On Sunday evening, the NHL Network continued its series of the league’s best position players with the release of its ‘Top-20 Wingers’ list. To no surprise, Washington Capitals veteran forward Alexander Ovechkin found his name within the top five players. Stanley Cup champion Nikita Kucherov also made the top five. Boston’s David Pastrnak, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were the other wingers earning places amongst the league’s best.
Listed No. 6 through 10 were Boston’s Brad Marchand, Toronto’a Mitch Marner, Colorado’s Miko Rantanen, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau and Winnipeg product Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights. Skipping ahead to the final five places, sees Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Vancouver’s JT Miller, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, St, Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko and Jake Guentzel.
But it was within the No. 11 to 15 five-player spot where the Winnipeg Jets took over the rankings. With Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk listed at No. 13 and Vegas’ Max Pacioretty at No. 15, Winnipeg took the other three places. Team captain Blake Wheeler earned the 11 spot, linemate Kyle Connor placed at 12, while Patrik Laine was ranked as the 14th-best winger in the game.
Wheeler, 34, had an ‘off’ season in 2019-20, dipping off in production following back-to-back 91-point seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The Jets’ power play specialist had 22 goals and 65 points in 71 games, including four goals and 22 points while on the man advantage. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward typically skates alongside Scheifele and Connor.
Connor, 23, put up a third-straight season of career-highs in 2019-20. Following years of 31 goals and 57 points in 2017-18 and 34 goals and 66 points in 2018-19, the left winger put up 38 goals and 73 points in just 71 games this past year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder had seven game-winning goals, while operating at nearly a 16 percent shooting accuracy.
Laine, 22, had a bounce-back campaign in 2019-20, proving that he can be more than just a power play, one-timer option from the left side. His defensive game saw improvements, although he did see a dip in offensive production, failing to hit the 30-goal mark for the first time of his career. In total, the Finnish winger put up 28 goals and 63 point in 68 games during the abbreviated 2019-20 season.
Already having named the Top-20 Defencemen last week, NHL Network opted to combine both left and right wings as one list, as compared to releasing separate lists per side. The Top-20 Centremen will certainly include another Jets forward, as Mark Scheifele should find himself near the Top-10, while the Top-20 Goaltenders will most definitely include 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck. That said, Winnipeg will own at least five total Top-20 players in this year’s rankings – according to NHL Network.