In this article I aim to outline the top goal scorers in the NHL today. Some players may be well established while others may be just coming into their prime hockey years. After looking over the list, I can already tell that many people will be upset by who made the cut and who did not. The top couple players were fairly easy, but the later picks became nearly impossible to select a single name from such a talented group. I tried to target players who are goal scorers by trade. That being said, some great players did not make the list just because their game did not suit the typical "goal scorer" stereotype. Hope you all enjoy, and feel free to comment below.
1. Alexander Ovechkin: ( 475 goals in 760 games) 0.626 Goals per game
Ovechkin is a pure goal scorer to say the least. He is the the best goal scorer in todays' NHL, and is only rivaled by retired Hall of Famers like Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy. What makes Ovechkin so dangerous is his ability to unleash his wrist shot from anywhere on the ice. Nobody comes quite as close to Ovechkin in the shot category. This year alone, he managed to post 91 shots more than any single player in the league. He racked up 53 goals to go along with those shots, and is poised to continue this pace. Since coming into the league, he has posted six 50 goal seasons, highlighted by a 65 goal effort in 2007-08. I anticipate another 50 goal season from the Capitals' superstar.
2. Steven Stamkos: ( 276 goals in 492 games) 0.561 Goals per game
I chose Stamkos as my number two selection because he is the only current NHL players to even compare to Ovechkin in goals per game. He averages just .064 goals per game less than The Great 8. Since coming into the league, Stamkos has been very consistent with regards to his goal scoring abilities. He has a few 40 goal seasons, one 50 goal season, and even a 60 goal showing. He possesses great hockey IQ and has a knack for finding open ice. He is one of the best at firing pucks on net quickly, burning countless goaltenders with his lightning quick one-timer. It's hard to say what will happen to Stamkos this year. It seems as if contract talks are not going as smooth as planned, which has fantasy owners debating his value. I expect him to be out of Tampa next season, but that is no reason for him to put up any less than 35 goals. I anticipate him to be in the hunt for the Rocket Richard Trophy once again.
3. Tyler Seguin: ( 130 goals in 354 games) .367 Goals per game
At the tender age of just 23, Seguin is beginning to come into his own playing with the likes of Jamie Benn. Tyler has posted back to back 37 goal seasons, and should only improve. Despite going second to Taylor Hall in the 2010 draft, I believe he is the most talented player to come out of that years draft class, followed closely by Ryan Johansen and Taylor Hall. Seguin has already developed into a fair sized player with great play-making and finishing abilities. He is a good skater and contributes well in all three zones. I expect Seguin to continue improving his game with age. A forty goal season would seem inevitable in 2015-16 for the young superstar.
4. Corey Perry ( 296 Goals in 722 games ) .410 Goals per game
Perry has been one of the leagues best goal scorers for a number of years. His best effort came in 2010-11 where he took the league by storm, posting an impressive 50 goals. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy and the Hart trophy that season, accumulating an impressive 98 points with the Ducks. What makes him so effective is his gritty style combined with his amazing offensive abilities. He is a big, strong forward who can finish from anywhere. He will be playing with Getzlaf once again, which has proven to be a very effective duo. Their size and strength puts a lot of stress on defenders. They are usually able to use that size to drive pucks to the net and cram home chances. He has great hands and a great shot, but I have always been impressed with his ability to put home "dirty goals." I expect Perry to have another good year in Anaheim, posting a goal total around 35.
5. Patrick Kane: ( 205 Goals in 576 games ) .356 Goals per game
Patrick Kane is one of the most exciting players in the game today. He has a slick set of mitts, and uses them to undress goalies on a regular basis. He excels in shootout opportunities, making goal tenders look miserable almost every chance he gets. Since coming into the league in 2007, he has been very consistent in his goal scoring numbers. In all 8 of his NHL seasons, he has posted between 21 and 30 goals. These numbers may not be outstanding, but it is not the number of goals he scores which is impressive. What is most impressive, if his ability to score the big goals. He is possibly the most effective goal scorer in clutch situations. In the regular season, 18% of his goals are game winners. In the playoffs, 21% of his goals have been game winners. Kane found a home in my top five because of his ability to score in vital situations. This unrivaled ability has helped the Hawks win 3 Stanley Cups in the past 6 seasons.
