Alex Ovechkin led the Washington Capitals in points and was one of only four players to score 50 goals last season. But that awesome age-36 performance was not enough to land Ovechkin on either the first or second end-of-season All-Star teams as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. In fact, if you unscientifically tally voter points amongst left and right wings, Ovechkin’s 27 points ranked him as the ninth-best winger, trailing Johnny Gaudreau (779), Mitch Marner (697), Jonathan Huberdeau (584), Matthew Tkachuk (543), Mikko Rantanen (341), Kirill Kaprizov (297), Patrick Kane (48), and David Pastrnak (37).
The NHL Network’s 2022 Top 20 Wingers list disagrees. On Sunday, the channel gave Ovechkin the top spot.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 21, 2022
“Two things kind of stand out to me,” Stu Grimson, a former NHL enforcer nicknamed The Grim Reaper, explained. “[Ovechkin’s] durability, the way he plays, the brutal pounding he puts on his body year after year after year. That should take a toll. It’s a testament to him as an athlete and the way he looks after himself that he’s been able to be that durable over time. But then, No. 2, and this maybe goes more towards the results that we’ve seen, the heart that ticks inside this guy that drives him to do what he does night after night after night. It’s a combination of those two components that make him great.”
Both the promotional video and Grimson’s quote leans heavy towards Ovechkin’s history and total body-of-work than his performance during the 2021-22 season where maybe/arguably/I guess? a few other forwards outperformed him. Huberdeau and Gaudreau finished tied for second in NHL points last year with 115, but they were buoyed to that mark by 85 and 75 assists respectively. Kaprizov and Tkachuk also hit the century mark in points, but scored 47 and 42 goals each, delivering more biscuits to baskets.
What made Ovechkin’s season so notable last year was that he was the only winger who had 90 points or more and also scored 50 goals. So if goals, playmaking, and dependability are your metrics, the Capitals captain was a wise player to pick.
Hockey Twitter wasn’t super onboard with Ovechkin being ranked first, but commenters expressed their opinions somewhat #respectfully towards the future Hall of Famer, which is a high bar for Twitter commenters.
The full top 20 list, which was compiled by the NHL Network’s producers and analysts, is below.
How do you think the list stacks up?
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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