These tier posts breakdown our positional rankings to help you better understand who you should be targeting in your fantasy draft and when you should be going after them. Here are our top left wingers for the 2018-19 season, tiers 6-9. You can find the rest of our positional tiers here:
Jeff Skinner (BUF), Matthew Tkachuk (CGY), Jake Guentzel (PIT), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM)
Skinner followed up a career-high 37 goals in 2016-17 with just 24 last year. Skinner, like most Hurricanes, experienced some misfortunes at 5v5, with his personal and on ice shooting percentages both falling below his career averages. Expect more than just 24 goals if he’s able to raddle off another 280 shots this year, especially if he ends up spending the year skating alongside Jack Eichel. Tkachuk certainly made some strides in his offensive game last season, registering 24 goals and 25 assists in just 68 games as a 20-year-old. His shot volume is extremely encouraging for a player his age, but he has no chance of taking Johnny Gaudreau’s spot on the top line which ultimately caps his ceiling for this year.
Guentzel and Nugent-Hopkins are similar in that their value is closely tied to the generational talent they’re expected to play with. Guentzel played over 650 minutes at 5v5 with Sidney Crosby last season, and the difference between their CF% (56.37%) and their GF% (42.86%) suggests they were unlikely not to produce more at even strength. Another year on the top line with Crosby should result in a 25 goal, 50 point season for Guentzel. Nugent-Hopkins was productive when healthy last season (48 points in 62 games) and, for the most part, he did that without playing alongside Connor McDavid. RNH could have a monster year if the Oilers stick to their reported plan of shifting him to McDavid’s left wing full time.
Filip Zadina (DET), Anders Lee (NYI), Kevin Fiala (NSH), Timo Meier (SJS), Patrick Marleau (TOR), Nino Niederreiter (MIN)
After one-year in the QMJHL, Zadina surprisingly fell to the Red Wings at sixth overall in this summer’s draft. The Czech winger is expected to make the team right away and projects to be a middle-six winger on a thin depth chart. Zadina is a crafty winger with a deadly shot who finished third in QMJHL goal scoring (44) and tied for seventh in points (82), leading all rookies in both categories. He dazzled in the Red Wings’ development camp and becomes an immediate favourite to lead the team in goals. Not unlike his linemate Josh Bailey, Lee plummeted down our draft board after John Tavares announced he was leaving Long Island for the Maple Leafs. Lee was a surprise 40-goal scorer last season, shooting 19.2% on just 208 shots. That would be tough enough to replicate even if he played another year tied to the waist of Tavares. Still, Lee commands some respect as a back-to-back 30-goal scorer, and he’s likely to start the year on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. He could do a lot worse, to be sure.
Fiala registered 23 goals and 25 assists last year as a 21-year-old while playing just 15 minutes a night. Though he’s unlikely to move up to the top line anytime soon, he might be able to bump Craig Smith off the top powerplay unit. His 187 shots in such a limited role suggest he’s more than capable of potting 30 goals if he gets enough playing time. Meier took full advantage of playing alongside Joe Pavelski last season, registering 21 goals and 210 shots despite playing under 15 minutes a night. His underlying numbers are encouraging, and he’s projected to start back on that top line with Pavelski and Evander Kane, but he’ll need to see some more powerplay time (7th among Sharks forwards last year) if he wants to have a shot at 30 goals.
We’re still waiting to see where exactly Marleau will slot into the Leafs’ stacked depth chart this season, but it can be assumed that he’ll either be playing alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander, or John Tavares and Mitch Marner. Either scenario makes Marleau a lock for 25 goals, but his low assist totals in recent years hinder him from being anything more than depth for the bottom of your fantasy roster. We’re still of the belief that if Nino Niederreiter was ever to play more than 15 minutes a night he would easily break 60 points. It hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t seem likely to happen this year either, given the depth of the Wild’s top-nine. Regardless, assuming a clean bill of health, he should be right around 25 goals and 50 points again this year.
Tomas Hertl (SJS), Chris Kreider (NYR), Brandon Saad (CHI), Ondrej Palat (TBL), Max Domi (MTL)
While he might not ever fulfill the potential he flashed in his rookie season, Hertl should continue to receive plenty of powerplay time and is firmly rooted within the Sharks top-six. The ceiling isn’t as lofty as we once hoped but it’s a solid floor for a position as thin as left wing. Kreider notched 16 goals and 21 assists in just 58 games last season. Similar to Hertl, the ceiling isn’t very high here but the lack of options upfront for the Rangers means 50 points should be a safe bet for Kreider so long as he stays healthy.
In his return to Chicago, Saad sputtered to a 35-point campaign despite playing in all 82 games last season. There was an aspect of bad luck involved, with Saad shooting just 7.6% on 237 shots. Given their 57.11 CF% at 5v5 together, Saad and linemate Jonathan Toews should both be more productive this season. While the smart money says to bet on a bounce back year from Saad, his career high of 53 points means he’s not worth investing anything more than a late-round pick.
Palat was still able to rack up 35 points last season despite playing in just 56 games. That’s a 52-point pace over a full season, which is right in line with what you can expect from him this year so long as he doesn’t slide any further down the Lightning depth chart. Domi hasn’t been able to build upon his 18-goal rookie season in 2015-16, failing to score double digit goals in back-to-back seasons. The move to Montreal should open up more ice time for Domi and with that more goal-scoring opportunities, but either way his high assist totals (36 last year) means he’s worth a late-round pick.
Zach Parise (MIN), Robby Fabbri (STL), David Perron (STL), Anthony Beauvillier (NYI)
While he’s far from the point-per-game player he once was, Parise still managed to pot 15 goals in just 42 games last year. Left wing is by far the thinnest position in fantasy hockey coming into this season, meaning just the potential to score 25 goals is enough to warrant adding Parise to the bottom of your roster. After registering 66 points in his first 123 games, Fabbri missed the entire 2017-18 season after brutally re-tearing his ACL in training camp. There’s a lot of uncertainty here, which is why you don’t want to invest more than a late-round flyer on Fabbri, but his half a point-per-game pace despite an ATOI of just 14:16 suggests there’s some upside here if he can stay healthy.
Perron returns to St. Louis this year for his third stint with the Blues. The 30-year-old enjoyed a career year last season, scoring 16 goals and adding an astonishing 50 assists. His usage should take a hit from the 18 minutes a night he saw last year, but his underlying numbers don’t point towards a ton of regression otherwise. Tavares leaving has had an unfortunate domino effect on Anthony Beauvillier, who enjoyed a 21-goal breakout season in 2017-18. At just 22 years old there is a lot to like here, but his former linemates Barzal and Eberle are likely to hop up to top line alongside Anders Lee. That leaves Beauvillier to play with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey, a considerable downgrade from what he had going for him last year.
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