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Fantasy left wing rankings for 2016-17

Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn complete players; Taylor Hall can rejoin elite with Devils

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

It should surprise no one to see Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals atop the rankings of left wings. He has led the NHL in goals and shots on goal in each of the past four seasons, and has the second-most power-play points (124) in that span behind his Capitals sidekick, Nicklas Backstrom (125). He also ranks 10th in the League in hits over those seasons.

With Evgeny Kuznetsov joining the fantasy elite last season, Ovechkin is equipped to sustain his success as one of the greatest offensive players of this generation.

FANTASY RANKINGS: TOP 250 | CENTER | RW | D-MAN | GOALIE

But Ovechkin's competition for the top spot in the rankings is not too far behind in the rearview mirror. Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars has the most points in the League over the past two seasons, and in 2015-16, he and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks became the first players with 40 goals and 40 assists in a single NHL season since 2011-12.

Benn ranks seventh in SOG since 2013-14, and he covers PPP, penalty minutes and hits. He will miss the World Cup of Hockey 2016 to fully recover from core muscle surgery, so fantasy owners should do whatever they can to get their hands on Benn, who is expected to be at full strength in time for the start of the season.

It's been a big summer for left wings, with three of the top 20 changing teams. Taylor Hall was traded to the New Jersey Devils and will become the focal point of an offense that hasn't featured a forward of his caliber in his prime since Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Milan Lucic signed with the Edmonton Oilers and has a chance to play with third-ranked fantasy center Connor McDavid. Andrew Ladd signed with the New York Islanders. Playing with fourth-ranked center John Tavares, he could bounce back from an underwhelming season with the Winnipeg Jets and Blackhawks.

There also are two young left wings looking to replicate their Stanley Cup Playoff production and climb the fantasy rankings. Robby Fabbri tied for the St. Louis Blues' postseason scoring lead and has a chance to play on their first or second line this season. Jonathan Drouin exploded in the playoffs for the Tampa Bay Lightning and has a chance to play on their top line and first power-play unit with top-20 overall fantasy asset Steven Stamkos healthy and in Tampa Bay to stay.

Here's a complete left wing outlook and fantasy draft guide to help you prepare for this season.

Video: CAR@FLA: Barkov, Jagr and Hubereau connect for goal

BARGAIN HUNTING - Well-known LWs who can outperform Yahoo rank

Mike Hoffman, LW, Ottawa Senators

Hoffman finished 12th in the NHL in 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes last season (minimum 1,000 minutes), according to Puckalytics.com. He will play with either Kyle Turris or Derick Brassard, each a capable fantasy producer at center, in a top-six role again. He built off his strong rookie totals in points (48) and SOG (199) with 59 and 242 last season, and remains underrated in fantasy (Yahoo rank: 130). If he improves on the power play (13 PPP in 79 games) and sees more time on the first unit with Erik Karlsson, he could continue his upward swing and outperform his average draft position again.

Alexander Steen, LW, St. Louis Blues

In addition to Fabbri and injury bounce-back candidate Jaden Schwartz, the Blues have Alexander Steen, who finished 81st in Yahoo last season with 52 points (21 PPP) and strong peripherals despite missing 15 games. The dual-eligible forward is recovering from shoulder surgery, so he could become even more of a bargain if his injury scares away fantasy owners. With David Backes out of the picture after signing with the Boston Bruins, there's even a chance Steen could center Vladimir Tarasenko's line. Don't sleep on Steen's past performance and future potential in the seventh round or later.

Video: CHI@VAN: Blackhawks move the puck, Teravainen scores

POTENTIAL STEALS - High-upside LWs who should be attainable outside top 100

Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes

Teravainen has a chance to finally burst onto the fantasy scene if he can lock down a top-six, first-PP role with the Hurricanes. He could play on the first line with Victor Rask or the second line with Jordan Staal and has a chance to breathe life into the Carolina offense and power play, along with incoming forward prospect Sebastian Aho. Teravainen, who turns 22 on Sept. 11, doesn't have anywhere near the talent around him he did with the Blackhawks, but that could help him earn more minutes and score more than 50 points for the first time in his NHL career to blow away his low Yahoo pre-rank (183). Yahoo also gave him dual eligibility in its latest positional update, giving fantasy owners all the more reason to take him in the 13th or 14th round of a 10-team draft.

James van Riemsdyk, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs

Van Riemsdyk was limited to 40 games last season but produced at an 82-game pace of 59 points, 18 PPP and 264 SOG. The Maple Leafs are expected to incorporate prospects Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov and Mitchell Marner into their top-nine forward group, giving van Riemsdyk a slew of potential linemates with upside. The left wing position thins out in the late rounds of fantasy drafts, so be sure to prioritize this high-volume shooter anytime after the 10th round as an injury bounce-back candidate. He has a chance to replicate his 2013-14 totals of 30 goals, 31 assists and 279 SOG. He finished among the top 50 fantasy assets that season.

