If you think I sounded tough in the preview of center when I hated fantasy leagues that divide forwards into center and wing positions for lineups, just wait until I get to the leagues that demarcate right and left wing.

I will try to spare you (but inevitably fail).

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Let’s talk about players suitable for both the wing and the center. Should there be some? No. Not at all. On the one hand, Leon Draisaitl and Elias Lindholm take too many face-offs to be considered part-time strikers. Last season they finished first and third in the league in faceoffs. If this is not a permanent center, then what is? On the other hand, Drake Baterson has only had 43 face-offs, Troy Terry only nine, Jordan Keerow only 15, and Blake Wheeler only 21. They are clearly and completely wingers. I don’t know what the cutoff should be, but I think Brady Tkachuk throwing a faceoff one out of every four shifts sounds right. So, depending on time on the ice, a player with fewer than 400 faceoffs probably shouldn’t be a center.

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Of the top 100 players ranked for the upcoming season, 16 are eligible to play both in the center and on the wings. In the same group, 11 players are eligible to participate on both the left and right wing. Of those 11, two are eligible for all three forward positions (and both of them now play for the Los Angeles Kings and can play in the same line).

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If your league continues to fall out of those positions – and especially if your league goes all the way to the left and right flanks for compound sports – you’ll want to give some extra value to players that give you a bit of flexibility behind the net. . While game developers (on Sportzshala or wherever you play) may add or remove certain positions during the season, there is no science to this and you should only rely on what currently exists.

Strategy

There isn’t much to consider for strategy here other than picking the best player and looking for flexibility if your league forces you to line up and run left or right players.

I do not come to this conclusion unreasonably.

Taking last season’s top 250 fantasy point hitters, breaking them down across all relevant positions, and looking at each position’s performance, we get a picture of near-pure equality.

The average goal range for centres, left wingers, right wingers and wingers is between 20.7 and 21.9. Hardly one goal separates the average score from each position. For reference, of the top 250 hitters last season, 130 are eligible to play in the center, 144 on the left flank, 141 on the right flank and 201 on the wing.

Points range from a low of 48.2 for the right wingers to a high of 51.3 for the centers. Even the ranges for things like special team points (11.9 to 13.7), shots (164.2 to 168.2), and hits (79.9 to 85.4) are not big enough to consider what -any special strategy or tactics for checkers.

At the end of the day, right wingers averaged 116.1 fantasy points, left wingers 119.2, wingers 120.2, and centers 123.7. It’s really not enough to move the needle when it comes to aiming one position instead of another.

However, one thing caught my attention when I looked at the distribution of players when we are completely split into left and right wings: the position on the left flank is very difficult. While the total number of right and left wingers in the top 250 forwards and even in the top 100 forwards (50 vs. 49) is complete nonsense, once you get into the top 50 players, you start to understand the difference that matters.

Using statistics, there were 22 eligible left wingers among the top 50 scorers in 2021/22, compared to 19 right wingers. In terms of predictive statistics, I have 16 left wingers in the top 50 but only 10 right wingers. They are currently starting to level off in the ranks around 120th since September.


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I like top guys

Obviously, if you can catch one of the flexible lineup guys, that’s important in leagues that require different forward positions. Draisaitl, J.T. Miller, Jack Hughes and Steven Stamkos are also centrally eligible wingers who can score over 200 fantastic points. While Matthew Tkachuk and Chris Kreider can do the same and are eligible on both the left and right wing.

There isn’t a single top winger that stands out as particularly underrated, but there is one I would pick a little earlier than current average draft position (ADP) suggests.

Matthew Tkachuk, L/R, Florida Panthers (11th overall, fourth among wingers): It doesn’t matter who Tkachuk plays with, he creates his own fantasy points. So while there may be some concern that he will move away from his two linemates who helped build the best line in the NHL last season (72 goals), I don’t share that concern. The Panthers have an elite center for Tkachuk in Alexander Barkov, and that alone should be enough to replicate his value. In his current ADP, Tkachuk is behind Mitch Marner and Mikko Rantanen, but I would prefer him over those two.

I like middle managers

Since there will be so many active forwards on the teams, be it right wing, left wing, winger, center or just a striker, the average level for this group is high. Basically, anyone who is not in the top tier of the league who is destined for a spot in the active roster can be considered mid-level.

There are many that stand out as potential values, but I will focus on two of my favorites.

Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, Calgary Flames (71st overall, 33rd among wingers): Don’t forget we’re one year behind Toffoli, racking up an elite 2.07 fantasy points per game and sitting seventh in the Rocket Richard Trophy standings. When the Flames acquired him last season, he had no chance of making it to the top line. Now, however, he has an inside track to complete the top spot with Elias Lindholm and Jonathan Huberdo and join them in a powerplay backed by Nazem Kadri.

Evander Kane, LW, Edmonton Oilers (85th overall, 39th among wingers): Based on his current ADP of 83.0, fantasy managers are incredibly wary of Kane. And rightly so, as he was his own worst enemy when it came to success in the NHL. But it feels different. He gets a clear opportunity to play with the best playmaker in the NHL every night. His performance in the regular season was very good, but in the playoffs it was even better. In fact, his 9.66 fantasy points in 60 minutes was second only to Connor McDavid in the NHL playoffs. If Kane can stay focused and stay on the ice, he has the potential to pay off as an elite-level winger.


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Sleeping I will live and die

Alexis Lafrenière, L/R, New York Rangers (257th overall, 108th winger): A recent first pick in the draft who was supposed to play in the opposition’s top lane with a 50th forward and 50 assists – what’s not to love about that? Frankly, that would have been Lafrenière’s mediocre points record. While playing with Mika Zibanejad and Kreider is a huge opportunity, he already got it and did nothing with it. Lafrenière spent more than 260 minutes on the same line last season. But if he’s going to take it to the next level, then this is the season. Now he has enough experience in the NHL, and soon after the start of the season he will be 21 years old. With an ADP of 217.1, Lafrenier is basically a free pick at the end of the draft, but with better pedigree and options.

Emergency backend selection that might work

Anthony Manta, RW, Washington Capitals (390th overall, 175th among wingers): Completely written off due to injuries throughout his career, now is the perfect time for a healthy Manta season. Other injuries ahead for the Caps leave breathing room for the wingers to find an opportunity and Manta will be tied to the top six to start the campaign. Since September, he is only in 4.5 percent of the lineups, so at the moment he is not noticed. He has already shown to score 30 goals in previous shortened campaigns.

The Bust Worry I Avoid in Every Draft This Season

Chris Kreider, L/R, New York Rangers (22nd overall, 10th among wingers): I feel a bit silly pulling my sleeper and bust out of the same line. But logically, there is some pull to it: if Lafrenière is going to improve his results, some of the goals that Kreider used to have will begin to be achieved. It’s not like Zibanejad has started pitching 100 assists a season, so they can’t both score at will. But even without Lafrenière, Kreider could not repeat anything close to his 52-goal campaign. His previous record for nine seasons was 28 goals. Crider’s 26 power-play goals last season were the most by anyone in the NHL since 2005/06 (Ilya Kovalchuk, 27), and it simply won’t be repeated.

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