Fantasy Hockey: Taking a Stand on Left Wings

Zach Parise (photo property of Wikipedia)

In anticipation of the 2010-11 season, has begun its fantasy preview.  In the coming weeks, you can depend on us for  rankings, sleepers, busts, and a “Taking a Stand” preview of each position category.

However, what you will not find in my position previews are a bunch of contradictory thoughts on each player.  Many times, fantasy writers simply spout off one or two positive sentences and one or two negative sentences about each player, leaving the reader in the same place he was before.  With my “Taking a Stand” previews, I strive to avoid that issue.

In these articles, you will find that I take a clear stance on specific players that I feel strongly about.  These are players that I will be willing to reach for or avoid.  Players I want steering my fantasy teams and players I won’t touch unless they are a drastic bargain.  The goal of each is to take a stand and let you question me.  If you agree, great.  If you don’t, tell me why.  You will become a better fantasy player by thinking through each.

In addition to providing strong advice one way or the other, rather than a fluid analysis, these articles will allow you to keep track of my writing.  I could sit here and write about hundreds of players, saying something nice and something negative about each and will be able to claim I was partially correct.  However, by taking a stand,  I will either be right or wrong.  No gray area.

We’ll start the “Taking a Stand” previews with left wing (eligibility determined based on Yahoo! default eligibility).  As a whole, the left wing position is top heavy without a ton of depth.  Only one person will be lucky enough to get Alexander Ovechkin, but those in leagues requiring left wing, rather than just wing, will want to grab a top tier left wing early or be left filling their roster with a number of question marks.  Frankly, there isn’t a ton to like about left wing this season.

Zach Parise – New Jersey Devils – I normally don’t write too much about potential first round picks, it is pretty hard to mess up your first few picks in a draft.  However, I feel like Parise isn’t quite getting the respect he deserves.  In the summer of Kovalchuk, it seems like everyone seems to be forgetting the Devils equally talented superstar.  Parise has four straight 30 goal seasons and was two goals shy of two straight 40 goal seasons.  Parise has also been extremely dependable, playing in at least 81 games in each of his NHL seasons.  With Lemaire and his trap retiring, Parise should have no trouble topping 40 goals and the 90 point plateau, possibly reaching 100 points.  I couldn’t fault anyone taking Parise third overall after Ovie and Crosby.  After the third pick, Parise is a bargain to anyone.

Simon Gagne – Tampa Bay Lightning – I previously wrote about the transformation of the Lightning[/caption]

Thomas Vanek – Buffalo Sabres – I just don’t get it.  Every year someone drafts Vanek way too high based on his “potential” and his 43 goal 84 point sophomore season.  It is well over due that people realize that season is more of the anomaly and shouldn’t expect more than 30 goals and 25-30 assists.  Sure, those numbers aren’t bad, but not in the fourth or fifth round where Vanek is inexplicably taken every year.  The Sabres don’t have an exciting offense as there is little scoring punch beyond the first line, allowing teams to key on that line.  Additionally, Tyler Myers is the only defenseman in the lineup that brings anything to the table offensively.  Why take Vanek anywhere between the fourth and seventh round when you can take Gagne in the ninth or tenth round?  The value just isn’t there.

David Booth – Florida Panthers – I initially wasn’t going to include Booth in this article, but recent rankings and articles have been showing that people are willing to spend a decent draft pick on Booth.  Recently, Sean Leahy ranked Booth 98th overall.  I have seen Booth ranked as high as tenth for left wings.  Booth’s best numbers barely even justify such a ranking.  However, the analysis can’t end with just numbers.  Booth is coming off of two life altering concussions and is one strong hit away from another lost season and possibly career.  The more concussions a player suffers the more susceptible he is to future concussions.  After taking account of the concussions, you still have to consider the anemic offense.  Beyond Weiss and Frolic, there is nothing else of any worth in the offense.  Florida had the second worst offense in the NHL last season, and it looks to be worse this year.  Do yourself a favor and let someone else pay for this high-risk average-return player.

