True Power Forwards And Who Might The Habs Target

In the hockey world, there are a few topics or definitions that aren’t clear and consistent from fan to fan, media personality to media personality and sometimes, even amongst those who work for NHL teams. We don’t have to look too far to find examples of that. The Norris Trophy is supposed to go to the best all-around defenseman. Most times, they give it to the best offensive defenseman although this year, they got it right by giving it to Roman Josi. The Selke Trophy, given to the best defensive forward, too often goes to forwards who play very little, if any, on the penalty kill. Again, they look at offense.

The most recent example of a misconception amongst the media is when Sportsnet’s Eric Engels wrote about some “power forwards” the Canadiens might or should try to get their hands on. The issue is that three of the five players Eric mentioned are not power forwards: Steven Stamkos, Kyle Palmieri and Alex Killorn. At least, they’re not true power forwards by the definition I have of such players.

Definition:

A power forward is a forward who possesses above average offensive skills and plays a tough, physical game. Most of the time, power forwards are physically large, but some players are referred to as power forwards despite being no more than six feet tall. They tend to be proficient stickhandlers and skaters who shoot the puck well and, at the same time, are capable of delivering crushing body checks and may also fight occasionally. Many power forwards plant their bodies in front of the opposing team’s net and use their large frames to screen the goaltender. True power forwards also tend to be very difficult to knock off possession of the puck, hence their ability to “power through” opposing defenders.

Smaller skilled forwards, who are talented offensively but lack the strength of power forwards, are often easier to defend because they can be pushed around, knocked off the puck, or are more susceptible to intimidation. Power forwards do not tend to have any of those liabilities.

Today’s best power forwards

So based on that definition, who are some of today’s NHL’s top power forwards? In no particular order, here’s a short list of what I would consider to be your typical forwards who use their bigger body as part of their success in the league.

  • Alexander Ovechkin
  • Jamie Benn
  • Matthew Tkachuk
  • Brady Tkachuk
  • Blake Wheeler
  • Evander Kane
  • Leon Draisaitl
  • Anders Lee
  • Aleksander Barkov
  • Tom Wilson
  • Ryan Getzlaf
  • Chris Kreider
  • Brandon Saad
  • Milan Lucic
  • Nick Foligno
  • Marcus Foligno
  • Lawson Crouse
  • Christian Fisher
  • Patrik Laine
  • Evgeni Malkin
  • Auston Matthews
  • Mark Scheifele

Potential Habs’ targets

Joel Armia is the closest to a power forward on the Habs. Big body, he can skate, he hits and has pretty good hands. Not a high end power forward, but he’s one nonetheless. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is slowly developing into one as well, especially the way he played in these COVID Cup playoffs. But one or two guys with size is simply not enough amongst a group of forwards. In my opinion, they need two at least: one on the top-6, the other on the bottom-6. We’ve looked at the bottom-6 in a previous article.

Off the list above, there are four players who are rumoured to be available:

  • Brandon Saad
  • Patrik Laine
  • Lawson Crouse
  • Christian Fisher

I’m not sure of one of the Foligno brothers would be available but they too would be good options on the Habs. I would be willing to give a lot for Laine, obviously, and Crouse and Fisher would be great on the middle-6. Jesse Puljujärvi would be another that I’d love to see the Habs take a flyer on. Josh Anderson in Columbus is another option. As mentioned in that same article, Brock Boeser or Tyler Toffoli could be good as well. All fit the power forward bill, aside perhaps of Toffoli.

Speaking of Boeser, someone made up a pretty decent 3-way deal, I thought. The Habs needing a scoring right winger, the Wild being thin at centre and the Canucks needing help on defense:

TO TO TO
Matt DumbaMax Domi
MTL 2nd rd pick
Brock Boeser

Add a pick/prospect here and there to make it work for all teams. Either way, no matter who they get, the Habs are in dire need of a power forward and a bottom-6 hard hitting forward like Kyle Clifford, scheduled to become UFA. After addressing the backup goaltending position with Jake Allen and with the addition of Joel Edmundson on defense, it would be make for a much more balanced team. Go Habs Go!

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