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NHL Position Group Rankings: Forwards

With NHL players reporting to training camp in about a month, it's time we start gauging just how teams will stack up in the 2022-2023 season. Over the next three days, I'll take you through the position groups - forwards, defensemen, and goalies - for all 32 NHL teams. I will use the current PuckLuck projections to rank each group among their peers, from worst to first.


Today, we begin with the forwards. In the rankings, you'll find notable additions, injury statuses, and of course everyone's favorite - projected lines. It's important to note that these rankings are based off of the goal-differential value (GDV) that these forwards are projected to bring in all situations (even-strength, powerplay, and shorthanded). GDV, of course, includes both offensive and defensive impact.


Without further ado, here's number 32:


32. San Jose Sharks

Projected GDV: -24.10

Additions: [individual projected GDV in brackets]

  • Steven Lorentz [1]

  • Luke Kunin [-2]

  • Nico Sturm [-7]

  • Oskar Lindblom [-42]

The Sharks are under new management, and some tune-ups to the forward group were in order. As far as top-six talent, none was really added though to the roster. Surely 2021 top draft pick William Eklund will get a good look in important minutes, and middle-six winger Kevin Labanc should be back from injury. Other than that, San Jose will be hoping for improved bottom-six play defensively against tough matchups.


Projected lines:

Timo Meier - Tomas Hertl - Alex Barabanov

Oskar Lindblom - Logan Couture - William Eklund

Luke Kunin - Nick Bonino - Kevin Labanc

Steven Lorentz - Nico Sturm - Matt Nieto


31. Buffalo Sabres

Projected GDV: -22.37

Additions:

  • Riley Sheahan [-1]

The Sabres are really gambling on their young forwards to take a big leap this season, which really isn't expected to happen all that much according to our projections. Their only notable addition, Riley Sheahan, is a depth signing who's questionable to even make the team out of camp. Expect more of the same from an exciting but inefficient group.


Projected lines:

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson

Peyton Krebs - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn

Vinnie Hinostroza - Zemgus Girgensons - Kyle Okposo


30. Montreal Canadiens

Projected GDV: -21.27

Additions:

  • Evgeny Dadonov [13]

  • Juraj Slafkovsky [-4]

  • Mitchell Stephens [-6]

  • Kirby Dach [-47]

The Canadiens are in an awkward stage, with aging forwards that they're trying to support with an infusion of youth. Bottom line is, this group as a whole is likely not going to get the job done, with players such as Kirby Dach expected to be leaned on heavily while underproducing. Montreal's lineup is fielding two borderline 2nd lines in their top-six, and lack the offensive punch required to make up for the club's other deficiencies.


Projected lines:

Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki - Josh Anderson

Jonathan Drouin - Kirby Dach - Mike Hoffman

Juraj Slafkovsky - Christian Dvorak - Brendan Gallagher

Evgeny Dadonov - Jake Evans - Joel Armia


29. Arizona Coyotes

Projected GDV: -20.35

Additions:

  • Nick Bjugstad [-1]

  • Zack Kassian [-8]

The Coyotes are expected to be bottom-feeders this season, and only adding two 4th line players to a depleted forward group is certainly helping that case. They stay out of the cellar of these rankings however by employing decent defensive forwards and some powerplay value.


Projected lines:

Clayton Keller - Barrett Hayton - Nick Schmaltz

Lawson Crouse - Nathan Smith - Travis Boyd

Nick Ritchie - Jack McBain - Christian Fischer

Liam O'Brien - Nick Bjugstad - Zack Kassian


28. Chicago Blackhawks

Projected GDV: -19.16

Additions:

  • Max Domi [16]

  • Colin Blackwell [-6]

  • Andreas Athanasiou [-11]

Another team expected to be in top lottery contention, the Blackhawks still have some forwards who pack a nice offensive punch. They're not deep enough at center, however, and are starting to accumulate a handful of the league's "lost souls".


Projected lines:

Andreas Athanasiou - Lukas Reichel - Patrick Kane

Max Domi - Jonathan Toews - Tyler Johnson

Boris Katchouk - Sam Lafferty - Taylor Raddysh

Reese Johnson - Colin Blackwell - Mackenzie Entwistle


27. Columbus Blue Jackets

Projected GDV: -17.77

Additions:

  • Johnny Gaudreau [47]

  • Mathieu Olivier [-4]

All Columbus did is go out and sign the top free agent forward to hit the market in quite some time, and that vaulted their rank here to...27th. This lineup has some encouraging youngsters in Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson, and (maybe) Yegor Chinakhov, but the lack of a true top-six center really hurts this team.


