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Fantasy left wing top 50 rankings for 2018-19

Nugent-Hopkins potential steal on McDavid's line; Pacioretty, Kovalchuk, Skinner can thrive with new teams; Zadina overlooked rookie

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

NHL.com is previewing the fantasy left wing landscape for 2018-19. From top players to underrated options and rookies at the position, this guide will prepare you for upcoming drafts. For more fantasy hockey coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

MORE FANTASY RANKINGS: Top 250 | F | C | RW | D | G

2018-19 PROJECTIONS: Forward points | D-man points | Goalie wins

 

OFFSEASON MOVEMENT

Max Pacioretty, LW, VGK (ADP: 103.0) -- The Vegas Golden Knights acquired left wing Max Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, immediately boosting his fantasy value and bounce-back candidacy. Pacioretty, 29, joins the top 75 overall fantasy rankings by NHL.com and top 10 left wings after the trade to Vegas, where he will either play on a line with center William Karlsson or Paul Stastny. Pacioretty ranks 10th in goals (158) since 2013-14 despite not playing with a bonafide No. 1 center over the span, meaning his ceiling should be higher after the trade. Pacioretty is projected to set an NHL career high in power-play points with the Golden Knights and should see his ADP rise drastically leading up to draft week.

Read: Fantasy projection for Pacioretty in 2018-19

 

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW, LAK (Yahoo average draft position: 77.7) -- The veteran forward returns to the NHL after spending the past five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he was better than a point-per-game player (285 points in 262 games). He's likely to play in the Los Angeles Kings' top six with either center Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter and on the first power play with elite defenseman Drew Doughty. Kovalchuk, who has 816 points (417 goals, 399 assists) in 816 career NHL games, comes with age (35) and skating concerns as he transitions to a younger, faster League, but still has 70-point potential with a strong center in all situations.

 

Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF (ADP: 95.5) -- The 26-year-old should have plenty of motivation after being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in a trade with Carolina Hurricanes ahead of his contract year (potential 2019 unrestricted free agent). The Sabres, who selected defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and signed free agent goaltender Carter Hutton, are one of the NHL's most-improved teams and have acquired Skinner to bring goal-scoring pop to the top line and first power-play unit with center Jack Eichel. Skinner, a three-time 30-goal scorer with a heavy shot volume (3.3 shots on goal per game in NHL career), could reach or exceed his career highs in every offensive category.

Video: Sabres acquire Jeff Skinner from Hurricanes

 

James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI (ADP: 87.4) -- He returns to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played his first three NHL seasons, and is projected to play with second-year center Nolan Patrick and right wing Jakub Voracek or Wayne Simmonds on the second line. Van Riemsdyk is also projected to play with left wing Claude Giroux on the first power-play unit. The 29-year-old shot a career-best 14.5 percent (36 goals on 248 SOG) in mostly a third-line role with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and is a fringe top 100 fantasy player ahead of a bigger even-strength role. The addition of van Riemsdyk strengthens the Flyers power play, specifically Patrick and potential breakout defenseman Ivan Provorov, who should have an upgraded supporting cast on the second unit.

 

BARGAIN HUNTING

Anders Lee, LW, NYI (ADP: 166.4) -- He lost trusted linemate John Tavares (signed with Toronto Maple Leafs) this offseason and had a low assist total (22) last season. But Lee benefits from the addition of the hits category (102 last season; 1.9 per game in NHL career) and is coming off an NHL career-high 40 goals, a mark only seven other NHL players reached last season. Lee's 14 power-play goals were tied for sixth in the NHL, and he has a lot to prove as a potential 2019 UFA. Things could be much worse than being on a line with reigning Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal under new coach Barry Trotz, who won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals last season.

 

Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN (ADP: 172.8) -- The Wild forward was a fantasy standout two seasons ago, finishing 48th overall in Yahoo with 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) and stellar category coverage. He's a proven hits commodity (1.6 per game in NHL career) and has plenty of room for improvement after an injury plagued season (32 points in 63 games). Niederreiter, when healthy, usually either plays on the top line with Eric Staal and Jason Zucker or on the second line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund, putting him in a favorable even-strength spot. He and fellow left wing Zach Parise (ADP: 176.2) are potential bargains from the Wild, who have been quiet this offseason but have a complete top-six and power-play picture when healthy.

 

POTENTIAL STEALS

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C/LW, EDM (ADP: 148.2) -- He has played center for most of his NHL career and has three seasons of at least 52 points. But Nugent-Hopkins showed signs of having a higher gear late last season when he had 17 points (eight goals, nine assists), was plus-14 and averaged nearly three SOG per game (45) over his final 16 games playing left wing with back-to-back Art Ross Trophy-winning center Connor McDavid. If the Oilers improve on their NHL-worst power play (14.8 percent), and Nugent-Hopkins sticks with McDavid in most situations, he could return immense value based on his position flexibility and lower-than-expected ADP in Yahoo.

Video: VAN@EDM: RNH fires home from the circle

 

Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, WSH (ADP: 168.9) -- The Capitals wing showed flashes of brilliance in the 2018 playoffs with three points (one goal, two assists) in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins and by scoring the opening goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Poised for an expanded role under new coach Todd Reirden, which should include more time with playoff linemates Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, Vrana could fulfill his fantasy potential and contribute at least 45-50 points as a secondary scorer for the defending champions.

