Ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, CalgaryFlames.com will highlight the top players available by position, as ranked by NHL Central Scouting.
Here is a breakdown of the top left wingers in this year's draft class:
TOP NORTH AMERICAN LEFT WINGERS
1. Jason Robertson - Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Robertson took huge steps throughout his draft-eligible season, ending the year wit 42 goals and 81 points in 68 regular season games. Thanks to his puck handling skills and wiliness to play a physical style of game, he can take over on the forecheck and dictate play in the offensive zone. Robertson also can fire the puck with authority and accuracy.
2. Isaac Ratcliffe - Guelph Storm (OHL)
While Ratcliffe could be described as a project pick, he has all the tools to grow into an offensively gifted power forward - he just needs times to grow into his lanky 6-foot-6 frame. He uses his body to his advantage, playing with an edge and never hesitating to throw a check. Ratcliffe has impressive speed for a player of his size and is able to gain separation as he moves in transition. He also has a powerful shot, which led to him netting 28 goals this past year.
3. Grant Mismash - U.S. National Team Development Program
Mismash has developed into one of the USNTDP's top forwards over the past couple of years and he put up 61 points in 65 games in 2016-17, tying him for the team lead in scoring. He thrives in an energy role as well, playing a gritty game along the boards. Once he gets in on the forecheck, he's able to wear defenders down with his physical play and strong stick work.
4. Nikita Popugaev - Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Splitting his year between Moose Jaw and Prince George, Popugaev put up 29 goals and 69 points with 29 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-5, 219-pound winger embodies the term "north-south player" and can reach a decent speed after a few strides. He is more of a goal scorer than a playmaker but has the skills needed to act as a set-up man as needed.
5. Alex Formenton - London Knights (OHL)
One of the youngest players in this year's draft class, Formention is coming off his rookie season with the Knights. In 65 regular season games, he potted 14 goals and ended up with 34 points. At 6-foot-2 and 166-pounds, he will need time to gain the necessary strength to excel at the next level but is gifted with the puck and has plenty of speed.
TOP INTERNATIONAL LEFT WINGERS
1. Klim Kostin - Moscow Dynamo (KHL)
While he was limited to just eight games in the KHL this season due to injury, Kostin's top-end skill earned him the top spot in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The forward, who can play at centre or on the wing, is gifted with the puck and sees the ice extremely well. He can do it all offensively, acting as a goal-scorer or a playmaker as needed.
*Kostin is listed as a centre/left winger by NHL Central Scouting and is ranked on both lists on CalgaryFlames.com
2. Kristian Vesalainen - Frolunda HC (SHL)
While his point totals in the 2016-17 season don't leap off the page at you, scouts are confident Vesalainen has all of the tools required to be a power forward at the NHL level. He's 6-foot-4, weighs in at 209-pounds and isn't afraid to use his frame to bulldoze his way through the offensive zone. He's a strong skater, has quick hands in tight and plays an aggressive, in-your-face style of game.
*Vesalainen is listed as a right winger/left winger by NHL Central Scouting and is ranked on both lists on CalgaryFlames.com
3. Kirill Slepets - Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Slepets is a small, shifty winger who is at his best playing a fast-paced game thanks to his strong skating ability. He can be a menace to deal with in the offensive zone, eluding defenders and getting prime scoring chances in tight. He is a great finisher thanks to his offensive instincts and vision.
4. Fabian Zetterlund - Farjestad BK J20 (SuperElit)
While he's not the tallest skater on the ice, Zetterlund has enough muscle on his 5-foot-11 frame to make it tough for defenders to knock him off the puck on the forecheck. He has strong puck possession skills, holding off opponents as he moves in transition and on the forecheck. He has a high hockey IQ, making him a solid playmaker. In 40 games with Farjestad's under-20 team, he scored 16 goals and 36 points.
5. Jan Kern - HC Sparta Praha U20 (CZECH)
The speedy winger was one of Sparta's most dangerous players this past season, scoring 15 goals and 32 points in 24 games. He's small in stature - standing just 5-foot-10 - but plays like he's one of the biggest skaters on the ice. He won't hesitate to work along the boards and in the corner. In addition to his offensive prowess, he has shown he's responsible in his own end and has been tasked with killing penalties as well.