As the game of hockey evolves, we’re seeing much more blending of positions – teams like San Jose were early adopters of this method, with guys like Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski and Couture all playing a mixture of center and wing in the top 6, even playing both sides of the ice. The traditional importance of positions is waning, and for fantasy hockey, that means we’re seeing a lot more players with dual position eligibility.
For whatever reason, the quality of players with primary left wing eligibility seems to be weaker this year than right wing. It could be just a coincidence where fantasy players like Lucic, Pacioretty and Hall have dropped while the young guns replacing them – Laine, Nylander, Arvidsson – all happen to be right wingers. Regardless, the relative scarcity has made the high end left wingers all the more valuable, as the chance of grabbing a good one in the later rounds gets tougher.
With that in mind, lets look at the available Left Wingers, as determined by ESPN to be each players primary position.
|2||James Van Riemsdyk||TOR||26.1||29.1||225.6||17.8||0.3||199.7|
Note: these rankings do not take into account PIMs, FOW or FOL and are based on an 82 game season.
Coming out of the 2015-2016 playoffs, the Triplets line in Tampa Bay looked like the surest bet for fantasy superstars. In the inaugral season of Bottom of the Pacific, each of the players on this line ended up drafted in the Top 40, with Tyler Johnson going at pick 23, Nikita Kucherov at 30, and Ondrej Palat at 37 (three spots ahead of fellow left winger Taylor Hall at 40). The following year Kucherov exploded, becoming a bonafide Top 10 fantasy player, while Johnson had middling results and Palat battled injuries and a prolonged scoring drought. Palat rebounded a bit in 2016-2017, but could he ever hit 60+ points again? None of our projections think he will this year, with a close range of predictions from 53-57.
The projections aren’t nearly as close for Patrick Marleau. Scott Cullen is predicting 47 points for the former Shark now in Toronto, and ESPN is even more positive with 50. Marleau has collected 46 and 48 in his last two seasons, so that seems pretty obvious right? Not so fast – both Dom and LWL are much more skeptical, with Dom predicting 35 points and LWL expecting a mere 31 points from him in the Maples Leafs blue and white.
Evander Kane has been cursed by many a fantasy owner of the years. He seems to be the ideal player, with tremendous scoring ability, speed, toughness and an insane shot rate (he was 12th in the league in Shots on Goal last year). But he spent much of last season in free agency in our league, seemingly unable to shake his reputation as a fantasy drag. And no question, he’s battled injuries throughout his career (his only full season was 48 games in the lockout year), but there’s still value to be found. Projections range from 35-45 points, but all agree his SOG will be astronomical. If you can count on almost a point a game just in shots, that’s pretty decent return from a winger.