The Top 10 Left Wingers in the NHL

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Image

With a disappointing Flyers loss to Toronto on Monday behind us, it is time to continue with the NHL focus and take a look at the top 10 left wingers in the NHL. Now, positions for forwards are rather interchangeable once one reaches the highest level of the sport. So, some of these athletes listed as left wingers may also have played a different forward position during their career. However, they are, as of press time, playing the left wing for their current team.

Honorable Mentions:

Matt Moulson, New York Islanders (10 G – 13 A – 23 P)
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (12 G – 6 A – 18 P)
Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues (4 G – 12 A – 16 P)
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs (11 G – 4 A – 15 P)
Rick Nash, (3 G – 9 A – 12 P)

10. Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils

elias

The longest-tenured member of this list, Patrik Elias is still getting it done at the ripe-old age of 36. The Czech playmaker has been playing for New Jersey since 1995. His finest season came in 2000-01, when the Eastern Conference champion scored 40 goals. In recent years, Elias has become much more of a passer than a scorer. He is currently fourth among wingers with 22 points in 19 G (5 G – 17 A).

9. Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks

ssharp

As if not winning a Stanley Cup since 1976 wasn’t tough enough, the Flyers had to endure losing the 2010 Cup finals to a Blackhawks team with Sharp and former #1 pick Patrick Kane, who likely would have been a member of the team if they had not lost the lottery to Chicago in 2007. Sharp was drafted by the Flyers in the third round of the 2001 draft and went on to win a Calder Cup with the Phantoms in 2005. After just 15 points through 63 career games in Philadelphia, former GM Bobby Clarke traded Sharp to Chicago for Matt Ellison and a third round pick (which was then shipped to Montreal). In his first full year with Chicago, Sharp reached the 20-goal plateau. Since then, the sniping winger has three 30+ goal seasons and a Stanley Cup ring.

8. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars

erikssonLoui, Loui! Eriksson does not get a whole lot of publicity playing for Dallas in the Pacific Division. Still, the 27-year old Swede has made a name for himself over the past four seasons without a whole lot of help on the forward lines. The 2011 NHL All-Star and 2010 Olympian has three consecutive seasons with 70+ points. Combine this scoring prowess with uncanny durability (has missed just three games in four seasons, all in 2010-11), and you have a player that any coach would love to have on their team. Eriksson has had a slow start to the season. But, it is only a matter of time until he returns to form and attempts to lead Dallas to their first playoff berth in five years.

7. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes

skinnerSkinner may look like a 14-year old boy. But, the 20-year old Toronto native has emerged in just two seasons as one of the finest scoring wingers in the world. After being selected 7th-overall by the Hurricanes in 2010, Skinner won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year with 31 G – 32 A – 63 P in all 82-games. He followed that up with a still above-average 20-24-44 sophomore campaign. This season, Skinner is balanced in all aspects of his game, scoring 7 goals and tallying 7 assists to go along with an even +- rating.

6. Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets

laddLadd has terrorized the Flyers dating back to his days as a Blackhawk. The first captain of the new Winnipeg Jets, Ladd blossomed when he was unveiled from behind the shadow of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp. The 27-year old British Columbia native never eclipsed 49 points in his career with Chicago. But, with Winnipeg, he has improved his scoring touch, recording back-to-back 50+ point campaigns. 2013 is proving to be his finest offensive season, with 10 G – 7 A – 17 P in 18 G. The caveat here is that Ladd is not your classic offensive playmaker. He is primarily a defensively minded, two-way forward with a sound range-of-motion and great leadership skills. Any coach would be glad to have Ladd on the ice.

5. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

ovyA few years ago, Alexander the Great would have headlined any list of top wingers. But, those days are gone. After recording 100+ point seasons in four of his first five NHL seasons, Ovechkin’s point totals have dropped dramatically. From his last 100 point campaign in 2009-10, the Great Eight’s point have dropped to 85 and 65. He still scores over 30 goals a year. But, gone are the days of 60+ goal seasons. A lot of that has to do with a philosophy change in Washington, as the run-and-gun styles of the past that got D Mike Green 30+ goals are dead-and-gone. Still, Ovechkin’s leadership has been brought in to question a lot in recent years, what with Washington’s inability to translate regular season success into postseason glory. Ovy has 14 points (8 G – 6 A) in 17 G this season, a far cry from the old days of 1.5 points-per-game.

4. James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins

neralI do not discount that playing on a team with the two best centremen in the world should help any winger. But, Neal brings a special talent that few in the world can possess. Anyone who has watched him play knows that he not only possesses a rocket-shot. But, Neal also has dangles to break ankles. The 25-year old joined the Penguins in 2011 from the Stars for Alex Goligoski and promptly scored 40 goals in his first season with Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he showed Philadelphia why he is one of the emerging talents in the league, dazzling on multiple break-away goals in spite of his team’s inability to defend Claude Giroux and the Flyers’ forwards. The 33rd-pick in 2005, Neal is currently scoring at a point-per-game pace.

3. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres

vanek

The standard-bearer of the league’s current RFA process, Thomas Vanek is an Austrian sensation who has quietly become one of the top goal-scorers in the league. With two forty-goal seasons and three thirty-goal seasons under his belt, the 29-year old has struggled in recent years to mimic his 43 G, 41 A 2006-07 campaign that earned him a huge contract with Buffalo. It appears as though he has reached that point in 2013, leading all wingers in points with 25 (12 G – 13 A) in 18 G. The Sabres, however, have not emerged as contenders and recently fired long-time coach Lindy Ruff, which is why Vanek is stuck at three in this list of top-10 wingers.

2. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

sedinLike his twin-brother Henrik, no list is complete with Daniel Sedin on it. The 2011 Art Ross and Ted Lindsay Award winner, Sedin has scored at least 70+ points every season since the first lockout in 2004. In four of the past six years, Daniel has notched over 80 points. His finest season came during that 2010-11 Western Conference title campaign, when the Swedish sniper scored 41 goals with 63 assists for 104 points during the regular season before tallying 20 points in 25 postseason games, as the Canucks fell one game short of their first Stanley Cup parade.

1. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

zetterbergThe only player on this list with a Conn Smythe Trophy to their name as MVP of the playoffs, Zetterberg won his first-and-only Stanley Cup in 2008 against Pittsburgh. During that season, the 32-year old Swede posted career highs in goals (43) and points (92) before notching 27 points in the postseason to earn the MVP award. A noted passer and defender, Zetterberg avoids penalties despite a stellar two-way game and strong leadership skills. Despite Detroit’s struggles this season, Henrik is proving that being on the wrong side of thirty agrees with some people, with 25 points (6 G – 19 A) in 19 games. The kicker here, Zetterberg has never missed the postseason, part of the Detroit Red Wings’ unheard of 21 season playoff streak (fifth all time).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s