The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...
Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 left wingers in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: In keeping with tradition, left wing is the NHL’s weak spot. It has star power, of course, but the depth of talent isn’t there compared to other positions. Having said that, there’s enough skill on the left side that we couldn’t find a place for Patrick Marleau, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kreider or Joffrey Lupul; take a look at the ‘Honorable Mentions’ at the bottom for left wingers who didn’t quite crack the top 25.
The NHL’s top 25 left wingers in 2015-16:
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington: The NHL’s gold standard for goal-scoring.
2. Jamie Benn, Dallas: How about back-to-back Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading point man?
3. Rick Nash, NY Rangers: The NHL’s pre-eminent power forward is big and fast with a nose for the net. A few more goals in the playoffs would be nice.
4. Zach Parise, Minnesota: Always seems to come through in the clutch.
5. Taylor Hall, Edmonton: He’s already broken out but let’s see what he can do when he’s healthy for a full season.
6. Nick Foligno, Columbus: A goal-scoring, bodychecking piece of work who leads by example for the up-and-coming Blue Jackets.
7. Max Pacioretty, Montreal: Another power forward who sets the tone for his team with his hitting and scoring ways.
8. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis: The offensively skilled Blues winger doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, but that’s about to change.
9. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit: Wings captain remains a two-way force despite being slowed by age and injuries.
10. Alex Steen, St. Louis: Ken Hitchcock’s dream come true – an exemplary defensive forward who has turned his laser shot into a scoring weapon.
11. Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg: Jets captain gets his 25 goals the hard way.
12. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver: Bounced back last season, can he reach 70 points at 35 years old?
13. Brandon Saad, Columbus: The Blue Jackets are primed to go ‘Beast Mode’ on the rest of the league.
14. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay: All-around gem was a late-round steal as 208th overall draft pick in 2011.
15. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary: Johnny Hockey B. Goode.
16. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado: We’ve got big-time expectations for the Avs leader in 2015-16.
17. Mike Cammalleri, New Jersey: It’s no exaggeration to say he scored all of the Devils’ goals last season.
18. Scott Hartnell, Columbus: He hits, he shoots, he falls down, he gets back up.
19. Justin Abdelkader, Detroit: You’d win a lot of games with a team full of two-way talents like him.
20. Milan Lucic, Los Angeles: The man in black.
21. Tomas Tatar, Detroit: Another Wings player flirts with NHL stardom after taking the long way to Detroit.
22. Evander Kane, Buffalo: Gets to start over with Sabres, it’s time to show us what he’s got.
23. James van Riemsdyk, Toronto: Big man with soft hands is dangerous down low.
24. Carl Hagelin, Anaheim: He’s got a shot at 30 goals if he plays on the Getzlaf-Perry line.
25. Patrick Sharp, Dallas: It’s not how many times you score, it’s how handsome you look while doing it.
Honorable Mentions: Patrick Marleau, SJ; Thomas Vanek, Min; Chris Kreider, NYR; Joffrey Lupul, Tor; Clarke MacArthur, Ott; Marcus Johansson, Wsh; Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla; Jeff Skinner, Car; David Perron, Pit; Patrick Maroon, Ana; Nikolay Kulemin, NYI; Matt Beleskey, Bos; Mikkel Boedker, Ari; Brad Marchand, Bos; Chris Kunitz, Pit; Milan Michalek, Ott; Matt Moulson, Buf; Josh Bailey, NYI; Mike Hoffman, Ott; Jason Zucker, Min; Jonathan Drouin, TB; Jussi Jokinen, Fla; Benoit Pouliot, Edm; Alex Tanguay, Col.
NHL Top 25 rankings by position:
Top 25 NHL right wingers
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