Right wings aren’t any different than left wings when it comes to strategy in Fantasy Hockey. The talent pool will evaporate rather quickly. When it comes down to a center or a wing, I will almost always go wing. Center is a deep position, neither wing is. As always, I can’t say this enough, check with your league to make sure the player or players that you want qualify at the position you want him at. There are quite a few players that play wing but are listed as centers and vice versa, and unlike Fantasy Baseball, these sites don’t tend to give multi-position eligibility.
The Top 40 Right Wings
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Why Ovechkin over Perry? For the simple reason that I want goals and AO will give me those goals, both even strength and power play. Am I worried about his plus/minus? Yes, but under new coach Barry Trotz you have to think he and the team will be better in their own zone.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: If anyone did want to take Perry over Ovechkin, I wouldn’t argue with them. Outside of the goals, Perry will beat AO in just about every other category. To use a Fantasy Baseball term, Perry is a five tool player. He also plays on a better team with a top flight center in Ryan Getzlaf. It really is close, just comes down to how much you want the goals.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Kane and Hossa could pretty much be interchangeable. No matter what line Kane plays on, he’s going to produce. He has talent all around him on his forward line, on the blue line and in net. There is absolutely no reason to believe he won’t approach the 30 goal plateau again with double-digit power play goals, and I’m still waiting for the day he nets 40.
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: Kessel is a goal scoring machine and that is why you are drafting him. Now, if you do grab Kessel there will be times that he drives you crazy. He is the definition of a streaky player, as he scores goals in bunches. There will be times that he doesn’t score for six games and others when he pots seven goals in six games. Be patient if Kessel gets off to a slow start.
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks: Pretty much everything that I wrote about Kane you could place here about Hossa. The only reason Kane is ranked higher is because Hossa is a few years older and always seems to deal with a few nagging injuries during the season. In all honesty, though, I would be happy with either one.
Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings: We all have a player in every kind of league we play in that we always say we won’t draft. Gaborik is that player for me. It seems that whenever I draft him, that is the season he decides to miss half the year due to injury. When he was traded to the Kings last season, it was a match that I didn’t think would work. Gaborik is more of a free wheeler and the Kings play more of a defensive system that requires their forwards to back check, and do it hard. Well, maybe that is what Gaborik needed, as he excelled playing with Anze Kopitar. I still don’t trust him, but there is no denying his talent.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders: Okposo may have finally announced his presence last season, as he had his best to date, with 27 goals and 42 assists. What is even more impressive is that Okposo didn’t get to play with superstar John Tavares, who tore his knee up at the Olympics and didn’t play again. Tavares is back now and Okposo will once again play on his line.
Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche: I would have Iginla up a notch or two if he was still with the Bruins. I like Iginla, truly do, but I also remember how he didn’t really mesh well with the Penguins when he was traded there from Calgary. Now sure, that was a small sample size, but what if it takes him a month or two to get comfortable with his new line mates (Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly)? It’s something to think about, but not to overthink.
Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers: It took a while last season, but St. Louis managed to jell nicely with the Rangers, especially in the playoffs. Of course, he obviously won’t have someone like Steven Stamkos on his line, someone defenders are more worried about than St. Louis, but it’s not like the Rangers are devoid of talent. One issue, however, is that if Rick Nash doesn’t perform better this season, then offense is really all about St. Louis, something that might not be good for a 39-year-old.
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers: Eberle has turned into a perennial 30 goal scorer and is someone that shouldn’t be forgotten in Fantasy drafts just because he plays on a team like the Oilers. Goals are goals no matter who they come from. His likely center, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is looking much stronger in camp, and if he ready to take that next step, then Eberle can only get better.
Rick Nash, New York Rangers: Nash hasn’t been the 30-40 goal scorer with the Rangers that he was with the Blue Jackets. He is still productive, however. Sure, he disappeared during the playoffs last season, but as Fantasy owners, we don’t care about that, only what he can do during the regular season. One thing to worry about with Nash and St. Louis, however, is that the Rangers are very thin at center now with the loss of Derek Stepan to a broken leg.
