Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.
It's been a long trek back into fantasy hockey relevance, but St. Louis forward David Perron
has certainly started to turn some heads.
A first round draft choice back in 2007 (No. 26), Perron finished his rookie season with 13 goals, 27 points and a plus-16 rating in 62 games for the Blues. He followed that campaign up with 50 points and 50 penalty minutes in 81 games, earning him a big breakout-tag for the 2009-10 season. He fell short of expectations, posting just 47 points in a full season to go along with a diminished minus-10 rating, but hockey analysts and fantasy players everywhere still knew there was more talent in Perron's game.
Then came the 2010-11 season.
Things got off to a good start, with 5 goals, 2 assists, a plus-7 rating and 12 penalty minutes in his first 10 games and a swagger that made fans everywhere realize this kid would eventually become a household name in fantasy leagues for years to come. But in the 10th game (one in which he scored a goal), Perron took a hit from Sharks forward Joe Thornton
that would put him out of the game for well over a year.
Left Wing - STL
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 25
SOG: 68 | +/-: 11
After completing his rehabilitation from a concussion, Perron returned to the NHL on Dec. 3, 2011 against the Blackhawks and scored his first goal of the 2011-12 season. Thirty games later, Perron is clearly making a statement around the NHL: He's back, and he's for real.
Fantasy owners need to add Perron to their rosters immediately. He's available in 74 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and has been one of the hottest players in the game lately with 6 goals and 2 assists during his current five-game point-scoring streak. With his recent hot streak, he now has a stat line that makes him a must start in every fantasy league: 10 G, 25 points, plus-11, 20 PIMs, 6 PPP and 68 SOG.
There is not a flaw in his game right now. He is currently playing left wing on St. Louis' top line with T.J. Oshie
and David Backes
, and is also receiving nearly three minutes of power-play ice time per game out of his total of about 19 minutes ice time. The Blues are one of the better teams in the NHL, and they have only improved more since the return of Perron.
He's starting to get the attention he deserves in reality and it's time fantasy owners did the same.
Zach Parise --
TOP 40 FANTASY LEFT WINGS
These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
- 1. Daniel Sedin, Canucks (same)
- 2. Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings* (same)
- 3. Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils* (same)
- 4. James Neal, Penguins (+1)
- 5. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (-1)
- 6. Zach Parise, Devils (+2)
- 7. Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs* (same)
- 8. Scott Hartnell, Flyers (+2)
- 9. Johan Franzen, Red Wings* (same)
- 10. Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks* (-4)
- 11. Jamie Benn, Stars (same)
- 12. Patrick Marleau, Sharks* (same)
- 13. Milan Lucic, Bruins (+1)
- 14. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings* (+4)
- 15. Taylor Hall, Oilers (same)
- 16. Logan Couture, Sharks* (same)
- 17. Thomas Vanek, Sabres (+3)
- 18. Brad Marchand, Bruins* (-5)
- 19. Ray Whitney, Coyotes (+2)
- 20. Kris Versteeg, Panthers* (+2)
- 21. Bobby Ryan, Ducks (-4)
- 22. Rick Nash, Blue Jackets* (+3)
- 23. Patrik Elias, Devils* (-4)
- 24. Matt Moulson, Islanders (-1)
- 25. Dany Heatley, Wild* (-1)
- 26. Ryane Clowe, Sharks* (same)
- 27. Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+7)
- 28. Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (+3)
- 29. Loui Eriksson, Stars* (-1)
- 30. Erik Cole, Canadiens* (-1)
- 31. Alexandre Burrows, Canucks (-4)
- 32. Alexander Semin, Capitals* (same)
- 33. Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+4)
- 34. Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers (-1)
- 35. Evander Kane, Jets (-5)
- 36. Milan Michalek, Senators* (same)
- 37. Mike Richards, Kings* (-2)
- 38. Valtteri Filppula, Red Wings* (+1)
- 39. Dustin Brown, Kings* (-1)
- 40. Jordan Staal, Penguins* (NR)**
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues
** was listed on IR in last week's rankings
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Shane Doan
Players on IR: Matt Duchene
, Brenden Morrow
, James van Riemsdyk
, Alexander Steen
Last week it was Ilya Kovalchuk
we were raving about. This week, it's his linemate, Parise, who's closing in on a return to the top-five left wing rankings. Parise has 49 points in 56 games for the Devils, but has been putting up point-per-game numbers since the start of December. In his last seven games, the Devils captain has 5 goals and 3 assists and is averaging four shots per game during that time. Prior to last season's injury-plagued campaign, Parise had averaged 36.5 goals per season -- he likely won't reach that number because of a slow start, but he's certainly playing like that caliber of player right now.
