The winger position does not get the most love in the NHL, but it is home to some of the league's most entertaining players. From sharpshooting snipers to elite playmakers, a variety of players can slot in on the wing.
Even if the defense isn't always there, that doesn't really matter when a player can find the back of the net with a B.B. of a snapshot or find a teammate wide open on the backdoor. Additionally, Six of the NHL's top-10 goal-scorers from last season are wingers, but only two of those players made the cut for this ranking.
Today, wingers are going to get the attention and respect they deserve. Here are the top 10 wingers in the NHL as the 2022-23 season approaches:
10. Jason Robertson | LW | Dallas Stars
Robertson has a much smaller sample size than some of the other players on this list, and some of the other players vying for the No. 10 spot, but he has earned his spot. A revelation for the Stars in 2020-21, Robertson took his game to another level last year. He scored 41 goals and added 38 assists. In terms of possession numbers, when Robertson was on the ice at five-on-five Dallas controlled 58.23% of the expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick. I don't think it would be a huge reach to compare Robertson to Matthew Tkachuk.
9. Nikita Kucherov | RW | Tampa Bay Lightning
Injuries are the only thing preventing Kucherov from being much higher on this list. He missed the entire 2020-21 regular season with an injury, and he only played in 47 games last season. Despite all that missed time, there's no denying what Kucherov brings to the table when healthy. For starters, his lethal shot alone makes him a valuable player for the Lightning, both on the power play and at five-on-five. He led the NHL in assists in 2018-19, and the last time he tallied fewer than 36 assists was his rookie year in 2013-14. What Kucherov has lacked in regular season availability over the past couple seasons, he has made up for with playoff heroics. In each of the Lightning's back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, Kucherov led the league in points. In the 2022 postseason, his 27 points ranked fourth.
8. Jonathan Huberdeau | LW | Calgary Flames
There are some fair criticisms about how much Huberdeau gives up in the defensive zone. That said, his offensive firepower can more than make up for his defensive deficiencies. In 2021-22, Huberdeau was tied for second in the NHL with 115 points, and his 85 assists led the league. Huberdeau is an excellent playmaker, and he is one of the best at finding his teammates in dangerous scoring areas. After finishing top-five in Hart Trophy voting last season, Huberdeau will now lead the new-look Calgary Flames after their major offseason makeover.
7. David Pastrnak | RW | Boston Bruins
One of two Bruins on this list, Pastrnak is the primary finisher on the team's top line. With the exception of the shortened season in 2020-21, Pastrnak has scored at least 34 goals every season since 2016-17. Last year, Pastrnak tallied 40 goals in 72 games played, and his shooting percentage was still 1.2 points lower than his career average of 14.0%. On top of that, his 15.64 expected goals led the entire Bruins team, according to Natural Stat Trick. Of course, Pastrnak isn't simply a good shooter. He has totaled more than 40 assists three times in his career, and he finished the 2021-22 season with 37. At just 26, Pastrnak still has plenty of opposing goaltenders to torment throughout his career.
6. Brad Marchand | LW | Boston Bruins
Every year, we wonder when Brad Marchand will take a step backward, and every year he is one of the best players in the NHL. Like clockwork, Marchand eclipses or approaches the 30-goal mark while adding 40 to 60 assists. To top it all off, Marchand is not shy about getting physical and under his opponent's skin, despite his relatively short stature at 5-foot-9. His elite combination of skill and sandpaper make him a unique player, and he makes up one-third of what is typically the best line in hockey. With Patrice Bergeron back for another year alongside Marchand, the Bruins will likely make another major push for a Stanley Cup.
5. Johnny Gaudreau | LW | Columbus Blue Jackets
Contract years don't get much better than the one Johnny Gaudreau just had with the Calgary Flames. Last season, Gaudreau set career highs in goals (40), assists (75) and points (115). Now a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gaudreau's offensive impacts are off the charts. With Gaudreau on the ice at five-on-five last year, the Flames scored a whopping 96 goals and allowed just 38 goals. Even if Gaudreau may not have the biggest impact in the defensive end, it's tough for the opponent to score when the puck is on his stick for an entire shift.
4. Kirill Kaprizov | LW | Minnesota Wild
Before Kaprizov arrived in Minnesota in 2020, the Wild were a solid team, but they weren't exactly appointment viewing every other night. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Kaprizov made Minnesota a more fun and more dangerous team. Kaprizov followed up a Calder Trophy rookie season with 47 goals, 61 assists and 108 points in 2021-22. What might be most impressive about Kaprizov's early success at the NHL level is that he has done all this with a heavy dose of Victor Rask and Ryan Hartman as his centers. Rask and Hartman are both fine players, but Kaprizov has been dominant without a true No. 1 center beside him.
3. Mikko Rantanen | RW | Colorado Avalanche
There are a lot of big names on that Avalanche roster, starting with Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, but Rantanen plays a major role for the defending Stanley Cup champions. That includes leading the team in scoring with 36 goals last season. When Colorado took a surprising leap forward in the 2016-17 season, Rantanen emerged as a key contributor. Since then, he has scored 30-plus goals three times, and he has scored 29 goals once. Rantanen has lethal finishing ability, as exhibited by his career shooting percentage of 15.7%, and that is hard to find.
2. Mitch Marner | RW | Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing on a line with Auston Matthews certainly has its perks, but Marner isn't just being dragged around the ice by his MVP teammate. In order for Matthews to score 60 goals, someone has to feed him the puck. That's where Marner comes in, and there are few better playmakers in the league than the Maple Leafs winger. Marner tallied 62 assists in 2021-22, but he didn't stop there. He also blew away his career high in goals with 35. Despite what some might say about his defense, Marner has established himself as a truly elite winger at the NHL level.
1. Matthew Tkachuk | LW | Florida Panthers
Call it recency bias, but I do think there is evidence to suggest that Tkachuk just had the best 2021-22 season out of any winger in the league. With 42 goals and 62 assists, Tkachuk (who is only 24) proved that he can be an elite scorer, and he will be in his prime for the foreseeable future. Additionally, Tkachuk played well in the defensive zone, even against some tough competition. That resulted in an expected goals share of 60.46% at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick. Factor in the amount of tenacity that Tkachuk brings to his game, and it is hard to find a better player at the position than him. The Panthers just gave up Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar to get Tkachuk, and they are still very much a Stanley Cup contender.