2016 NHL Draft Guide: Top 20 Left Wingers
The Fantasy Alarm NHL Draft Guide breaks down the top 20 left wingers for the 2016-17 fantasy hockey season.
The left wing position has been stronger than the right side for a few seasons now, and 2016-17 should be no different. Among the elite, the port side boasts two former Art Ross Trophy winners--Alex Ovechkin ('07-08) and Jamie Benn ('14-15)--plus the 2015 Calder trophy runner-up (Johnny Gaudreau). There is a deep cast of scoring talent at left wing, with a few NHL teams boasting more than one capable fantasy player on the left side. Here are the top-20 fantasy left-wingers heading into the 2016-17 campaign:
1. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
'Johnny Hockey' missed finishing his sophomore campaign at a point-per-game pace by one measly point (78 points in 79 games) last season. This third NHL season in Calgary could see him reach the 90-point plateau.
2. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
A lot of fantasy leaguers will draft Ovechkin as the top left-winger on the board, and those in leagues where goals count more than assists should absolutely take 'OV' first overall. He is still a dangerous sniper.
3. Jamie Benn, Stars
The third elite port sider on this list is recovering from core muscle surgery, so Benn may start the regular season a little slow out of the gate. He has averaged 88 points the last two seasons, so he is fantasy hockey gold.
4. Artemi Panarin, Blackhawks
The reigning NHL rookie of the year should continue to pile up points and be a major impact player for Chicago (especially on the power play). Panarin won't sneak up on anyone this season, though. Can he be as good?
5. Taylor Hall, Devils
Oft-injured Hall enjoyed his first injury-free, 82-game regular season in 2015-16, producing 65 points. He took a backseat to rookie Connor McDavid last season, but is expected to be the offensive linchpin in New Jersey.
6. Filip Forsberg, Predators
The leading scorer for the Predators last season, he should continue to put up 30-plus goals for the foreseeable future. Forsberg should improve his overall points total this season, with 70-75 points likely at this point.
7. Max Domi, Coyotes
Aside from Gaudreau, there may not be another left-winger with Domi's natural ability to register points. His rookie campaign in 2015-16 put his skills on full display, with much more to come. He is a true keeper.
8. Max Pacioretty, Canadiens
The Habs captain has endured questions about his leadership skills but remains a quality NHL sniper. He used to be an injury risk but has missed only two games the last two seasons. He is a fairly safe fantasy pick.
9. Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers
Huberdeau is an intriguing fantasy option because he plays left wing on one of the best lines in the NHL, with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr. He is also talented enough to produce if moved to a different line.
10. Andre Burakovsky (LW/RW), Capitals
In his first full NHL campaign in 2015-16, Burakovsky produced a solid 38-point season for a very strong Washington squad. He may need more time on the power play to fully break through this season.
11. Gabriel Landeskog (LW/RW), Avalanche
The Avalanche captain has regressed in terms of point production the last two seasons but is far too talented to continue sliding. In 2016-17, expect Landeskog to revert back to his career-best (2013-14) numbers.
12. Tomas Hertl (LW/C), Sharks
A knee issue may slow the talented Czech down early on in 2016-17 but Hertl is still worth the risk in fantasy drafts. He is on the verge of a true breakout campaign and could again play on San Jose's No. 1 line.
13. Daniel Sedin, Canucks
He may be the oldest player on this list by far (going on 36), but Sedin can still put up solid numbers across the board. He, along with twin brother Henrik Sedin and newcomer Loui Eriksson should form a deadly trio.
14. Mike Hoffman, Senators
Hoffman got paid over the summer ($5.19 million through 2019-20), so he is expected to remain a key cog in the Senators attack. He is a solid fantasy winger who could be even better if he gained more consistency.
15. Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes
Still only 24, Skinner is now entering his seventh NHL campaign. He returned to the 50-plus-points club last season after slumping to 31 in 2014-15. He is a bit risky because of his streaky ways, but still a solid pick.
16. Ondrej Palat, Lightning
The Lightning have a lot of options up front, and head coach Jon Cooper usually does a lot of line juggling and experimenting during the season. Still, Palat is one of Tampa Bay's most reliable and consistent performers.
17. Jiri Hudler (LW/RW), Stars
The Stars decided to sign the veteran winger late in the off-season in order to provide a little more scoring depth. He will no longer play a starring role (like he did with Calgary recently) but Hudler can still put up numbers.
18. Alexander Steen (LW/C), Blues
Injuries are always a concern here, and Steen could start the new season slowly as he comes back from shoulder surgery, but he is a quality two-way player when healthy. Steen comes with some fantasy risk.
19. Mikael Granlund (W/C), Wild
Veteran Zach Parise may still be Minnesota's No. 1 left-winger but Granlund is gaining ground in a hurry. Furthermore, he appears to be coming into his own slowly but surely. A breakthrough campaign is plausible.
20. Milan Lucic, Oilers
The expensive free agent signing from Los Angeles is expected to ride shotgun with phenom Connor McDavid, which should help him as he makes the transition to Edmonton. Lucic should still have plenty left in the tank.