October 28, 2008

Fantasy Frenzy: Is Left Wing The New Right Wing?

For the last 15-ish years the NHL's scoring ranks have been largely imbalanced between left and right wings. While Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Bure, Teemu Selanne and the like were tearing it up along the right side in the 1990's, big time scorers on the left were hard to find beyond guys like Luc Robitaille and Kevin Stevens (in his prime in the early '90s). Pondering some of the players who have gotten off to hot starts this season got me to thinking if there has been a shift in power between the two wings. Let's take a deeper look at this with stats through Sunday's play.

Top 5 scorers among left wings:
  1. Alexander Semin - 14 points (7g-7a)
  2. Paul Kariya - 12 points (2g-10a)
  3. Thomas Vanek - 11 points (8g-3a)
  4. Zach Parise - 11 points (6g-5a)
  5. Patrick Sharp - 11 points (5g-6a)
Top 5 scorers among right wings:
  1. Brad Boyes - 11 points (7g-4a)
  2. Marian Hossa - 11 points (4g-7a)
  3. Jarome Iginla - 10 points (6g-4a)
  4. Milan Hejduk - 9 points (6g-3a)
  5. Nikolai Zherdev - 9 points (4g-5a)
There does not appear to be a big advantage by one side over the other at first glance. Dig a little deeper and you will realize that most of the big name left wingers (Ovechkin, Zetterberg, Kovalchuk, Nash, and Heatley) have been relatively quiet so far this season and you start to get the feeling that the left side is the new wing of choice for fantasy owners and should be for the next few seasons.

What does this mean going forward? It means there is less depth on the right wing (obviously), which makes someone like a Hossa or an Iginla that much more valuable. Consistent scoring from the right wing could be tough to come by this season, and that should weigh into any personnel decisions you make going forward.

Fantasy 3 Stars of the Week
  1. Jarome Iginla - Five goals, two assists, and a +3 is about all you could ask for in one week. Although the zero in the PIM column was a bit of a downer for Iginla owners.
  2. Patrick Sharp - Sharp and his teammates in Chicago have apparently responded to the coaching change in the Windy City. Sharp led the way with three goals, three assists, and a game-winner. Of Sharp's six points this week, four came with the man advantage.
  3. Marian Hossa - Hossa had a great week for the winged wheel, a week that included a pair of goals in his first game against Atlanta since being traded last February. In all "Benedict Marian" managed three goals and three assists to go along with six PIM and a +4 rating.
Chris Yarbrough is the GFH Fantasy Guru for the 2008-09 season. You can read more from Chris on his own blogs, Taking One for the Team and The Flower Shop.

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