In preparation for the draft (to be held Wednesday, October 5th), I’m doing a series of posts to help you strategize. ESPN has released their projected stats for next season, and we’ll be using those numbers as the basis for analysis. Next in the series: Right Wingers.
Right wings are marginally better overall than their counterparts on the left, but the differences are especially obvious at the high end of the talent scale. There were 8 RW in the Top 50 fantasy point producers last year (a list that was dominated by centers), including Patrick Kane 3rd overall, Alex Ovechkin at 10th, Ryan O’Reilly at 12th, Vladimir Tarasenko at 19th, Jeff Carter at 21st, and Blake Wheeler at 25th.
There’s some very enticing right wings available at the top of the draft, and the expansion teams are going to have some excellent talent available right off the bat.
|Rating||2016 - Total||2016 - AVG||2017 ESPN Projected Total|
|1||Patrick Kane - 364.9||Patrick Kane - 4.4||Patrick Kane - 321.0|
|2||Alex Ovechkin - 310.2||Ryan O'Reilly - 4.3||Alex Ovechkin - 317.6
|3||Ryan O'Reilly - 304.9||Alex Ovechkin - 3.9||Vladimir Tarasenko - 297.3|
|4||Vladimir Tarasenko - 281.3||Jeff Carter - 3.6||Blake Wheeler - 255.9|
|5||Jeff Carter - 280.3||Vladimir Tarasenko - 3.5||Nikita Kucherov - 255.4|
|6||Blake Wheeler - 263.1||Blake Wheeler - 3.2||Phil Kessel - 247.1|
|7||Mika Zibanejad - 246.1||Nikita Kucherov - 3.1||Tyler Toffoli - 233.6|
|8||Nikita Kucherov - 236.3||Mika Zibanejad - 3.0||Jeff Carter - 224.1|
|9||Corey Perry - 229.1||Brendan Gallagher - 2.9||Corey Perry - 223.8|
|10||Phil Kessel - 227.9||Corey Perry - 2.8||Bobby Ryan - 221.8|
|11||Kyle Okposo - 220.7||Kyle Okposo - 2.8||Kyle Palmieri - 213.2|
|12||Kyle Palmieri - 219.6||Phil Kessel - 2.8||Patric Hornqvist - 206.4|
|13||Tyler Toffoli - 210.3||William Nylander - 2.7||Jakub Voracek - 203.3|
|14||Boone Jenner - 207.2||Kyle Palmieri - 2.7||Ryan O'Reilly - 202.0|
|15||Mats Zuccarello - 204.6||Jakub Voracek - 2.7||Mark Stone - 198.9|
|16||TJ Oshie - 201.7||Mark Stone - 2.6||Jordan Eberle - 198.8|
|17||Jaromir Jagr - 201.0||Tyler Toffoli - 2.6||TJ Oshie - 192.8|
|18||Patric Hornqviest - 200.2||Jaromir Jagr - 2.5||Kyle Okposo - 185.8|
|19||Cam Atkinson - 199.5||Boone Jenner - 2.5||Mats Zuccarello - 184.4|
|20||Mark Stone - 197.8||Mats Zuccarello - 2.5||Cam Atkinson - 182.3|
Each team has 4 starter slots to be filled by right wingers, and I expect most will carry 5. So where should you pick them?
Rounds 1-4: I expect each expansion team will pick up one high-end RW in the first 4 rounds.
Rounds 5-11: Expansion teams looking for scoring will likely choose a second RW before round 8. For the original teams that didn’t keep a RW, it’s crucial to pick up the best one remaining with the first few non-keeper picks. By round 11, the higher-end RWs will likely be gone, and teams should try to have 3 picked.
Rounds 12-17: Most teams will likely be targeting other positions in these middle rounds, so you may be able to steal a RW late in this group.
Rounds 19-26: The quality of RWs holds better in the later rounds, so filling the bottom of your roster won’t be so bad.
Let’s take a look at what this could look like at the draft.
Team 1 – Expansion
Jeff Carter – Round 3
Brendan Gallagher – Round 6
Jason Pominville – Round 14
Drew Stafford – Round 18
Jannik Hanson – Round 25
Carter is incredibly valuable as a RW since he gets so many faceoffs; he’ll probably be assigned dual-positions partway through the year. Gallagher came back from injury to become one of the best Canadiens’ forwards, and Pominville was a steady top 6 option for the Wild. Stafford was getting a ton of minutes with the Jets last year, but will Patrik Laine bump him down the depth chart? And lastly, Hanson is one of the most consistent and underrated forwards on a pretty bad Canucks team – he could end up with top 6 minutes this year if the young guys don’t pan out.
Team 2 – Original
Alex Ovechkin – Keeper
Boone Jenner – Round 9
Shane Doan – Round 11
Jiri Hudler – Round 19
Ales Hemsky – Round 23
Ovechkin is obviously a superstar. Jenner has quietly become one of the most underrated right wingers in the game, while Doan is a much better fantasy player than his age and skillset would suggest. Hudler is going to get some great chances in Florida to play with their excellent young forwards, and Hemsky’s always had the scoring touch, even through all those tough years in Edmonton.
Look, no one can disagree with the fact that Jakub Voracek had a terrible, terrible year last year. Voracek didn’t score a goal until Game 17, and didn’t score his second until Game 31. He ended up with only 11 on the season and 55 points total, a severe downturn from the 81 he picked up the season before. So why should you draft him? Voracek’s shooting percentage was an abysmal 5.2% last year, way below his career average of 9.5%. Even if he just scores at his average, that’s an additional 11 goals. He’ll be much better this year, and I doubt he’ll be around much later than Round 5.
Patric Hornqvist is the best right wing on the Penguins not named Phil Kessel. After trying out a number of combinations last year, Kessel found the most chemistry with third line center Nick Bonino, which means Horqvist gets paired with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Not too shabby. Hornqvist is only 29, and he’s consistently good for 50-55 points per year. He’ll be gone before the 9th round.
For the past 5 seasons, Bobby Ryan has been a model of consistency, averaging 55 points over 82 games. ESPN has him ranked as the 15th best RW in the game, 3 spots behind his teammate Mark Stone. With Stone taking more and more of the attention from opponent’s top lines, Ryan should easily make his expected 55 points again.
Alex Radulov is coming back to the NHL, and man is this an interesting scenario. One of Nashville’s best scorers in 2006-2008 (and a short stint in 2011-2012), he bolted to the KHL where he’s been consistently one of the league’s top scorers, averaging over a point per game. Now, he’s coming back to the NHL at age 30, signing a one-year $5.75M deal with the Canadiens. Looking at their depth chart, it’s likely that he and Gallagher will be the top two RW, so expect a ton of minutes both 5v5 and on the power play. He’s being paid like a superstar, but will he produce like one? Will he last the season before bolting back to the KHL?
Jaromir Jagr defies nature. Last year in Florida as he turned 44, Jagr collected 66 points in 79 games, tied for 5th among all NHL right wingers. But he slowed down significantly towards the end of the season, and his average time on ice dipped to less than 16 minutes. In the playoffs, he collected only 2 points in 6 games as the Islanders defeated the Panthers. He looked tired. His training regimen is legendary, but really, how much more can he have in the tank as he turns 45?
Justin “Mr. Game 7” Williams is projected to get 176.8 fantasy points this year, down a bit from the 188.4 he collected lat year. I wonder if he may drop even further though – Williams turns 35 before the season starts, and has 52 points last season was significantly higher than the 41 and 43 he collected in the two previous seasons. Was last season just an outlier? Maybe…but maybe not. His shooting percentage of 10.9 was higher than his career average of 9.4, but not grossly. And he’s incredibly durable, having missed only 1 game over the last 5 years. There’s some risk here, but not a lot.