John Gove of The Hockey Writers recently came up with an interesting read on how the Stanley Cup could be a realistic possibility for the New York Islanders. As an Islanders fan, I felt a lot better about my team after reading that. However, there was a specific part of the article that struck me.
Gove said that “The New York Islanders may have the most talented group of forwards in the entire NHL.” After thinking about that for awhile, I came to the conclusion that the Islanders do have the most talented group of forwards in the league.
"I came to the conclusion that the Islanders do have the most talented group of forwards in the league."
Let’s take a look at their projected top 14 forwards and possible line combinations:
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey – Ryan Strome – Brock Nelson
Nikolay Kulemin – Frans Nielson – Mikhail Grabovski
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Steve Bernier, Kirill Petrov
Although they only have one superstar, the surrounding cast is near perfect. The top two lines deal with secondary scoring, the third line provides some veteran presence and other intangibles and the fourth line scares the other team away.
Let’s take a look at other top teams and their possible line combinations and decide if they are better.
Kunitz – Crosby – Kessel
Perron – Malkin – Dupuis
Plotnikov – Bonino – Hornqvist
Fehr – Cullen – Bennett
Hagelin – Getzlaf – Perry
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Maroon – Santorelli – Stewart
Sekac – Thompson – McGrattan
Panarin – Toews – Kane
Bickell – Kruger – Hossa
Mashinter – Anisimov – Shaw
Garbutt – Teravainen – Tikhonov
Benn – Seguin – Hemsky
Sharp – Spezza – Nichuskin
Moen – Fiddler – Ritchie
Roussel – Eakin – Eaves
New York Rangers:
Nash – Stepan – Hayes
Kreider – Brassard – Zuccarello
Stalberg – Miller – Etem
Glass – Stoll – Fast
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Killorn- Stamkos – Callahan
Palat – Johnson – Kucherov
Drouin – Filppula- Brown
Namestnikov – Boyle – Condra
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Oshie
Burakovsky – Kuznetsov – Williams
Johansson – Laich – Galiev
Chimera – Brown – Wilson
All of these teams have superstar players and a lot of scorers, but are they complete forwards? Do they have that mix of scorers, specialists, veterans and grinders? Some do, and I think that the Washington Capitals have the best mix of forwards of the bunch. Are the better than the Islanders, however? We shall see at the end of the season.