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers: Not only did Voracek improve his goal scoring for the third straight year, but he also had is best season to date point-wise. Voracek is slotted to play on the top line with Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux, one of the better lines in the game, but Giroux is also once again dealing with an injury in camp. Giroux is the player that will make this line go and if he gets off to a slow start again, everyone suffers.
Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins: There is no other way to say it; Eriksson had a terrible year for Boston last season. He only scored 10 goals in 61 games, no one expected that. It’s always a gamble banking on a player that has been traded, especially one traded from a small market to a big market team. Eriksson should rebound somewhat this season and with the loss of Iginla, Boston will need him to. However, he is already catching the wrath of the coaching staff for not being in the past of shape at the start of training camp.
James Neal, Nashville Predators: If you’re banking on Neal being the same player with Nashville that he was with Pittsburgh, you’re in for a rude awakening. There are no Sidney Crosbys or Evgeni Malkins on the Predators. Still, he will be used in all goal scoring situations and won’t completely disappear from the score sheet either. Just think 28-32 goals rather than 40.
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers: If you’re looking for another Corey Perry, Simmonds may be it. He is someone that always had a physical presence but now has the goal scoring to go with it. A 30 goal season is not out of reach and he is also likely to add 100-plus PIM. Yes, please.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets: He’s one of the more underrated players in Fantasy Hockey. Does anyone realize he has scored 47 goals in his last 130 games? Yes, he plays for an also-ran team in Winnipeg, but that’s also a team that plays quite a few run and gun games; there are plenty of goals to go around there.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators: After four straight 30-plus goal seasons in Anaheim, Ryan has barely managed to hit the 20 goal mark the past two seasons. It’s amazing what moving from playing with Perry and Getzlaf on Anaheim to the Senators can do for you. The Sens also saw Jason Spezza depart. There just isn’t all that much talent around Ryan this year, and it’s hard to see him approaching 30 goals again.
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues: We all remember Oshie for his heroics during the Olympics, but now the question is whether he can translate that to success during the regular season in the NHL. Sure, he had his best season to date last year, but that was only 21 goals (just five on the power play). That’s just not enough to justify selecting him high in your draft.
Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings: The Wings are an old team; there really is no arguing that. Their best players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are 36 and 33, respectively. What does this have to do with Nyquist? Well, while I like his talent and would consider him a solid pick in drafts, but who is he going to play with? Datsyuk is already on the shelf until November, and it may only be a matter of time until Zetterberg suffers an injury of his own.
Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars: Nichushkin was expected to have his coming out party last season but that really never developed. This year, he is slated to play on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Yeah, I would want him late in a draft even if he didn’t have talent, and he does. Points shouldn’t be all that hard to come by playing with that pair.
Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes: What are you expecting out of Semin? His last two seasons with Ovechkin in Washington only saw him score 49 goals. In Carolina, he is averaging about 25 goals a season. It’s not like he’s a power play specialist. He’s just a name guy whose game has deteriorated over the past couple of years. Unless he falls to me late, I’ll pass.
Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins: We are all wondering what Pittsburgh will do with Hornqvist. Does he automatically take over the role vacated by the trade of Neal? He has upside, no doubt, but perhaps he’s not on the first power play unit. Perhaps Malkin shoots more rather than look to pass to Hornqvist for the one time. I like Hornqvist, but have a feeling that he will go earlier in most leagues because of who he is playing with and who he is replacing.
Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils: Sooner or later father time has to catch up with him. He will be 43 years old in February. Hockey is a young man’s game. Yes, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Yes, he played 82 games last season. But no, the team doesn’t have much offensive talent around him, and I can’t see him duplicating those games played again this season. Let someone else grab him.
