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Ranking the NHL’s 15 Most Dangerous Forwards in the Eastern Conference

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Ranking the 15 Most Dangerous Forwards in the Eastern Conference

Pavel Datsyuk
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With the excitement of NHL free agency comes the anticipation of a new season, and although the Eastern Conference has a lackluster talent pool compared to the Western Conference, there are still plenty of guys who can put on a show on any given night. Here are the 15 most dangerous forwards in the Eastern Conference.

15. Martin St. Louis

Martin St. Louis
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15. Martin St. Louis

Martin St. Louis  copy
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When Martin St. Louis was traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, no one was sure how he would fit into their system. When the playoffs rolled around, St. Louis rallied off of the emotion from his mother passing away and nearly led the boys in blue to a Stanley Cup championship.

14. Patrice Bergeron

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Six
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14. Patrice Bergeron

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Six
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Patrice Bergeron is not the most offensive guy in this bunch, but his defensive ability paired with a natural scoring touch lands him at the No. 14 spot on this list. The latest recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy finished second on the Bruins in scoring and was a huge reason why Beantown took home the Presidents' Trophy.

13. Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr New Jersey Devils
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13. Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr
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At 42 years young, Jaromir Jagr should have just enough in the tank for one more productive season with the New Jersey Devils before he hangs up his skates. Jagr miraculously led the Devils in scoring last season and will be looking for one final run at the most coveted trophy in sports.

12. Ryan Johansen

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One
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12. Ryan Johansen

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One
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Ryan Johansen is on the cusp of becoming an NHL superstar and is only going to improve on his 63-point campaign from last season. The 21-year-old has quietly became the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets and – combined with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky – has taken the city to heights they've never seen on a professional scale.

11. Eric Staal

Eric Staal
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11. Eric Staal

Eric Staal
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People tend to forget about Eric Staal because the Carolina Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs since 2009, but he's still an elite player. If his brother, Jordan, and Alexander Semin can all get on the same page, the Canes might have a shot at returning to the postseason; but it all lands on big brother Eric to carry the tide.

10. Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom (Brace Hemmelgarn)
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10. Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom (Brace Hemmelgarn)
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Nicklas Backstrom is another player who is stuck in his teammates' shadows, but he has quietly established himself as one of the best playmakers in the NHL. Backstrom's 61 assists last season were topped only by Joe Thornton (65) and Sidney Crosby (68).

9. Phil Kessel

Tampa Bay Lighting v Toronto Maple Leafs
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9. Phil Kessel

Tampa Bay Lighting v Toronto Maple Leafs
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The American-born Phil Kessel has continued to produce offensively despite playing for a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has only seen the postseason once since the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Kessel was one of America's best players in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and his 37 goals during the regular season were tied for the fifth most in the league.

8. John Tavares

John Tavares
Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports

8. John Tavares

John Tavares
Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports

It'll be interesting to see how John Tavares returns from the torn MCL and torn meniscus he suffered last season, but when healthy, Tavares can be absolutely dominant. Before the injuries sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season, Tavares was on pace for the first 90-point season of his career and was nipping at Sidney Crosby's heels for the NHL's scoring title.

7. Henrik Zetterberg

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins - Game Five
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7. Henrik Zetterberg

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins - Game Five
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The Detroit Red Wings' captain was also hobbled by injuries last season but should have no problem getting his game back to an elite level. Zetterberg may not be the flashiest player in the NHL, but his vision on the ice and hockey IQ are just two traits that make him one of the scariest players to line up against on any given night.

6. Steven Stamkos

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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6. Steven Stamkos

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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Steven Stamkos is one of only a few players in the NHL who has forced opposing teams to adjust how they kill penalties when he's on the ice. When the puck is sliding across the top of the umbrella and you see No. 91 start to cock back a slap shot, just look at the net, because the twine is likely about to be tickled.

5. Alex Ovechkin

Dallas Stars v Washington Capitals
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5. Alex Ovechkin

Dallas Stars v Washington Capitals
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Speaking of guys with a cannon in their arsenal, Ovie's 51 goals last season were eight more than anyone else in the entire league, but his minus-35 rating keeps him out of the top four most dangerous forwards in the East. Sure, he's the best goal scorer in the NHL, but even fourth-line guys aren't afraid to go against him in the Capitals' own end.

4. Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux
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4. Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux
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Claude Giroux had an absolutely atrocious start to the 2013-14 season, but once he found his scoring touch on the ice, he catapulted himself back onto the NHL scoring leaderboard. Giroux had just 20 points in his first 30 games last year, but he ended up finishing with 86 points in 82 games, which was the third most in the NHL.

3. Evgeni Malkin

New York Rangers  v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Seven
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3. Evgeni Malkin

New York Rangers  v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Seven
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Evgeni Malkin may have a bit of a setback without James Neal, but that may also mean that he sees more time playing alongside Sidney Crosby. Malkin can generate offense from anywhere on the ice and has really worked on his game in all three zones over the last few years. The former 100-point getter will be looking to add another Hart Trophy to his resume next season.

2. Pavel Datsyuk

Detroit Red Wings v St. Louis Blues
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2. Pavel Datsyuk

Detroit Red Wings v St. Louis Blues
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Pavel Datsyuk is a magician with the puck who can do things that no one else in the world can even think about trying. Datsyuk only played 45 games last season due to a knee injury, but he is poised to lead the Red Wings to the postseason for a ridiculous 24th straight year. He did come back for the Wings' opening-round series against the Boston Bruins, posting five points in five games.

1. Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs
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1. Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs
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Did you expect anybody else? Sidney Crosby is not just the most dangerous player in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NHL. If Crosby can stay injury-free next season, he will once again run away with the NHL scoring title. The fact that he gets Pascal Dupuis back means he may have an ever bigger year than the 104 points he produced last season.