Every week we’re going to look at some of the best talents that don’t get the recognition or the attention they deserve. Bottom-six forwards are just as important to any team as the star players, the scorers, the shutdown defensemen and the goalies. These players that make the list are simply players who thrive at their job, a job that usually focuses towards defense, checking and getting energy for the team. Now this isn’t a list with a particular order. You can decide who you believe is the best bottom-six forward; we’re just listing some of the best.
Adam Lowry – Winnipeg Jets
Drafted by the Jets in 2011 (3rd round – 67th overall)
Stats – Games (80), Goals (11), Assists (12)
Most definitely not a well-known name to most, but Lowry is quietly making a name for himself. In a few years, spots on the roster will be tough to find with many great prospects coming up (Petan, Morrissey, Ehlers etc.), but Lowry could be a pretty good lock for years to come.
His natural position is left-wing, but this year he mostly played center. He excelled to say the least, winning the third-most face-offs amongst rookies in the entire league with 401. A good two-way game is great way to describe how Lowry plays.
The one thing you will notice right away when you watch Lowry is he is big. Standing at 6’5” and 207 pounds, he isn’t someone to take lightly. He put up 256 hits, which was second amongst rookies. He’s not much of a fighter but with his stature he could become a good enforcer for many years.
Even though Lowry is a rookie, he has proven that he can be a force and is worth watching out for. Having a great rookie season is just the start. Putting up 10 goals when you play around 13 minutes a game is a good season. Not getting any power-play time, some shorthanded but mostly 5-on-5, it’s hard to get that 20-goal season each year. As a rookie it makes it that much more impressive.
If he is putting these numbers as a rookie, just imagine down the road in a few years the possibilities he has to be a true power forward.
Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks
Drafted by the Canucks in 2013 (1st round – 9th overall)
Stats – Games (68), Goals (13), Assists (12)
At the young age of 20, Horvat has already shown he is a true NHL player. Before even making it into the NHL, he was known as the guy who was traded for Cory Schneider, but in a sense it seems he may have thrived because of it.
As a rookie he put up impressive numbers, all while playing on the bottom lines, with the likes of the Sedins, Vrbata, Bonino and Burrows taking the spots on the top lines. Some went as far as to say he could have been a candidate for the Calder (Rookie of the Year) if he played more minutes and a full season. From scoring big goals, including the Canucks first goal in the playoffs (first of his career) he has started a name for himself as a big-time player.
He came up huge for the Canucks through penalty killing and improving his defensive game. He plays like a Jonathan Toews, which is always a great thing to say no matter who you are.
The one aspect of Bo’s game any London Knights Fan will tell you about is his ability to win face-offs. Something he has continued into the NHL. Playing only 68 games this year, he still won the second most face-offs (436) by a rookie while only trailing Victor Rask of the Carolina Hurricanes by 32 while playing 12 less games. He put up an impressive 51% winning percentage.
Truly Horvat, who is coming from one of the best junior teams for developing young talent (London Knights), never lost his touch, and good on the Canucks for not forcing him to change his game.
Dominic Moore – New York Rangers
Drafted by the Rangers in 2000 (3rd round – 95th overall)
Stats- Games (82), Goals (10), Assists (17)
In the NHL, journey-men are players who play for many teams, we might be able to say Dominic Moore is THE journey-man. Currently playing for the New York Rangers he has played for the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres and had a previous stint with the Rangers as well.
The reason he can still get jobs, is because he is a very smart player. Defensively sound, with the capability to score that big-time goal whether it be the regular season or playoffs. For example scoring in Game 6 to eliminate the Canadiens in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, or when he scored in Game 7 for the Canadiens to help them beat the Washington Capitals in 2009 (The only eighth seed to beat the first seed when down 3-1 in a series).
He plays most of his time on the penalty kill, winning face-offs and scoring the odd shorthanded goal here and there. He doesn’t get fooled easily, as he seems to always be in position, just one of the reasons why the Rangers are very sound defensively (Henrik Lundqvist is pretty good too).
Moore is really the ideal fourth liner, he put decent numbers, he has had a 17-goal season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he kills penalties, he’s out in the last minute, he’s really a great veteran to have, a coach’s best friend you could say.
The Rangers are happy to keep him, as I’m sure more teams will be looking to add him down the road, he has played for 9 teams already, I’m sure he can add a few more by the end of his career.
Now they aren’t the flashy players, they won’t get 30 goals every year, but they are really what make each and every NHL team. The bottom-six forwards are just as much to any NHL team as all the All-Star players.
Now this article will give those players the recognition they deserve and for the avid NHL 15 fans who are making the best Franchise with the Salary Cap on, well they are good fits on your team and don’t cost the same as say a Crosby, Toews or Subban.