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Who We Be, Winnipeg HC? --- Left Wings

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Okay, I had to.

Traditionally speaking, the left wing has been known as the place to put your big, rugged goal-scorers, the position for the Tim Kerrs and Cam Neelys of the world.  Winnipeg inherits a next-generation player cut from that mould, Evander Kane, and his steady progression into a possible every-minute forward could make him a crowd favourite very quickly.  Winnipeg fans will be happy to know that Kane won't be the only solid left-winger on the new hockey club.

First, if you are completely unfamiliar with the statistics I am using, please have a look at the original Who We Be post, where I provide brief explanations.  For those already in-the-know, here's a refresher on league averages and ranges in 2010-11 for these stats:

Statistic League Average Range - Low Range - High
5v5 TOI/60 fwd 12.01 2.98 17.66
5v5 O-ZoneS% 50.13 24.96 74.54
5v5 BZS ~0 -7.85 5.766
5v5 PIMdiff/60 fwd 0.08 -5.0 1.9
5v5 CrsRel -0.28 -47.4 22.4
5v5 G/60 fwd 0.68 0.0 1.94
5v5 A1/60 fwd 0.56 0.0 1.51
5v4 SF/60 fwd 44.6 26.7 69.2
5v4 G/60 fwd 1.45 0.0 4.07
5v4 A1/60 fwd 1.19 0.0 3.81
4v5 SA/60 44.95 28.2 64.8
5v5 QoC -0.0098 -0.257 0.128
5v5 QoT -0.017 -0.815 0.711
GVT fwd 4.3 -3.4 19.7

* Ranges for forwards and defencemen are established across players playing at least 30 games last year
* Ranges for those in special teams situations are across players playing at least 30 games and 1 min/60 of PK/PP

You'll notice for some of the statistics that forwards and defencemen have been separated.  Moving on...

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG 5v5 TOI/60 5v4 TOI/60 4v5 TOI/60 5v5 O-ZoneS% 5v5 BZS
2010 - Andrew Ladd 81 29 30 59 -10 39 9 14.40 2.89 1.82 50.6 2.853
5v5 PIMdiff/60 5v5 CrsOn 5v5 CrsRel 5v5 G/60 5v5 A1/60 5v4 SF/60 5v4 G/60 5v4 A1/60 4v5 SA/60 5v5 QoC 5v5 QoT GVT Eyebrow height
-0.2 4.32 9.5 0.87 0.67 45.7 2.05 0.51 48.3 0.039 0.099 8.5 6cm

Not just a pretty face, Ladd had a breakout season in 2010-11, setting career highs in goals, points, and shooting percentage, in addition to taking on relatively tough competition and average zone starts and spinning gold out of them.  A bit-part on the previous year's Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks, he became a key piece of the puzzle in Atlanta and lived up to the billing.  You always want to be wary of a breakout player, particularly if the things that got you so excited (goals, shooting percentage) are off from his career numbers; that said, he played well on the powerplay, and that seemed to be reflected by his teammates.  The defensive numbers are for real (at least at even-strength; he'd played quite well with tough assignments in the past with the Blackhawks), so you can count on Ladd being a solid-if-unspectacular 2nd-liner in the future.  Grade: B+


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG 5v5 TOI/60 5v4 TOI/60 4v5 TOI/60 5v5 O-ZoneS% 5v5 BZS
2010 - Evander Kane 73 19 24 43 -12 68 4 14.07 2.26 0.84 54.5 2.836
5v5 PIMdiff/60 5v5 CrsOn 5v5 CrsRel 5v5 G/60 5v5 A1/60 5v4 SF/60 5v4 G/60 5v4 A1/60 4v5 SA/60 5v5 QoC 5v5 QoT GVT Matt Cooke TKOs
0.6 -0.64 0.7 0.76 0.82 39.3 1.45 0.73 33.5 0.031 -0.040 4.3 1

I am really excited to see if Kane takes the next step this year.  I'm even more excited to see that, given some time on the penalty kill, he returned some pretty fantastic numbers.  My only concern was that he wasn't great on the powerplay, but the fact that he's improved nearly across the board from his rookie season suggests to me that that will get better as well.  Though his success hasn't been nearly as immediate as guys like John Tavares and Matt Duchene (the two forwards picked ahead of him in 2009), he has the potential to be just as valuable in the long run.  The only disappointment is that he didn't pan out as a centre, the position for which he was drafted.  Grade: B


