Hockey is a game of goal scoring. Remove all the intangibles and intricacies, and at the end of the day, the team that scores the most goals wins the game. Obviously, many factors contribute to the fine line between wins and losses, but let’s take a moment and revel in the wonderment that is the National Hockey League’s ten most naturally gifted goal scorers.
Jeff Carter 10
The Los Angeles Kings’ sniper is one of the best shooters in the game. Jeff Carter’s big reach and ability to shelter the puck from defenders also adds to his outstanding set of tools he fools goalies with while attacking offensively.
The former 40 goal scorer burns opponents with regularity. Basically, when the Kings need a goal, Carter is likely to be the supplier.
Jeff Carter is a pure shooter – one of the best in the league. He won’t razzle dazzle you like some NHL all-stars, but that’s fine because sometimes too much flair is only good for a few cheers. Carter doesn’t need to finesse his opponents, he uses size, strength, speed and power to accumulate goals.
The following video clearly articulates the raw shooting ability of the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings best offensive weapon, Jeff Carter.
Corey Perry 9
When you score 50 times in one NHL season your status as a goal scorer elevates to new heights.
This former 50 goal scorer is naturally talented in multiple ways. The big man with the smooth hands has a rocket of a wrister that often deceptively explodes off his stick. He’s capable of scoring top shelfers in tight proximity to the net, and is arguably the best in the business at transforming garbage goals into highlight reel roof jobs.
Every goal scorer has a bag of tricks, and Perry’s is diverse.
Smooth hands allow the Ducks big money man to avoid relying on his sick shot all the time. When a goalie is telling too much, Perry can do severe damage with a deke. Enjoy this video of Corey Perry flexing his offensive muscle as one of the game’s truest goal scoring talents.
Thomas Vanek 8
Austria’s finest puck shooting export was selected 5th overall in the deepest draft NHL history has ever known because he’s a lethal scoring machine.
In the 2003 NHL entry draft Vanek was chosen by the Buffalo Sabres ahead of NHL stars – Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, Patrice Bergeron and Corey Perry for a reason.That reason being: very few shoot as potently as Thomas Vanek.
The Sabres ten year employee has one of the most effective, quick releases in hockey. He is known for his ability to beat the best goaltenders clean with one of his patented snappers.
Vanek has another great quality that allows him to finish plays with the best of ‘em. He has quick hands, especially in tight situations around the crease. Vanek doesn’t move as smoothly as many top snipers, but his lack of flashy mobility has never prevented him from burying. In order to truly appreciate the goal scoring versatility of the Sabres’ best shooter, please enjoy a video showcasing his top 10 goals.
Rick Nash 7
The Rangers lead sniper is a big body with tremendous wheels and raw power.
Rick Nash may not have the quick release or heavy wrist shot of his goal-getting contemporaries, but he sure can match them on the scoresheet.
He’s an imposing puck handler who drives the net with the most effective combination of force and finesse in the league since Eric Lindros. Often criticized for a lack of assists in his stat line, Nash doesn’t play the part of passer – he is a straight up, high end, goal scoring machine.
Enjoy a clip of the most memorable goal Rick Nash has ever scored in the National Hockey League.
John Tavares 6
With a Hart Trophy nomination on his resume, John Tavares is quickly living up to the hype that has surrounded him since Major Junior.
John Tavares – the kid who broke Wayne Gretzky’s OHL goal scoring record – is now a grown man with an appetite for greatness, and it shows on the scoreboard.
The Islanders’ saviour doesn’t have the goal scoring resume of his list-mates, because he’s younger. But at some point, as hockey fans, we must admit that stats don’t paint the entire Picasso. If you’ve ever watched Tavares play, you know very well how capable he is of electrifying NHL goal lights.
Last season Tavares broke out for 28 tallies in 48 games, earning himself the 3rd most goals scored in the league behind Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos and Capitals icon Alex Ovechkin. Now, Tavares is officially part of the conversation for best goal scorer in the game.
Tavares’s ability to fire home pucks is ranged in weaponry. He releases with blinding speed when he’s shooting, and he dangles his way through goaltenders with impressive hands when a deke is required. His comprehension of good playmaking prevents him from selfishly shooting on every opportunity, making Tavares unpredictably dangerous offensively. Watch him score.