6. Vladimir Tarasenko: ( 66 Goals in 179 games) .369 Goals per game
Tarasenko is one of the youngest goal scorers to breakout in the NHL. He had a 21 goal season in 2013-14, but exploded the following season posting 37 goals and 77 points. At just 23, the young Russian sniper has proven to have one of the most lethal shots in the game. It takes just a split second for this guy to pick a corner. I can honestly say that I expect Tarasenko to win the Rocket Richard trophy in one of the next three seasons. Watching his highlights for just a few minutes is an absolute treat. He may not be the greatest all around guy, but everything he does in the offensive zone is a spectacle to watch. I expect him to eclipse 40 goals this season. I wanted to put him higher on the list, but he has only had one great season so far. After a year or two more, he will probably be in the mix for the top 3.
7. Phil Kessel ( 247 Goals in 668 games) .370 Goals per game
Phil Kessel has been one of the most talked about players this last year. He posted an absolutely awful -34 with the struggling Leafs last season. He did however, have some solid point totals (61 PTS in 82 games), but the effort just was not there. Never the less, Kessel has proven time and time again that he possesses the skills to be an elite goal scorer. Eclipsing the 30 goal mark has been a common occurrence for the 27 year old, surpassing that mark in 5 of his 8 full NHL seasons. Playing with the Penguins should be great for him, as he will no longer be the spotlight for his team. Guys like Crosby, Malkin and company should take some of the focus off of Kessel. With all these talented forwards, I believe Kessel will have a big bounce back season. I am anticipating 35 goals, and at least 70 points.
8. Zach Parise: ( 274 Goals in 691 games) .396 Goals per game
I have always been a huge Zach Parise fan. He is a pure goal scorer, and always has been. He is a very smart player, who does everything well. I don't doubt his skill, but he is on the wrong side of thirty now and has had some injuries of late. If Parise can stay healthy, I expect him to be a 25-35 goal scorer for another four or five years. He seems to have found a home in Minnesota, but I have a feeling that he may be tailing downwards while the younger stars of the league are trending upward. Nonetheless, he still possesses the skills to be a dominant sniper for the Wild in 2015-16 and after. This season I am expecting 30+ goals to go with a strong Minnesota playoff push.
9. Rick Nash ( 378 Goals in 862 games) .438 Goals per game
Since coming into the league, Rick Nash has been labelled as one of the games best power forwards. He has a big, powerful frame which he uses well to protect the puck and win battles in the corners. What sets him apart from other power forwards is his tremendous offensive skill set. He has very good hands, and a quick, accurate shot. His skating ability is almost unheard of for someone his size. Since becoming a Ranger, Nash has been criticized occasionally for being inconsistent in his play. In 2014-15, he proved many of his doubters wrong; registering an impressive 42 goals and 69 points in the regular season. This was a career best for the 31 year old Canadian, who looks to impress again this season. Nash is signed for three more seasons, but the remainder of the roster is in limbo. They have barely any cap and still need to sign Yandle and Kreider after this season. I believe the Rangers time is short, and Nash will be looking to capitalize while he has the chance. I am expecting him to pot 35 goals this year, helping the Rangers make a run in the playoffs.
10. Max Pacioretty: ( 144 Goals in 399 games ) 0.361 Goals per game
Much like Nash, Pacioretty is a big framed forward who has spectacular offensive upside for somebody his size. His skating is not spectacular, but he does possess good top end speed which really compliments the Montreal line up. He plays the sniper role on his line, using his size and strength to work for open ice. His wrist shot is his greatest weapon, as he has a very good release which he can use while stationary or on the fly. Pacioretty is now 26 years old and looks as if his best years are still ahead of him. Back to back seasons of 35+ goals have made him Montreal's greatest offensive threat. I believe he will maintain this scoring streak, finishing the year with 35-40 goals.
I hope everybody enjoyed this article. As I said before, I tried to target stereotypical " goal scorers." I avoided players like Crosby, Malkin, Tavares, and even Pavelski just because they play a much different style of game. Leaving Pavelski off was a hard decision, but I felt that he offers so much more with respect to his two way game.