The Top 5 Snipers In The NHL
Some players beat each other senseless with their fists, other players throw on pads and use their bodies as targets for 100 MPH frozen rubber bullets, and then there are those players who are born to score goals.
The superheros of the hockey world.
The crème of the crop.
When you’re a kid playing street hockey outside with your friends, these are the guys you're pretending to be when you score.
Here are the top five snipers in the NHL today:
5. CBJ – Rick Nash
The Blue Jackets’ lack of success over the years has seemingly overshadowed Nash’s ability to score some tremendous goals. If he played for a better (and more offensively minded) squad, there’s no question that the 1st overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft would attract similar publicity to the likes of a Crosby or Ovechkin. Nash often uses his huge 6’4” frame in perfect harmony with his incredibly soft hands to drive hard to the goal mouth and stickhandle his way into defensemen and goalies’ nightmares. Although he’s only surpassed the 40-goal mark twice in seven NHL seasons, goals like this assure us that Nash is the real deal:
4. PIT – Sidney Crosby
There’s a lot words you could use to describe Crosby—unfortunately, none of them would truly do him justice. Aside from being arguably the league’s best playmaker, as well as a superb faceoff man, Crosby is hands down the hardest worker in the NHL. It’s nearly impossible to get the puck off of him because he’s so incredibly strong on his skates, he digs for pucks in the corners, and he never gives up on a play. Crosby’s smooth skating and work ethic make him a threat in every situation—even strength, powerplay, and shorthanded. The prototypical Crosby goal? Turn on the jets to split two defenders, deke in tight on the goalie, and roof the shot into the net. If you’ve ever played hockey, you’ll know why I picked this goal as Crosby’s #1 highlight. Find me another guy who can elevate the puck with this accuracy and power on the backhand (excuse the poor video quality):
3. TBL – Steven Stamkos
After the highly-touted 1st overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft tallied only 46 points in his rookie season, the critics were out for Stamkos and the Lightning organization. Everyone and their mother spurred Tampa Bay to send Stamkos down to the AHL to gain some experience and confidence before entering the NHL. Despite his less-than-impressive 2008-2009 campaign, Stamkos proved the experts wrong with 51 goals and 95 points in his sophomore season for the Lightning. At just 20 years of age, Stamkos is having another great year with 35 goals in just 47 thus far. Signature Stamkos? Ripping a one-timer from the circle with no remorse for anything the puck might touch on its way past the goaltender and into the mesh. Although he’s mostly known for insanely powerful slapshots, here’s Stamkos showing off his tremendous hand-eye coordination:
2. NJD – Ilya Kovalchuk
While Kovalchuk’s 13 goals in 44 games this season isn’t exactly sniper material, there’s no denying that his shot is still one of the best in the league. The Russian sniper scored 40+ goals in five consecutive seasons as an Atlanta Thrasher before being traded to the New Jersey Devils. Not known for his stickhandling, Kovalchuk relies on his speed and exceptional accuracy to haunt goaltenders around the NHL. Most impressive is how his wrist shot and slapshot are equally dangerous—Kovalchuk can beat you anywhere on the ice. Stationary on the powerplay, flying up on the wing on the rush, it just doesn’t matter. If you can beat a goaltender from forty-some feet away with no traffic in front, you earned your sniper license:
1. WAS – Alexander Ovechkin
Similar to Kovalchuk, Ovechkin is another top goal scorer who has had some trouble finding the back of the net this year. Then again, it’s not unreasonable for the Moscow native to cool off after notching back-to-back-to-back 50+ goal seasons. There’s no debate that Ovechkin is the most offensively-gifted player in the entire NHL. He makes defensemen look like traffic cones. He makes goalies look like porous mannequins. Speed, strength, and accuracy—Ovechkin has them all. His greatest attribute is being able to mask his shot so that goalies have no time to anticipate when and where Ovechkin is going to shoot. Simply put, no one has a quicker release than #8 for the Caps. Since there’s no way to pick a single highlight for the greatest sniper in the world, I present to you the Ovechkin video montage:
Honorable mentions: Daniel Sedin (VAN), Michael Cammalleri (MTL), Danny Briere (PHI), Dany Heatley (SJS), Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Disagree with any of my choices? Missing one of your favorites? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
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