We continue to roll out the 2008-09 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit, as Steven ranks the top 15 left wingers for us today.
1. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Were you expecting anybody else to be here? Sidney Crosby gets all the love, but Ovechkin carried the Capitals on his massive shoulders.
2. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings: One school of thought says Detroit might have too many superstars, but Zetterberg’s grit and ability to play with just about anybody should pretty much guarantee another season of 90-odd points.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers: Awful team, fantastic player, lots of points.
4. Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators: Heatley had a great regular season despite missing 11 games. He could easily hit 90 points this season.
5. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: He lost Markus Naslund, but he still has his brother. Sedin is nothing if not consistent, and if he somehow finds himself on a line with Mats Sundin? He could easily put up 90 points.
6. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets: Like Kovalchuk, a great player on a lousy team. The general consensus is that having R.J. Umberger as his centre will allow Nash to put up even more than last season’s 69 points. Umberger’s no Sidney Crosby, but he should be serviceable enough to take the pressure off Nash having to do everything himself, which will let Nash focus on scoring.
7. Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles Kings: His 67-point campaign last season was actually a bit of a dip from the season before. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Kings are becoming a more cohesive team, and Frolov should benefit from that.
8. Kristian Huselius, Columbus Blue Jackets: Huselius had 25 goals and 41 assists in Calgary last season. While he’ll be behind Nash on the Columbus depth-chart next season, he should see plenty of chances to score. The gamble is he’ll lose some assists, but pick up more goals.
9. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres: Vanek didn’t have a great season, presumably because he was freaked out about being the first successful Sabre ever to get a decent contract extension. He settled down toward the end of the season and that should carry over into the upcoming one.
10. Alex Tanguay, Montreal Canadiens: A truly underrated player who saw his numbers dip in Calgary because of his two-way versatility. Playing in Montreal, he’ll have plenty of chances for offense and probably won’t have a ton of defensive responsibilities. The only question is if Tanguay remembers how to score.
11. Ray Whitney, Carolina Hurricanes: He’s coming off ankle surgery, but assuming that’s fully healed, he should provide plenty of offense for the Hurricanes.
12. Marco Sturm, Boston Bruins: He flirted with a 30-goal, 30-assist season last season and while he didn’t hit that mark, he still managed to lead the Bruins in goals. Sturm’s not a very exciting player, but he’s usually good for anything from 40 to 50 points a season.
13. Markus Naslund, New York Rangers: He’s old and he’s not coming off a great season, but how can you not put up decent numbers playing on the Rangers’ top line with Scott Gomez as your centre? Naslund is getting a fresh start on a huge stage as the Rangers reinvent themselves. If that’s not good for 60 to 70 points, I don’t know what is.
14. Andrew Brunette, Minnesota Wild: His time with the Avalanche was often marked by inconsistency, but he’s back with the Wild where he should find himself playing with Marian Gaborik (for as long as Gaborik stays in Minnesota). This should help Brunette to step up his play and find some game-to-game consistency.
15. Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils: He should really be an honorable mention, but I just can’t believe he’s as awful as he played last season. It didn’t help that he spent some time at centre and was bounced around New Jersey’s lines. I can’t help but think that pride will force Elias into a strong upcoming season, though.
Others to Consider
Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars
Cory Stillman, Florida Panthers
Paul Kariya, St. Louis Blues
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks