Sven back with another rankings article - taking a look at our top 20 wingers heading into this season. One of these guys just recently signed his big ticket, and two of them are without their favourite centres to start the season. I am sticking to my guns here! As always, let me know what you think in the Discord or in the discussion tab on the website. Here we go:
11. Brady Tkachuk
I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to most of you FP followers. I’ll keep it short here as Brady will be one of our main players discussed in content leading up to the season, but there is certainly a lot to like.
12. Jake Guentzel
Guentzel, much like Marner, could very well jump a few spots up this list as soon as December. I wasn’t sold on him being a second-rounder last season, but was able to pair him and Crosby in a 14-teamer so I said hey, why not? If they are both healthy, they are a scary combo. Throwing #16 on this list on their line was the perfect storm especially with Geno injured for much of last season. I would like to see Guentzel back up over three shots per game, but otherwise he is a very very safe pick in round three.
13. Andrei Svechnikov
You could say Svechnikov had a bit of a down year, but I am willing to look past it given the shortened season and that it was just his third in the NHL. Despite Rod the Bod visibly getting ticked off at him at times Svech’s ATOI continued its upward trend. His S% dropped down to 10%, but that should rebound. This may be higher than most have Svech, but I think the ceiling is unmatched given his age and him likely being reunited with the dynamic Sebastian Aho full-time. I’m confident we will see the shots reach an elite level and the goals to follow suit.
14. Mark Stone
Sure, Mark Stone is the best defensive winger in hockey. Unfortunately, that’s not what will win you fantasy hockey matchups (and if it does in your league, I want no part of that scoring system). Stone has been very consistent over the past four seasons – you know exactly what you’re going to get. That being said, what you’re getting is a very mediocre shot rate with high assist upside. Stone shot over 20% last season, that is bound to come down. You are getting your 65-ish points no matter what, but his ceiling is lacking compared to some of these other players.
15. Kirill Kaprizov
Frankly, I didn’t watch enough Minnesota Wild games last season to have a true read on Kirill the Thrill. There is no question he is a dynamic player and drives play, the ATOI is very nice, and just under three shots per game is very solid. That being said, I doubt 17.2 S% is sustainable and I just don’t think Minnesota has the supporting cast to get him above the 70-point mark. Mathew Barzal is in a similar situation on Long Island, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great players, it just means they have to be superhuman in order to compete with the Kucherov’s of the league. I don’t see a Sophomore Slump coming, but I just don’t see where the residual points are going to come from unless he and Kevin Fiala are on the same line – and no one wants to see that defensive nightmare.
16. Bryan Rust
We all knew the ridiculous pace Rust played at coming off injury in 2019-20 wasn’t sustainable, however he did have a very solid Covid season. This may sound crazy, but I think playing on the second line with a healthy Malkin while still playing PP1 may be the best thing for Rust this season. The shot rate stayed about the same last year, but you just don’t get the same quantity of good looks when Guentzel is the winger on your line also getting passes from Sidney Crosby. I expect 30 goals and a very steady shot rate from Rusty this season, and I will be trying to take him in most of my leagues.
17. Kyle Connor
If Connor had stayed on his same trajectory prior to last season, he would be around 11 or 12 on this list. Down the stretch last season, the FP crew realized he was rarely shooting the puck. Shortened season or not, a sniper dropping below three shots per game is concerning. The S% stayed constant and he had solid production in the 56 games, but he needs to be more consistent this season to remain a top 20 winger. I don’t expect this to become a trend as he will still be in a very good situation in Winnipeg this season, so Connor could potentially be a steal at this ranking.
18. Gabriel Landeskog
Landeskog held out for a little while and was able to get his payday with the Avs, but will he be able to produce up to his contract? If he is playing with MacKinnon and Rantanen all season I have no doubts he will produce. Landeskog has been fairly reliable over the past two shortened seasons from the fantasy standpoint, but I would love to see him get back into the 30-goal, 70-point range like he was in 2018-19. It’s hard to produce at a high shot rate when your two line mates are top ten in the league at that stat, but I expect Landeskog to be a fairly safe pick this season.
19. Matthew Tkachuk
There is so much to like about the older Tkachuk brother from the eye test, I love watching him play. I would want him on my hypothetical NHL team 11 times out of 10. That being said, the points just haven’t been there since his breakout 77-point year – the year every Flames player played WAY above their heads. Though I have seen enough to know he can drive a line, he will be infinitely more successful if the players around him find some consistency.
20. Nikolaj Ehlers
Ehlers was a player I was looking to snag given his low ADP last season, but I didn’t think he’d have nearly as good of a year as he did. The Danish winger has stayed fairly consistent since his Sophomore season, even his off-year he still had 20 goals. With a slight jump in both shots per game and S% last season, it wouldn’t shock me if the Jets have multiple 30-goal scorers this year in him and Connor. What vaults Ehlers into the top 20 is that no matter which player he plays with, he is dynamic enough of a player to generate his own scoring chances while also setting up his line mates. This gives him a very high floor in my eye, which is what put him at #20 over a guy like Filip Forsberg.