Ranking the Top 20 Left Wingers for Fantasy Hockey in 2011-2012

1. Daniel Sedin LW Vancouver Canucks Daniel Sedin was the only player to score over 100 points last season.  Sedin should be the first left winger you draft.

2. Alexander Ovechkin LW Washington Capitals Ovechkin is still a top 5 player in the NHL, but he is not the 2nd best player in the NHL after Crosby anymore.  I think Stamkos holds that title for now because the Lightning defeated the Capitals in the playoffs.

3. Zach Parise LW New Jersey Devils Parise is one of the more underrated snipers in the league.  The Devils will be better this year.  I’ll still have Parise at #3 even if he is not on the Devils.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk LW New Jersey Devils The Devils played better at the end of the year.  I expect Parise and Kovalchuk to improve next year.

5. Henrik Zetterberg LW Detroit Red Wings Zetterberg was 9th in points last season during the regular season.  Draft Henrik Zetterberg if he is available.

6. Milan Lucic LW Boston Bruins Lucic is a power forward who excels with short distance goals.  Lucic had a career high 62 points for the Boston Bruins last season.

7. Taylor Hall LW Edmonton Oilers Rookies who enter their sophomore year post better numbers.  With all the draft picks that Edmonton obtained I could see the Oilers contending for an 8 seed at best.  Taylor Hall is due for a big year.  He is one my sleepers who I expect to make huge strides in 2011 as a line 1 left winger.

8. Patrick Sharp LW Chicago Blackhawks Sharp never gets any credit for his underrated hard work with Toews at center and Patrick Kane being a #1 overall pick.  Sharp is an underrated player that makes the Blackhawks line 1 unit click.

9. Dany Heatley LW Minnesota Wild Heatley will be paired up with Mikko Koivu an underrated playmaker center on the first line.  Devin Setoguchi should be the line 1 right winger for the Wild.   Minnesota will have one of the more underrated line 1 units in the NHL this season.

10. Ryan Clowe LW San Jose Sharks Clowe will have to step up for the Sharks thanks to the Sharks losing Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi at the wing.  San Jose has depth at center with Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, and Couture.  Now the Sharks just need the wingers to step up.  Clowe is the Sharks best winger so look for him to have a big year.

11. Alexandre Burrows LW Vancouver Canucks Burrows is the line 2 left winger that compliments Ryan Kesler on the Canucks line 2 the same way the Sedin brothers compliment each other on line 1.

12. Thomas Vanek LW Buffalo Sabres Vanek is an underrated sniper at left wing.  Some people think he has not succeeded as a player because he has not lived up to the hype of a top 5 pick.  Vanek was drafted 5th overall in 2003 and had his best season in 2010-2011.  You can label Vanek overrated because you believe he has not lived up to the hype of a top 5 pick, but I believe Vanek is one of the most underrated players in the league.  The only question mark is the consistency.  Vanek has posted questionable numbers year after year and he is not even an alternate captain on the Buffalo Sabres despite being a top 5 pick in 2003.

His teammate Derek Roy a line 1 center can post 70 points if he plays a full season at center.  Roy has only played 82 games once in his career.  Roy’s injury history could limit Vanek’s ability as a sniper.

Vanek posted 73 points in 2010-2011 and stepped up with Roy only playing 35 games last year due to an injury.  Vanek had his best season since 2006-2007 where he posted 84 points while leading the Sabres to a Presidents Trophy for best regular season record in the NHL.

Vanek usually has 40 penalty minutes a year.  He reduced that total of penalty minutes to 24 last season which may explain why his points total increased to a significant degree.

13. James Neal LW Pittsburgh Penguins James Neal can be an underrated sniper.  He can have a big year with a playmaker like Crosby, Staal, or Malkin on the ice.  He didn’t step up last year, but I get the feeling he is peaking this season.  Neal will fall to the later rounds so take him if you get the chance.

14. Jamie Benn LW Dallas Stars Jamie Benn is a sniper on the Dallas Stars at left wing who was tied with Brenden Morrow for 4th in team points.  Morrow is aging while Benn is young.  That’s why I am giving a slight edge to Jamie Benn over Morrow at the moment.

15. Brenden Morrow LW Dallas Stars Morrow is still a good late round pickup at his age, but I would not get him until after round 5.

16. Chris Kunitz LW Pittsburgh Penguins Chris Kunitz will be the line 2 left winger for Pittsburgh.  Kunitz is a quality two way forward at left wing with play making ability and decent shooting power as a sniper.  Kunitz does not have the best accuracy or durability status, but his production on the ice compensates for this.

17. James Van Riemsdyk LW Philadelphia Flyers James Van Riemsdyk is due for a breakout campaign with the Philadelphia Flyers.  James van Riemsdyk is a sniper and 2007 1st round pick who will finally play with 2006 first round pick Claude Giroux on the first line.

18. Scott Harnell LW Philadelphia Flyers has Harnell in their top 25 left wingers for their fantasy hockey leagues, but not James Van Riemsdyk.  That makes no sense because Scott Harnell will most likely be anchoring a 2nd line featuring either Max Talbot, Brayden Schenn, or Sean Couturier as the playmaker center.  Harnell’s numbers will be lower this year.  Especially if Jagr ends up playing right wing on the 2nd line which could affect the team chemistry seeing that Harnell was on the team along with two newcomers in Jagr and a center competing for the line 2 spot torn between listening to Harnell or Jagr.

19. Simon Gagne LW Los Angeles Kings Gagne and Mike Richards have amazing team chemistry and both players played on the Philadelphia Flyers team that lost to the Blackhawks in 6 games.  Both players should excel on the Kings line 1 unit.  Gagne was the sniper in Philadelphia while Mike Richards was the playmaker center.

20. Dustin Penner LW Los Angeles Kings Penner is a quality left winger at power forward.  He can convert short distance shots that Anze Kopitar sets up.