In every team sport, you always need those players who are willing to do the “dirty work,” the “ugly” stuff, the things that don’t always appear in the box score. In hockey, there are a few archetypes for these sorts of roles, and for forwards (centers and wing players), the Grinder is one of those archetypes.
Below, you will find the list of the best Grinder archetypes in NHL 23 by overall rating. There are a few important points before proceeding. First, ratings are updated to October 17 and the live roster in play. Second, any stats are stats recorded through October 16 as the NHL season recently began. Lastly, Grinder NHL 23 archetypes aren’t meant to be the best players on the team, so the overall rating of the list is lower than previous lists with the top Grinder being 83 OVR.
Note: For the forward positions, the only archetype that will not receive a list is Enforcers. As of October 17, there is only one Enforcer archetype in NHL 23 in Ross Johnston (75 OVR) of the New York Islanders.
1. Marcus Foligno (83 OVR)
Position: Left Wing, Right Wing
Team: Minnesota Wild
Salary: $3.100M (2 Years)
Best Attributes: 90 Balance, 90 Aggressiveness, 90 Body Checking
Marcus Foligno of the Minnesota Wild is the best Grinder in NHL 23 with an 83 OVR rating. He is great in the Skating and Physical attributes with 90 Balance, Aggressiveness, Body Checking, and Strength, plus 85 Endurance and Durability, and 84 Acceleration, Agility, Speed, and Fighting Skill. He can do a little bit of everything as he has 85 Hand-Eye, 84 Passing and Puck Control, and 83 Deking with the puck; 87 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Power and 85 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Accuracy; and 89 Stick Checking, 86 Def. Awareness, and 84 Shot Blocking.
Foligno is entering his twelfth season, having been with Minnesota since the 2017-2018 season after spending six years in Buffalo. He has 110 goals and 143 assists (253 points) in 680 games. He’s also added 401 blocked shots and an impressive 1,951 hits. Foligno has spent 659 minutes in the penalty box.
2. Barclay Goodrow (82 OVR)
Position: Left Wing, Center
Team: New York Rangers
Salary: $3.640M (5 Years)
Best Attributes: 89 Stick Checking, 89 Balance, 89 Strength
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Barclay Goodrow comes in as the second-best Grinder in NHL 23, just behind Foligno. The New York Ranger has a balanced attribute distribution. His highest are his 89 in Stick Checking, Balance, Aggressiveness, Body Checking, and Strength, and his lowest – outside of Discipline (70) and Faceoffs (75) – is his 78 Fighting Skill. He adds 86 Def. Awareness and Shot Blocking on defense to pair with 85 Durability and Endurance. He can be accurate with 83 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Accuracy, packing them with 87 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Power.
Goodrow spent six years in San Jose before being acquired midseason by Tampa Bay during the 2019-2020 season. He went on to win the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay that season and the season after before joining the Rangers prior to the 2021-2022 season. In 413 games, Goodrow has recorded 46 goals and 82 assists (128 points).
3. Taylor Jeannot (81 OVR)
Position: Left Wing
Team: Nashville Predators
Salary: $0.800M (1 Year)
Best Attributes: 91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Balance
One of two Nashville Predators on this list, Tanner Jeannot is also tied for the youngest player on this list. The 25-year-old Jeannot is good physically and on defense with 91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Balance and Strength, 87 Stick Checking, and 85 Def. Awareness, Acceleration, Agility, Speed, Durability, and Fighting Skill. He’s not too shabby on offense with 87 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Power, 85 Hand-Eye, Slap Shot Accuracy and Wrist Shot Accuracy, 84 Passing and Puck Control, and 83 Deking.
Jeannot is entering his third season in the NHL (all with Nashville). He’s recorded 29 goals and 19 assists (48 points) in 100 career games. He’s added 72 blocked shots and an astounding 387 hits in his 100 career games, showing that he truly is about being a Grinder. He’s also spent 139 minutes in the penalty box.
