Top 20 Eastern Conference Fantasy Left Wingers - Part 2 of 2
Last week, we covered the lower half of the top 20 Left Wingers in the Eastern Conference. Yahoo was used for positional eligibility, but a player can only appear at one position, ideally where he is most valuable.
We're not looking at keeper value here, only what kind of return we can expect for the coming season, whenever and for however many games that may be. Here are the top 10 Eastern Conference fantasy Left Wingers as ranked by the Eastern Edge:
10) Alexander Semin - Carolina Hurricanes
Semin finished the 2008-09 season with 79 points in 62 games, a 105 point pro-rated season. He followed that with an 84 point effort and then 54 points in 65 games (68 pro-rated points). Last season he posted a lowly 54 points. The pessimist will say that Semin is trending down; the optimist would counter that the 28-year-old has 100 point talent and a fresh start in Carolina. I don't think Semin gets enough credit and a one year deal provides him with added motivation. It also limits Carolina's financial risk if he mails it in. It was a bold move signing the enigmatic Russian, but it has the potential to pay-off big time for the 'Canes.
9) Patrik Elias - New Jersey Devils
Last season's 78 points were amazing for the venerable 36-year-old, but even more so when you consider that he only took 15 per cent of his even strength shifts with Ilya Kovalchuk. Elias received the Devils second highest average power play time on ice and made the most of his opportunities by recording 29 power play points, tying Kovalchuk for sixth best in the league. Don't expect a repeat of last year's 78 points, but he'll continue to get prime ice time and should be good for a pro-rated 65 points.
8) Max Pacioretty - Montreal Canadiens
Patches (? We don't need no stinkin' Patches!) had a breakout year last season as he picked up where he left off after fracturing vertebrae in his neck on a nasty hit from Zdeno Chara. Pacioretty averaged 18:15 minutes per game, including 3:10 with the man advantage. At last year's World Championship, he scored 12 points in eight games, tops for the American squad and seventh overall in the tournament. If Montreal can improve their goal production, especially on the 28th "best" power play, look for the 24-year-old Pacioretty to help lead the way.
7) Evander Kane - Winnipeg Jets
As he matures, Evander Kane is going to be a monster in both the NHL and your roto leagues. In his final major junior season, he recorded 48 goals and 96 points in 61 games. He then jumped straight to the NHL and saw his point totals rise each successive season from 26 to 43 and finally last year's 57. Of those 57 points, only nine were with the man advantage. He'll need to be given more power play minutes to fulfill the great expectations that are projected for this up and coming 21-year-old.
6) Milan Lucic - Boston Bruins
From an up and coming monster to a proven fantasy monster, fellow Vancouverite Milan Lucic is fantasy gold in roto leagues that count Hits and Penalty Minutes. One of only five NHL players last season to score 25 goals, receive 100 penalty minutes and the only one of those to record over 200 hits. Lucic has recorded back to back 60 point, 120-plus penalty minutes seasons and will continue to do so, barring injury.
5) Rick Nash - New York Rangers
A former first overall pick from 2002, Rick Nash has topped 40 goals twice and logged seven seasons with at least 30 tallies. Nash has a chance to silence his critics, now that he will likely play with a top Center in Brad Richards. Rangers fans must be drooling with anticipation. It is imperative that the 28-year-old stay out of Head Coach John Tortorella's dog house if he wants to have a career year and see his name in the bright lights on Broadway.
4) Scott Hartnell - Philadelphia Flyers
Hartnell enjoyed a career year riding shotgun beside Claude Giroux. He recorded 37 goals (sixth best in the NHL), 67 points, 23 coming via the power play, 136 penalty minutes, 232 shots on goal and 188 hits. In his five seasons with the Flyers, the 30-year-old has missed only three games, two of those to suspension! He is a roto-beast.
3) Ilya Kovalchuk - New Jersey Devils
Where to begin? Kovalchuk finished fifth in the NHL in Points (83), sixth in Goals (37), third in Shots on Goal (310), sixth in Power Play Points (29), led the entire league in Power Play Time on Ice by nearly 38 minutes, averaging almost five minutes per game with the man advantage. The 29-year-old was the top NHL forward by a long shot in average time on ice with 24:26 per game (Marty St. Louis was second with 22:37). In addition to all of the above, Kovalchuk has been very durable, playing 76 games in nine of his 10 NHL campaigns, averaging 42 goals per year. The Devils are going to squeeze every penny of production from their well-paid Russian winger.
2) James Neal - Pittsburgh Penguins
Career numbers last season from the now 25-year-old. He finished fourth in Goals and tied for seventh in Points with Henrik Sedin and John Tavares. In roto leagues, Neal really shone, finishing second in Shots on Goal (329), fourth in Power Play Points (30) and contributed substantially in the Penalty Minutes (87) and Hits (108) categories. Crosby's return does not hurt Neal's point potential one bit as he took over 80 per cent of his even-strength shifts with last season's Art Ross winner Evgeni Malkin.
1) Alexander Ovechkin - Washington Capitals
Last year's 65 points were more than a disappointment, they were a travesty for fantasy hockey owners. Still only 27-years-old, Ovechkin has won the Hart and Rocket Richard trophies twice, Art Ross once and was selected by his peers as the best player in the NHL three times. Discounting last season's debacle, OV had averaged 50 goals and 102 points over his first six NHL campaigns. Since losing in the opening round of the 2009-10 playoffs to Montreal and a hot goaltender (Jaroslav Halak), Ovechkin and the Caps have struggled. Look for that trend to change under Adam Oates.
Name That Player
This player is the only one in the Hockey Hall of Fame with a last name starting with the letter Q. He played 14 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. He played 131 games without a penalty and once played 55 minutes in a game. Who am I?