-3) 3 0.84 (8) +11 (+1) 12.4 (-.5) 52.2 (+1) 0 3

12.5

  • “Young Joe” Pavelski is not so young anymore and that plays a big part in why he is ranked so low on my list. Last season was his first in four seasons, not including the lockout year, in which he didn’t score at least 30 goals despite playing in all but one game. His shooting percentage, shot volume, and time-on-ice are all in line with his career averages but he simply wasn’t as productive.  Pavelski is still very talented with good vision and an electric shot but is going to have to find be creative in scoring goals going forward if he wants to be near the top of his position.

*All stats came from Hockey-Reference

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