Fantasy

Fantasy Hockey: Top 15 Wingers

Vladimir Tarasenko

I’m combining both right and left wingers for this top 15 list. Although Leon Draisaitl and Joe Pavelski usually play on the wing, I’m not including them because I already put them in the Top 10 Centers list. This list is based on last season’s points total, with the tie-breaker being how consistent they’ve been.

15. Jeff Skinner, LW, Carolina Hurricanes

Skinner had 37 goals last season. This puts him in fourth among wingers and sixth overall. He had 63 points in 79 games. Since he plays for Carolina, a team people forget about, Skinner has become pretty underrated. He may slip under the radar because he can be inconsistent. In the 2014-2015 season, he had 31 points in 77 games, and then 51 points in 82 games the next season. However, Carolina is a hot team, and he is their best player who will see a lot of opportunities. You can likely get him in the fourth or fifth round. Maybe even the sixth round.

14. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nashville Predators

For the past two seasons, Forsberg got off to a slow start. This accounted for getting 58 points, his lowest point total in his third season. If 58 points is Forsberg’s worst season, then imagine how good he can be at his best? Forsberg will likely go in the fifth or sixth round. If you miss out on him, you can take a chance on Victor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen, his linemates, who put up similar numbers and should be available in the later rounds.

13. Artemi Panarin, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

Panarin’s first two seasons in the NHL were outstanding, to say the least. He’s had 151 career points in 162 games, including last season, when he had 74 points. Despite these great numbers, the Blackhawks decided to trade him this offseason to the Blue Jackets. Now, Panarin has instantly become the team’s best winger. However, there are still question marks. Mainly, he won’t have Patrick Kane helping him out on his line. Also, the Blue Jackets coach, John Tortorella, is a defense-first stickler and has been known to reduce ice-time to players if they don’t meet his standards. This season will be Panarin’s biggest test, but he’s worth the risk if you take him in the fourth or fifth round. He might even be taken in the third round.

12. Phil Kessel, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins

For the early parts of Kessel’s career, he was known as a skilled one-dimensional winger who could never be a part of a winning team. However, that pressure is off. In Pittsburgh, he can reap the benefits of Crosby and Malkin. This has allowed him to work on his own game and has resulted in two Cups in his first two seasons on the team. Last season, Kessel had 70 points, playing primarily on Malkin’s right side. This is statistically Kessel’s third best season. Kessel will be 30 years old this season, but he should still be able to reach 70 points again. He’ll be a third- or fourth-round pick in any league.

11. Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens

[the_ad id=”384″]If there is one word to describe Pacioretty, it’s consistency. The past four seasons, Pacioretty has reached the 60-70 point range. In fact, whenever Pacioretty has played a full season, he has reached the 60-point mark. The Canadiens captain tied his career best in point total this season with 67. At 29 years old and playing the same role in Montreal, there is little reason to think he won’t reach the 60-point threshold again. He’ll likely range in the third to the sixth round of mosts fantasy drafts.

10. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn slipped a bit last season. Benn led the league in goals in the 2015-2016 season with 41. He also had 89 points that season. This past year, he had 69 points in 77 games. It’s unclear exactly why Benn slipped, but it’s clear that the Stars’ defense and goalies just fell apart. This offseason, Dallas acquired goalies Ben Bishop and defenseman Mark Methot through trades. They also signed right winger Alex Radulov to give Dallas even more weapons. Even though there are a lot of changes for the team, Benn still has the potential to get back to the 80-90 points range. Because he slipped a bit last season, he could fall in drafts, too. But no one would question if he’s picked in the mid to late second round.

9. Patrik Laine, RW, Winnipeg Jets

Laine may have only one season under his belt, but he is already one of the best wingers in the league. Laine had 64 points in 73 games last season. He had 36 goals, which put him seventh in the league. At 19 years old, Laine is just beginning his stardom. However, he did tend to drop off in the last couple of games, where he had eight points in his last 17 games and annoyed fantasy owners who needed him for their playoffs. But since he is young, there shouldn’t be too much of a worry yet. Because of the hype, Laine will be a top-25 pick in a lot of drafts. 

8. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary Flames

Gaudreau started last year poorly, due in part to missing 10 games with an injury. Getting acclimated to new head coach Glen Gulutzan was another factor. Calgary really started to jell during the second half and made the playoffs. Gaudreau had 61 points in 72 games and was a big part of getting them there. Thirty of his 61 points were in the second half of the season. With an offseason of rest, expect Gaudreau to pick up where he left off. He will be a second or third round pick.

7. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

Pastrnak is the only player on this list that is still a free agent. However, it’s a restricted free agent, where the Bruins have virtually all of the control in the situation. Pastrnak is coming off his best season yet, as he produced 70 points in 75 games as a 20-year-old in his third season. The question now becomes whether he can keep it up. Sure, he struggled his first two seasons. However, He was injured for a majority of games in the 2015-2016 season. He was called up his rookie year and was just getting used to things. It feels like last season was where Pastrnak really started to figure things out. Pastrnak may hold out for the first couple of games due to contract negotiations, so he might slip in drafts. Regardless of when he signs, Pastrnak will be a second-round pick.

6. Blake Wheeler, RW, Winnipeg Jets

Wheeler has quietly become one of the best wingers in the league. Last season, he had 74 points in a full season, the second highest point total of his career. That is .90 points per game, which is seventh among wingers. Wheeler has been pretty consistent recently. The past four years, Wheeler has averaged 70.5 points per season. Wheeler will be a  key target in drafts. He will be a second-round pick.

5. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

Early in his career, Ovechkin would have 100 or more points in a season. Nowadays, he is in the 70-80 points range, which is obviously still very good. Ovechkin has six Rocket Richards in 11 seasons, which puts him in the conversation as the best scorer of all-time. Now, he is turning 32 years old and managed to get 33 goals and 69 points in a full season. This is, statistically, his worst season. Now, of course, any skater would kill to have that season, but this is a sign that Ovechkin is slipping. There were reports that he played part of last season injured, or it could just be he’s getting old. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to him this season. He is still worth drafting late in the first round or early in the second.

4. Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins

At the beginning of Marchand’s career, he was known as a pest. The last couple of seasons, Marchand has proven that he can do more than just agitate. He had, by far, his best season last year with 85 points in 80 games. He was tied for fifth in the league in scoring. This point total was 24 points better than the previous year, which was his second best season. The question now becomes whether Marchand can remain elite. He may be a late bloomer, but he has great chemistry with his linemates, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, and he’ll have every opportunity to succeed. Marchand isn’t the most popular player in the league. Really, only Bruins fans love him. At the highest, he’ll be a late first-round pick, but he could drop into the early second round due to his unlikeability.

3. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis Blues

Tarasenko has improved his points total by one for the past three seasons. He had 75 points in a full season last year. With 39 goals, Tarasenko finished tied for fourth in the league with Brad Marchand. Tarasenko has been one of the best goal scorers recently. He has 145 goals in 341 career games. The crazy thing is that he is 25 years old and has improved every season.The Blues have changed a lot the past couple of seasons, but Tarasenko is a constant. He will be a late first-round pick.

2. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning had a lot of injuries last season, namely their captain, Steven Stamkos. They also didn’t have Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat for a long period of time. However, Kucherov stepped up and took charge for his breakout season. Kucherov had 85 points in 74 games in his third season, which tied for fifth in the league. He has the most points per game for a winger. Kucherov had around 60 points in his first two seasons, showing how consistent he can be. With the uncertainty of how Stamkos will recover, Kucherov will be counted on more often in the future. He’ll be a first-round pick in every draft format.

1. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Kane finished last year with 89 points, tied for second in the league. In 10 seasons, one Hart trophy, and three Stanley Cups, Kane is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. However, Kane won’t have Panarin on his line anymore and will be reignited with Brandon Saad. With 752 points in 740 career games, Kane has proven that it doesn’t matter who his linemates are, he’s just consistently elite. Kane will for sure be the first drafted winger in every draft, and he could go as high as the fourth overall pick.

Honorable Mentions

LW: Jonathan Drouin (MTL), Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG), Taylor Hall (NJ), Mike Hoffman (OTT), Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), Chris Kreider (NYR), Rikard Rakell (ANA), Brandon Saad (CHI), Conor Sheary (PIT), James Van Riemsdyk (TOR), 

RW: Viktor Arvidsson (NSH), Cam Atkinson (CBJ), Mitch Marner (TOR), William Nylander (TOR),  T.J Oshie (WSH), Corey Perry (ANA), Alexander Radulov (DAL), Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Jakub Voracek (PHI), Mats Zuccarello (NYR)

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