Many Flyers fans have gone through their fair share of ups and downs with Scott Hartnell during his time in Philadelphia. During his first few years as a Flyer, he received a lot of flack from fans for his bad penalties and his seemingly laid back behavior. Although it is understandable to get down on Hartnell for these issues(no #HartnellDown pun intended), I for one have seen him as an elite "power forward" since his arrival from Nashville to Philadelphia.
During the 2011-2012 season, Scott Hartnell reached the combination of 30 or more goals and 100 or more penalty minutes before any other player in the league. Hartnell's role of goal scoring and fighting, fits in perfect with the philosophy of hockey in the City of Brotherly Love. Although the traditional "fighter" role may be gone, there is still plenty of room for a grinder/fighter who can put the puck in the net as well. So where does Scott Hartnell fall in my ranking of the best "power forwards" in the league?
5) Jarome Iginla- Sure, Iginla may be aging, but his heart and grit help motivate a relatively young team in Calgary. Despite his old age, Iginla was in the top 20 in goal scoring last year with 32 goals. His penalty minute number was way down for a "power forward", but he was still more than physical enough to fall into these rankings.
4) David Backes- There is a reason a guy like Backes, who only put up 24 goals last season is the Blues' captain and was a part of the 2010 United States Olympic team, and that is heart and hustle. With a plus/minus of 15 and the sheer hustle he exhibits, any team would welcome David Backes with open arms.
3) Milan Lucic- Seen by many as the dirtiest player in the league, Milan Lucic is very good at getting under the opponent's skin. Lucic was twelfth in the league in penalty minutes last season, while still putting up over 60 points. Lucic's reputation as a dirty player was epitomized during a game against Buffalo, when he took a late hit on Sabres' net-minder Ryan Miller, which forced Miller to miss several games with a concussion.
2) Ryane Clowe- Clowe's numbers are not quite as impressive as those of Iginla, Backes and Lucic, but nonetheless Clowe is a crucial part of the Sharks' success. Clowe has the responsibility of playing a tough guy role on a line with such finesse players as Logan Couture. In a shortened season, I expect to see Clowe throw the body around more than he did in the 2011-2012 campaign.
1) Scott Hartnell- This may seem like a Philadelphia bias, but the stats are there to support this argument. Hartnell finished sixth in the league in goals (partly do to his power play presence) and eleventh in penalty minutes. With a plus/minus of 19, it is safe to say that when Scott Hartnell was on the ice, good things happened for the Flyers. I expect the same sort of production from Hartnell this season, because it seems that playing with Giroux just elevates Hartnell's game to new heights.
Needless to say all five of these power forwards are guys that fans love to have on their team, but hate to see in a different sweater.