Does Boston Have the Best Forward Group in the League?
Notice How I said group. The argument can be made that the Boston Bruins are the most deep team in the league regarding forwards. The top teams are San Jose, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, and Philadelphia.
San Jose: Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi are obviously a very good top 3, and followed by Pavelski, Clowe and Michalek is a good top 6, but after that, Cheechoo is the only scoring threat on the 3rd line. San Jose isn't necessarily that deep.
Detroit: They really took a huge hit this season, loosing Hudler and Hossa. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Holmstrom, Cleary and Filppula are a decent top 6, but Detroit has lost a lot of depth over the past few seasons. Their top 3 scorers in Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Franzen are up there as the best in the league, and they did lead the league in goals. Offense isn't going to be a problem in Detroit with their top firepower, but the 3rd and 4th lines are no longer the scoring threat they once were in Detroit.
Washington: My issue with Washington is that if you take away their top player, Ovechkin, they are nowhere near the team they are. Their top of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin is highly talented, but they aren't that deep a team. Nylander is done, Knuble will help add depth. Fleischmann, Brooks Laich and newly signed Brendan Morrison are solid depth as well. Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Knuble, Fleischmann, Laich, Nylander is solid, but again, the 3rd and 4th lines aren't scary at all, and the 2nd line is shaky with Nylander pivoting that line. Majority of the offense comes from the first line and again, I wouldn't say there team is much deeper than most.
Philadelphia: Philadelphia had one the deepest forward core last season with Carter, Richards, Briere, Knuble, Lupol, Harntell, Giroux, Gagne, and Upshall. A very deep top 9 with a lot of talent. They lost Knuble, Upshall and Lupol over the past year, so they essentially lost a 3rd of their top talent and did not replace them. Again, they have one of the best top 6 in the league, but they are not as deep anymore.
Pittsburgh: If we are talking top end talent, the Penguins easily win. They have two of the best players in the league, Malkin and Crosby. They have a great core in Malkin, Crosby, and Staal, followed by winger Chris Kunitz. Guerin is a nice addition as well. Their other forwards Fedetenko, Talbot, Dupuis and Kennedy are nothing special, and aside from their top 5, no one really is a huge threat. Granted, they don't need a lot of depth because their top two guys carry the team.
Chicago: The closest competitor to the Bruins, they have more top end talent than Boston and are almost as deep. Hossa, Toews, Kane, Versteeg, Ladd, Madden, Sharp, Bolland and Byfuglien. A very solid top 9. I would be open for the argument that Chicago has more talent and depth than Boston.
Boston: They do not have the sexy names as some other teams do, but they have Savard, Sturm, Lucic, Recchi, Kessel, Wheeler, Krejci, Bergeron, Kobasew, and Ryder who are all capable of 20 goals. Thats 10 of your 12 forwards who can score 20. When Mark Recchi, who had 20+ goals and 60+ points is on your 4th line, you know you have depth.