With the 2015-2016 season officially behind us and new Stanley Cup Champions crowned, now would be a good time to look back at this past season and reflect on all the amazing performances we’ve seen. There have been a lot of spectacular players both in the regular and post-season, but I want to try to narrow it down to a sort of post-Stanley Cup All-Star team, encompassing the truly great players from this season. This will not be an easy task, as picking the best players from this past season must incorporate more than just goals and assists, but each player’s true value to their teams, and to the entire league. These players must have truly made an impact on their team’s success, whilst also acquiring personal glory through the season. And of course, this All-star team will include player performances from both the regular season and playoffs. For the formation of this All-Star team we’re going to pick the top four players at each forward position, and top six defenders and explain why they deserve to be on the team. So let’s take a look at the NHL’s top right wingers.
First up for right wingers is Patrick Kane. Number 88 for the Chicago Blackhawks might have been the easiest pick for this team. Kane had a simply amazing regular season in 2015-16. The American led the league in points (106) as well as points per game among players who played more than one game (1.29). He also finished second in goals (46) behind Ovechkin, as well as third in assists (60). Those numbers are outstanding, and this year was Kane’s best year by far stats-wise. He also finished with a +17 +/- and had nine game-winning goals for the Hawks.
Next up is another member of the Stanley Cup-winning team this year, Phil Kessel, who was also Pittsburgh’s leading point scorer in the playoffs with 22. Kessel also lead his team in goals scored (10) for the playoffs. He was fourth in the entire league for points and tied for third in goals in the playoffs too. The Wisconsin native also scored more powerplay goals in these playoffs (5) than he did the entire regular season (4). Phil Kessel was a huge part of why the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup in the past 20 years.
Everyone who knows anything about the NHL has heard of the infamous “Triplets” line belonging to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nikita Kucherov was arguably the biggest part of that line this past year, in both the regular and post-season. Kucherov led his team in points (66) in the regular season and led in both points (19) and goals (11) in the Lightning’s postseason run. He ranked second in the playoffs for goals as well as +/- and played seven fewer games than the leader in each of those categories.
The final member of this NHL All-Star offense belongs to the St. Louis Blues’ starred right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko who rounds off the forwards for this elite team. Tarasenko performed outstandingly in both the regular and postseason this year. He led the Blues in the regular and post-seasons in both points (74)(15) and goals (40)(9). His impressive goal count also came in at fourth overall in the regular season. In the playoffs, Vlad had 15 points in 20 games and was fifth overall in goals scored.