Projected lines:

Johnny Gaudreau - Boone Jenner - Patrik Laine

Gustav Nyquist - Cole Sillinger - Jakub Voracek

Kent Johnson - Jack Roslovic - Yegor Chinakhov

Eric Robinson - Sean Kuraly - Mathieu Olivier


26. Ottawa Senators

Projected GDV: -10.58

Additions:

  • Alex DeBrincat [26]

  • Claude Giroux [9]

Ottawa was looking to greatly improve their forward group heading into this coming season and successfully acquired two strong top-six players in DeBrincat and Giroux. So why are they only 26th? Well outside of Shane Pinto their bottom-six does not project well, and their top line of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, and Drake Batherson netted nearly even in terms of projected GDV.


Projected lines:

Brady Tkachuk - Josh Norris - Drake Batherson

Alex DeBrincat - Tim Stutzle - Claude Giroux

Alex Formenton - Shane Pinto - Mathieu Joseph

Egor Sokolov - Dylan Gambrell - Austin Watson


25. Detroit Red Wings

Projected GDV: -10.50

Additions:

  • David Perron [50]

  • Andrew Copp [6]

  • Dominik Kubalik [-14]

  • Austin Czarnik [0]

The Red Wings are another Atlantic Division non-playoff team looking to vastly improve, and they mixed in some nice additions to a lackluster group of forwards to help round out the lineup. The question is, will it be enough to get them in contention for a playoff spot?


Projected lines:

Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Lucas Raymond

Jakub Vrana - Andrew Copp - David Perron

Dominik Kubalik - Pius Suter - Filip Zadina

Michael Rasmussen - Joe Veleno - Oskar Sundqvist


24. Philadelphia Flyers

Projected GDV: -10.05

Additions:

  • Owen Tippett [3]

  • Nicolas Deslauriers [-13]

While their offseason forward additions were uninspiring, returning Sean Couturier from injury is sure to be a lift. Combine that with a full season of Kevin Hayes and possibly half a season from promising rookie Bobby Brink once he returns from hip surgery and there's some support added to a handful of other quality forwards.


Projected lines:

Joel Farabee - Sean Couturier - Cam Atkinson

Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk - Morgan Frost - Owen Tippett

Nicolas Deslauriers - Patrick Brown - Zack MacEwen


23. New Jersey Devils

Projected GDV: -8.77

Additions:

  • Ondrej Palat [44]

  • Erik Haula [-6]

New Jersey added a big-time signing in Palat and made a crafty swap of Pavel Zacha for Haula, but needed one or two other big moves to really take this group to a new level. Jack Hughes is a budding superstar, but Nico Hischier will have to carry the bulk of the load again on the 2nd line unless Dawson Mercer and the rest of the supporting cast can step up.


Projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt

Yegor Sharangovich - Nico Hischier - Tomas Tatar

Andreas Johnsson - Erik Haula - Dawson Mercer

Miles Wood - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian


22. Anaheim Ducks

Projected GDV: -8.61

Additions:

  • Ryan Strome [28]

  • Frank Vatrano [3]

  • Glenn Gawdin [0]

Strome has big shoes to fill in place of the retired Ryan Getzlaf, but the Ducks have done a pretty solid job building around a young core. They'll really look to their young stars Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish to have great seasons to join Troy Terry as the new offensive leaders of the club.


Projected lines:

Adam Henrique - Trevor Zegras - Troy Terry

Max Comtois - Ryan Strome - Mason McTavish

Frank Vatrano - Isac Lundestrom - Jakob Silfverberg

Max Jones - Derek Grant - Sam Carrick


21. New York Islanders

Projected GDV: -2.85

Additions:

  • None

If the reports prove true and center Nazem Kadri does indeed sign with the Islanders, then you can certainly expect a leap in the rankings for the team. In the meantime, their idle offseason at the position leaves them slightly below average.


