Will Phil Kessel give Leafs fans a reason to smile this season?
By Chris Wassel and RotoRob
The 2013-14 RotoRob NHL Draft surges forward today with another cheat sheet. So while you wonder where free agent Brenden Morrow will land, let’s examine the top 40 right wingers in Fantasy hockey.
The right wing position boasts a bit more in the depth department with some high upside potential even in the 20s and 30s. There is one player that we did not rank higher and that was Brent Burns. Why? There is a need to sometimes spotlight and hedge when it comes to fantasy projections. This is not an exact science. Alex Ovechkin is likely to be in the 90-to-100 point range when all is said and done. Patrick Kane won’t be not too far behind.
There are some very legitimate questions when looking at the right wing position.
Can you wait? The answer for this season is yes. Do check to see if Ovechkin is LW/RW eligible as well. More importantly, criteria for the wings is a bit different like the 2005-06 season – the full season following the last lockout. Just think about the fantasy gold that was there. Rule changes should usher in an eight to 15 point increase in some players, creating more depth at wing – something that will particularly affect right wing, where totals seem more uniform than the left side.
Also, is this the season the Edmonton Oilers break out? If so, a guy like Jordan Eberle rises that much higher. The upside from the 20s to low 30s for example is more robust than it’s been in years. And now to our rankings.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (2 at LW): Ovechkin has become a real leader for the Caps, and last season not only stayed completely healthy, but enjoyed a nice bounce back offensively. OV is already closing in on 400 career goals, yet just turned 28, so is still very much in his prime. Let’s just hope he can avoid sticks to the face this season (see video below).
2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (11): Kane seems to have matured in recent years, and last season enjoyed his finest season offensively, racking up 55 points in just 47 games. Just 24, he’s already starting to write one hell of a resume for himself (first overall pick in 2007; two Cups, including the Stanley Cup winning goal in OT for the first one; and Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in second Cup win). It will be interesting to see how he fares with Bryan Bickell on his line this season.
3. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (2): The big question for Perry and Ryan Getzlaf is how will they fare without Bobby Ryan this season? Ever since his 50-goal campaign, Perry’s goal scoring prowess has been in regression, so we’re not overly blushing for a major turnaround. Avoid a suspension this season might help.
4. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (8): It’s usually difficult to read Kessel, but in a preseason game we were at, it was pretty obvious how he felt given that he spent the entire game swinging his stick around like the ’70s were making a comeback. His goal total dipped last season, but the smooth skater still managed to average over a point per game for the first time. Kessel gained an upper hand on Tyler Seguin last season, but this trade’s ultimate winner is still far from resolved.
5. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning (3): The long time Bolt stayed healthy and proved he had plenty left in the tank last season, racking up the highest point-per-game average (1.25) of his stellar career. Clearly, that workout regimen in working.
6. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (5): Hossa is healthy this fall, which is great news after he dealt with injuries last season. He still managed a +20 last season, the third best ranking of his career, but he will absolutely need to avoid injury issues this season if Chicago has any chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champ. As we mentioned in our Right Wing Rankings season, he can be rather inconsistent season to season.
7. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators (13): The Ducks have a big hole to fill with Ryan gone, but he did regress offensively last season. If the preseason is any indication, he seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch.
8. Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes (14): After signing with the Hurricanes, Semin bounced back last season, averaging a point per game. He’ll again be on Carolina’s top line with Jiri Tlusty and Eric Staal.
9. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (31): The durable Czech enjoyed a major breakout offensively last season, recording 46 points and even showing more toughness. Of course, playing alongside star Claude Giroux sure helped matters. It will be interesting to see if Voracek, 24, can build on what he accomplished.
10. Loui Eriksson, RW/LW, Boston Bruins (16 at LW): Eriksson has quietly put together a pretty impressive career so far, although the durable Swede slipped offensively in 2012-13. He’s going to slot in nicely on Boston’s second line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
11. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers (8 at C): With Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle is part of one of the brightest young offensive trios in the NHL. Eberle stayed healthy last season, but wasn’t quite able to build on his impressive sophomore season. His ability to bounce back and take it to the next level is key to the Oilers finally turning their potential into results this season.
12. Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins (12 at LW): The speedy Dupuis has turned into a bona fide goal scorer the last two seasons and he led the league in +/- last season, to boot. Of course, playing on a line with Sid the Kid helps.
13. Joe Pavelski, RW/C, San Jose Sharks (23 at C): After a luckluster season, Pavelski came alive in the postseason, averaging over a point per game as the Sharks came within a game of going to the Western Conference Finals. He’ll need to rack up more PP goals this season if he’s going to bounce back to his 30-goal ways.
14. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers (NR): Simmonds is at his best when he’s playing with some sandpaper to his game, but last season he wasn’t quite as durable and his goal numbers dipped ever so slightly. Perhaps playing with Vincent Lecavalier this season will allow him to take another step forward.
15. P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche (20): Parenteau bolted from the Isles to the Avalanche last season, but he continued his upward trajectory, enjoying his best season yet. However, the fact that he was shifted off Colorado’s top line this fall could hurt his fantasy value.
16. Marian Gaborik, Columbus Blue Jackets (4): The Rangers dealt Gaborik to the Jackets at the deadline last season and the struggling Czech picked up his play somewhat after the trade. He’ll be paired with Artem Anisimov and possibly Cam Atkinson this season, but we’re not sure that sounds like a recipe for a rebound.
17. Brent Burns, RW/D, San Jose Sharks, (23 at D): Injuries limited Burns to five-eighths of an already shortened season, yet he enjoyed his finest offensive output ever, thanks to spending time at wing instead of defense. He was already big as a blueliner (6′5″, 225); as a forward on the top line, Burns is a serious beast.
