It's the best time of year!
Fantasy Week here at RLD continues. Here is our preview for left wingers, with some bonus analysis below from Dobber Hockey’s Jeff Angus…
1. Alex Ovechkin, WSH
2010/11: 79 GP, 32 G, 53 A, 85 Pts, +24
3-year Avg: 77 GP, 46 G, 55 A, 101 Pts, +26
Last season was considered a ‘down year’ for Ovie. Look for him to return to being the regular Ovie.
2. Daniel Sedin, VAN
2010/11: 82 GP, 41 G, 63 A, 104 Pts, +30
3-year Avg: 76 GP, 34 G, 56 A, 90 Pts, +30
The Sedin twins have turned into the most prolific duo in today’s NHL. Daniel’s consistency is invaluable in fantasy.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ
2010/11: 81 GP, 31 G, 29 A, 60 Pts, -26
3-year Avg: 79 GP, 38 G, 40 A, 78 Pts, -9
Kovalchuk’s first full season in Jersey was considered an off-year for the whole team.
4. Rick Nash, CBJ
2010/11: 75 GP, 32 G, 34 A, 66 Pts, +2
3-year Avg: 76 GP, 35 G, 36 A, 71 Pts, +4
The Blue Jackets captain now has a legitimate No. 1 center to play beside (Jeff Carter). Look out.
5. Zach Parise, NJ
2010/11: 13 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 Pts, -1
3-year Avg: 59 GP, 29 G, 32 A, 61 Pts, +18
I would be a little wary taking Parise, but there’s no question he’s an elite fantasy option at this position.
6. Bobby Ryan, ANA
2010/11: 82 GP, 34 G, 37 A, 71 Pts, +15
3-year Avg: 76 GP, 33 G, 31 A, 64 Pts, +12
The second overall pick plays on hockey’s best line and has seen his point total increase in each of his three full NHL seasons.
7. Henrik Zetterberg, DET
2010/11: 80 GP, 24 G, 56 A, 80 Pts, -1
3-year Avg: 77 GP, 26 G, 48 A, 74 Pts, +8
Zetterberg has been close to a point-per-game player over the last six years and is always a league leader in shots on goal.
8. Thomas Vanek, BUF
2010/11: 80 GP, 32 G, 41 A, 73 Pts, +2
3-year Avg: 75 GP, 33 G, 30 A, 63 Pts, +3
Vanek can be inconsistent at times. When he’s on top of his game, though, he’s dangerous.
9. Alexander Semin, WSH
2010/11: 65 GP, 28 G, 26 A, 54 Pts, +22
3-year Avg: 67 GP, 34 G, 38 A, 72 Pts, +28
There aren’t many more NHLers with more critics than Semin. However, that doesn’t affect his 35-40 goal potential.
10. Michael Cammalleri, MTL
2010/11: 67 GP, 19 G, 28 A, 47 Pts, +2
3-year Avg: 71 GP, 28 G, 32 A, 60 Pts, +2
‘Cammer’ should be a 30-goal scorer annually. Injuries have derailed those chances in the last two years.
11. Taylor Hall, EDM
2010/11: 65 GP, 22 G, 20 A, 42 Pts, -9
The top pick in 2010 will eventually be a fantasy star. Whether that happens this year still remains to be seen.
12. James van Riemsdyk, PHI
2010/11: 75 GP, 21 G, 19 A, 40 Pts, +15
2-year Avg: 77 GP, 18 G, 20 A, 38 Pts, +7
A breakout playoff performance has pundits thinking a big season is on JVR’s horizon.
13. Milan Lucic, BOS
2010/11: 79 GP, 30 G, 32 A, 62 Pts, +28
3-year Avg: 67 GP, 19 G, 22 A, 41 Pts, +13
It’s hard to know what to expect year-to-year from Lucic. Don’t draft him banking on another 30-goal campaign.
14. Ville Leino, BUF
2010/11: 81 GP, 19 G, 34 A, 53 Pts, +14
3-year Avg: 50 GP, 10 G, 14 A, 24 Pts, +4
Leino seemed to just get better and better in Philly; will a change of scenery help or hurt that momentum?
15. Alex Tanguay, CGY
2010/11: 79 GP, 22 G, 47 A, 69 Pts, +0
3-year Avg: 70 GP, 16 G, 33 A, 49 Pts, +4
If Tanguay continues to get top-line minutes and you’re looking for a reliable No. 2 left winger, draft him.
16. Matt Moulson, NYI
2010/11: 82 GP, 31 G, 22 A, 53 Pts, -10
2-year Avg: 82 GP, 31 G, 20 A, 51 Pts, -5
Moulson backed up his 2009-10 breakout campaign with a 31-goal output.