Mikkel Boedker, LW, San Jose Sharks

Boedker goes from playing big minutes for non-playoff teams to suiting up for arguably the deepest team in the Western Conference. He was second in power-play ice time per game among forwards (3:57) behind Ovechkin (4:17) and had 19 PPP last season with the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. He has an outside shot of cracking the Sharks' first power-play unit with Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Even if Boedker doesn't unseat veteran Patrick Marleau, he could play on the second line at even strength with Couture and Joonas Donskoi or the first line with Thornton and Pavelski in addition to seeing secondary power-play time. He should set an NHL career high in goals (previous: 19 in 2013-14) and have a vastly improved plus/minus.

ROOKIE WATCH - Underrated first-year LWs who can find fantasy relevance

Kyle Connor, LW, Winnipeg Jets

Connor led the NCAA in goals (35) and points (71; matched Jack Eichel's total from 2014-15) in 38 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan, adding even more promise to the Jets' loaded prospect pool. Fellow rookie Patrik Laine and returning wing Nikolaj Ehlers are expected to be among Winnipeg's top six, but Connor could join them on the first line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler or on the second line with Bryan Little. A lot depends on the impression Connor makes in training camp with Laine playing for Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He's a dark horse fantasy prospect who could finish among the top five rookie scorers.

Jimmy Vesey, LW, New York Rangers

Vesey's decision-making process when he became an unrestricted free agent in August created lofty expectations for the rookie. He signed with the New York Rangers and will have his work cut out for him to crack the top six, especially with Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider ahead of him for starters on the left side. Vesey was right up there with Connor among the top collegiate scorers, ranking fourth in the country in goals per game. He's older than Connor after playing four seasons at Harvard University but may have a difficult time transitioning from the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference to the NHL. Regardless, he could become fantasy-relevant in a third-line role with center Kevin Hayes and be worth adding off the waiver wire.

Kevin Fiala, LW, Nashville Predators

Fiala should crack the opening night roster for Nashville and has a chance to leap ahead of playoff hero Colin Wilson, who has underachieved in each of the past two regular seasons. There's still Filip Forsberg on the left side in the Predators lineup, but he usually plays on a separate line from Ryan Johansen and James Neal, who have a vacancy at left wing on their unit. Fiala led Milwaukee of the American Hockey League with 50 points in 66 games last season and had a strong SOG total (170). It will be hard for Fiala to earn first-unit power-play time with the Predators likely to use two defensemen, P.K. Subban and Roman Josi, on their primary group, but don't be surprised to see the rookie earn time on the second unit and make fantasy waves if he plays a full season.

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LEFT WING RANKINGS

The players below are LW-eligible in Yahoo leagues and ranked among NHL.com's top 200 overall. Any dual-eligible forwards on this list have been included because LW is their primary position. ... Standard Yahoo categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, PPP and SOG for skaters. NOTE: These rankings have been updated Oct. 10.

1. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH
2. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL
3. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY
4. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD
5. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI
6. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH
7. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL
8. Zach Parise, LW, MIN
9. Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN
10. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
11. Alexander Steen, C/LW, STL
12. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, PHI
13. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ
14. Milan Lucic, LW, EDM
15. Max Domi, LW, ARI
16. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL
17. Andrew Ladd, LW, NYI
18. Jonathan Drouin, LW, TBL
19. Robby Fabbri, C/LW, STL
20. Rick Nash, LW, NYR
21. Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT
22. James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR
23. Boone Jenner, C/LW, CBJ
24. Loui Eriksson, LW, VAN
25. Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW, CAR
26. Jussi Jokinen, LW, FLA
27. Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR
28. Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET
29. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL - INJ.
30. Michael Cammalleri, LW, NJD
31. Mikkel Boedker, LW, SJS
32. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG
33. Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL
34. Andre Burakovsky, LW, WSH
35. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
36. Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ
37. Evander Kane, LW, BUF
38. Tomas Tatar, LW, DET
39. Kyle Connor, LW, WPG

Just missed: Tyler Ennis (C/LW, BUF), Patrick Marleau (C/LW, SJS), Chris Kunitz (LW, PIT), Jonathan Huberdeau (LW, FLA - INJ.), Anders Lee (LW, NYI), Pavel Buchnevich (LW, NYR), Marcus Johansson (LW/RW, WSH), Kevin Fiala (LW, NSH), Carl Hagelin (LW, PIT), Scott Wilson (C/LW, PIT)

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