Ranking each NHL team's No. 1 right wing
30. Jimmy Hayes, Bruins: Best-case scenario, the Bruins add a veteran right wing to replace Loui Eriksson. Or maybe Frankie Vatrano dazzles in training camp. If not, Boston may have no option but to throw the wildly disappointing Hayes on the top line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Given his inconsistencies with and without the puck, he's not likely to last there long.
29. Troy Brouwer, Flames: Big-bodied winger should create some space for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan while collecting free bunnies out front. A return to 20 goals seems likely.
28. P-A Parenteau, Islanders: Signed to a one-year deal to buy time for the organization's deep pool of prospects, Parenteau is likely to see time with former center John Tavares on New York's top line. It's not an ideal situation, but coming off a 20-goal season with the Maple Leafs, he could surprise.
27. Lee Stempniak, Hurricanes: Lacking depth on the right side, the Canes are likely to turn to Stempniak for heavy minutes on the top line. The veteran can handle the challenge—he finished last season alongside Patrice Bergeron in Boston—but is better suited for a supporting role.
29. Leo Komarov, Maple Leafs: A look at the Leafs roster reveals only one RW and that's Nathan Horton, a player whose lingering back problems mean he's a member of this team in name only. That means the job is wide open, with Nikita Soshnikov, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and even Joffrey Lupul in the running. A safer bet though is Komarov. He's better suited for the left side (and in a middle-six role), but given the options at hand, the 2016 All-Star could get the call.
25. Marian Gaborik, Kings: Gaborik will be remembered as one of the premium scorers of his era but, at 34, he's on a clear downward slope. Injuries and a declining shooting percentage suggest that Kings fans should revise all expectations downward.
24. Jarome Iginla, Avalanche: No telling yet how new coach Jared Bednar intends to work his lines, but Iggy looks to be the best natural right wing at his disposal. That's not a good thing. Iginla is still a solid physical presence and a reliable finisher in close but, at 38, foot speed has become a real issue for the veteran. Outside of the power play, he's becoming a liability.
23. Patrick Hornqvist, Penguins: As their only consistent net-front presence, Hornqvist is an important piece of the puzzle for the defending champs. But he's painfully streaky and doesn't make enough of the time he spends riding shotgun for Sidney Crosby.
22.Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings: If Dylan Larkin is ready for the move to center, then Zetterberg could see his load lightened by a shift to the wing. With his 36th birthday right around the corner, that could be key to getting the most out of the veteran who scored just once in his final 20 games on the way to a career-low total of 13.
21. Anthony Duclair, Coyotes: With Shane Doan aging out, Duclair will battle with prodigal son Radim Vrbata for top-line minutes in Arizona. We like the 21-year-old's chances to grab the lion's share. His speed and natural scoring ability helped him pot 20 goals as a rookie. He could top that next season.
20. Charlie Coyle, Wild: There's no telling yet how Coyle will be used by new coach Bruce Boudreau, but his size, speed and puck-hounding ability suggests he's most valuable on the wing. If that's how it plays out, look for him to be a highly effective forechecker and a solid defensive presence, but he needs to be more consistent offensively to meet his 30-goal, 60-point potential for the Wild.
19. Cam Atkinson, Blue Jackets: A breakthrough or an anomaly? After posting back-to-back 40-point campaigns, Atkinson delivered personal bests in both goals (27) and points (53) in 2015-16. The 27-year-old is more complementary piece than star, but with more questions than answers on the right side, the Jackets need another big season from him.
18. Jaromir Jagr, Panthers: Is this the season when Father Time finally catches up to the NHL's oldest player (who'll be 45 next February)? Nope.
17. Kyle Okposo, Sabres: He clearly has something to prove in this first season of a massive seven-year, $42 million contract. His numbers could dip slightly as he acclimates to a new system/new linemates and learns to handle the weighty expectations that come with his new deal, but he's a safe bet to score 20 goals.
16. Loui Eriksson, Canucks: He has set himself up as one of the new season's most intriguing stories. Given a chance to skate regularly with countrymen Henrik and Daniel Sedin, can he return to the 30-goal, All-Star form he displayed in Dallas?
