Updated: Dec 31, 2020
The days leading up to this ever unique season are proving to be very fluid, as we learned since releasing our center rankings Monday that Jonathan Toews is out indefinitely for the Chicago Blackhawks with an undisclosed illness. News like this on a player of this caliber not only affects the Blackhawks, but also every other team in the Central Division significantly since they meet each team eight times this season. Therefore, rankings on every player will feel the impact in a domino effect.
So, as we turn to the wingers, all eyes shift to the big names up in the air. Perhaps none bigger than the two perennial top 10 fantasy wingers in Boston, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Offseason surgery has fantasy owners questioning when to pull the trigger in the draft on these guys, although Marchand's timetable to return is around the start of the new season. Pastrnak, however, could be another month into the season, so we adjust accordingly.
We also have new places for familiar faces, bigger opportunity for budding stars, and ageless wonders perhaps finally falling victim to the aging curve. So, without further ado, let's take a look at the top fantasy wingers in hockey:
1. Steven Stamkos, TBL
The last time we saw Stamkos, he became an instant playoff hero by scoring a goal in his only period of play in the playoffs. Now the captain should be back healthy, and likely to get a lot of time on Brayden Point's wing with Nikita Kucherov on long term injured reserve. He may be a bit of a surprise in our top spot, but there's no arguing with Stamkos' shooting talent, which should rake in not only top-of-the-league like goal totals, but also shot totals.
2. Taylor Hall, BUF
The truth is, too many projections are based heavily off of the year prior. Instead at PuckLuck.com, we like to look forward in our projections. That's what leads us to Hall in this spot. On his own merit, Hall has produced elite fantasy numbers in the past without ever truly being paired with an elite center. Now, with Jack Eichel projected to be his pivotman, we are all-in on Hall. It's important to note that he also only signed a one-year deal, so this is his chance to earn a big contract in next season's free agent market.
3. Brad Marchand, BOS
With Marchand expected to be available towards the beginning of the season, he'll again be a must-grab in the first round of season-long drafts. He not only plays in every situation, but does so at an elite level. The Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line won't be around for too much longer, so take advantage of it while you can.
4. Mark Stone, VGK
The Vegas Golden Knights continue to impress in their formidable years in the NHL, and Stone is a big reason why. With the Knights drawing some of the league's weakest opponents in the West Division, expect Stone to put up some big-time numbers this season.
5. Mitch Marner, TOR
Marner is a unique case where, if he needed to, he could drive his own line from the wing. However, since he's likely playing with Auston Matthews - who projects as our top fantasy player this season - Marner is in an elite situation. Consider the weak North Division as well, and the depth among the Toronto forward group. You cannot go wrong with Marner this season.
6. Jake Guentzel, PIT
Once known as the surprise producer on Sidney Crosby's wing, Guentzel has proven himself as a consistent fantasy scorer. He plays on an elite powerplay as well, which just pads his floor as a top winger in the draft.
7. Max Pacioretty, VGK
In what was a BIG rebound season for Pacioretty, fantasy owners should expect much of the same this season. At times, Pacioretty was Vegas' best scorer, flashing us some of the same production he had for a few years in Montreal. He again projects to play on a line with Stone, and so for reasons similar make it a point to target him in the draft.
8. Alex Ovechkin, WSH
You may have been wondering where Ovechkin's name was in spots one through seven, but the Great Eight lands at number eight in our rankings. Is it age? Will his production drop? Well, not really. We still expect Ovechkin to be Ovechkin - firing off league-leaders shots on goal numbers with a good percentage of them going in. He is, however, in the league's toughest division, and his team as a whole is aging. Not being able to feast on the weakest teams in the NHL for a strong percentage of the shortened season clearly vaults some other all-star talent ahead of him.
9. Artemi Panarin, NYR
Speaking of all-star talent, Panarin impressively played at an MVP level last season. That might intrigue you to take him in the first round of your drafts this season, but we implore you to hold off. While Panarin is undoubtedly talented, he has a few factors working against him. He plays in the aforementioned gauntlet of the East Divison, his centerman, Ryan Strome, had an unprecedentedly strong 2019-2020 season (likely driven by Panarin), and his defensemen, particularly on his side of the ice, struggle in moving the puck. That all being said, talent can trump all, which is why he comes in at number nine here in our rankings.
10. Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA
While he's never a flashy name to select in your draft, Huberdeau owners are forever grateful for the consistency he shows. Without much in the way of him remaining on Florida's top line, Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov will be leaned on heavily to carry the offensive production for the Panthers.
11. Mikko Rantanen, COL
Rantanen is a guy who's hot on fantasy owners' love lists. And, to be honest, what's not to like? Colorado projects near the top of league standings, Rantanen will continue to play on Nathan MacKinnon's wing, and there could be some absolute blowouts against some West Divison foes. Sounds like a recipe for success to me.
12. Patrick Kane, CHI
Things in Chicago just got a little more interesting with the Toews news, which means Kane will be leaned on even more to produce at even-strength. With Kirby Dach also out, it's unclear what type of talent Kane will have as linemates (we currently have Carl Soderberg as his centerman), so if he starts off a little slow out of the gate it wouldn't be a shock. He still can dominate in the offensive zone and has spent the last few seasons making something out of nothing, so this is no new territory for the shifty winger.
13. Evander Kane, SJS
The "other" Kane, with Evander you know exactly what to expect. He is a high-volume shooter for one of league's weaker teams, so expect him to get plenty of opportunity in all facets of the game. If San Jose is playing from behind a lot as expected, we forecast a little extra boost in Kane's shot numbers.
14. Blake Wheeler, WPG
Winnipeg is an interesting team to forecast this season. They're only a couple of seasons removed from being considered one of the NHL's elite, and now find themselves in the unimpressive North Division. The Jets' captain, Wheeler, is slotted with Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele on the top line, top powerplay unit, and will even mix in some time on the penalty kill, leaving plenty of opportunity for the 34 year-old winger to continue to play at a high level before the impending drop-off hits.
15. Brendan Gallagher, MTL
Gallagher has become the fulcrum of the Canadiens offense by constantly getting into high-danger areas. Due to that, it's hard to see any decline in offensive production anytime soon, despite the threat of two new right wingers added in the offseason - Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson. Gallagher's net-front presence on the powerplay too lands him in the top 15 wingers in our rankings.