 

Jake DeBrusk, LW, BOS (ADP: 170.9) -- The Boston Bruins have the best line in the NHL when healthy in forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. But an underrated storyline is Pastrnak's chemistry with veteran center David Krejci and the chance that Boston could spread out its scoring this season. DeBrusk, who will turn 22 on Oct. 17, played frequently with Krejci when the center was healthy and had 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists), a plus-13 and nine power-play points in 70 games as a rookie. DeBrusk could challenge forward Danton Heinen for first power-play usage or play on the second unit with Krejci and defenseman Charlie McAvoy. DeBrusk could vastly outperform his ADP with any exposure to Boston's top forwards as a result of injuries or lineup changes.

 

ROOKIES TO WATCH

Filip Zadina, LW, DET (ADP: 167.9) -- Center Henrik Zetterberg is unable to continue his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings because of a degenerative back condition, meaning some of their prospects could take on big roles this season. Zadina and fellow forward prospects Michael Rasmussen and Evgeny Svechnikov will compete for NHL roster spots, Andreas Athanasiou is expected to move from left wing to center and building-block forwards Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha will take on greater responsibility. Zadina was among the offensive leaders in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games as a rookie for Halifax. He is a Calder Trophy candidate and could have added motivation after falling to No. 6 in the 2018 draft.

Video: Filip Zadina takes the No. 6 spot on the list

 

Valentin Zykov, LW/RW, CAR (ADP: N/A) -- Zykov led the American Hockey League in goals (33) with Charlotte last season before making the most of his late-season NHL stint with the Hurricanes. He had seven points (three goals, four assists) in 10 games playing left wing with the dynamic top-line duo of center Sebastian Aho and right wing Teuvo Teravainen. Zykov will compete for top line and/or first power-play usage with prospects Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas, but is the most-seasoned forward of the bunch. He's being completely overlooked in fantasy drafts despite retaining dual eligibility in Yahoo.

 

Brady Tkachuk, LW, OTT (ADP: N/A) -- The Senators are weak at left wing, giving the 18-year-old a chance to land in the top six and potentially on the first line with center Matt Duchene and right wing Mark Stone. Ottawa has traded defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks and faces contract uncertainty with Duchene and Stone (potential 2019 UFAs), but Tkachuk (No. 4 pick in 2018 draft) could still have upside with a high-end rookie center in either Colin White or Logan Brown. Tkachuk is going undrafted in Yahoo because of team concerns, but had 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists) in 40 games as a freshman at Boston University last season and is at least worth monitoring in deeper leagues or on the waiver wire.

 

TOP 50 LEFT WING RANKINGS

Standard Yahoo categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, PPP, SOG and now hits for skaters. ... Value has been quantified based on factors including past production, projected line combinations, power-play usage, injury history, sleeper upside, anticipated regression or bounce-back candidacy, age and contract status (current restricted free agents are listed with RFA). Any potential 2019 UFAs (*) and RFAs (**) are also noted below. ... INJ. indicates players with injury concerns. ... Forward positions indicate Yahoo eligibility for 2018-19 season (subject to additions but never subtractions at Yahoo's discretion). Left wing is the primary position of any dual-eligible forwards on this list.

1. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH
2. Jamie Benn, C/LW, DAL
3. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
4. Claude Giroux, C/LW, PHI
5. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD
6. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY
7. Artemi Panarin, LW, CBJ - INJ.*
8. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH
9. Evander Kane, LW, SJS
10. Max Pacioretty, LW, VGK
11. Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW, LAK
12. Rickard Rakell, LW/RW, ANA
13. Jonathan Marchessault, C/LW, VGK
14. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG
15. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY**
16. Clayton Keller, LW/RW, ARI
17. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL
18. Jeff Skinner, LW, BUF*
19. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA
20. Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT**
21. James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI
22. Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, FLA
23. Kyle Connor, LW, WPG**
24. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C/LW, EDM
25. Alex DeBrincat, LW/RW, CHI
26. Anders Lee, LW, NYI*
27. Tomas Hertl, C/LW/RW, SJS
28. Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW, FLA
29. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL
30. Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN
31. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
32. Filip Zadina, LW, DET
33. Timo Meier, LW, SJS**
34. Patrick Marleau, C/LW, TOR
35. Anthony Beauvillier, C/LW, NYI**
36. Zach Hyman, LW, TOR - INJ.
37. Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, WSH**
38. Kevin Fiala, LW/RW, NSH**
39. Valentin Zykov, LW/RW, CAR
40. Jake DeBrusk, LW, BOS
41. David Perron, LW, STL
42. Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL
43. Brandon Saad, LW, CHI
44. Max Domi, C/LW, MTL
45. Sven Baertschi, LW, VAN
46. Brady Tkachuk, LW, OTT
47. Zach Parise, LW, MIN
48. Ryan Donato, LW/RW, BOS**
49. Robby Fabbri, C/LW, STL - INJ.**
50. Milan Lucic, LW, EDM

NOTES: Rakell plays most frequently on the left side of center Ryan Getzlaf. … Hoffman, acquired by the Florida Panthers on June 19, has played mostly left wing in his NHL career but could also play right wing on the second line with left wing Jonathan Huberdeau and center Vincent Trocheck. Dadonov played both wings last season but was the left wing with center Aleksander Barkov and right wing Nick Bjugstad down the stretch. … DeBrincat could play left wing on a line with center Nick Schmaltz and right wing Patrick Kane after he and Kane played well together at the 2018 IIHF World Championship. … Beauvillier played left wing with Barzal and right wing Jordan Eberle, but may be moved to center given the Islanders second-line void.

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