17. Scott Hartnell, PHI
2010/11: 82 GP, 24 G, 25 A, 49 Pts, +14
3-year Avg: 82 GP, 23 G, 28 A, 51 Pts, +7
Hartnell provides bang for your buck, contributing in multiple stat categories.
18. Jamie Benn, DAL
2010/11: 69 GP, 22 G, 34 A, 56 Pts, -5
2-year Avg: 76 GP, 22 G, 27 A, 49 Pts, -3
Like Hartnell, Benn can do it all. His ceiling has yet to be reached and could play a bigger role in Big D this season.
19. David Booth, FLA
2010/11: 82 GP, 23 G, 17 A, 40 Pts, -31
3-year Avg: 61 GP, 21 G, 18 A, 39 Pts, -8
Booth is a solid fantasy option, but has his concussion history damaged the potential of returning to his 2008-09 form?
20. Dustin Penner, LA
2010/11: 81 GP, 23 G, 22 A, 45 Pts, -12
3-year Avg: 80 GP, 24 G, 24 A, 48 Pts, +0
With Penner’s size and talent, he should be a 30 goal-scorer playing next to Anze Kopitar. It’s his work ethic that will keep that from happening.
Note: Rankings are based on projected 2011-12 stats, not based on 2010-11 or 3-year stats.
Sleeper: Evander Kane
Kane, the fourth overall pick in 2009, hasn’t turned many heads since jumping to the NHL immediately after being drafted. That’s not to say that he’s not on the verge of a breakout season. Kane saw his average ice-time spike by four minutes from his rookie to sophomore year. After a 43-point campaign last year – a step in the right direction after disappointing as a rookie – keep your eye on Kane to have a solid season.
Bust or Trust: James Neal?
Drafting Neal based on the expectation that he lines up with Crosby is a risky strategy, but the potential upside is huge. Not counting the short stint with Marian Hossa a few years ago, Neal is going to be the most skilled winger Crosby has played with at the NHL level. He’s big and strong, and he has a very hard and accurate shot. Crosby’s recovery from a concussion clouds things a bit, and Neal will likely get snatched up pretty early in most drafts. Don’t be shy about picking him earlier than you normally would.
- Jeff Angus
When Neal was dealt to Pittsburgh last February, many thought he’d be a perfect fit. Well, he never got the chance to play with Sidney Crosby and recorded two goals and seven points in 27 games, including the playoffs. If Crosby’s concussion lingers into the late September, Neal won’t get the time to create chemistry, which could diminish his fantasy potential. There’s Evgeni Malkin, but his skill doesn’t rub off his linemates as much as Crosby’s. In short, there’s risk picking Neal.
- Ryan Porth
Draft Day Dilemma: Scott Hartnell or Jamie Benn?
Benn is a great player. If this wasn’t fantasy, I’d opt to take him over Hartnell. But in this situation, give me the Flyers winger. In a good year, Hartnell could score 25 goals, rack up over 150 PIM and chip in with decent plus/minus and power play numbers. With Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out the door, Hartnell could see more valuable minutes offensively. Where Hartnell separates himself from Benn is in leagues that treat PIM as a positive. Hartnell has averaged 150 PIM’s in four seasons as a Flyer; Benn’s career-high is 52.
- Ryan Porth
Jamie Benn will make the full time move from wing to center this season. The Stars like him more at center compared to the wing as it lets him handle the puck on a more consistent basis. He’ll play with Loui Eriksson, and the two should form a great offensive duo for this season and the future as well. Benn has elite upside, but only started to gain attention from across the league last season (as a 5th round draft pick, he slid under the radar a bit, even with a stellar WHL career in Kelowna). Benn may never reach his goal scoring potential as a center, but he’ll rack up plenty of assists.
- Jeff Angus
Rookie to Watch: Gabriel Landeskog
Assuming the second overall pick in this summer’s draft makes the Avalanche lineup out of training camp, he’ll be one to keep an eye on. Left wing isn’t exactly the deepest position and Landeskog’s skill set is considered to be the most NHL-ready of the 2012 draft class. Considering the Avs are still in rebuild mode, there will be no qualms of holding Landeskog back. Plus he’d get a lot of playing time with either Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny. Landeskog is a good candidate for the Calder this year.
Chris Kunitz, PIT… He now has company at his position (J. Neal). Will Kunitz ramp up his performance this season?
Dustin Penner, LA… Will the 29-year-old magically work harder in his contract year? We’ve seen it done before.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, CAR… This may be Poni’s last chance in the NHL. I could definitely see him fitting in well in Carolina.
Note: Stat categories taken into consideration – G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SOG
Photos credit: Getty Images
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