Fantasy Hockey 2013: The Head Of The Class; Left Wingers

 

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

 

Yesterday, I highlighted some of my top centers for Fantasy Hockey this upcoming season. While the center position has a handful of superstar caliber plays, the next position I’ll be discussing sees a significant dropoff.

Don’t get me wrong. The left wing position isn’t bad by any means. It just lacks those elite players, but instead, is filled with a bunch of very good guys. Anyway, as fantasy hockey drafts are rapidly, yet quietly approaching, here is a look at some of my favorite guys to target at the left wing position.

1) Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers: Hall definitely has the most upside out of any of the left wingers in fantasy this year. Just one shortened season removed from scoring 50 points in 45 games, Hall is looking to take another step forward in 2013. He has yet to play a full season, and after finishing as a top-three fantasy left wing last year, Hall clearly has the talent and supporting cast to make the leap to number one. Of course, he may also have some dual-eligibility this season, as the Oilers may be experimenting Hall at center while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. There is plenty of young talent on this Edmonton roster, and as long as he can stay healthy, Hall should benefit tremendously, resulting in another top-three fantasy season.

2) Rick Nash, New York Rangers: Nash may be Hall’s biggest competition as fantasy’s number one left wing. During his inaugural campaign with the Rangers, Nash netted 21 goals and added another 21 helps for a solid 42 points. Nash is a capable 40-goal scorer, having achieved that mark twice during his time with the lowly Blue Jackets. Assuming he stays healthy, there is no doubt that he can net 40 goals once again on a strong team such as the Rangers. Nash’s new coach, Alain Vigneault, has the track record of getting the very best out of his talented forwards. For instance, during the 2006-07 season with the Canucks, Vigneault helped the Sedin twins emerge into two of the better players in hockey, and both posted career-highs in points during that season. This bodes well for Nash, as Vigneault knows how to create the correct lines to get the best out of his players, including Nash.

3) Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: Sedin no longer has the upside of some of these other guys, but he’s still a rock solid option as a number one fantasy left wing on your roster. Sure, his point-per-game totals have decreased in each of the last three seasons, and sure, he’s 32-years old. However, he is still one of the best setup men in all of hockey, so assists should come with ease. The chemistry between Sedin and brother Henrik is out of this world, and despite how old they get, both will remain productive for the Canucks, as well as fantasy owners.

4) Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins: Man, what a 2012 campaign from Kunitz. He finished inside the top-three among all players in fantasy hockey after scoring 22 goals and 30 assists. It says something if he flirted with his career-high in goals (26) in a shortened season. Playing alongside Syndey Crosby worked wonders for the 33-year old Kunitz, who also posted a career-high in plus/minus (+30). There were 14 games were Kunitz scored more than one point, and a few where he scored three or more. He had certain stretches where he was one of the hottest players in all of hockey, and while some regression is expected, the presence of Crosby and other weapons on that club will keep Kunitz among the top fantasy left wingers in the game.

5) Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings: Zetterberg had a fine 2012 season, posting 48 points. The Detroit captain looked terrific last season, especially with young winger Damien Brunner. The two Swedish skaters worked out during the lockout, and it appeared to pay off, as their chemistry was strong over the course of the season. Unfortunately, Brunner is a free agent right now, as the Red Wings didn’t bring him back. Still, Zetterberg has to be considered a top-five fantasy left winger heading into the 2013 season. He still has a heck of a partner in crime in Pavel Datsyuk, who’s two-way play benefits everyone around him. He is a strong candidate for 300 shots, 30 goals and 45 assists. He has also averaged over 19 minutes of ice time per contest in each season since 2003. He may be a veteran, but he’s still a top-notch fantasy winger.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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