[...] How many points should a first-line forward put up? A top-30 forward in the game? Ask those questions and the odds are that you’ll hear ‘point-per-game’ from a lot of fans. It simply isn’t true.
Last season, there were nine 80+ point forwards in the entire NHL. [...][N]either the Boston Bruins nor the San Jose Sharks possessed one of those players. Fifty points was enough to get a player into the top-90 in scoring by NHL forwards – in other words, if a player recorded 50 points, he is definitively a first-line forward offensively.
Fully half of those players scored between 50-60 points, so while a 50 point player is a below-average first-line scorer, he’s really only ten points back from being an average first-line scorer.
Thirty-four points was the cut-off for the top-180 in scoring for NHL forwards in 2010-11. [...][T]he offensive range for a typical second-line player in the NHL is between 34 and 49 points.
Typically, even good teams don’t deviate from having six guys in top-six scoring range. Let’s look at the four conference finalists [...]:
What’s the point here? Simply that a guy who can score 40 points (assuming he’d score it anywhere) is going to be a top-six forward almost anywhere in the league. This is an important thing to know, for a lot of reasons. Fans and columnists alike tend to overestimate the amount of high-end offensive players a team needs to win, and consequently undersell the players they have.
- Boston: Four first-liners (Lucic, Krejci, Bergeron, Horton), three second-liners (Recchi, Marchand, Ryder)
- Vancouver: Three first-liners (Sedin, Sedin, Kesler), three second-liners (Samuelsson, Burrows, Raymond)
- Tampa Bay: Four first-liners (St. Louis, Stamkos, Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell), two second-liners (Simon Gagne, Malone)
- San Jose: Six first-liners (Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski, Heatley, Clowe, Couture), one second-liner (Setoguchi)