Now that we have tiered the goalies and defensemen for the West and East, it is time to move on to the forwards. I will start with the Western Conference below. There are a lot more forwards than defense, so we will only expand on the first five tiers this week.
Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers – Even the best player in the NHL has his limits. Will McDavid get to 50 goals this season or next? He might, but he'll need to start shooting a little more as he currently averages about 3.9 shots/game up from his career average of about 3.3/game. He has a career shooting percentage of 15.0 percent and a career-high of 44 goals which he got last season. By comparison, Auston Matthews averaged 4.8 shots/g and had a shooting percentage of 17.2 on his way to 60 goals in 73 games last season.
There is no reason for McDavid or the Oilers to change his game as they have Leon Draisaitl to score 55 goals each year and be the trigger man on the power play. I'm not expecting McDavid to explode for a 60-goal and 90-assist season this year or anytime soon unless they lose Draisaitl for an extended time. If he does explode his output I'd expect 40 goals and 100 assists more likely.
He's a step above the rest.
Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers – Draisaitl has missed two games over the past four seasons. In that period he has scored more than 50 goals twice and has had over 100 points three times (he had 84 games in 56 games in the shortened 2020-21 season). He is one of the most productive power play finishers in the NHL and has 71 PPGs over the past four seasons. In comparison, David Pastrnak is next at 58, Alex Ovechkin 56, Steven Stamkos 55, Chris Kreider 53, Mika Zibanejad 51 and Auston Matthews 50 over that same period. He doesn't play with McDavid that much at even-strength but still generates a lot of offense, but does have his detractors for his defensive play at times.
Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche – Right up until starting to write this I had MacKinnon