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: Just another among the host of young talented players that the Blues have churned out over the past couple of years. His first full season in the NHL saw him light the lamp 21 times in 64 games. I see no reason to believe a 30 goal season won’t be in his future.
Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins: Dupuis also deserves love in your draft, as he is also likely to be a Top Six forward this season. The more games he plays with Crosby, Malkin and Kunitz the better. Remember though, he is unlikely to see top line power play time but it’s not out of the realm of possibility either.
Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have said over and over again that Vrbata was the player they were targeting in free agency, as they believe that he is the perfect player to complement the Sedin twins on the first line. That being said, the Sedins fell off a cliff last season, and if this is the beginning of the end for their Fantasy value, it could also be the same for Vrbatas.
Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes: Doan always seems to manage to put up unexpectedly good numbers. He’s also 37 years old, and there is little no upside here. He’s a bench guy that you can plug in safely during the season when injuries arise. Maybe he’ll be a sell high when he is on one of those hot streaks.
Alex Tanguay, Colorado Avalanche: I want to rank Tanguay higher, I really do. He will play on a line with possibly the next superstar in Nathan MacKinnon and a healthy Gabriel Landeskog, but he still scares me. Is he worth a flier, a bench guy? Absolutely. However, I wouldn’t expect huge things from him, and I wouldn’t expect him to play anywhere near 80 games.
Reilly Smith, Boston Bruins: When the Bruins made the deal with Dallas to trade Tyler Seguin, they thought the gem they were getting back was Eriksson. Apparently, Smith was a pretty good player himself. One thing to keep in mind is, as of this writing, Smith is still unsigned because the Bruins are having salary cap issues. While I don’t expect this to linger on into the regular season, he also isn’t in camp with the team, which could lead to a slow start.
Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings: As mentioned earlier with regard to Nyquist, Franzen is just another one of the older players on the Wings roster. Does he have some talent? Of course, but he is another player that is unlikely to play anywhere near 80 games, and his over/under is probably closer to 65.
Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings: Williams is a player that everyone sort of forgets about in Fantasy drafts. Maybe it’s because he plays on the west coast, or maybe it’s because he’s not on the top line, but either way he finds a way to score goals. Would I want him starting for me? No, but as a bench player, absolutely.
Nathan Horton, Columbus Blue Jackets: Horton would be higher on this list if not for a string of injuries he has suffered over the past couple of seasons. Just when we thought he would be playing for a solid up and coming team, we find out that he has a degenerative back condition and the team doesn’t know when he will return. Training camp has just started but you can make a pretty compelling case to stay away from Mr. Horton.
Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars: Hemsky has always been a player that had talent but just hasn’t been able to put it all together, at least, not over long periods of time. Still, he is a skilled player and will play on the same line with Spezza, someone he played well with last season in Ottawa.
Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames: This is a bad team. Will they improve this year? Sure, but Hudler is a borderline second line player who is out of his element on the top line. I’ll pass, as a matter of fact, I’ll pass on anyone playing for Calgary.
Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers: Callahan is the definition of a very good NHL player but an average Fantasy asset. What matters most to Fantasy owners is that he won’t play with Stamkos, at least not at even strength.
Pierre Parenteau, Montreal Canadiens: Parenteau had better talent around him in Colorado but just never meshed with coach Patrick Roy. He might fit in better with the Canadiens, but the offensive talent level just isn’t what he’s accustomed to.
Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild: Coyle has talent but there is quite a bit of pressure being placed on this youngster. As of right now, he is slated to start on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise,but a slow start to the season could easily see Nino Niederreiter given a shot to play with the big boys.
Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks: Silfverberg is all about the upside. He was the key piece that the Ducks acquired in the Bobby Ryan deal but he struggled last season. Could this be his breakout season? Yes, but he is nothing more than a dartboard throw.
David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs: Clarkson was terrible for Toronto after signing a big free agent deal before last season. He just never got things untracked after the suspension during the preseason. This season can’t be any worse than last year.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.