Tue Jul 26 03:27pm EDT
(Rankings are based solely on players' projected performances in 2011-12. Players are listed at their official position when the rankings were created.)
It's a great time to reside on the right wing, a position that's home to many of the league's most feared power forwards and potent goal-scorers. Several right wingers are both, such as reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry(notes) of Anaheim, Calgary's perpetual Flame Jarome Iginla(notes) and Columbus biggie Rick Nash(notes). Add to that power pack the likes of New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), Chicago's Patrick Kane(notes), the Rangers' Marian Gaborik(notes) and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis(notes), and you can appreciate the position's star quality. And you can gauge the position's star quantity, too, by looking at the honorable mentions that didn't quite crack the list, such as Ottawa all-timer Daniel Alfredsson(notes) and rising Ranger Ryan Callahan(notes).
It's tempting to indicate a second tier after the top 10, but consider the 100-point potential of Washington's Alexander Semin(notes) (No. 13), the two-way heroics of Philadelphia's Claude Giroux(notes) (No. 14) and Dallas' Loui Eriksson(notes) (No. 15) , the Iginla-ian upside of St. Louis' Chris Stewart(notes) (No. 16) and the 50-goal promise of Toronto's Phil Kessel(notes) (No. 22). Not to mention, a certain Mr. Jaromir Jagr has rejoined the NHL after three years in Russia; he's safely slotted in the all-or-nothing No. 25 spot.
Honorable mentions: Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators; Danny Cleary(notes), Detroit Red Wings; Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers; Devin Setoguchi(notes), Minnesota Wild; Michael Grabner(notes), New York Islanders.
25. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers: Boom or bust? Who knows, but it'll be fun to watch.
22. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: Few are faster, and even fewer have his pure scoring touch.
19. Nathan Horton(notes), Boston Bruins: Power forward with skill made good in his first playoff taste, scoring two overtime winners plus another Game 7 clincher en route to the Stanley Cup. Here's hoping he has recovered from that Game 3 hit.
17. Johan Franzen(notes), Detroit Red Wings: The man they call The Mule had a five-goal game against Ottawa in early February, then scored just twice in his final 27 contests. Good news is, he saves his best for the playoffs.
16. Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues: Scored 15 goals in 26 games after being traded to the Blues, this blossoming power forward is scratching the surface of his potential.
15. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars: Two-way Star will be in tough to flirt with 30 goals without Richards setting him up.
14. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Like Eriksson, he's underrated and a great penalty-killer; unlike Eriksson, he has lots of help in Philly.
13. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals: He either lights it up or is a lightning rod for fans' criticism.
9. Danny Briere(notes), Philadelphia Flyers: Scored a career-high 34 goals, then was even better in the playoffs. The Flyers' offense will largely revolve around this anti-Broad Street Bully, 5-foot-10 dynamo.
7. Martin St-Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning: Exhibit A of good things coming in small packages. His skill level is exceeded only by his desire; here's hoping he can defy Father Time for another season or three.
6. Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers: If this Brad Richards(notes) thing works out — and if he can stay healthy — there's no reason Gaborik can't challenge for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal-scorer.
5. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Speed to burn, sniper's shot and the bigger the game, the better he plays.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils: Season 1 of that 15-year, $100 million deal didn't exactly unfold as planned, but there's too much talent here for that to happen twice. Right?
2. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames: The league's standard bearer for power forwards keeps on chugging, one 40-goal season at a time.
1. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Fifty goals, an MVP award and a prickly physical presence.
Sam McCaig is the NHL editor for Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! Canada
Photo credits: Getty Images