Training camp is on the horizon and today we look at the top 20 right-wingers. Other players with right-wing eligibility may be in another ranking or have missed the cut. These rankings are based off of Yahoo’s standard league categories – adjust accordingly.
1. Nikita Kucherov (TB – RW)
Two years ago, Kucherov took his game to the next level. Last season he proved it was no fluke as he increased his point and shot totals. Playing with Steven Stamkos is always dangerous every shift and there’s no reason for him to slow down. Tampa Bay scores goals and he is at the forefront of it all, he’s elite.
2. Blake Wheeler (WPG – C, RW)
Does one season earn you the elite status? Wheeler has been underrated in my opinion for a number of years. The biggest improvement last season was the Winnipeg power-play which finished fifth overall. It’s no secret they are also loaded up front, but he ranks higher than Laine for me because he plays with Mark Scheifele. If you’re worried about his success, last year among all players, he ranked third in assists per 60 minutes with 2.49 and first in primary assists with 48. ELITE!
3. Patrick Kane (CHI – RW)
Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks had a year to forget. Gone is his man Artemi Panarin, forcing Kane to carry the line by himself. He’s still elite guys, and runs the power-play. It’s a new year, but the Hawks don’t look scary anymore, forcing me to not pay first round value.
4. David Pastrnak (BOS – RW)
Pastrnak is the last guy part of the amazing Boston Bruins top line. He had a career year and then exploded for 20 points in 12 playoff games. I don’t need to explain how good this line is, just draft him.
5. Patrik Laine (WPG – RW)
The sophomore slump got Laine in the first half as he recorded 39 points in 50 games. He got his act together in the second half with 31 points in 32 games. With Winnipeg being an offensive juggernaut, I believe we’ll see more of the second half Laine.
6. Phil Kessel (PIT – RW)
Evgeni Malkin and his partner in crime, Kessel, were very successful and torched the league last season. They were simply amazing and if Geno can stay healthy then maybe a repeat performance is possible.
7. Vladimir Tarasenko (STL – RW)
Tarasenko is a goal-scorer and one of the most dangerous. He’s coming off a bit of a disappointing season, but that may change if he plays with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. He already shoots pucks at an elite rate and will give you some hits as well. I expect a rebound season and he will hover around 70+ points, if not better.
8. Mitch Marner (TOR – RW)
Mitch Marner was also hit by the sophomore slump in the first half of the season. He recorded 34 points in 51 games in the first half and then got his game on track with 35 points in 31 games in the second. He carried that momentum into the playoffs where he was outstanding, recording nine points in seven games. Still worried about him? Well he runs the power-play and the puck will move through him even if they load up the top unit. He is a tremendous play-maker with outstanding vision and is now playing with an elite talent, so expect a career season.
9. Joe Pavelski (SJ – C, RW)
Joe Pavelski finally has someone to play with. There’s some chemistry with Evander Kane and I expect a much better season. Truth is, he had a very slow start with 34 points in 48 games, but picked it up in the second half with 32 points in 34 games. He ended the season with 66 points and that number is almost identical to his 68 points in 2016-17. I expect him to return to the 70’s point total with a possibility of being a point-per-game player. Please, just figure out the power-play already.
10. Mikko Rantanen (COL – RW)
If Nathan MacKinnon is going to try for MVP again this year, then Mikko Rantanen will reap the benefits. No line scored more five-on-five goals than them and with MacKinnon and Rantanen being so young, it’s hard not to think that these two will be even better players this year.
11. Jakub Voracek (PHI – RW)
What a year for the Philadelphia Flyers and Voracek included. It’s hard to think he can replicate those numbers from last season when he’s not playing on the top line with Claude Giroux. He still gets his power-play points which should be better with the addition of James van Riemsdyk.
12. Alexander Radulov (DAL – RW)
Radulov’s first season in Dallas was a success. Playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin has its perks. He’s a safe pick to get points alongside them and he also can provide a little bit of hits and shots.
13. Brock Boeser (VAN – RW)
Gone are the Sedin twins and a new era has begun. Boeser most likely would have won the rookie of the year if not for bouncing off Cal Clutterbuck and into the bench door. He is healthy to start the year and I’m excited to see how he’ll perform facing the top NHL defencemen. There’s one thing he does well and that’s scoring goals.
14. William Nylander (TOR – RW)
It was an up-and-down season for William Nylander and was off the Matthews line as he struggled to find consistency. His value lies with Auston Matthews and obviously we want him there. With John Tavares in the fold, everyone believes the line will face easier match-ups. There’s a lot of skill in there, Mike Babcock just has to unlock it.
15. Mark Stone (OTT – RW)
Ottawa may be a mess right now, but at least they have a top line that should be good for 60 points apiece. Mark Stone has hit 60 points in three out of the last four years and there’s no reason why he won’t hit it this year. Yes it’s a team I’d avoid, but even bad teams have players who score. He’s making over $7 million, but his draft value may be just right on a team no one expects much from.
16. Dustin Brown (LA – RW)
With Yahoo standard leagues shifting from penalty minutes to hits, Dustin Brown has tremendous value. Brown resurrected his career and put up his first 50+ point campaign since 2011-12. So will he hit 60 again this season? I’m cautious because he is 33 years of age, but he does have the line mates to do it again. While I don’t know if can replicate last season’s numbers, no one on this list comes close to recording as many hits as him, making him extremely valuable.
17. Reilly Smith (VGK – LW, RW)
The top line of the Vegas Golden Knights led the charge as they surprised everyone. The line was so good just check out the plus-minus. That stat doesn’t tell the whole story, but when it’s very lopsided like this it’s pretty easy to tell that this line was really good last season. Everyone on the line will probably get under drafted because they are afraid and don’t believe of a repeat season, making these guys easy value picks.
18. Mikael Granlund (MIN – C, RW)
Granlund has yet to eclipse 70 points but he made some small strides last season. The biggest improvement was the amount of shots as he increased the total to 193. If he plays with Eric Staal and Jason Zucker he probably has a good chance to eclipse 70 points, if not you are still looking at a 60-point player with some upside.
19. Jason Zucker (MIN – LW, RW)
Granlund’s possible line mate exploded for a career season. Forming chemistry with Staal, both players flourished and it will be up to them to lead the Minnesota Wild. It’s the new top line for them so expect another 60-point season from Zucker.
20. Viktor Arvidsson (NSH – RW)
That’s back-to-back 61-point seasons. The biggest gripe is the lack of power-play points. Other than that, he has proved to be a stud with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. This line is really good so the points will come, just hope more power-play points come.