Chris Kunitz --
Kunitz had been known to be Sidney Crosby
's wingman for the last few years in Pittsburgh, but with Sid the Kid out for most of this season, Kunitz has found himself a new role: wingman to this season's best player, Evgeni Malkin
. Along with James Neal
, the Penguins' top line has become arguably the most lethal group in the NHL, and Kunitz is no slouch. The gritty winger has a solid stat line (57 games: 16 G, 40 points, plus-4, 29 PIMs, 14 PPP, 164 SOG) and has been extremely hot lately with 7 points in his last three games. Owned in just 58 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Kunitz should be started in all formats right now.
Gabriel Landeskog --
Rookies typically slow down as the season wears on, but that hasn't been the case for Landeskog. His 30 points are sixth among NHL rookies, while his 13 goals are tied for fourth -- he has 4 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 games. Those numbers might not jump out at you, but it's his other stats that have made him so valuable for fantasy owners this season. Landeskog is a plus-13 and has 32 penalty minutes and a whopping 177 shots on goal (leading all rookies by a significant margin -- Craig Smith
is second with 148). Landeskog will be a superstar at some point in the NHL and he's also extremely valuable to those who participate in a fantasy league that counts hits -- he has 149 on the season.
Patrick Sharp --
In Wednesday's "Center Stage"
feature we discussed Jonathan Toews
' struggles -- today, Sharp takes a little bit of a drop in our left wing ranks. With the Hawks in the middle of a nine-game losing streak, it's no surprise their superstars are struggling. Sharp has still been putting up decent points during the skid, but his plus/minus has dipped a bit -- he's only had a plus-rating in one of the last seven games. Sharp has no points in his last two games and has a tough matchup against Henrik Lundqvist
and the Rangers tonight, but look for the scoring forward to break out soon.
Dany Heatley --
After slowly moving his way up in the fantasy ranks, Heatley takes a small dip back down. He has 2 goals in his last three games, but those are his only points in the previous five contests. The return of Mikko Koivu
gives the Wild some much-needed depth, and that could definitely help Heatley in the goal-scoring department, but remember, it's been two years since his 39-goal effort with the Sharks in 2009-10.
Jordan Staal --
Staal finally came off injured reserve on Feb. 11 after missing 15 games due to a knee injury, but he comes in our ranks at the last spot for now. Staal had a very successful return to the ice with a goal and an assist as the Penguins toppled the Jets 8-5, and he scored a goal against the Ducks last night, but we want to see how that knee holds up for a few more games before moving him up in the ranks. Staal is available in 42 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and is certainly worth a flyer, but with 24 points in 37 games overall (17 G, 7 A), he still isn't considered a must-start fantasy forward.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Alex Tanguay --
Tanguay might only have 7 goals on the season, but he's been extremely hot while playing the wing to Calgary's top line with Jarome Iginla
and Olli Jokinen
. The veteran playmaker has 2 goals and 7 assists in his previous seven games and has been a plus-6 during that span. He won't get you a ton of shots on goals (62) but his point production (31 points in 41 games) is definitely helpful. He's owned in 47 percent of fantasy leagues, but is definitely worth adding down the stretch in deep leagues.