Wild West: Top-10 Right Wings for the 2017-18 Season

by Kevin Wickersham on August 14, 2017 | (0 Comments)
  • The Wild West
  • Wild West: Top-10 Right Wings for the 2017-18 Season

First let me apologize for not getting back to some of you via Twitter and other formats. I’m in a very rural locale visiting family and then will be relocating for a few months, so my online access, time, and energy have been and will be compromised for the next few weeks. If I haven’t yet, I’ll respond shortly. Now on to the real deal….

Just which players are fantasy-best depends on your league. It’s a very close call for many. Sometimes top scorers have poor plus/minus, penalty, hits or blocked shots stats rendering them less valuable in multi-category leagues. It’s impossible to factor in all the various league scoring systems out there. With the growing number of pools emphasizing more than points totals, I’ll lean more multi-cat in my rankings, acknowledging that points often are weighted more heavily than other stats in them. I assigned each player with multiple-position eligibility just their dominant position for the purposes of this column, so your parameters may vary. Here are some stats, in no binding order, to see where things ended up for some of the statistically-best Western right wings last year.

2016-17 WESTERN CONFERENCE RIGHT WINGS

Name

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

+/-

PIM

Hits

Bks

FW

FO%

PPP

SOG

Patrick Kane

CHI

82

34

55

89

+11

32

28

15

7

13.7%

23

292

Blake Wheeler

WPG

82

26

48

74

+6

47

100

51

43

45.7%

21

259

Leon Draisaitl

EDM

82

29

48

77

+7

20

41

36

476

49.0%

26

172

Vladimir Tarasenko

STL

82

39

36

75

-1

12

50

31

5

50.0%

22

286

Viktor Arvidsson

NSH

80

31

30

61

+16

28

23

45

4

25.0%

9

246

Patrik Laine

WPG

73

36

28

64

+7

26

80

33

0

0.0%

14

204

Alexander Radulov

now DAL

76

18

36

54

+10

62

76

41

6

50.0%

16

147

Nino Niederreiter

MIN

82

25

32

57

+17

53

120

20

0

0.0%

14

186

Charlie Coyle

MIN

82

18

38

56

+13

36

101

63

104

46.0%

9

159

Patrick Eaves

ANA

79

32

19

51

-2

24

89

43

2

50.0%

18

209

 

Patrick Kane won the title for best West right wing last year with a sizable 12-point scoring margin over his nearest competitor Leon Draisaitl (who did it in 120 fewer shots) and edged him and other worthy challengers Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Tarasenko in plus-minus and shots-on-goal. I see Kane again taking the top spot although by a lesser margin with manifold changes in Chicago. The gritty peripherals (hits, blocks, and penalty minutes) were fairly even among all except Wheeler, who grabbed the second spot for ranking high in all three categories, doubling Tarasenko in hits. I’ll take Wheeler again as a well-rounded choice for second. He’s on the upswing with an offensive juggernaut emerging in Winnipeg in line to make the postseason for just the third time in Jets/Thrashers history.

As we consider third place, it’s worth noting Draisaitl’s monster advantage in faceoff wins as he got a good amount of play last year at the pivot, but I think he’ll be more firmly entrenched to McDavid’s right in 2017-18 which would negate that multi-category advantage (although more time with Connor would certainly bring more potent scoring, so carefully consider your league’s settings). There also is that contractual matter which has yet to be resolved. While it seems likely the two sides agree prior to opening night, that’s not a given. He could conceivably miss games, training camp, whatnot. That’s not an issue with Tarasenko so, conservative GM that I am, I’ll slide Vladimir up a notch and drop Draisaitl to fourth. Who knows? Maybe he signs tomorrow. If so adjust accordingly. 

While Viktor Arvidsson makes a compelling case to be ranked even higher, concern about Ryan Johansen fully recovering from that awful postseason leg injury keeps the newly-extended Arvidsson (seven years at $29.75M) in the five-hole. If Johansen is fine, expect even better things from that top Predators line. If your league counts plus/minus, note that Arvidsson’s proven to provide good numbers there which increases his value. 

Along with that, a hopefully injury-free second NHL campaign for Partrik Laine will boost Wheeler’s dynamic teammate into the top-ten. Missing time after Jake McCabe’s crushing hit ate into the rookie’s bottom line featuring decent hit totals and goals, surpassed only among West right wings by Tarasenko. 

The Stars are going to absolutely kill it this year offensively. On that top line with Benn and Seguin, expect some gaudy stats from Radulov with the added bonus of hits and penalty minutes that rival other top right wings. I imagine opposing teams won’t relish facing Dallas’ power play either, which should further boost Radulov’s value. He’ll have a monster year for assists, but his goal totals likely won’t be as great. Give those three a few weeks to develop an optimum rapport then enjoy the fireworks. 

I’m not convinced the Wild will continue their offensive explosion of 2016-17, but nonetheless Nino Niederreiter offers an outstanding record of hits and plus/minus, collects decent penalty minutes, and offers 60-point potential on Minnesota’s top line along. He should also receive significant power play time. After agreeing to his new $5.25 AAV deal over the next five years his prominent use continues in St. Paul.

As a fellow Wild member, possible squad-wide scoring slowdown could also impact Charlie Coyle who should continue on Minnesota’s top power play unit. With his occasional center play he adds faceoffs to his arsenal along with blocks and hits that surpass most other top scoring West right wings. He, too, could again approach 60 points and the versatility of center eligibility he offers in some leagues adds value.

Again the final spot is tough. I’m tempted to take Ducks’ top-liner Patrick Eaves, especially after his production spiked will 11 goals and three assists after his move from Dallas to Orange County, but he’s hurt so often. Last year’s career-high 32-goal, 19-assist output came in 79 contests, by far the most of his late-blooming, 12-year NHL tenure. The injury bug finally caught up with him in the postseason as ankle troubles forced him to miss 10 of their 17 playoff contests. At age 33, there are a few risks.

Yet, there isn’t anyone else that really stands out to me as an alternative. Teammate Corey Perry’s still effective game also has dipped. Richard Panik had a surprisingly solid campaign last year, and will likely man the Saad-Toews line. He should match last year’s 44 points but I’m not sure another 147 hits and plus-14 are in the cards. Jason Zucker? Possibly, but there’s only so much production to go around with the Wild and his 47 point total was impressive but not astronomical. Lining up with Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu brings possibilities, and his plus-34 was great, but still not screaming “draft me” before Eaves.

There’s Michael Frolik making the third “M” on the Tkachuk/Backlund line, Jason Spezza probably to the right of Hanzal could really have a bounce back year, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (if he gets the right wing spot next to McDavid shift him way up the list) along with other worthy candidates. But ultimately I’ll take Eaves with his apparent simpatico on the Getzlaf line, and cross sticks he avoids serious injury.

So, my West right wing upper draft board currently looks like this:

  1. Patrick Kane
  2. Blake Wheeler
  3. Vladimir Tarasenko
  4. Leon Draisaitl
  5. Viktor Arvidsson
  6. Patrik Laine
  7. Alexander Radulov
  8. Nino Niederreiter
  9. Charlie Coyle
  10. Patrick Eaves

 

****

More from Wild West:

Best Centers for 2017-18

Best Goalies for 2017-18

 

Follow me on Twitter @KWcrosscheck

 

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