While the left wing position is strong, we may be about to dive into one of the deepest positions in fantasy hockey.
That’s right. There are plenty of viable options among right wingers for fantasy owners to target this season. A mixture of elite guys, young guys, veterans, you name it. The center position is obviously the deepest, but right wing isn’t too shabby either. Below you will find some of my top guys at the position to look to select on draft day.
1) Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: After slumping for the first half of the season, Ovechkin absolutely dominated the league in half number two, and under new head coach Adam Oates, Ovechkin transitioned smoothly from left wing to right. The Great 8 went on to lead the league in goals (32), power-play goals (16) and shots on goal (220). The presence of Oates, a very offensive-minded head coach, should continue to help Ovechkin as a favorite to lead the league in points. Of course, the loss of setup man Mike Ribeiro definitely hurts, as he made Ovechkin’s job a little bit easier, but he’ll still get you that mixture of goals, assists, shots and PIMS better than any other right wing, which makes him deserving of the number one spot.
2) Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: He may not be the number one guy, but Kane is definitely a lock for the number two spot in my eyes. If you would have extrapolated his 23-goal, 32-assist, 55-point over a full 82-game season, Kane would have scored 96 points, which would have been his best statistical season in his career. He was that good. A general on the man advantage, Kane displayed some of the silkiest mits in all of hockey last season, and with the same nucleus around him, he should be a strong candidate to finish inside the top-three among fantasy right wings. Last year, Kane scored at least one point in 35 straight contests, which tied for third-most in the NHL. If he could get fantasy owners PIMS, he would serve as a legitimate threat to Ovechkin’s top spot. But still, in an elite offense, Kane isn’t even in his prime yet, and should take yet another big step forward in 2013.
3) Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning: He’s 38-years old, but I could care less. St. Louis was arguably hockey’s best player in 2012, leading the entire league in points (60), assists (43) and multi-point games (18). The chemistry between the veteran and elite goal-scorer Steven Stamkos is one of the most elite connections in all of hockey. The fact that last season was a shortened one should be able to keep the aging winger fresh for the 2013 season. A guy who has averaged at least 21 minutes of ice time in every season since 2005, St. Louis still has plenty left in the tank. Also, the addition of rookie playmaker Jonathan Drouin should help St. Louis post even more points. I’m not worried about his age because St. Louis has remained a productive fantasy option, and over the past three years, only six players have scored more points than St. Louis. Rumblings out of Tampa Bay indicate that he may become the new Lightning captain, and he should be the captain of your fantasy team as well.
4) Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: If I had to pick one player to take the biggest leap in 2013, it may very well be Phil the Thrill. Kessel had a solid shortened 2012 campaign, scoring 20 goals, dishing 32 assists, resulting in 52 points. Pretty impressive math, no? Kessel continues to improve each year, and if you extrapolated last year into a full season, Kessel would have posted back-to-back 80-point seasons. Over the last three seasons, Kessel, believe it or not, has scored the fifth-most points among anyone in hockey, ahead of guys like Ovechkin and Kane. The Leafs continue to get better as a team, which could help Kessel improve his plus/minus. The last time he had a positive rating was in 2008 (23), but Toronto looks like they are improving each and every year. Setup man Nazem Kadri has been extended, which helps Kessel, and I think, barring injury, Kessel nets 40 goals, at least.
5) Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Perry didn’t have the 2012 season that fantasy owners were hoping for, but it was still a solid one (15 goals, 21 assists). Perry is one of the better fantasy options in terms of a combination of goals and PIMS. Since the 2008 season, Perry has basically been a 30-goal scorer, but has also eclipsed 100 penalty minutes in every year. Here’s a guy who can snipe it passed the goaltender at any time, as he scored 50 goals just three years ago. But Perry can do so much more than that. He’s a physical player, which explains the PIM production, and also takes a ton of shots on goal, firing more than 250 shots on net in every season since 2007. When drafting players, I love the versatile guys who can give you a little bit of everything, and Perry fits the bill perfectly.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.