At both the beginning and midpoint of the 2022-23 season, we put together a list of the top 10 current left wingers in the NHL. These lists are highly subjective, as there are several big-name players left off for ones who are playing better hockey thus far. That said, the season is only a quarter of the way in, making it even more difficult.
As you can imagine, compiling this certainly wasn’t easy, but it is a fun thing to discuss regardless. With that said, here are the current top 10 left wingers in the NHL.
10. Kevin Fiala
Kevin Fiala was forced to miss 13 games in his first season as an LA King, but when he was in the lineup, he proved he was worth trading for. The 27-year-old has turned into one of the games better producing wingers, accumulating 157 points over his past 151 games.
Fiala is the best point producer on his team, which is saying a ton given how talented of a roster the Kings have. Despite not yet receiving the credit he deserves when it comes to star talent in the league, that will soon change if he is able to have another big season or two.
9. Johnny Gaudreau
If Johnny Gaudreau could get a do-over on his first season as a Columbus Blue Jacket, there is little doubt that he would take it. After going off for a career-high 115 points in the 2021-22 season with the Calgary Flames, the 30-year-old regressed to 74 this past year.
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For many, 74 points is an outstanding season. Given what the Blue Jackets are paying Gaudreau, however, they are expecting more. Even worse was that he had a horrendous plus/minus of -33, the lowest of all Blue Jackets forwards. Despite the bad year, however, he remains extremely talented, and isn’t deserving of coming off this list entirely.
8. Kyle Connor
Much like Gaudreau, the 2022-23 season was a step backwards for Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor. The 26-year-old still had a very respectable 31 goal, 80-point season, but it was a far cry from the 47 goal, 93-point campaign he had a year prior.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what Connor is able to do in terms of offensive productivity with the Jets. For years, this team had one of the more lethal forward groups in the NHL, but that is no longer the case. With Blake Wheeler gone and Mark Scheifele involved in plenty of trade rumours, Connor could become the focal point of this team’s offence moving forward.
7. Clayton Keller
What Clayton Keller was able to do on a bad Arizona Coyotes roster last season was extremely impressive. In a year where the team’s second highest scorer had 58 points, Keller was able to register 37 goals and 86 points. All the more impressive was that it came after his 2021-22 season ended abruptly due to a fractured leg.
Through his six years in the NHL, Keller hasn’t had much talent to work with on the Coyotes roster, but that may soon change. Not only did Barrett Hayton show tremendous growth last season, but Logan Cooley could very well become the best player he has played alongside at the NHL level. With Dylan Guenther also quickly moving up the ranks, Keller could see his point totals get even better in the coming years.
6. Artemi Panarin
Based on his play in each of the last two postseasons, there is an argument to be made that Artemi Panarin isn’t worth the $11.64 million salary the New York Rangers are paying him. That said, he has been more than worth that price tag in the regular season. Through 268 games with the Rangers, he has scored 100 goals and 341 points.
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To really register how productive Panarin has been since joining the Rangers, he sits fourth in NHL scoring over the past four seasons. The only players ahead of him on that list are arguably the three best players in the world in Nathan MacKinnon, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid. The Rangers will be hoping for more in the playoffs moving forward, but there is no denying that he is still one of the game’s elite talents.
5. Brady Tkachuk
There aren’t many in the NHL today who play the game the way Brady Tkachuk does. The 24-year-old will drop the gloves, through massive hits, drive opposing teams crazy, all while being one of the more offensively gifted players on the ice. He has recorded north of 100 penalty minutes in three of his five NHL seasons, and is coming off of a year in which he scored a career-high 35 goals and 83 points.
While Tkachuk may not have the top end skill that some of the other elite players in the NHL do, he is able to have just as much of an impact on the game thanks to all the intangibles he brings. On top of his toughness, he is also a fantastic leader, which is why the Ottawa Senators chose to name him as their captain prior to the 2021-22 season.
4. Alex Ovechkin
At some point, 38-year-old Alex Ovechkin has to hit a decline in the goal-scoring department. That hasn’t been the case yet, however, as he was excellent once again this past season with 42 tallies and 75 points in 73 games. He may not be as dominate as he once was, but he is still a player teams have to be extremely aware of every time he’s on the ice.
Though he already has his Stanley Cup, motivation isn’t a concern for Ovechkin given that he sits just 72 career goals back of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL leading 894. With three seasons remaining on his contract, there is plenty of reason to believe he will get there.
3. Brad Marchand
While he won’t drop the gloves, Brad Marchand is very similar to Tkachuk in that he can drive other teams crazy while producing a ton of offence. The Boston Bruins winger has been one of the highest scorers in the league for several years and to this point hasn’t shown any real signs of a decline in his game.
What will be interesting to see from Marchand moving forward is how he is able to produce with Patrice Bergeron. The two spent a lot of time together, but with Bergeron’s retirement, Marchand has now taken over the leader of this club, and was recently named as their captain. Whether the additional responsibility plays a role in his productivity remains to be seen.
2. Kirill Kaprizov
It took quite some time for Kirill Kaprizov to make his way over to North America and join the Minnesota Wild, but every fan of the organization will tell you it was worth it. The 26-year-old was incredible in his rookie season in 2020-21, and has only continued to improve his game.
Kaprizov is so effective because he can do so many things at an elite level. He is more of a playmaker, but has an incredible shot, and isn’t tall but is very strong and is an excellent puck protector as a result. He is one of the game’s most electric talents, and has made the Minnesota Wild a team worth tuning into on a nightly basis.
1. Jason Robertson
Jason Robertson is an interesting player, in that if you were to only watch a shift or two, you may not be all that impressed by him. He isn’t the fastest skater, doesn’t seem to have the best shot, and doesn’t have one particular skillset that stands out. What makes him truly elite, however, is his hockey IQ.
Robertson caught many off guard in his rookie season in 2020-21, recording 45 points in 51 games. Not many knew who he was at the time, but they certainly do now. The 24-year-old was one of 11 players to break the 100-point mark last season, registering career highs with 46 goals and 109 points.