BY STEVEN OVADIA
We continue to roll out the 2008-09 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit, as Steven ranks the top 15 right wingers for us today.
1. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames: Perhaps the best player in the game, Iginla does it all, from killing penalties to running the offense. But in terms of fantasy, all you need to know is he’s easily good for 90 points.
2. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators: Eighty-nine points in 70 games isn’t bad, especially when you consider Alfredsson plays with puck hogs Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Expect more of the same.
3. Alexei Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens: Kovalev’s career has been defined by maddening moments of inconsistency. But since he landed in Montreal, he’s done nothing but score with no signs of cooling down. Alex Tanguay will take some of the pressure off Kovalev while perhaps giving him even more scoring chances.
4. Marian Gaborik, Minnesota Wild: Gaborik wants out of Minnesota because he doesn’t feel it’s a very good team. He’s in the last year of his contract, so he’s playing for either a trade or a new deal. Either way, he’ll continue to perform.
5. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning: His 83 points last season actually represented a down year for him, as did his -23 plus-minus ranking. But with a new coach and a reinvented team, St. Louis should return to his point-accumulating self. It’s a new day in Tampa.
6. Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres: Like virtually all of the Sabres, Pominville seemed to have trouble adjusting to life without Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, but that didn’t stop him from scoring 27 goals with 53 assists. Pominville is the big man in Buffalo and he’s growing into the role. If the Sabres don’t get him signed long-term, he’ll be playing for a free agent deal, making him even more productive.
7. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Kane’s 21 goals and 51 assists would represent a great NHL season for a vet, but the fact that it was his rookie year makes it even more special. As Chicago improved itself in the offseason, some pressure is off Kane and he should have room to grow in his second season.
8. J.P. Dumont, Nashville Predators: Dumont’s averaged close to 70 points per season in his last two seasons with Nashville. Expect more of the same.
9. Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings: Hossa will be playing with a lot of talent in Detroit, but something tells me he got used to that during his time in Pittsburgh. The only question mark is if Detroit is getting the hungry Hossa from the Penguins or the underperforming, timid superstar from Atlanta. Given the paycut Hossa took to join the Wings, I’m guessing it’s the former.
10. Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers: Seventy-one points in 74 games? Hemsky isn’t glamorous, but he’ll get the job done for your fantasy team.
11. Petr Sykora, Pittsburgh Penguins: With Marian Hossa gone, Sykora will have to fill the void in Pittsburgh. Sykora’s had time to build up chemistry with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin so he should be expected to have another strong season.
12. Nikolai Zherdev, New York Rangers: Brought to the Rangers to fill the Jaromir Jagr void, Zherdev is expected to spend time on the top line with Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund. It seems like it would be hard not to put up points playing with those guys.
13. Brian Rolston, New Jersey Devils: The Devils, led by coach Brent Sutter, continue to try to reinvent themselves as a more uptempo, less trapping team. Rolston, who’s coming from a stifling, system-driven offense in Minnesota, should find more scoring opportunities. The big question is how he’ll play with a much longer leash.
14. Nathan Horton, Florida Panthers: Just about the only nice thing about being a member of the Panthers is that you don’t have to compete with anyone for scoring chances (well, that and the Miami beach bunnies, of course). With Olli Jokinen playing in Phoenix, Horton is pretty much the entire Panther offense. His 2007-08 totals of 27 goals and 35 assists will surely increase, because if he’s not scoring or passing, no one else on the team is.
15. Jaromir Jagr, Avangard Omsk: What?! You’re not also in a KHL fantasy pool? Come on! Get with the times.
Other to Consider Martin Erat, Nashville Predators Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes Brian Gionta, New Jersey Devils
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