By Rob Kirk
on Wednesday, February 13th
There probably isn’t a position in the NHL that has been more surprising and disappointing at the same time than the left wing. The top three rated left wings are Alexander Ovechkin, Daniel Sedin and James Neal.
None of these three rank even in the top five in their position with almost a quarter of the NHL season in the books. The second tier and some of the third and fourth tier of players at that position have taken ownership of the left wings.
That isn’t to say that there was that much of a gap to begin with, but nobody expected the production fall off from Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin . James Neal barely sniffs the top 40 of all players with his eight goals so far, but he is a minus-6 on the year and has only two assists in 13 games to date.
We have hit the reset button on fantasy drafts for centers and defensemen; now we’ll do the same for the left wings. For my top left wings, this is what I projected:
5. Alexander Ovechkin
4. Daniel Sedin
3. Rick Nash
2. Ilya Kovalchuk
1. James Neal
Here is my Fantasy Draft “Do Over” at left wing:
5. Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins-Taking James Neal’s spot for Pittsburgh on this list (so far) has been Kunitz who has had great success playing with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby while head coach Dan Bylsma shuffles his lines to get the best combination. Through the Penguins’ first 13 games Kunitz had struck for six goals and added nine helpers
4. Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils-New Jersey was expected to slip up this year after losing their captain, Zach Parise to free agency. Patrik Elias has stepped up big in his place and has helped the Devils get out to an amazing start. The Devils have only one regulation time loss in their first 13 games with Elias chipping in three goals and 11 assists.
3. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks-After a scorching start that saw Marleau set an NHL record with four consecutive two-goal games, the Shark sniper has cooled off. He has 10 goals and five assists through 12 games.
2. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings-The Red Wings newest captain is leading by example with five goals and 13 assists. Zetterberg is resuming his place in the “elite” player category after a couple of disappointing seasons.
1. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres-Probably the lowest ranked player in any position to be siting so high in the “do over”, Vanek has been impressive so far. He has put up two five-point games so far this year and leads the NHL in scoring through the first 12 games with 11 goals and 12 assists.