Projected lines:

Anders Lee - Mathew Barzal - Anthony Beauvillier

Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri

Zach Parise - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck


20. Los Angeles Kings

Projected GDV: 6.10

Additions:

  • Kevin Fiala [18]

The Kings also made a much-needed big splash by acquiring Fiala, who instantly adds top-line production on offense. After the Trevor Moore - Phillip Danault - Viktor Arvidsson line showed out as one of the league's best defensively, the fate of the forwards seems to now rely on the development of former 2nd overall pick Quinton Byfield and what he can bring consistently to the 3rd line.


Projected lines:

Adrian Kempe - Anze Kopitar - Kevin Fiala

Trevor Moore - Phillip Danault - Viktor Arvidsson

Alex Iafallo - Quinton Byfield - Rasmus Kupari

Brendan Lemieux - Blake Lizotte - Arthur Kaliyev


19. Nashville Predators

Projected GDV: 7.38

Additions:

  • Nino Niederreiter [25]

  • Mark Jankowski [-2]

  • John Leonard [-3]

  • Zach Sanford [-7]

The biggest key for the Predators was re-signing top forward Filip Forsberg. Niederreiter comes into the middle-six mix, and the team also added some quality depth. With Luke Kunin gone, a bigger role is available for either Philip Tomasino or Eeli Tolvanen, who both look to add to the top-six on top of their powerplay value.


Projected lines:

Filip Forsberg - Mikael Granlund - Matt Duchene

Nino Niederreiter - Ryan Johansen - Philip Tomasino

Yakov Trenin - Colton Sissons - Tanner Jeannot

Zach Sanford - Michael McCarron - Eeli Tolvanen


18. Vancouver Canucks

Projected GDV: 10.35

Additions:

  • Ilya Mikheyev [6]

  • Andrei Kuzmenko [0]

  • Dakota Joshua [0]

  • Curtis Lazar [-28]

The Canucks underachieved in the beginning of last season, and there's certainly no lack of talent among this forward group. Mikheyev helps round out the middle-six, and Kuzmenko coming over from the KHL is a huge wildcard. If Elias Pettersson can get back on track, this lineup can get pretty scary fast.


Projected lines:

Tanner Pearson - J.T. Miller - Conor Garland

Ilya Mikheyev - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Vasily Podkolzin - Bo Horvat - Nils Hoglander

Jason Dickinson - Curtis Lazar - Justin Dowling


17. St. Louis Blues

Projected GDV: 11.22

Additions:

  • Josh Leivo [2]

  • Matthew Highmore [-4]

  • Noel Acciari [-13]

Losing David Perron is a hit to this group, but the Blues return a core of forwards that is basically balanced across three lines. They're all generally defensively responsible, and compliment that with some timely offensive production. The best part about this deep group is that if a player or two hits a slump, there's plenty of other players who can pick up the slack.


Projected lines:

Brandon Saad - Ryan O'Reilly - Jordan Kyrou

Pavel Buchnevich - Robert Thomas - Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev - Brayden Schenn - Logan Brown

Matthew Highmore - Noel Acciari - Alexei Toropchenko


16. Dallas Stars

Projected GDV: 12.38

Additions:

  • Mason Marchment [32]

The Stars have become a top-heavy team, as former perennial all-stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have seemed to have aged out. Perhaps the resurgent Marchment can boost their play, since Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski could use the support.


Projected lines:

Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski

Mason Marchment - Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin

Marian Studenic - Jacob Peterson - Denis Gurianov

Joel Kiviranta - Radek Faksa - Luke Glendening


15. New York Rangers

Projected GDV: 13.09

Additions:

  • Vincent Trocheck [32]

  • Ryan Carpenter [-32]

The Rangers replaced Ryan Strome with Trocheck, which was a fairly even swap. The unknown this coming season is if Vitali Kravtsov will carve out a role on the team. If the former 1st round pick is able to add some offense along with other recent 1st rounders Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, then look for this group to really take a step forward.


Projected lines:

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Alexis Lafreniere

Artemi Panarin - Vincent Trocheck - Kaapo Kakko

Barclay Goodrow - Filip Chytil - Sammy Blais

Dryden Hunt - Ryan Carpenter - Ryan Reaves


14. Winnipeg jets

Projected GDV: 13.21

Additions:

  • Kevin Stenlund [-1]

The Jets aren't getting a lot of love heading into the season, perhaps because they didn't make any big splashes in the offseason. The reality is that Winnipeg has one of the best top-sixes in the entire NHL. If Cole Perfetti or Kristian Reichel can add any scoring to this group, it will be an exciting season in Manitoba.


