Dany Heatley should rebound in Minnesota.
By Chris Wassel and RotoRob
The 2011-12 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit wraps up today with the release of our final Fantasy hockey cheat sheet.
Right Wing is much like LW, where there are the top guys and then you have a drop. The strangest thing is you have three Anaheim Ducks relatively high up this year depending on league eligibility rules. Teemu Selanne is back and he may be good for 75-to-80 points again. However, Corey Perry and Martin St. Louis are still the cream of the crop at this position.
The funny thing is there are some nice depth guys with big potential. Marian Gaborik has a centre (Brad Richards) to pass him the puck and if they both stay healthy, then look out. Right wing does have more depth than left wing, so do not panic if you don’t draft Perry or St. Louis. Historically, this position has three or four top guys, five to seven guys in the second tier and then maybe some decent sleeper depth late.
So while you wonder whether Scott Gomez can bounce back after his disastrous 2010-11 season, let’s review our picks for the top 32 right wingers in Fantasy hockey.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (5): Last season’s MVP is on one of the league’s top lines, and he really broke through in 2010-11 with a league-leading 50 goals. It was an unbelievable showing for a dude that had only topped 30 goals once before. Perry’s shot total was up last season, but not dramatically so… he just scored way more often. It’s reasonable to assume some regression this season and the early returns in preseason aren’t promising (-4 with one point in three games). Obviously, exhibition results generally are meaningless, but asking Perry to again score 50 might be pushing it.
2. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning (2): The NHL’s most gentlemanly player the past two seasons, St. Louis is someone you should target towards the end of the first round of your draft. An ironman that’s played every game in five straight seasons and seven of the past eight, St. Louis enjoyed one of his finest seasons, but it would have been nice if he had finished better than even in plus-minus. He set a career high in assists last season by passing the puck to Steven Stamkos, standing back and watching him rifle it home.
3. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks (15): After barely cracking the top 15 last year, Selanne has soared into the top five this year after opting to return for another season. And why not? All he did last season was explode for 80 points – the most he’s scored since 2006-07 – while continuing his trend of potting big goals. Playing across from fellow Finn Saku Koivu, Selanne should again have a fine season for the Ducks.
4. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames (4): Iginla is getting on in years, and back woes early in camp were a clear reminder of that. Still, he enjoyed a fine comeback season in 2010-11, although it would have nice if he had finished on the positive side in the plus-minus category. Injuries aren’t normally a worry with Iginla, as he’s played every game in each of the past four seasons, and while his penalty minute total dwindled last season, he was a potent force on the power play, racking up 30 of his points with the man advantage. Calgary’s captain should be ready for the opener, but keep an eye on the latest report to see how his back’s faring before your draft.
5. Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild (NR): We like Heatley’s chances of filling the net with a great playmaker like Mikko Koivu feeding him the puck this season. Heatley wasted no time in getting Wild fans excited with two goals and an assist in his first preseason game with the club. Although last season he failed to play every game for the first time in three years and had a tough season by his standards, there’s great hope for recovery. For starters, Healtey’s shooting percentage was the worst of his career last season, and that’s sure to correct itself. He continued to remain a PP beast, putting up 30 points on the man advantage, but wasn’t quite his usual self in terms of potting big goals. Minnesota marks Heatley’s fourth team in eight years; whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen, but he’s tended to excel in his first season with a new club.
6. Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks (14): For Ryan’s profile, see our LW rankings.
7. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets (NR): Nash finally is surrounded by some talent on the Jackets, and that can only mean good things for his prospects. He’s coming off his worst season since 2006-07, missing seven games with injuries, including the final half dozen because of his back. Nash’s shot total soared, but the pucks weren’t going in at their usual rate (in fact, he had the worst shooting percentage of his career), so you can expect his goal total to bounce back this season. And now that he finally has a centre to play with – Jeff Carter – things should look up. Although it will be interesting to see how these two gel, considering they both have a “shoot first” mentality.
8. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals (6 at LW): A key component of Washington’s explosive offense, Semin endured various injuries last season – most notably a hip woe – that limited him to just 65 games and caused his production to plummet. There’s been much speculation in the past that he would be dealt, but as long as he’s a Capital and can stay healthy, expect nice numbers. Note that Semin qualified at LW in the past, so keep an eye on his eligibility at that position.
9. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (1): We still don’t know whether Kane will play on Jonathan Toews’ line or not; in fact, he’s actually been playing centre between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa in the preseason, so if he winds up qualifying there, that would be a nice boost to his value. A leg injury held Kane to his lowest game total yet, but he still averaged a point per game for the second straight season, while setting a new personal best in shooting percentage. But just five PPG? What up with that? Expect that total to bounce back and lead him to a new personal best in goals this season. Kane is about to embark on his fifth NHL season, but there is still a ton of upside – don’t forget that he was just a teen when he started with the Hawks, so at the tender age of 22, there’s plenty of room for growth here.
10. Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers (3): Gaborik will get to play with one of the league’s top playmaking centres now that Brad Richards has joined the Blueshirts. Assuming he can avoid the litany of injuries he faced last season, Gaborik should be poised for a big rebound. If nothing else, his shooting percentage should revert back to career norms, and that alone will make him a 30-plus goal man again. More ice time would help as well; Gaborik had his lowest TOI per game since 2002-03. He’s going to get a ton of chances in the improved Ranger offense this season, so don’t be surprised if he vaults back into the top five by season’s end.
11. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (NR): While many believe that Giroux is on the cusp of a major breakout, we’re not so sure and think he may be slightly overvalued this season as a result. Great things are coming for Giroux, but maybe not for another season or two. Still, he’s proved durable and has already shown signs of being a top playermaker, logging 51 helpers last season and continuing that trend in the preseason with five assists in the past two games. Giroux also posted a career-best +20 while showing a penchant for potting big goals last season.
12. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (6): When we had Hossa as a top 10 RW last season, we said he’d be capable of accumulating 75 points if healthy. Well, that didn’t happen as a variety of injuries limited him to just 65 games. On the plus side, Hossa is looking strong this fall, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll top 25 goals – again, health permitting. He generated plenty of chances last season, and with talk that Kane could man centre and be on Hossa’s line, we’re extremely bullish for a big comeback from the Czech.
13. David Backes, St. Louis Blues (20): When we put Backes in the top 20 last year we talked about how he could be ready to tap into his potential. He definitely did so, playing all 82 games for the second time in three seasons and tying his career high in goals and assists while setting a new personal best in points. Although it would have been nice to see more PPG, he did log 10 helpers on the man advantage. Backes continues to show his scoring touch this preseason and the well-sized American has been appointed the 20th captain in the history of the Blues.
14. Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins (24): Horton is on one of the league’s better lines but in the preseason, he’s spent some time paired with Jordan Caron and Tyler Seguin. Last season, Horton stayed healthy, reaching 80 games for the third time and he showed more aggression in his first season in Boston, more than doubling his PM total from the previous season. Assuming Horton gets to play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci regularly, he’ll have a shot at posting his second 30-goal campaign.
15. Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings (26 at C): Franzen is among the most injury-prone players in the game, but as we saw last season when he recorded his second 55-point campaign, he’s capable of supplying offense when healthy. He’s a beast on the PP and also has a penchant for potting big goals. Franzen is also listed in our centre rankings.
16. Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres (11): Pominville’s streak of playing every game for four straight seasons ended in 2010-11 when a concussion sidelined him for nine games early in the campaign. As a result, his assist total continued a downward trend, dropping from a career-best 53 in 2007-08 to 46 to 38 to just 30 last season. Pominville’s usually modest PM totals reached career lows last season and he wasn’t the force on the power play he usually is. He’s been lighting it up this preseason, so hopefully he can find his way back to the 25+ goal level.
17. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers (NR) If the preseason means anything, Jagr is ready to exclaim his return to the NHL with a fury. He’s potted four goals in three games as he enters his first NHL season since 2007-08. Jagr’s goal scoring dipped precipitously in his last two NHL seasons, but he’s still a dangerous force that demands close attention by opponents. His quest to be a force again in the NHL is one of the season’s more interesting stories to track.
18. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (18): When we ranked Kessel in the exact same spot last season, we said he’d possibly reach 40 goals but that 40 assists was a stretch. Well, he stayed healthy but didn’t quite approach either milestone while taking a horrid -20 on an improving, but still substandard Leafs team. Hey, at least he potted his first ever short-handed goal. In the preseason, Kessel is lining up with Matthew Lombardi and Joffrey Lupul, which doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for him taking his game to a new level this season.
19. Martin Havlat, San Jose Sharks (8): With Havlat playing with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture in San Jose this season, we’re quite bullish on his chances to come up big. Havlat missed his chance to win a cup in Chicago, so he’s driven to help San Jose finally bag one. He managed to reach 40 assists for the second time last season, and that’s a number that could rise with such talented linemates. He “improved” to -10 in his second season with the Wild, but now that he’s on a powerhouse after being dealt for Heatley, that number will be reversed.
20. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars (14 at LW): Eriksson got shaken up this preseason, but is now fine, so don’t downgrade him on your cheat sheets. He’s shown improvement in every one of his seasons and there’s no reason to think that can’t continue. We definitely like the fact that he bounced back to +10 after posting a disappointing -4 the previous season. Best of all, Eriksson emerged as a serious force on the PP last season, ripping 10 goals and adding 15 assists. He’ll man the second line in Big D with Jamie Benn and Steve Ott. For now, Eriksson will only qualify here, but he could also qualify at LW if the Stars change their plans again.
Others to Consider
21. Devin Setoguchi, Minnesota Wild (16)
22. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders (NR)
23. Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues (17)
24. Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (24 at LW)
25. Mikael Samuelsson, Vancouver Canucks (NR)
26. Teddy Purcell, Tampa Bay Lightning (NR)
27. Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning (NR)
28. Drew Stafford, Buffalo Sabres (NR)
29. Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators (13)
30. Brian Gionta, Montreal Canadiens (12)
31. Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers (9)
32. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (NR)