Hockey is a game of goal scoring, quite simply. 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 10 most naturally gifted goal scorers.
Jeff Carter 10
The Los Angeles Kings’ sniper is one of the best shooters in the game. Carter’s big reach and ability to shelter the puck from defenders also adds to his outstanding set of tools while attacking offensively. The former 40 goal scorer will burn opponents any chance he gets. When the Kings need a goal, Carter is likely to be the supplier.
Jeff Carter is a pure shooter. He won’t razzle dazzle you like some NHL all stars, but sometimes too much flair is only good for a few cheers. At the end of the day, goals are finite, and Carter scores lots of them. The following video clearly articulates the raw shooting ability of the Los Angeles Kings best offensive weapon, Jeff Carter.
Corey Perry 9
When you score 50 goals in the National Hockey League your status as a goalscorer 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, often deceptively exploding off the stick. He’s capable of scoring top shelfers in tight proximity to the net, transforming garbage goals into highlight reel roof jobs.
Every goal scorer has a bag of tricks, and Perry’s is diverse in deliverables. 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 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. Vanek was chosen ahead of NHL stars – Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards and Corey Perry for a reason.
Very few shoot as potently as Vanek. The Sabres ten year employee has one of the most effective, quick releases in hockey. He’ll beat the best goaltenders clean with one of his patented snappers.
Vanek has another great quality that allows him to finish with the best of them. 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 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. 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 passer part, he is 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 surrounded him in Major Junior. The kid who broke Wayne Gretzky’s OHL goal scoring record is now a grown man, with an appetite for greatness. The Islanders’ saviour doesn’t have the goal scoring resume of his list-mates, but at some point, as hockey fans, we must admit that stats don’t paint the entire Picasso. If you’ve ever watched him 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 him 3rd most goals in the league behind Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos and Capitals icon Alex Ovechkin. He’s officially part of the conversation for best goal scorer in the game.
Tavares’ ability to fire home pucks is ranged in weaponry. He releases with blinking 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, balancing for wrist shot rifles he can release at top speed or at a stand still.
Gaborik is a manipulator of the high slot. 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 begins to separate 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 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 most NHL player’s forehand shot, 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 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. When Alex Ovechkin is playing well, there is no stopping this 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’s scoring prowess 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 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 goal, or he’ll lean back, quickly cross to the middle of the ice in the high slot, 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. His one-timer off the half boards once accounted for many of his goals. 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 take a pass within the opposing teams zone and fire a canon at the net. The Lightning franchise player scores on wrist shots on the rush, in the slot, from the side, top of the circle, 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.