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Victor

Top 10 Two-Way Forwards of All Time

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Top 10 Two-Way Forwards of All Time

 

In case you missed it:

Top 10 Playoff Performers

Top 10 Defencemen

Top 10 Goaltenders

 

Career stats taken from: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1U3I1r37v31YCPR93x6JovKUaKaW8yVUY9VLpXkVPsHA/edit?usp=sharing

 

10. Scott Boulet (S1-S6)

349 goals (T-32nd), 737 points (T-48th), 1.71 points-per-game (4th), 772 hits

4 Delvecchio (now Scott Boulet) Trophies

2 Continental Cups (both CGY)

MVP x1

 

It feels odd including a player who couldn't crack 1,000 hits but Scott Boulet was a trailblazer and there's a good reason two-way forwards now battle for the trophy named after him. Most would pass on including Boulet in their top 10 and opt for someone with a now more common points and hits ratio, however this is not merely a sentimental choice. Boulet excelled at both ends of the ice at a time when the vast majority of players, including defencemen, were focused solely on scoring, while still performing very well on offence. Let's not forget that the term two-way forward suggests being a great all-around player and to this day there have not been many greater at finding the back of the net than the Calgary legend.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

9. Matt Bailey (S12-S15) @Quik

742 points and 1,594 hits (366 and 1,078 as a forward)

3 Scott Boulet Trophies

2 Continental Cups (HSK, CGY)

Most goals x1, playoff MVP x1

 

Matt Bailey spent four seasons as a forward and won the Scott Boulet Trophy in three of them. Extrapolating his stats as a forward over another four seasons would give him 732 points and 2,156 hits and given he moved to defence as he was entering his prime, in all likelihood Bailey's totals would have been even higher and he'd be McAllister's main rival (especially considering he was already playoff MVP and top goal-scorer once by S15). Sadly he can't go much higher on speculation alone therefore despite being a first ballot Hall of Famer, Bailey is still one of the VHL's biggest “what if” stories.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

8. Xin Xie Xiao (S36-S43) @tfong

360 goals (27th), 786 points (30th), 2,366 hits (11th)

2 Scott Boulet Trophies

2 Continental Cups (both NYA)

 

After a couple slightly left-field entries on the list, XXX is the first “traditional” two-way forward to make an appearance. Playing in the late 30s and early 40s, Xiao took the path well trodden by this point, showing the perfect template to becoming a Boulet contender and winner. That can be easier said than done, as all too many forwards veer to far into the checking half of the game, but Xin Xie Xiao got the balance just right. An integral member of a New York team which made 3 finals and won 2 of them but could have realistically expected to win 5 straight cups, XXX then had a high-scoring swansong in Cologne which propelled him into the all-time greats.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

7. Theo Axelsson (S50-S57) @solas

331 goals (T-43rd), 719 points (54th), 2,729 hits (2nd)

3 Scott Boulet Trophies

2 Continental Cups (both HSK)

Playoff MVP x1
 

A classic case of hits at the expense of points could have derailed Axelsson's claim to fame, but he pulled it back brilliantly in the second half of his career and was a no-brainer Hall of Famer and two-way great. The Swedish winger spent most of his career in Helsinki, but surprisingly not as much as it feels he did based on how good he became there. Matching perfectly with the, at the time, more offense-orientated Franchise Cornerstone, Axelsson's time in Helsinki summarised his style of play – a dominant force in the regular season and playoffs, scoring and hitting at will and irreplaceable in the Titans juggernaut.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

6. Lars Berger (S17-S24) @Victor

396 goals (T-10th), 882 points (9th), 1,818 hits (32nd)

3 Scott Boulet Trophies

3 Continental Cups (CGY x2, TOR)

Most assists x1
 

The difficult element of this particular list is ranking players with slightly different weightings towards either points and hits. Given essentially everyone on this list dominated the field in their time and won multiple Boulets, that is ultimately what it comes down to. In the case of Berger, his hits totals have been long since been surpassed, but did put him 3rd overall at the time of retirement. More importantly, no one has scored more points while maintaining such a high amount of hits. As a result, the first 1,100 TPE player earns a place just below the top 5 greatest two-way forwards.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

5. Leeroy Jenkins (S23-S30) @Squinty

325 goals (45th), 815 points (22nd), 2,182 hits (15th)

4 Scott Boulet Trophies

5 Continental Cups (DAV x2, HSK, SEA, CGY)

Campbell x1, most points, goals, assists (x1 each)
 

There was briefly a time when Leeroy Jenkins entered the conversation for best player of all time, combining team and individual success in a way which hadn't been seen arguably since Scotty Campbell himself. In hindsight, Jenkins' hopping around the league looking for its best team probably now works against him, but there is no denying his talent as a two-way forward. The British center got the race for the single-season hits record going, becoming the first to hit 400 in 72 games in S26 – this has since been achieved 15 more times and the record was beaten by two other players before Jenkins even retired. All in all, Jenkins managed to dominate both ways in a manner few could before or after.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

4. Lord Karnage (S42-S49) @boubabi

359 goals (28th), 807 points (T-23rd), 2,632 hits (6th)

4 Scott Boulet Trophies

 