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG 5v5 TOI/60 5v5 O-ZoneS% 5v5 BZS 5v5 PIMdiff/60  5v5 CrsOn
2010 - Eric Boulton 69 6 4 10 1 87 0 8.84 49.9 0.000 0.1 -7.77
5v5 CrsRel 5v5 G/60 5v5 A1/60 5v5 QoC 5v5 QoT GVT Fighting Majors Fight Wins Fight Losses Fight Draws Avg Fight Rating (out of 10) Did I include the 5 to the left b/c I don't know what else to say about the guy?
-6.4 0.59 0.39 -0.087 0.008 0.0 9 2 3 4 6.13 Y

Boulton rounds out the brunt of our regular left wings...the position often involves a rotation of centres in addition to wingers.  One of the things you'll learn about me pretty quickly is that I don't really care for guys like Boulton, for a number of reasons.  For one, whether their fights actually pump anybody up is debatable (people tend to focus on the times when something good happens after a fight, rather than all the times nothing or something bad happens afterward).  For two, they take a roster spot and can only be trusted with less than 10 minutes of ice time per game; heaven help you if you need him to take an injured player's place.  For three, they take the roster spot of more talented players or ones with potential that needs developing.  For four, they get matched up against weak competition (usually, an opposing line with a fighter on it), competition that could be exploited had you decided to not take the bait and force them to play hockey.  I'm sure I'll get flak for saying these things, but I just wanted you to know where I stand on this.  I enjoy watching fights sometimes, particularly when they involve knocking out a guy with a reputation for targeting and hurting players, but if they disappeared I wouldn't mind it. Grade: F

Now let's have a look at our "prospects" at left wing.  Just a couple of reiterations: when I say "prospect", I mean a player under 25 years old.  Also, for the NHL Equivalencies, these are the results assuming the player played at that level for a full 82-game NHL season.  Finally, the grades from this point forward assess how solid of a prospect the player is, rather than what kind of year he had.

Age Height Weight '10-'11 League(s) GP NHLE G NHLE A NHLE Pts PIM/G Plays PP? PK?
2010 - Michael Forney 23 188cm (6'2") 84kg (185lbs) ECHL,AHL 75 7 16 23 1.053 Y Y

On the upside, Forney played a good game with the Gwinnett Gladiators in the ECHL and played a few games in the AHL.  On the downside, 23 is pretty old to finally be breaking into the AHL, and he has yet to play a full season at that level.  The dude has had an itinerant minor league career so far, but sometimes it takes some experience like that to settle down a young player.  He has played all situations in the past, so we'll see what he's able to do if he sticks in the AHL this year.  Grade: C-


Age Height Weight '10-'11 League(s) GP NHLE G NHLE A NHLE Pts PIM/G Plays PP? PK?
2010 - Fredrik Pettersson 24 178cm (5'10") 84kg (185lbs) AHL 67 6 11 17 0.687 Y Y

Pettersson is an older prospect who came over from Sweden last year after playing some solid hockey there.  His first season may have been made difficult by the cultural change, though he's played in North America before.  I have trouble seeing him as more than an AHL lifer.  Grade: D-


Age Height Weight '10-'11 League(s) GP NHLE G NHLE A NHLE Pts PIM/G Plays PP? PK?
2010 - Carl Klingberg 20 191cm (6'3") 93kg (205lbs) SEL,AHL,NHL 58 7 3 10 0.345 -- --

Klingberg is a big prospect who shone at times in the SEL but has yet to give us a full season's look at what he's capable of doing in North America.  Atlanta gave him a one-game fill-in assignment, but nothing came of it.  Size is never a bad thing at wing, but we'll need to see a bit more nose for the net if he's going to jump from the AHL this coming year.  He's also really good at looking like death, or a hairstylist.  Grade: C

Looking at the team and the system, you'd like to see more young players in the system to fill the bottom two lines.  None of the three above would be NHL-ready right now, regardless of the fact that Klingberg got to play a game with the big club.  Winnipeg could look to fill the 3rd or 4th line with a cheap veteran like Fredrik Sjostrom or go more expensive and try for Sean Bergenheim (if Tampa Bay lets him go, which was made less unlikely by his strong showing in the playoffs) or Chris Higgins (another case of if they let him go).  I'm secretly hoping they don't resign Boulton and go that route, but we'll see.

In general, I don't want them to pay big bucks for this position, as our top two LWs are solid.  Therefore, left wing is a position that should be addressed in the middle rounds of the draft and through cheaper free agents.  We'd like to build up that system, but compared to other positions it's not a dire need right now.