Who are the best penalty killers in the NHL? I have identified the top 10 using a composite statistical ranking of 3 categories: 1) avg time spent killing penalties, 2) goals against while player on the PK, 3) points scored on the PK. Since offense on the PK is included as a category, there is a bias towards forwards. In fact every player in the top ten list is a forward. Defensemen typically don't get nearly as many PTS on the PK as forwards since many PK goals are produced by forwards creating turnovers on the blueline.
1. Jamie Benn, Dal: He was scored on once for every 18 minutes of penalty killing, which ranks him among the top forwards in this category. This 2nd year player is the youngest on this top 10 list, and has a bright future in hockey. He is a tremendous asset who will be a point per game producer for years to come. Remember this name in your hockey pools and fantasy leagues, especially if SHPs count for extra.
2. Michael Grabner, NYI: In 115 minutes killing penalties, Grabner had 7 short handed points and was only on the ice for 7 goals against. His offensive production with a man short was equal to the number of times he was on the ice for another team's power play goals. That's impressive. Jamie Benn was the only other player to accomplished this feat.
3. Matt Cooke, Pit: This largely despised player is secretly one of the leagues best penalty killers. At this point he has become a PK specialist spending 20% of his total ice time killing penalties; that is of course when he was not sitting in the penalty box for one of his 129 PIMs.
4. Pascal Dupuis, Pit: A PK workhorse and unrestricted free agent who scored 4 short handed goals and spent nearly 200 minutes on the PK. He will be a great addition to any team and will provide great value short handed.
5. Milan Michalek, Ott: $4.3 million for 3 more years might be expensive for a penalty killer, but Milan put up some impressive numbers in his 62 games. He was scored on only once per 24 minutes with the disadvantage. His 4 PK PTS give him strong value on both offensive and defensive fronts.
6. Frans Nielsen, NYI: Led the NHL with 7 short handed goals. Despite his offensive production he was on the ice for a PK goal against every 10 minutes (which is the worst score in this category for a player in my rankings). Ergo he was the best at scoring short handed, but was on the ice for a lot of opposing teams PP goals. His $550,000 contract for next year is one of the best bargains in hockey.
7. Matt Cullen, Min: An all-around good penalty killer, both in the offensive and defense realms. Tough to score on and also scores PTS.
8. Brandon Prust, NYR: Among the league leaders in SH PTS who was limited in opportunity by the 160 penalty minutes he incurred during season. One more year at $800,000 is great value.
9. Claude Giroux, Phi: Another player who made the list for offensive production that was not particularly difficult to score against. If your goal is to produce offense when shorthanded you can put the highly skilled players on your PK, but if you want to stop the other team from scoring on the power play you need players who can perform that duty. Giroux was much better on PK defense than teammate Mike Richards, who also scores many SH PTS.
10. Alex Burrows, Van: His PK offensive production has fallen, but he remains a top penalty killer on a top penalty killing team. He used to take more penalties and score more SH PTS, now he takes fewer penalties and produces less PK offense.
Honourable mentions: Jordan Staal, Josh Bailey, Maxime Talbot, Brooks Laich, Brooks Orpik, Marc Staal, Willie Mitchell, and PK Subban.