As the beginning of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on left wings. Specifically, we're interested in using the Yahoo average draft position (ADP) to not only determine the best players to target in your fantasy hockey draft, but also when to target them. The assumptions made in this article include the following: (1) you're in a Yahoo standard league, (2) your league has 12 managers, and (3) your league is not a keeper league.
Before we jump into the details of which left wings are undervalued, it's important to get a handle on how managers are behaving in their fantasy hockey drafts so far. In the image below, you'll see exactly how many left wings are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). At the left wing position, there are 12 players taken in the first three rounds combined; this is a continuance of the trend of more and more left wings being selected earlier in drafts in recent years (though, that number reached a high of 15 last season). Outside of Round 2, demand for left wings is robust through the first seven rounds. We can use this information to better understand who and when to take when our name is called during the draft.
Player Rankings and ADP
At leftwinglock.com, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits which marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. This exact type of draft kit was used by our team to defeat the fantasy experts at NHL.com, win the first-ever Zero Transaction Fantasy Championship, and go undefeated in the Battle of the Fantasy Hockey Podcasts. The draft kit includes sortable spreadsheets filled with projections in 25+ categories for over 600 NHL players. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as left wings in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compared these player rankings to the player's ADP (average draft position) to determine which players are undervalued (it's never wise to draft on rank number alone). That is, we're looking for players who our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.
Below, you'll find a table of 10 players who are eligible at left wing and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts (there are many more listed in our draft kit). Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.
Nikolaj Ehlers - You are being handed a gift this Summer as managers are inexplicably waiting until the 14th round to draft Nikolaj Ehlers. Ehlers, who is regarded as one of the top 5-on-5 players in the NHL, had his 2022-2023 season derailed by an October injury. He would eventually require sports hernia surgery in November and be limited to just 45 games on the season (two of which took place prior to the injury). The 27-year-old winger enters the 2023-2024 season having averaged nearly 3.5 shots per game over the past three years. He's now a regular on the top power play unit in Winnipeg and has reached at least 36 goals in two of the past three seasons (when viewed at 82-game pace). You will regret not drafting Ehlers this fantasy season.
Kevin Fiala - What's not to love about this Los Angeles Kings forward who has posted back-to-back 85-point seasons? He takes 3+ shots per game; he plays on the top power play unit; and he's going to spend a lot of time this season alongside either Pierre-Luc Dubois or Anze Kopitar. Last Summer, following Fiala's 85-point season, managers were willing to spend a 6th-round draft pick on him. This Summer, following his 85-point season, managers are letting him slip until the 7th round. Big mistake; a Left Wing Lock draft kit client is going to steal Fiala from you this Summer and you'll be pouting come April.
Filip Forsberg - It's hard to find a player with more extreme ADP swings than Filip Forsberg has experienced in recent seasons. Beginning with drafts for the 2020-2021 season, Forsberg's ADP values have been 70.5, 125.0, 57.6, and 139.7. These swings are less about production and more about Forsberg's ability to stay off the IR list. Following three consecutive 82-game seasons, Forsberg has played in just 78% of the total possible games in the past six seasons and managers are running scared. While Forsberg would need quite a bit of luck to reach point-per-game levels this season, his 3+ shots per game nearly guarantees he'll produce 30+ goals. He's a lock for the top unit power play in Nashville and usually produces at least 120 hits. Managers are waiting until the 12th round to draft Forberg this Summer (the latest ADP since his rookie season). If he plays 82 games, his production in the default Yahoo categories gives him 5th-round value. That's a massive seven-round mismatch between how the average manager values Forsberg vs. how Left Wing Lock values Forsberg. Are you really going to glance at Forsberg's name in the 10th round and look the other way?
Valeri Nichushkin - 65. 55. 62. 53. These four numbers are likely the reason why managers have assigned 12th-round value to the Colorado forward in this Summer's drafts. These are the number of games played by Valeri Nichushkin over the past four seasons, but they require some context. Due to shortened seasons, the Avalanche played 70 games in 2019-2020 and 56 games in 2020-2021. Nichushkin missed just six games over the course of those two seasons. Missing 30% of the games in the two most recent seasons is more worrisome; but the two injuries were unrelated (upper-body and ankle). Nichushkin will be playing alongside Nathan MacKinnon at even strength and on the power play. He's averaged nearly 20 minutes of ice time and nearly 3 shots on goal per game over the past two seasons. If he can reach 82 games, Nichushkin should produce 30 goals and 40 assists.
Customized Player Rankings
If you're looking for a chance to draft players with great projections who are being ignored by the other fantasy hockey websites, then consider downloading one of our fantasy hockey draft kits this season. You won't be disappointed. While this article focused on the Yahoo standard scoring system, our customized draft kits can handle just about any scoring system you throw our way. You'll find plenty of draft day steals.
For 17 years, you've trusted Left Wing Lock as a reliable source to bring you accurate starting goalie information, line combinations, and player news alerts. That same passion and dedication fuels us as we create the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2023-2024 season. Order your kit today!
PLAYER: an NHL player involved in this analysis. Click player name to visit player profile page.
TEAM: the current NHL team for this player.
YPOS: the official position designation for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
LWLRANK: the rank assigned by Left Wing Lock for this player in this specific scoring system only.
ADP: the average draft position for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
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