In the second and final half of this list, we’ll take a look at the five greatest forwards in the NHL since the lockout of 2004-05. Again, it should be noted that I place a fairly high value on longevity, so you won’t see stars like Connor McDavid or Tyler Seguin on here. At the end, I’ll have a few honourable mentions for you as well. With that said, here are the top five forwards of the post-lockout era:
- Henrik Sedin
The more well-known and often-considered better brother, Henrik has been one of the most dominant playmaking forces in the NHL since the lockout. Much like his brother, Henrik slowly but surely rose to fame after the lockout, showing his playmaking style its truest form in the 2006-07 season when he scored just 10 goals, but added an astonishing 71 assists for an 82-point season. Henrik upped his goal scoring to the 20-goal mark by 2008-09 and in 2009-10, had one of the best offensive seasons in Canucks history with 112 points and a stunning 83 assists, leading the league in both categories and winning the first Hart trophy in Canucks history. Henrik also has the distinction of the 7th longest iron-man streak in NHL history, playing 679 consecutive games before finally missing one in January of 2014. Henrik became the captain of the Canucks in 2010 and is the all-time leader in assists, points, and games for the Canucks.
- Evgeni Malkin
Aside from Kane, Malkin is the only other player on this list not to have played in every season since the lockout. Malkin exploded onto the scene in the 2006-07 season with an 85-point rookie campaign, winning the Calder trophy. He followed that up with a 106-point season that got him second in Hart voting. He managed to improve yet again and had a 113-point season in 2008-09 with an amazing 78 assists, winning him the Art Ross trophy and again finishing second in Hart voting. Above all, he won the Conn Smythe trophy as his Penguins won the Cup in 2009. Malkin’s number diminished after that for two seasons, but he came back in a big way in the 2011-12 season with a career high 50 goals and a league-leading 109 points to finally win his first Hart trophy along with his first Ted Linsday Award. Since then, Malkin has fallen somewhat under Crosby’s shadow, but has never had a bad season, consistently remaining above a point-per-game in every season despite having frequent injury problems.
- Joe Thornton
When it comes to consistency and longevity, Joe Thornton is perhaps a poor man’s Jaromir Jagr. By the time the post-lockout era began, Thornton had already established himself as an NHL star, with a 101-point season already under his belt. Thornton burst onto the post-lockout scene like no other, leading the NHL with 96 assists and 125 points, both the highest totals we’ve seen in the post-lockout era. Obviously, he won the Hart trophy. Perhaps even more amazingly, he did so in a season split between the Bruins and the San Jose Sharks. To emphasize how amazing Thornton’s 96 assists were, you have to go back to Adam Oates’ 1992-93 season to find a higher total (he had 97). Thornton continued his dominating ways with 92- and 67-assist seasons to follow, leading the league in both seasons. Since then, Thornton has regularly been just above or below the point-per-game mark, even as he’s aged into his mid-30s. Thornton has also been more and more recognized for his defensive play as he’s aged, finishing 5th in Selke voting in the 2015-16 season. Thornton is the all-time assists leader for the San Jose Sharks and is 2nd in points behind Patrick Marleau.
- Alex Ovechkin
No player has been more decorated in the post-lockout era than Alex Ovechkin. His trophy case includes one Calder Trophy, six Rocket Richard trophies, one Art Ross Trophy, three Lester B. Pearson trophies, and three Hart trophies. All he has left to win in the NHL is a Stanley Cup. Ovechkin had one of the most dominant rookie seasons in NHL history, scoring 52 goals, one behind Mike Bossy’s 53, giving Ovechkin the 3rd highest rookie goal total in history. Two years later, Ovechkin has perhaps the best season of his career, scoring 65 goals and adding 47 assists for 112 points, winning his first Hart, Rocket Richard and Art Ross. Ovechkin again led the league in goals the following year with 56 and followed it with 50 more the season after that, giving him four 50+ seasons in the first five of his career. After two less impressive seasons for Ovechkin, he returned to form, leading the league in goals for four consecutive years. Ovechkin already has over 550 career goals and at just 31 years old, may very well make the case for being the greatest goal scorer of all-time by the time he retires. Ovechkin is Washington’s all-time leading goal and point scorer and is 4th all-time in games.
- Sidney Crosby
Was it ever going to be anyone else? How the Penguins got blessed with both Malkin and Crosby is a wonder. While Ovechkin is the most decorated player since the lockout, Crosby is clearly the more rounded and consistent player. Unlike Ovechkin, Crosby has been hampered by injuries for much of his career, liming the amount of hardware he has won. One of only nine players to ever score 100 points in their first NHL season, Crosby did not disappoint. His sophomore season was even more amazing. He had an astounding 84 assists and 120 points, the most recent player to reach the 120-point plateau. After a shortened season in 2007-08, Crosby returned to have back-to-back 100+ point seasons, including 51-goal season, proving he could score goals too. The 2010-11 season was looking like the greatest of Crosby’s career until he ran into massive concussion problems. He was limited to 41 games, but still scored 32 goals and added 34 assists for 66 points. Pro-rated, he would’ve been the first player to surpass 130 points since Jagr and Lemieux did it in 1995-96. Crosby’s 2011-12 season was even more dominant, but unfortunately also even more short. He played in only 22 games, but had 29 assists and 37 points. In 2013-14, Crosby finally played a full season again and to no one’s surprise, led the league in assists and points again with 68 and 104, respectively. Since then, Crosby has remained among the best in the NHL and has recently surpassed 1000 points in just his 757th game, making him the 10th fastest player to do so. Crosby is currently third on the all-time Penguins points list behind Jagr and Lemieux and is closing in on Jagr fast.
Honourable Mention: Ryan Getzlaf
Just missing the list was Ryan Getzlaf. His greatest seasons were 2008-09 where he finished with a career-high 66 assists and 91 points and 2013-14, when he saw a resurgence and finished 2nd in the NHL with 87 points, behind only Sidney Crosby.
Honourable Mention: Peter Forsberg
While Forsberg wasn’t technically close to making the list, he has the highest points-per-game of any player that didn’t make it. In his first post-lockout season with the Flyers, he had 75 points in just 60 games. He followed that up with another 55 points in 57 games and 14 points in 9 games in 2007-08.