Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs came to an end on Thursday night as we saw the New Jersey Devils knock off the Carolina Panthers in the second Game 7 overtime game in two days.
With that in mind, we'll now extend our fantasy hockey coverage into overtime as we analyze the top players from the past regular season.
While centers Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos lit up the hockey world with dynamite seasons, finishing No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist shut down the opposition, the wing positions were not without their share of impact players as well.
Using the Yahoo! default categories for forwards and defensemen (goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power play points and shots on goal), here are the top 10 wingers at each position for the 2011-12 fantasy hockey season:
10. Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins - Lucic makes the list for one reason: his ability to get into the penalty box more frequently than all other top scoring wings. Lucic compiled 135 PIM, second among wingers with 50 or more points. Penalty minutes are difficult to accumulate with a roster of high-scoring forwards, so a LW who had 61 points (26 G, 35 A) with that many penalty minutes and a solid plus/minus (plus-7) is super valuable. The only thing that prevents him from being ranked higher is his low number of shots on goal (149).
9. Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins - Kunitz benefited from 35 assists to record a career-high 61 points. He put up a double-digit plus/minus (plus-16) ratio for the second straight season and the fourth time in his career. His solid PIM (49), PPP (18) and shots on goal (230) rounded out his statistics.
8. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens - Pacioretty filled the stat sheet with 65 points (33 G, 32 A), 56 PIM, 13 PPP and 286 shots on goal. His plus/minus left a little to be desired (plus-2), but it wasn't low enough to hurt your team and was at least still in the positive range.
7. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals - Seeing Ovechkin this low has to be a major disappointment to fantasy owners who made him the No. 2 overall pick on average in Y! leagues. The Russian sniper had a career-low 65 points with a terrible plus/minus ratio (minus-8). He also saw little time in the penalty box, with 26 PIM. So why is he even on this list? Well, if you disregard the expectations, Ovechkin still had a solid season, especially due to his ability to get off shots and convert points on the power play. Even though his SOG declined for the third straight season, the left winger still managed to register 303 shots, tied for fifth in the entire league. He also had 23 PPP.
6. Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils - Parise had a nearly identical fantasy season to Ovechkin, recording 69 points (31 G, 38 A) with a negative plus/minus (minus-5). He registered 32 PIM and had 14 PPP with 293 SOG. The only reasons he's above Ovechkin is because he was drafted 20 picks lower on average.
5. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks - Sedin was the No. 1 overall pick on average, and though a late-season concussion prevented him from ranking higher, he still put together an excellent fantasy campaign. Sedin scored 67 points (30 G, 37 A) with a plus/minus of plus-14. He also had 40 PIM, 25 PPP and 229 SOG in 72 games.
4. Ray Whitney, Phoenix Coyotes - Whitney was tops among all wingers in assists with 53. His excellent passing put him among the league leaders in total points with 77 (tied for 12th in the NHL). Whitney's off-the-charts plus-26 plus/minus also ranked first among all wing players.
3. Ilya Kovalchuck, New Jersey Devils - After two subpar seasons in New Jersey, owners drafted Kovalchuck with just the 35th overall pick on average. He rewarded those who drafted him with 83 points (37 G, 46 A) on 310 shots. He also had 33 PIM and 29 PPP. His only flaw was his plus/minus of minus-9.
2. Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers - Hartnell was a better version of Lucic in 2011-12. The Flyers LW had 67 points (37 G, 30 A) and a whopping 136 penalty minutes. His elite plus/minus of plus-19, 23 PPP and 232 SOG allowed him to finish seventh overall in Yahoo! leagues, second among all wingers.
1. James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins - Ranked just 115th overall in the preseason, Neal dazzled on the ice this season, managing to turn in a top- three campaign for the Penguins. The winger put up an impressive 40 goals (fourth in the NHL) with 41 assists, finishing tied for seventh with 81 points. Neal was second in the league after teammate Evgeni Malkin in SOG with 329. He also had a solid plus/minus of plus-six and his 87 PIM ranked first among players with 70 or more points while recording 30 PPP.
10. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks - The 23-year-old Kane was picked between 20th and 21st overall on average in Yahoo! leagues. Though he turned in the lowest point total in his career with 66, he still managed to be quite valuable. He raised his SOG total from 216 to 253 this season while putting in 40 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of plus-7.
9. Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings - The veteran Williams had a good all- around season. In 82 games, he scored 59 points (22 G, 37 A) with a plus-10 and 44 penalty minutes. He also had 19 PPP and took 241 SOG.
8. Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres - Pominville was drafted with the 125th pick on average in Y! leagues, but he far exceeded that position. The career Sabre turned in a 73-point season (30 G, 43 A) with 235 SOG and 26 PPP. His final ranking of 43 was hurt somewhat by his minus-7 plus/minus ratio and low number of penalty minutes (12 PIM).
7. Erik Cole, Montreal Canadiens - Cole has been around since 2001, but he managed to tie a career high with 61 points (35 G, 26 A) in his first season with Montreal. Cole's plus-11 was also the second highest plus/minus of his career, and his 241 SOG were a career best. He rounded out his numbers with 48 PIM and 13 PPP.
6. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks - The ancient Selanne is still turning out fantasy viable seasons at age 41. Though he was drafted way back in 1988, Selanne still managed to follow up his 80-point 2010-11 with a 66-point 2011-12. The veteran winger played all 82 games for the Ducks, recording 50 PIM, 28 PPP and 210 SOG. His only blemish is his minus-1 plus/minus.
5. Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes - In his 10th pro season, Vrbata put up some of the best numbers of his career. Drafted with just the 162nd pick on average, Vrbata had a career-high 62 points (35 G, 27 A), an excellent plus/minus of plus-24, 24 PIM and 232 SOG.
4. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs - Kessel is another winger who hauled in career numbers in 2011-12. The six-year pro has always been a solid goal scorer, but this season he turned it up a few notches in the passing department. Kessel assisted on 45 Toronto goals this season, which gave him a career-best 82 points. Kessel was seventh in the NHL with 295 SOG, and he also had 20 PIM and 23 PPP. He did record a minus-10 on the ice, but you'll accept that considering the substantial production he provided in other areas.
3. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks - Perry, one of the league's top agitators, was drafted fifth overall on average in Y! leagues, in large part due to his ability to accumulate penalty minutes with the best of them. Perry didn't disappoint this season, spending 127 minutes in the penalty box, his fifth straight season with more than 100 PIM. Perry did slip in the scoring categories, as his goals scored fell to 37 from 50 a season ago, and his assists went from 48 to 23, giving him just 60 points after scoring 98 last season. However, his 127 PIM were only 165 less than the other nine right wingers on this list combined, so those who owned Perry likely owned the PIM category. Perry also finished 13th in the NHL in SOG, so he was reliable in several areas.
2. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks - The injury-prone Hossa collected himself in his third season in Chicago, playing 80-plus games for the first time since 2006-07. That extra ice time served Hossa well, as it allowed him to score 77 points, his highest since the aformentioned 2006-07 season. Hossa always posted an exceptional plus/minus of plus-18 while notching 20 PIM, 20 PPP and 248 SOG.
1. Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers - Deciding which Marian would take the No. 1 spot on the RW list was somewhat difficult, as Hossa and Gaborik put up similar numbers across the board. Gaborik gets the edge, mainly for taking 28 more SOG and putting in 14 more minutes in the penalty box than Hossa. Otherwise, they were nearly identical, with Gaborik scoring 77 points (41 G, 35 A) to Hossa's 76 and skating to a plus-15 to Hossa's plus-18.
Left winger: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins - For the best bargain at LW, we need to look no further than the No. 1 player on our left wing rankings above. Neal was drafted outside of the top 100 (Y! ADP: 130) and was ranked 115th overall in the preseason only to finish with No. 3 overall.
Right winger: Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes - You can really take your pick with this one, as there were a ton of bargain right wingers this season. Justin Williams, Jason Pominville and Erik Cole were each ranked outside the top 100 in the preseason and were drafted accordingly before finishing in the top 45. But Vrbata really came from out of nowhere to record a top-35 season. He finished ranked 32nd overall after coming into the season as the 257th-best player (Y! ADP: 162).
Left winger: Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks - Ryan was ranked No. 11 overall in the preseason and owners drafted him 12th overall on average. Despite playing all 82 games, Ryan's point total fell from 71 to 57 and he posted a plus-1 after skating to a plus-15 last season. His PIM also declined slightly and his shots on goal went from 270 to 204. When your 12th overall picked slips to 104th overall in the postseason rankings, you likely didn't have a very good fantasy hockey season.
Right winger: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning - St. Louis flew off draft boards ninth overall on average, one spot ahead of eventual No. 1 overall player Evgeni Malkin. He played in 77 games and had 74 points, so his season wasn't a total loss, but his SOG slipped to 185 from 254 and his PPP declined from 41 to 16. He ended up the 90th overall player, not what owners expected when they took him in the top 10.