18. Jason Pominville, Minnesota Wild (6): Minnesota gave up a lot at the trade deadline to acquire Pominville, and the early returns were promising as he turned around a poor season with a strong finish for the Wild. Let’s see if Minnesota can parlay Buffalo’s rebuilding mode into a second straight playoff spot, and perhaps a longer run than last season’s out-in-five showing.
19. Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues (NR): Stewart stayed healthy last season, allowing him to enjoy his finest offensive output since he was a sophomore. He’s not the most sound defensive player in the game, but for Fantasy purposes, who cares – unless it costs him ice time?
20. Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers (NR): Yakupov played in every game in his rookie season and enjoyed a fine debut. Watching what he’ll do for an encore this season should be one of the more fascinating stories in the 2013-14 NHL season. It wouldn’t surprise us if he topped 35 goals.
21. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (18): Wheeler has remained durable throughout his career and he continued to progress offensively in his second season with the Jets. He plays on the top line with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little.
22. Alex Burrows, RW/C, Vancouver Canucks (18 at LW): Burrows normally plays with the Sedin twins, but he may lose that role. And even if he doesn’t, chances are that new coach John Tortorella may not employ this line in as many offensive situations as before. Burrows is a solid two-way player that usually enjoys a sweet +/- ranking.
23. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes (NR): Skinner took another step back last season, although he did manage more power play goals. He’s just 21, so let’s not panic. But hey, at least Taylor Swift still wanted Skinner’s autographed jersey.
24. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (NR): Tarasenko had a nice rookie season, popping one game-winning goal, although he accumulated very few penalty minutes. He is expected to play on a fast-paced line with Magnus Paajarvi and Patrik Berglund.
25. Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils (22): Jagr was a member of the Stars to begin last season, but wound up in Boston and now he’s a Devil. He was having a very nice season for Dallas and was even more productive for the Bruins, proving he is not done yet. Jagr is dealing with some aches and pains this fall, but what do you expect from a 41-year-old that is just nine games shy of 1,400 career NHL games?
26. Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins (9): So far, Iginla looks like he’ll fit in just fine on Boston’s top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, ripping two goals in his first preseason game with the B’s. Last season, Iginla’s offensive regression continued with Calgary and he was dealt to the Pens, bouncing back nicely down the stretch. Let’s see if the recovery can continue this season. He’s no longer a 40-goal man, but he should be able to flirt with or possibly reach 30.
27. Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes (17): The Czech star enjoyed another solid season with the Coyotes, logging plenty of helpers on the power play. He’ll be an UFA next summer, so Vrbata is definitely motivated to have a huge season.
28. Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers (NR): The captain of the Rangers isn’t likely to be ready for the season opener because of a shoulder injury (although his goal is to be in the lineup for the first game). Last season, he stayed healthier and slightly improved his assist numbers.
29. Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings (21): Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last two seasons, and last year matched his career high in +/-. He built on that with six playoff goals – including two game-winners – as the Kings just missed a return trip to the Finals.
30. Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks (NR): After reaching double digits in goals in a shortened rookie season, Silfverberg was shipped west to the Ducks in the Ryan trade. Now Silfverberg is going to play on a line in Anaheim with a dude that’s nearly twice his age, Teemu Selanne.
31. David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs (34): Clarkson, who has been quite durable the past few seasons, bolted the swamp this summer with the lure of a seven-year, $36-million deal from Toronto. We’ll see if the move to Canada can get him back on track after his goal total dipped last season.
32. Michael Ryder, New Jersey Devils (NR): Ryder started last season with Dallas, was dealt back to his original team, Montreal, and was then signed by the Devils this summer for two years and $7 million. He had regressed a bit offensively in Dallas in the first half of the season, but picked things up for the Habs in the second half, potting 10 goals in 27 games. Ryder should produce 55 to 60 points this season.
33. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens (NR): He was a longshot to even make the team, but Gallagher wound up a Calder Trophy finalist based on his rookie performance of 15 goals in 44 games last season. Montreal is counting on more this season as it didn’t make any big moves, so any improvements for the team will be organic.
34. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks (10): Just 25 goals shy of 700 for his career, the old timer is showing he can still bulge the twine in preseason. Last season, however, Selanne regressed considerably and went an ugly -10, so let’s hope he’s got one more decent campaign in his aging body before he waddles off the duck pond.
35. Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks (NR): Kassian has emerged as a sleeper given that he’s getting a shot to play with the Sedins during the preseason. He showed modest growth last season, but is poised to take a major step forward in 2013-14. Tortorella plans to give Kassian a shot to be a big part of the Canucks.
36. T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues (NR): Oshie dealt with an ankle injury last season while also slightly regressing offensively. He did manage to return for the postseason and pot his first two career playoff goals. Oshie is a tenacious player with some upside to his game.
37. Damien Brunner, New Jersey Devils (NR): Brunner signed a professional tryout contract with the Devils for training camp after enjoying a fine rookie season with Detroit. He’s already impressed Coach Peter DeBoer, so perhaps Brunner will stick in the swamp.
38. Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes (NR): Despite his advancing age, Doan played every game last season, but his freefall offensively of the past few years continued. The end of the line is coming soon for the original Coyote.
39. Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals (NR): Brouwer was better defensively in his second season with the Caps while also enjoying a much more productive campaign on the scoresheet. He’s the only current Washington player to boast a Stanley Cup ring, so let’s see if that motivates his teammates.
40. Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings (NR): Abdelkaber is a sleeper given that he’s been playing on Detroit’s No. 1 line in training camp. Durable the past couple of years, he broke through for his first double-digit goal campaign last season and is poised for bigger things in 2013-14.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you think of our rankings. Did we miss anyone?