15. James Neal, Predators: Neal has scored an average of .43 goals per game during the past five seasons, ranking him among the most consistent finishers in the league. Pencil him in for 30-plus in 2016-17.
14. Mats Zuccarello, Rangers: The versatile forward could wind up on either wing of New York's top two lines, but most likely will patrol the right side on the top unit. He'll miss regular linemate Derick Brassard, but has the speed and drive to go 25-35-60 again.
13. Wayne Simmonds, Flyers: He's coming off his first ever 30-goal season, but more impressively he established himself as a threat during five-on-five play after years of being a terror on the power play.
12. T.J. Oshie, Capitals: He thrived during his first season in Washington, posting a career-high 26 goals (including 11 on the power play) before shaking his rep as a playoff ghost with 10 points in 12 games. He found quick chemistry with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and brought a nice edge to the line along with a consistent scoring presence. He's in for another solid season.
11. Patrick Sharp, Stars: At 34, his 30-goal days are behind him. Still, Sharp can be a valuable asset for the league's top offense. The key will be avoiding the slumps that plagued him last season when he scored 20 goals, his lowest full-season total in a decade.
10. Mark Stone, Senators: An absolute horse on the wing, Stone should thrive under new coach Guy Boucher. Look for 25 goals and 60-65 points from this promising forward.
9. Jordan Eberle, Oilers: He should benefit as much as anyone from a healthy Connor McDavid. Eberle put up 25 points in the 32 games the two played together after the Calder Trophy finalist returned from his fractured clavicle. That's .78 points per game, or about a 65-point pace, which should put Eberle in or near the top-five for his position.
8. Kyle Palmieri, Devils: The 25-year-old is coming off a breakthrough season with the Devils in which he scored 30 goals, tied for fourth among all American-born players. Put him on a unit with Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique and he has 70-point potential.
7. Jonathan Drouin, Lightning: Linemate Steven Stamkos raved that Drouin “will be a stud” and after watching him rack up 14 points in 17 postseason games, so it's hard to disagree. At 21, Drouin is just scratching the surface of his potential. He's a good bet for 60-plus points this season.
6. Corey Perry, Ducks: Odd that a 34-goal season (third among right wingers) would be considered a disappointment, but that's how high the bar is set for Perry. He can be one of the very best in the game if he avoids another brutal start (two goals in his first 15 games) or another deathly finish (zero goals in a seven-game first-round knockout) like he had last season.
5. Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens: Next to Carey Price, he's Montreal's most valuable player. He missed two extended stretches last season and the Habs simply weren't as dangerous without him. He puts up points (2.07/60 minutes, seventh among all right wingers) but his energy and ability to raise the play of his teammates best defines his impact.
4. Blake Wheeler, Jets: So much for being the NHL's best-kept secret. Wheeler is coming off a terrific season during which he set personal bests in assists (52) and points (78) while ramping up his defensive game and possession numbers. Add in the leadership duties he assumed after captain Andrew Ladd was dealt at the deadline and Wheeler is now one of the most valuable wings in the game.
3. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues: After leading his team with 40 goals last season, Tarasenko is poised to emerge as the NHL's next 50-goal man. A Rocket Richard Trophy could follow.
2. Joe Pavelski, Sharks: Age really is just a number for Pavelski. At 32, the Sharks' captain is coming off a season in which he set new career highs in both goals (38) and points (78) before pacing the playoffs with 14 tallies. Only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals during the past three seasons, which suggests that Little Joe will again rank among the league leaders in 2016-17.
1. Patrick Kane: Blackhawks: Alright, we're playing a little fast and loose with the rules here but since Chicago essentially has two number one lines there's no way we can we keep the reigning MVP off the list in favor of Marian Hossa. Kane may be in tough to repeat last season's success—prior to that 106-point campaign he'd topped 75 points just once before in his career—but at 28 he's still in his prime. Another scoring title? He'll likely be in the mix.