Despite a much smaller trophy case than most on this list, Lord Karnage gets the benefit of the doubt for playing in an era where most awards when to Thomas O'Malley, as well as the eternal bad luck of the Stockholm Vikings to whom he was tied for most of his career. With that in mind, and given statistically Karnage beats out his direct competition in Jenkins, it seems fair to put him towards the higher end of the ranking. It's still not high enough for the man who was very much set on becoming the greatest two-way forward, but circumstances conspired against him and his lofty ambitions.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

3. Zach Parechkin (S46-S53) @DollarAndADream

378 goals (18th), 787 points (29th), 2,769 hits (1st)

2 Scott Boulet Trophies

3 Continental Cups (all TOR)

Kanou x1, Slobodzian x1, Brooks x1
 

Personal preference probably dictates who you give most credit for Toronto's threepeat run. You could opt for Wingate's goaltending heroics or Molholt's goals, or you might go with the all-around play of their erstwhile captain Parechkin. His role in the greatest team achievement of all time shouldn't be underestimated, even if he did potentially sacrifice so much that he is rarely thought of as the star of the team. As a result, despite currently being top in the all-time hits list, Parechkin slides slightly down the list because hits, after all, aren't everything, but his achievements and contributions to Toronto put him in very good stead.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

2. David Smalling (S27-S34) @Knight

353 goals (30th), 758 points (36th), 2,692 hits (3rd)

5 Scott Boulet Trophies

1 Continental Cup (DAV)
 

Despite not playing in the early era, David Smalling was something of a pioneer in the two-way forward field – the first to really focus on maximising hits numbers and therefore propel himself into annual Boulet conversation. By the end, Smalling had a strong claim to have the trophy renamed after him. One half of the dominant Smalling-Phil Rafter duo (Smalling providing the muscle, Rafter the goals), the Davos legend came in just as TPE levels skyrocketed and set a template for any future two-way forward to follow – and so it has by Parechkin, Karnage, and others on this list. Until very recently, it would be enough to put him top of this ranking.

 

Link to Hall of Fame article


 

1. Gabriel McAllister (S56-S63) @CowboyinAmerica

397 goals (T-8th), 826 points (17th), 2,079 hits (19th)

3 Scott Boulet Trophies

2 Continental Cups (SEA, DAV)

Campbell x3, Slobodzian x2, Kanou x2, Szatkowski x2, Brooks x1

 

The recently retired Gabriel McAllister combined the two key traits to climb this list – Smalling's hitting ability, and Jenkins' propensity for winning trophies. The aforementioned single-season hit record now lies with McAllister and his hits numbers are overall remarkable given he spent nearly half his career focusing solely on scoring. What puts McAllister ahead of the rest is that he simple excelled at everything there is to excel at for a VHL forward and dominated his generation. He came third among forwards in the playoffs, by far the best two-way forward to carry his game from the regular season, and will feature prominently on the final top forwards ranking, but it is among the forward type that he wasn't initially planning to be that he reigns supreme. Perhaps some were more pure defensive forwards, but none so perfectly embodied the full term of two-way forward.


 

Honourable mentions

Bruno Wolf (S38-S45)

One of Quebec's finest, Wolf had a superb peak in S41 and S42 as the league's offensive and defensive powerhouse, but a slow start to his career held him back, putting him just behind the likes of Berger and Jenkins on this list.

 

J.D. Stormwall (S14-S21)

Another pioneer, a contemporary of Bailey, so therefore probably only the second forward to make a legitimate attempt at challenging Boulet's crown. Sadly, Stormwall's numbers no longer stack up against the hard-checking behemoths of the modern VHL, but the powerhouse from New Zealand certainly left his mark with 3 Scott Boulet Trophies and captaining as many Continental Cup winners.

 

Tukka Reikkinen (S25-S32)

Much like McAllister, Reikkinen was a late-bloomer in the two-way forward race, having already been a proficient goal-scorer, but when he did join he was the one who beat Smalling's (and just before that, Jenkins') single-season hits record. That one stood for a while but was also the only season that Reikkinen was crowned the league's best two-way forward... it would therefore seem unfair to include him in a list of specialists.

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Glad to see Axelsson made a decent spot on the list!  Still wish I could've beat Parechkin's all-time hits record.

 

Interesting to see all the players ranked, though.  I think being around during the time that some of the players were active maybe skewed my viewpoint; I always would've thought that Jenkins would be somewhere in the top 3 or Parechkin would've been closer to #1.  I don't know why I forgot about Smalling.  Amazing to see how great McAllister ended up being while I was inactive.

Edited by solas

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5 minutes ago, solas said:

Glad to see Axelsson made a decent spot on the list!  Still wish I could've beat Parechkin's all-time hits record.

 

Interesting to see all the players ranked, though.  I think being around during the time that some of the players were active maybe skewed my viewpoint; I always would've thought that Jenkins would be somewhere in the top 3 or Parechkin would've been closer to #1.  I don't know why I forgot about Smalling.  Amazing to see how great McAllister ended up being while I was inactive.

Yeah Jenkins has probably fallen off the GOAT conversation quicker than anyone but guess that makes sense - I feel like he's not ancient but there's been more seasons since he retired than before!

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Parechkin was my peak, and I don't think I'll ever hit that greatness of a player again. Bo Boeser I think might have gotten close if I didn't have to retire him early. Parechkin just spoiled me rotten, as well as Molholt supplying the lineups that brought 3 straight cups to Toronto and Parechkin's belt.

 

I don't know why, but it always surprises me that Parechkin is #1 on the hits list. It was never really something I aimed for, and it just came with the rest of it. He was really a beauty.

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