|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, an actual first line forward.|
In the hockey world, players are often labelled in terms of where they fit in the lineup. “He’s a true top line forward” and “He’s no more than a fourth liner” are statements that get tossed around a lot by hockey fans. In reality, it’s hard to establish just what exactly makes a player a first line forward, second line forward and so on. An easy way to measure this would be by straight up points. While this is likely the most rudimentary way to evaluate a forward, it’s a good place to start to gain a general grasp on the subject.
Since each of the 30 teams has three forwards on every line, it would stand to reason that there would be 90 first line players, 90 second line players, etc. A first line player would be within the top 90 in points, a second line player between 90 and 180 and so on. Here’s a chart to visualize the system being used here.
Using this method, let’s take a look at how the Edmonton Oilers forward group stacks up.
First Line Forwards (104-48 points)
-Taylor Hall, 80 points
-Jordan Eberle, 65 points
-David Perron, 57 points
-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 56 points
Second Line Forwards (48-32 points)
-Teddy Purcell, 42 points
-Benoit Pouliot, 36 points
Third Line Forwards (32-20 points)
-Nail Yakupov, 24 points
-Boyd Gordon, 21 points
Fourth Line Forwards (19-9 points)
-Mark Arcobello, 18 points
Callup Forwards (9-0 points)
-Matt Hendricks, 7 points
-Jesse Joensuu, 5 points
-Luke Gazdic, 4 points
-Tyler Pitlick, 1 point
-Anton Lander, 1 point
-Steve Pinizzotto, 1 point
Obviously, right off the bat we see that this system isn't entirely accurate. Matt Hendricks is a perfectly capable bottom six forward, most comfortable on the fourth line. Arcobello played at the level of an excellent third liner, and Pouliot is a second or third line tweener. (Prove me wrong, Benoit.) One positive observation is that the Oilers have a wealth of first line caliber forwards.
Overall, this experiment shows that there are still a few holes in the Oilers lineup. The roster shows as being a little bit top heavy, but I don't think that does justice to the group of forwards that Edmonton has in place going in to next season. However, it's comforting to see the scoring punch that they possess in the top six.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!