4. Corey Perry (81 OVR)
Position: Right Wing
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Salary: $1.000M (1 Year)
Best Attributes: 90 Poise, 89 Balance, 89 Aggressiveness
Corey Perry is a former longtime Anaheim Duck – back when they were still the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim – who has played for three teams since the 2018-2019 season, his last in Anaheim, but now finds himself in Tampa Bay. The right winger’s best attribute is his 90 Poise, followed by 89 Balance, Aggressiveness, Body Checking, and Strength. He has 85 Hand-Eye and Puck Control, 84 Off. Awareness, and 83 Deking. He pairs that with 88 Slap Shot Power, 87 Wrist Shot Power, 85 Wrist Shot Accuracy, and 83 Slap Shot Accuracy. On defense, he has 88 Stick Checking, 84 Def. Awareness, and 80 Shot Blocking. He also has 85 Fighting Skill, so if you need (or want) a fight, he could be your designated fighter.
Perry joined Tampa Bay after their repeat championships only to fall to Colorado in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals. He hopes to help Tampa Bay reach a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup Finals and win a third title in four seasons. Perry has 406 goals and 454 goals (860 points) in 1,179 games, which included winning the Hart Memorial Trophy after the 2010-2011 season.
5. Garnet Hathaway (80 OVR)
Position: Right Wing, Left Wing
Team: Washington Capitals
Salary: $1.350M (1 Year)
Best Attributes: 91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Stick Checking
Garnet Hathaway is entering his fourth and possibly final year in Washington D.C. The 30-year-old wing player is well-balanced and the last Grinder with at least an 80 OVR rating. Hathaway has good ratings for the defensive and grittier side of hockey with 91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Stick Checking, Balance, and Strength, 85 Durability and Fighting Skill, 84 Shot Blocking, Acceleration, Agility, and Speed, and 83 Def. Awareness and Endurance. As a wing, he can also handle the puck with 83 Passing and 82 Deking, Hand-Eye, and Puck Control.
The eighth-year man has scored 45 goals and assisted 55 others (100 points) in 376 games. Hathaway has 238 blocked shots and 1,086 hits, spending 423 minutes in the penalty box.
6. Zack Kassian (79 OVR)
Position: Right Wing
Team: Arizona Coyotes
Salary: $3.450M (2 Years)
Best Attributes: 92 Strength, 91 Balance, 91 Body Checking
Zack Kassian just missed the 80 OVR mark, but is still a serviceable Grinder. Like Hathaway, his best attributes are geared toward defense and physicality with 92 Strength, 91 Balance and Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 89 Durability, 88 Fighting Skill, 86 Stick Checking and Endurance, 85 Speed, 84 Acceleration, and 82 Agility. He has a strong shot with 89 Slap Shot Power and 88 Wrist Shot Power, but his accuracy could be better with 82 Wrist Shot Accuracy and 81 Slap Shot Accuracy.
Kassian is entering his 12th year in the NHL and first in Arizona after having spent the previous seven seasons in Edmonton. While he has seen the playoffs, he hasn’t tasted postseason success nor any individual awards. Still, Kassian has 90 goals and 111 assists (201 points) in 612 games, adding 77 blocked shots and a ridiculous 1,331 hits, more than 100 per season.
7. Keegan Kolesar (79 OVR)
Position: Right Wing
Team: Vegas Golden Knights
Salary: $1.320M (3 Years)
Best Attributes: 91 Body Checking, 90 Balance, 90 Aggressiveness
The second of three Grinders at 79 OVR, Keegan Kolesar is tied for the youngest on this list with Jeannot. Kolesar is the quintessential Grinder. His best attributes are his 91 Body Checking and 90 Balance, Aggressiveness, and Strength. He adds 87 Fighting Skill, 85 Durability, and 83 Endurance with 90 Balance. He has 84 Acceleration, Agility, and Speed, plus 88 Stick Checking and 82 Def. Awareness. He’s a good shooter, too, with 87 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Power and 82 in both accuracies.
Kolesar is entering his fourth year in Vegas, though he only played in one game during the 2019-2020 season. He has 11 goals and 27 assists (38 points) in 125 games – of which he played a career-high 77 during the 2021-2022 season. He’s added 63 blocked shots and 364 hits.
