Yesterday, I looked at the league’s 13 defencemen who had played the toughest minutes in the league over the last few years, with tough minutes being measured by a combination of defensive zone faceoffs and quality of competition.

I decided to do the same exercise with forwards, and with a little bit of wiggling I found 13 forwards who qualified using similar criteria (45% OPCT or very close, and top-3 quality of competition or very close). Here’s the list, ranked by goal differential and including total points. Please note – these totals are average rates from 2007-09 multiplied over an 82 game schedule and assuming 12 minutes per game of even-strength play.

  • Dave Bolland: 35 points, plus-13
  • Mike Richards: 34 points, plus-9
  • Colby Armstrong: 34 points, plus-8
  • Shawn Horcoff: 33 points, plus-8
  • Ryan Kesler: 28 points, plus-3
  • David Backes: 33 points, minus-5
  • Martin Hanzal: 24 points, minus-6
  • Samuel Pahlsson: 15 points, minus-11
  • Rob Niedermayer: 16 points, minus -12
  • Marty Reasoner: 24 points, minus-13
  • Travis Moen: 10 points, minus-14
  • Michal Handzus: 19 points, minus-16
  • Jay McClement: 22 points, minus-19

It’s an interesting list, to be sure, although it must be kept in mind that this reflects only 5-on-5 play. Bolland’s position on that chart was a surprise to me, as was Armstrong’s (although I knew Armstrong was a good player; I just had no idea he was that effective at evens). It should also be kept in mind that because I don’t have faceoff data for 2006-07, that year wasn’t included, and it would change things for a few players – Horcoff’s numbers would drop, Pahlsson’s would improve, etc., assuming that they were playing the tough minutes in 2006-07 (which is probably a reasonable assumption).

These are all, to varying degrees, terrific players.