Pastrnak, Kaprizov or Marner? Execs, players rank the top NHL wingers


After 18 seasons, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is still one of the top 10 wingers in the NHL, according to ESPN’s 2023 positional ranking surveys — but just barely.

“The record he is chasing, getting ready to pass [Wayne] Gretzky, you have to tip your cap,” a Western Conference team executive said of the 37-year-old Ovechkin. “But there are players who are taking the mantle as top winger, who are at different ages and who impact games more than just being a goal scorer.”

ESPN’s NHL position-by-position ranking collected 20 surveys representing those on the ice and behind the scenes.

Here’s how it worked: Surveys were conducted over the past two months. Respondents were asked to rank their current top 10 players at center, winger, defenseman and goaltender based on a predetermined list of the top 25-35 players at each position. Players ranked on each ballot were given a numerical score — No. 1 earned 10 points, No. 2 got 9 points and so on.

Ten NHL players were surveyed — six from the Eastern Conference, four from the Western Conference. They range from NHL award nominees to veteran role players. To balance that perspective, we surveyed 10 people from the hockey operations departments of NHL teams, including three coaches and three general managers.

Combined, their insights led to rankings that go behind fan conjecture and media narratives to reveal the best of the best, at least according to those inside the NHL.

Here are the top 10 wingers, according to our surveys, with additional reporting from yours truly, Kristen Shilton and Ryan S. Clark to add context to the choices. Stats are collected from sites such as Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Evolving Hockey.

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