8. Zach Sanford (79 OVR)
Position: Left Wing
Team: Nashville Predators
Salary: $0.850M (1 Year)
Best Attributes: 88 Balance, 88 Body Checking, 88 Strength
Zach Sanford is the last of the Grinders at 79 OVR and the second Predator on the list. Sanford tops out with 88 ratings in Balance, Body Checking, and Strength, followed by 87 Stick Checking, Slap Shot Power, and Wrist Shot Power. He has a slew of 85 attributes such as Hand-Eye, Acceleration, Agility, Endurance, Speed, and Aggressiveness.
Sanford is a one-time champion as he was with the St. Louis Blues when they won the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. Entering his first year in Nashville, Sanford has 47 goals and 48 assists (95 points) in 290 career games. He has 200 blocked shots and 418 hits.
All of the best Grinder archetypes in NHL 23
Below are all of the best Grinder archetypes in NHL 23 based on overall rating. Each of the players listed below is at least 77 OVR, but as mentioned previously, Grinder archetypes are not geared toward having a high overall rating as Foligno’s 83 OVR is the best Grinder rating.
|Marcus Foligno||83||31||Left Wing, Right Wing||Grinder||Left||Minnesota Wild||$3.100M (2 Years)||90 Balance, 90 Aggressiveness, 90 Body Checking|
|Barclay Goodrow||82||29||Left Wing, Center||Grinder||Left||New York Rangers||$3.640M (5 Years)||89 Stick Checking, 89 Balance, 89 Strength|
|Taylor Jeannot||81||25||Left Wing||Grinder||Left||Nashville Predators||$0.800M (1 Year)||91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Balance|
|Corey Perry||81||37||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||Tampa Bay Lightning||$1.000M (1 Year)||90 Poise, 89 Balance, 89 Aggressiveness|
|Garnet Hathaway||80||30||Right Wing, Left Wing||Grinder||Right||Washington Capitals||$1.350M (1 Year)||91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Stick Checking|
|Zack Kassian||79||31||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||Arizona Coyotes||$3.450M (2 Years)||91 Balance, 91 Body Checking, 90 Aggressiveness|
|Keegan Kolesar||79||25||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||Vegas Golden Knights||$1.320M (3 Years)||91 Body Checking, 90 Balance, 90 Aggressiveness|
|Zach Sanford||79||27||Left Wing||Grinder||Left||Nashville Predators||$0.850M (1 Year)||88 Balance, 88 Body Checking, 88 Strength|
|Anton Blidh||78||27||Left Wing, Right Wing||Grinder||Left||Colorado Avalanche||$0.750M (1 Year, 2 Way)||91 Aggressiveness, 89 Body Checking, 87 Stick Checking|
|Cal Clutterbuck||78||34||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||New York Islanders||$1.750M (2 Years)||90 Aggressiveness, 90 Body Checking, 87 Balance|
|Ryan Reaves||78||35||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||New York Rangers||$1.750M (1 Year)||94 Fighting Skill, 93 Aggressiveness, 93 Body Checking|
|Brendan Lemieux||78||26||Left Wing, Right Wing||Grinder||Left||Los Angeles Kings||$1.350M (1 Year)||90 Aggressiveness, 90 Durability, 88 Strength|
|Nicolas Deslauriers||78||31||Left Wing, Right Wing||Grinder||Left||Philadelphia Flyers||$1.660M (4 Years)||92 Fighting Skill, 91 Aggressiveness, 91 Body Checking|
|Zack MacEwen||78||26||Right Wing||Grinder||Right||Philadelphia Flyers||$0.840M (1 Year)||88 Balance, 88 Body Checking, 88 Strength|
|Jujhar Khaira||77||28||Center, Left Wing||Grinder||Left||Chicago Blackhawks||$0.975M (1 Year)||90 Strength, 89 Balance, 89 Body Checking|
Now you know all of the best Grinder archetypes in NHL 23 by overall rating. Should you decide to employ a Grinder on your team, who will you target? For more top-notch players, check out our list of the overall best NHL 23 players.
Have a look at our NHL 23 positions guide.