Michael Cammalleri – Montreal Canadiens – Cammalleri is another player that I will never draft because others around me will be paying above market value.  If he plays a full season, 30-35 goals should be expected with about 30 assists mixed in there.  By no means are those bad numbers.  However,  various fantasy minds are ranking him in the top 40 overall and top five on left wing.  Anyone drafting a forward in those rounds would be disappointed if they end up with a 30 goal 30 assist player who does not add much in PIM and is a career minus winger.  You also need to consider that Montreal isn’t an offensive power house and have very little scoring depth to keep teams honest.  Plus, they depend on a passive trapping system to generate turnovers rather than a focus on forechecking and offense.  Cammalleri is also being overrated due to a nice stretch of hockey in April and May.  He did play extremely well and was one of the best playoff performers, but fantasy owners are always over-drafting based on playoff performance.  Lastly, Cammalleri isn’t any less of an injury risk than Simon Gagne.  Yet, Gagne has put up similar numbers in the past, is playing with better talent in a better offensive system, and is being drafted on average five rounds later than Cammalleri.  Again, pass on Cammalleri, unless he is sitting there past the sixth round.

Check back after the weekend for the next “Taking a Stand” installment.

10 thoughts on “Fantasy Hockey: Taking a Stand on Left Wings”

  1. Sounds like a really interesting league. I like keeper leagues that assign draft value to each pick, like yours. Makes the decisions more interesting and it isn’t always the best player being kept due to value.

    In a keeper league, I can’t imagine Benn sticking around long enough to be a later round pick. As I said above, he has always been really good on every level and played very well during his rookie year. I think this will inflate his value in a keeper league to warrant a more of a later mid round selection than a later round selection. But you know your league best.

  2. Thanks for the response. Explaining my keeper league could take all night so I’ll try to keep it brief.
    We have a 8 team head-to-head keeper league with 25 man roster [3RW, 3C, 3LW, 4D, 2G 10bench] with weekely line ups. We play categories that include the standard categories plus a bunch of extras, most notably hits and blocked shots.
    10 bench spots leaves a couple spots for farming really young players who haven’t quite developed yet as long as they have potential.
    A keeper cost you a pick 4 spots higher in the draft than you drafted him at the previous year. There’s lots lots more.

    I guess for a later round LW keeper I’m leaning towards Tangradi or Benn.

  3. Jay, I will be publishing rankings with some more thoughts on certain players as well as authoring a few sleeper and busts articles covering even more players. Stay tuned for more coverage.

    Without knowing anything about your keeper league it is tough to say with any certainty. All four are high upside players who can contribute to some degree this year. I am the least excited about P-S, but that may be a bias due to him being from Sweden rather than North America and not receiving enough coverage. However, he is very young, used to playing on an international surface and against a caliber opponent that is significantly less than what he’ll face in the NHL, and he plays for an Oilers squad that is like to continue to struggle.

    Tangradi is very interesting. I was at prospect camp in July and Tangradi was very impressive. He was a man amongst boys and looked NHL ready. If he makes the team out of camp, he would end up on either Malkin’s or Crosby’s wing and could be the answer for the front of the net on the power play. If any of that happens there is huge sleeper potential. However, whether he is a keeper or not will depend on the depth of your league.

    Hall and Benn can be lumped together as they both receive a huge draft day bump in keeper leagues. Benn has been very good at every level and had a very solid rookie. Assuming he continues to progress, he will probably be a keeper in all but the shallowest leagues. I have some concern for Hall, but in a keeper league, you aren’t drafting Hall for 2010-11. He will obviously command the highest price but could be a risk due to the uncertainty and because he plays for the Oilers. Hall just doesn’t seem to fit the same mold as Stamkos, Tavares, and Kane, as each had much better junior careers. I’m treading lightly on Hall.

    Thanks for the comment.

  4. Good article although I’d like to hear about more players even if you write less.
    Which of these LWs should I consider for my keeper league?
    Hall (obvious I guess)

  5. Hockeyfan, I would love for you to expand and explain why you believe the Pens will fare so well. Even as a Pittsburgher and strong Pens fan, I can’t agree. Salary cap aside, other than Malkin, Crosby, and Staal, there isn’t a forward on the Pens that I would rather over the TB top six. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I think the Pittsburgh penguins have the best top 2 lines in the NHL. But Tampa has good top two lines as well.

  7. Really good article Joe.
    I concur with all of your assessments,
    and I, too, write on this particular subject.

    • Thanks Peter. It was tough coming up with players I liked at left wing and felt strong enough about that I would stand behind the prediction all year. I only wrote about three who I would avoid but there were also a few more who fit the description. It is by far the worst fantasy position this year.

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