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Sweet, Sweet Fantasy: Some Surprising Left-Wingers

Choosing left wingers for any hockey pool can be a daunting task because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of skill to be found.

The position has featured some historically remarkable players like Luc Robitaille, John Bucyk, Brendan Shanahan, Dave Andreychuk, and Bobby Hull. And heading into 2011-2012, the historical awesomeness of left wing continues with high-end picks like Daniel Sedin, Alex Ovechkin, Thomas Vanek, Dany Heatley, Zach Parise, and Patrick Sharp.

But what about a little later down the line? Are there any surprises left (pun possibly intended)?

As for right now, the statistical leaders on the left side of the aisle include the aforementioned Vanek and Sedin. Pittsburgh’s James Neal has eight points in nine games, while Ottawa’s Milan Michalek is a rare bright spot for the team with eight points in seven. Simon Gagne rounds out the top five with seven points in six contests.

In terms of surprises, the discussion can start with Jussi Jokinen. He is, at press time, 20th among left wingers in scoring currently, but he still has five points in six games. He’s also getting a lot of power play time in Carolina and has managed to hold on to a plus-rating while some of his more skilled teammates, like Eric Staal, are slumming it. Pairing him with defensive forward Chad LaRose could pay dividends at even strength because Jokinen will have some space to play with, but it’s his power play time with Staal and Jeff Skinner that could really pile points.

Then there’s Max Pacioretty. To many, he’s known as the guy Chara rode into the stanchion last season. But to Habs fans, Pacioretty is quickly becoming known as a dynamic player. He has five points, including two goals, in six games currently. For leagues that count them, he also has 30 shots on goal – in six games! Pacioretty’s love of firing that rubber disc is going to get a lot of touches and, theoretically, generate a lot of chances. In playing with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, opportunity will knock more than a few times.

Gamblers in the bunch may want to look at Luke Adam. The Buffalo Sabre is off to a quick start, with six points in six games (three goals, three helpers). He’s been a point-a-game player almost everywhere he’s played, but he didn’t turn many heads in 19 games with the Sabres last season when he potted just four points. Adam is a size player without much skating upside, but he could use his size and presence in front of the net to land some points. He’ll grind it out in the corners and dig for the rebounds.

Gabriel Landeskog could be worth a look for some of the more adventurous poolies. Like Pacioretty, this Swedish-born winger for the Colorado Avalanche loves to fire the puck. He’s got 27 shots in seven games. He only has three points so far (two goals, mind you), but the 18-year-old did put in some pre-season time with Paul Stastny and David Jones. A long shot? Most likely, but he’s living up to expectations for the Avs and could see more NHL action this season that originally considered.

So there you have it: some long-shots and a couple of more reliable selections at the left wing position. For those in deeper pools, these players may come in handy. For those cautious observer types, it never hurts to look.

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