Projected lines:

Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Cole Perfetti - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Nikolaj Ehlers

Jansen Harkins - Adam Lowry - Mason Appleton

Dominic Toninato - Morgan Barron - Kevin Stenlund


13. Seattle Kraken

Projected GDV: 15.09

Additions:

  • Andre Burakovsky [37]

  • Oliver Bjorkstrand [-1]

  • Shane Wright [-1]

  • John Hayden [-3]

You may have been wondering (or forgetten about) the Kraken on this list. Top half of the league may seem ambitious for a forward group that struggled to score last season, but Burakovsky and Bjorkstrand add immediate offensive production while top pick Shane Wright adds to an already defensively responsible group. Maybe most importantly, this team is a lot deeper than last season, which should help cover injuries.


Projected lines:

Andre Burakovsky - Matty Beniers - Jordan Eberle

Jaden Schwartz - Shane Wright - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Jared McCann - Yanni Gourde - Joonas Donskoi

Brandon Tanev - Alex Wennberg - Morgan Geekie


12. Washington Capitals

Projected GDV: 15.12

Additions:

  • Dylan Strome [-11]

  • Connor Brown [-36]

With Nicklas Backstrom likely out for the season, Strome was brought in to cover the 2nd-line center role. Tom Wilson is also questionable to begin the season, so T.J. Oshie, Anthony Mantha, and Connor Brown will have to step up if he misses time.


Projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson

Anthony Mantha - Dylan Strome - T.J. Oshie

Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Connor Brown

Marcus Johansson - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway


11. Calgary Flames

Projected GDV: 16.64

Additions:

  • Jonathan Huberdeau [31]

  • Clark Bishop [-2]

  • Kevin Rooney [-23]

No doubt it was a wild offseason for the Flames, but after the dust settled they've basically swapped out Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk for Jonathan Huberdeau. Two elite talents for one. Any team that does that will take a hit, but Calgary did have the best goal differential in the Western Conference last season.


Projected lines:

Jonathan Huberdeau - Elias Lindholm - Tyler Toffoli

Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Blake Coleman

Dillon Dube - Sean Monahan - Adam Ruzicka

Milan Lucic - Kevin Rooney - Trevor Lewis


10. Minnesota Wild

Projected GDV: 17.71

Additions:

  • Nic Petan [-9]

Not much happening in terms of incoming talent to the Wild's forward group, but Minnesota will need Marco Rossi to step up and fill the void left by the departed Kevin Fiala. This lineup is still top 10, however, with Kirill Kaprizov providing elite offense and the Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno line established as elite defensively.


Projected lines:

Kirill Kaprizov - Ryan Hartman - Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno

Matt Boldy - Marco Rossi - Frederick Gaudreau

Brandon Duhaime - Tyson Jost - Connor Dewar


9. Carolina Hurricanes

Projected GDV: 20.16

Additions:

  • Max Pacioretty [18]

  • Mackenzie MacEachern [-2]

  • Ondrej Kase [-7]

  • Lane Pederson [-12]

  • Ryan Dzingel [-12]

The Hurricanes took a hit with the news of a torn Achilles for Max Pacioretty, who isn't expected back for six months. That leaves room for another potential move, as Carolina looks to replace Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi's production.


Projected lines:

Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis

Teuvo Teravainen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Martin Necas

Ondrej Kase - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast

Ryan Dzingel - Lane Pederson - Jordan Martinook


8. Toronto Maple Leafs

Projected GDV: 22.09

Additions:

  • Nicolas Aube-Kubel [-1]

  • Denis Malgin [-8]

  • Adam Gaudette [-10]

  • Calle Jarnkrok [-12]

The core for the Leafs remains intact, leaving only role players shuffling in and out. Toronto was the league's second-highest scoring team last season, but will need to improve defensively as a unit in order to be in the top five.


Projected lines:

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner

Alex Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander

Pierre Engvall - David Kampf - Calle Jarnkrok

Wayne Simmonds - Adam Gaudette - Nicolas Aube-Kubel


7. Vegas Golden Knights

Projected GDV: 22.62

Additions:

  • None

The big addition for the Golden Knights will be having Jack Eichel and Mark Stone back and healthy heading into the season. That's two elite talents that were missing for large portions of last season. Sure, Max Pacioretty is gone, but other players have shown the ability to play up and down the lineup for Vegas in the past.


