As has been said many times, scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in hockey. Though the goal-scoring discussion this season has mostly focused on Alex Ovechkin’s chase of the all-time goal-scoring record, there are still plenty of other notable finishers in the NHL. Some of the best snipers in the league are spread throughout the Atlantic Division as they have four of the top ten skaters in goals scored so far this season. As we take a deeper dive into this, here is a list of the top 5 snipers in the Atlantic Division to this point of the season.
Top 5 Snipers in the Atlantic Division
5. William Nylander – Toronto Maple Leafs
When you think of goal-scorers in Toronto, William Nylander probably isn’t the first player you think of. Often listed last when talking about the “big 4” on the Maple Leafs, Nylander has been one of the biggest reasons for his team’s success so far this season. He currently leads the team in goals, even strength goals, game-winning goals, and goals/60. Nylander is currently experiencing the highest goal-scoring rate of his career, scoring at a rate of 0.56 goals per game so far this season.
If he can keep this up until the end of the season, he will end up with 46 goals, 12 more than his previous career-high. It is likely that Auston Matthews will end up leading the team in goals by June, but for now, Nylander is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ greatest scoring threat.
4. Brayden Point – Tampa Bay Lightning
Last season, Steven Stamkos led the Tampa Bay Lightning with 42 goals, 14 more than the next closest player on the team. This season, Brayden Point has a slight edge in the title of “top sniper on the Lightning,” at least so far. Though both Stamkos and Point are tied with 16 goals a piece, Point’s lower average ice time means that Point leads the team in G/60 with 1.626.
A clutch performer, Point also leads the team in even-strength goals (11) and game-winning goals (5). No matter which of Tampa’s centers ends up leading the team in goals by the end of the season, it is safe to say that the Lightning has a very formidable pair of centers anchoring their top two lines.
3. David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins
Seeing David Pastrnak on this list should not come as a surprise. Over the last 5 seasons, no player playing in the Atlantic Division has scored more goals than the Boston Bruins sniper. In fact, only four players in the whole league have more goals than Pastrnak during that time period (Matthews, Draisaitl, Ovechkin, and McDavid).
On a team filled with star players, Pastrnak is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to goal-scoring. He leads the team in total goals (20), even-strength goals (11), power-play goals (9), goals per game (0.667), and goals/60 (2.000). Pastrnak is on pace for 55 goals, which would be the first (but probably not the last time) he broke the 50-goal plateau.
2. Cole Caufield – Montreal Canadiens
Cole Caufield is simply the best pure goal scorer that the Montreal Canadiens have had in decades. He is electric on the ice and has been a Godsend for the rebuilding Canadiens. He is a consistent scoring threat, giving the fans something to cheer for every game. This season, Caufield is scoring at a 0.600 goals per game rate, putting him on pace for 49 goals which would be the most by a Montreal player since Stephane Richer in 1989-90.
Caufield also stacks up well next to the other snipers in the division, placing second in goals/60 in the Atlantic (2.007). At only 21 years old, he should only continue to improve as the seasons go on, which should terrify the other teams in the division.
1. Tage Thompson – Buffalo Sabres
Called the NHL’s most underrated player by Auston Matthews at the beginning of the season, a lot has been said about Tage Thompson over the past calendar year. After playing bottom-6 minutes for the first four seasons of his NHL career and never breaking double digits in goals for a season, Thompson exploded for 38 goals in 78 games in 2021-22 (a 0.487 goals per game average).
This year, Thompson has started the season at an even crazier pace, potting 25 goals in his team’s first 31 games (0.806 goals per game). His 2.557 goals/60 not only leads the Atlantic Division, but it is also first in the league (0.181 ahead of Jason Robertson). If this is indeed the “real” Tage Thompson, the Buffalo Sabres have an absolute stud locked up as their #1 center for the next 7 seasons.