Here's how it works:
For each "Face-off," fantasy experts Sergei Feldman and Pete Jensen will make their case as to why a particular player deserves consideration in the particular debate. Resident fantasy hockey guru Matt Cubeta will then juggle the two arguments and reach a final verdict for who deserves the edge.
We continue with NHL.com's preseason fantasy rankings at the left wing position, where the always potent Alex Ovechkin occupies the top-overall spot. Daniel Sedin, who anchored the Canucks en route to a Cup Final appearance, is ranked second among left wingers.
And with that, here's NHL.com's take on the matter...
Despite the fact that his goal-scoring output dropped from 50 in '09-10 to 32 in '10-11, Alex Ovechkin is still the most potent left winger in the League. The Russian-born forward has averaged 427 shots on goal in his six-year career, and has eclipsed the 100-point plateau four times in that span.
SOG: 367 | +/-: 24
Despite taking a step back during Washington's up-and-down '10-11 season, Ovechkin still managed to collect 53 assists, 85 points and a plus-24 rating. Ovechkin's power-play points total (24) was only eighth at his position last season, but in this case his track record and potential easily outweighs that of most wingers in the League.
The record-holder for single-season goal-scoring at his position (65 in 2007-08), Ovi is due for a bounce-back season. The soon-to-be 26-year-old also has a career average upwards of 60 PIMs, and will surely be at the forefront of the Capitals' offensive arsenal this upcoming season.
-- Pete Jensen
He shoots and scores, dishes and delivers. He's Daniel Sedin, last season's Art Ross Trophy winner. His 41-goal, 63-assist, 104-point demonstration should be a head-turner for anyone thinking of building a contending fantasy hockey team. But what's just as -- if not more -- impressive is Sedin's level of consistency.
Consider his increased production in four consecutive seasons. Or that he's accumulated at least 71 points in each of the past six seasons.
SOG: 266 | +/-: 30
Still in the prime of his career and on a Vancouver Canucks team destined to continue its Western Conference dominance, Sedin is poised to be in the thick of things atop the NHL standings come the close of 2011-12, which could, in turn, make you in the thick of things of your fantasy hockey league if you've got him on your roster.
-- Sergei Feldman
FINAL VERDICT: ALEX OVECHKIN
While several fantasy hockey participants are sure to think Daniel Sedin should be the top overall player going into this season, they might want to rethink their answer and do a little digging. While Sedin did outperform Ovechkin this past season, to the extent that Daniel was the No. 1 overall fantasy player in standard Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, Ovechkin clearly possesses the most upside from a fantasy viewpoint.
Let's break it down: Sedin had nine more goals and 10 more assists than Ovechkin last season; Daniel had a plus-30 as compared to Ovechkin's plus-24; Ovi had nine more penalty minutes, but 18 less power play points; lastly, Ovechkin had 101 more shots on goal than Sedin. Daniel had the better season, we're not denying that, but Ovechkin's past and the fact that the Capitals struggled offensively last season has us believing Ovi should return to his average season.
For those of you that don't know, Ovi's average stat line over the last four seasons makes him the clear-cut No. 1 fantasy player, let alone the No. 1 left wing.
Take a look: 51 goals, 104 points, plus-26, 61 PIMs, 36 power-play points and 427 shots on goal. Simply amazing. Neither Daniel Sedin nor any other player can compare to that stat line. In a "down" season, Ovechkin still managed to be the No. 4 overall player in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues -- not too shabby.
If you luck out with the first overall pick in your draft, be sure to select Alex Ovechkin.
-- Matt Cubeta
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