Projected lines:

Chandler Stephenson - Jack Eichel - Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith

Michael Amadio - Nolan Patrick - Nicolas Roy

William Carrier - Brett Howden - Keegan Kolesar


6. Edmonton Oilers

Projected GDV: 22.72

Additions:

  • Greg McKegg [-3]

  • Mattias Janmark [-40]

When it comes to forwards, it's hard to argue with the placement of the Oilers anywhere in the top 10. While not as top heavy as in years' past, it's still Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl carrying the bulk of the load. One of the keys to Edmonton's success this season will be consistent production from the 3rd line - something they have not seen in quite some time.


Projected lines:

Evander Kane - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl Zach Hyman - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Kailer Yamamoto

Mattias Janmark - Ryan McLeod - Jesse Puljujarvi

Warren Foegele - Derek Ryan - Devin Shore


5. Pittsburgh Penguins

Projected GDV: 22.87

Additions:

  • Drake Caggiula [-1]

  • Ryan Poehling [-3]

  • Josh Archibald [-23]

Pittsburgh put an emphasis on re-signing their own this offseason, giving them hope at a couple last runs at the Cup. This forward group was quite good last season despite numerous key injuries, so it will be interesting if they can avoid the IR as well as Father Time.


Projected lines:

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell

Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen

Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald


4. Florida Panthers

Projected GDV: 23.06

Additions:

  • Matthew Tkachuk [72]

  • Eric Staal [-5] **tryout**

  • Nick Cousins [-8]

  • Colin White [-10]

  • Rudolfs Balcers [-29]

The NHL's leading scorers last season added not only a premier scorer in Tkachuk, but someone who is better defensively than the traded Jonathan Huberdeau. What hurts the Panthers is winger Anthony Duclair missing at least the first few months of the season due to an Achilles tear. If he can return in good form, Florida should be locked and loaded for the homestretch.


Projected lines:

Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Colin White

Matthew Tkachuk - Sam Bennett - Sam Reinhart

Nick Cousins - Anton Lundell - Rudolfs Balcers

Ryan Lomberg - Eetu Luostarinen - Patric Hornqvist


3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Projected GDV: 34.74

Additions:

  • Vladislav Namestnikov [-14]

It's pretty remarkable what General Manager Julien BriseBois has been able to do to keep this forward core together, although the loss of Ondrej Palat may prove to be a little more devastating than other recent departures. In comes bottom-six forward Namestnikov, meaning someone will have to step up in a big way into a top-six role.


Projected lines:

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vladislav Namestnikov


2. Boston Bruins

Projected GDV: 37.08

Additions:

  • Vinni Lettieri [-3]

  • Pavel Zacha [-26]

This one surprised me a bit. Sure, Patrice Bergeron is back but Brad Marchand will miss 25 games or so after undergoing double hip surgery. As far as impacts, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Craig Smith, and Taylor Hall all project really strong. The Erik Haula for Zacha swap was a net-negative though, and the Bruins will need at least one of their forward prospects to finally step up and claim an NHL job. The Bergeron effect is real though, as he was last season's GDV leader at age 36.


Projected lines:

Jake DeBrusk - Patrice Bergeron - Craig Smith

Taylor Hall - Charlie Coyle - David Pastrnak

Trent Frederic - Pavel Zacha - Oskar Steen

Nick Foligno - Tomas Nosek - Chris Wagner


1. Colorado Avalanche

Projected GDV: 58.32

Additions:

  • Charles Hudon [-2]

  • Lukas Sedlak [-3]

While Boston's ranking might've been a surprise, Colorado's as the top spot certainly is not. Losing Andre Burakovsky wasn't ideal, but Artturi Lehkonen came in at the trade deadline last season and essentially replaced him anyway. Re-signing Lehkonen was key, and now the only question will be can Alex Newhook develop enough to replace some of the production presumably lost by Nazem Kadri leaving. Overall though, the top firepower remains with the Avalanche.


Projected lines:

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Valeri Nichushkin

Artturi Lehkonen - J.T. Compher - Mikko Rantanen

Mikhail Maltsev - Alex Newhook - Logan O'Connor

Andrew Cogliano - Darren Helm - Lukas Sedlak


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