Marian Gaborik 5
The on-again, off-again Columbus Blue Jackets’ sniper is the fastest top gun in the league.
Gaborik’s speed is one of his most impressive weapons, but it’s not his only one. The Slovakian golden-boy is a fiercely quick shooter off both wings – he’s adept at balancing himself for wrist shot rifles he can release at full speed or at a stand still.
Gaborik is a manipulator of the high slot like few others. Some goal scorers always seem to find open space on that crowded ice surface and Gaborik’s one of the best. As a member of the Minnesota Wild Gaborik’s goal scoring prowess was on display in a 5 goal performance against his future team, the New York Rangers.
Phil Kessel 4
Booted out of Boston for his lack of Lucic-like attributes, Phil Kessel has since established himself as one of the league’s top guns year after year.
As we approach the top of the list Kessel separates himself from other goal scoring superiors. His shot is one of hockey’s most potent poisons. The streaky finisher is among the NHL’s best skaters through the neutral zone, capable of winding up and blasting off at speeds most defensive players have no answer for.
Kessel is often criticized for his softness. Here’s the thing: Phil Kessel is a throw back goal scorer, styled in the mould of a great 80′s gunner. His all round game is improving with age, but it’s not great and it never will be. But, does anyone really care if the Leafs’ best goal scorer since Dave Andreychuk starts blocking shots and battling in more scrums? Not really. Phil’s a weapon of mass production, not a dime-a-dozen foot soldier.
Sidney Crosby 3
When your backhand is better than forehand shot of 99% of the league’s players, you’re going to be considered one of the elite natural goal scorers in hockey.
Sid The Kid can bury with the finest. He’s often regarded as a playmaker more than a pure goal scorer, but that’s a stigma he shares with Wayne Gretzky, who has the most goals in NHL history.
Sidney Crosby has very quick hands, a superb shot, and an uncanny ability to move at a higher speed than everyone else. While Crosby rockets around the ice with the puck, goalies must have fits, never knowing whether Sid will make a ridiculous pass, or without warning unleash a bullet perfectly aimed at a kink in the armour.
Alexander Ovechkin 2
The Caps reigning Rocket Richard winner is pure power and force. He can shovel a puck home as perfectly as he can snipe one from long-distance or slide one in on an unsuspecting deke victim.
When Alex Ovechkin is playing well – that is to say, scoring a lot, which is often – there is no stopping the thick Russian tank. Since joining the NHL in 2005-06, no one has set off more goal lights than Ovie.
One thing that really separates Alex from the previously mentioned players on this list is his ability to score goals from anywhere with a wrist shot. Ovechkin can wire home a wrister from long range because his wrist shot is more powerful than 80% of the slap shots in the league.
When Ovechkin gets revved up he’s a real treat to watch. His offensive attacks are explosive bursts of pace, power and pure determination. He’ll fly wide and cut to the net for a hard fought tally, or he’ll lean back, quickly cross to the middle of the ice, and fire away, whistling one past a goaltenders’ ears for a top shelf finale. Enjoy this video entitled – The Best Of Alexander Ovechkin
Steven Stamkos 1
It’s only fitting Steven Stamkos plays for Tampa Bay because his shot is lightning fast.
Stamkos is a smooth skating, speedster who can really fire the puck but he scores from everywhere these days – more than just a shooter who relies on great feeds.
Stamkos’s one-timer off the half boards once accounted for most of his goals, but he has improved his versatility as a sniper. That being said, opponents know to respect Stamkos’s shot.
You know you’re a wicked one-timer when no matter how many times you pull off the same play, the rest of the NHL can’t prevent you from cashing in, over and over again.
Stamkos scores from everywhere.With a shot like that, he only needs to receive a pass within the opposing team’s zone and fire a cannon at the net. The Lightning franchise player scores on wrist shots on the rush, in the slot, from the side; the top of the circle, and etc.
From anywhere in the offensive zone, Stamkos can finish a play with a game changing strike.
His quick hands are underrated. His knack for finding open space is a skill he has perfected like no other NHLer since Brett Hull. He’s scored more goals than any other NHL player over the last four seasons, and that is no fluke. Witness his scoring supremacy in this YouTube tribute:
Honourable Mentions: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Logan Couture, James Neal, Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Evander Kane, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Semin, Evgeni Malkin.