As we get into the dog days of summer, it’s the part of the year when rankings are starting to come out for an early eye towards prepping for the 2023-24 season.
NHL Network started out their annual countdowns of top players by position with the center group. They listed their top 20, with Evgeni Malkin (No. 18) and Sidney Crosby (5) checking in for the Penguins.
Last night, they unveiled their groupings of the top wingers, with Jake Guentzel getting a nod at 16.
The NHL Network also ranked the top 50 prospects across the league. Unsurprisingly, the Pens did not have any names appear, but it was difficult to not notice that three of the top-five (and six of the top-10) prospects in the league belong to Metropolitan Division rivals. And it’s three teams (Columbus, New Jersey, Philadelphia) that have two top prospects a piece. We’ll see how that pans out for them, but it did stand out that the grouping of talent within the division isn’t going to recede any time soon.
Shifting from major TV outlet to the voices of the people, JFresh did a fan survey to rank the top forwards in the game. Crosby (7), Malkin (35) and Guentzel (46) all appear as top-50 forwards in the league.
Who are the top forwards in the NHL?— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 13, 2023
1. Connor McDavid
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Leon Draisaitl
4. Auston Matthews
5. Matthew Tkachuk
Pittsburgh’s secondary skill players also acquitted themselves well, with Reilly Smith, Rickard Rakell and Bryan Rust showing up in the top-150. After those six, the Pens didn’t have any others in the top-200, and really there is a big drop-off to the next level of forwards they have. (Which is a key reason why it would be wise to to try and bring in No. 155, Tomas Tatar, if at all possible).
Probably nothing too controversial or worth getting worked up about at this time of year, but it is always interesting to see where media folks and the general public at large place Penguin players in exercises like this. Crosby is still carrying a ton of respect and even at an advanced age only a few players are ahead of him at this point. That’s fun to see at any time of the year, but especially in days like these that can be the quietest on the hockey calendar.