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The Metropolitan Division’s Top Left Wings: 2019-20

Wrapping up our look at the Metro’s best with a countdown of the division’s top left wings

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

And so we’ve come to the end - goalies, defense, centers, right wings, all in the books. Now all that remains before the season gets underway is to take a look at the best left wings in the Metro.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Dzingel, Nick Foligno, Nikita Gusev, Carl Hagelin

10. Chris Kreider (NYR)
Last year’s rank: Not Ranked

After having his 2017-18 season shortened due to a blood clot in his arm, Kreider bounced back quite nicely last year, tying his previous career high in goals with 28 and falling just one point short of his career-best 53 points. Amazingly enough he set those marks despite struggling with a midseason hamstring injury, and had been on a 40-goal pace over the first half of the season - which probably makes Ranger fans happy that the multitude of trade rumors involving Kreider ended up to be nothing (so far).

9. James van Riemsdyk (PHI)
Last year’s rank: 5

After spending six seasons in Toronto, JVR returned to where it all started when he signed with the Flyers last summer - and expectations were high as he came back to the team that drafted him over a decade earlier. The early part of his season, however, was hampered by an injury suffered in his second game back, and he missed the next 16 games. As he returned to health, his game picked up and he finished the year with 27 points and 48 points in 66 games. A full season of health combined with a retooled Flyer team could give him the foundation for a strong bounceback year in 2019-20.

8. Anders Lee (NYI)
Last year’s rank: 6

Despite not getting close to the 40-goal season he’d put together in 2017-18, Lee once again led the Islanders in goals with 28 (and did so with a much more reasonable and sustainable shooting percentage, going from 19.2% to 13.7%). Over the last few years, Lee has developed into a consistent point-producer for New York, good for at least 50 points a season — more than enough on a team that has shifted focus to a more defensive style under new coach Barry Trotz. Both team and player seem to be happy, as Lee turned down the lure of free agency to sign on for another seven years in Long Island this summer.

7. Jakub Vrana (WSH)
Last year’s rank: 9

The story of Jakub Vrana is, for now, heavily loaded with potential. After a strong showing in the team’s Cup run in 2018 - his rookie campaign - Vrana proved to be a serious offensive threat in his follow-up and cracked the 20-goal mark for the first time. His 47-point outing was largely earned at even strength, as his power-play time and production was limited - something that should change in 2019-20 as he begins to take on new responsibility with the Caps.

6. Teuvo Teravainen (CAR)
Last year’s rank: 8

Teravainen continued to prove that the ‘Canes got quite a steal when they traded for the Finn back in 2016, topping 20 goals for the second-straight season and setting new career highs in assists (55) and points (76). As one-third of Carolina’s high-flying top line with Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter, Teravainen is strong on both sides of the puck and has a knack for “right time, right place” plays - all of which contributed to his new contract extension inked mid-season to keep him in Raleigh for the next five years.

5. Jake Guentzel (PIT)
Last year’s rank: 7

It’d be easy to dismiss Guentzel a bit because he’s had the great fortune to play alongside Sidney Crosby for the bulk of his early career - and it obviously hasn’t hurt him to get passes from one of the best in the NHL for the last three years. Still, putting up 40 goals is no easy feat (only 12 other players did so last year) and that’s exactly what Guentzel did en route to a career-best 76 points. Of course, his claim to fame so far has been playoff performance, with 21 points in consecutive postseason runs (the second of which only lasted 12 games)... something that went missing this year, as he put up just one goal in the four-game sweep at the hands of the Isles. Fluke or new status quo? Yeah... we’ll go ahead and say fluke.

4. Claude Giroux (PHI)
Last year’s rank: 4

The move to wing a few seasons ago may have been one of the better things to happen to Giroux, who has returned to form since shifting away from his natural center position with 187 points in his last two seasons combined. He’s combined his usual dominance on the power play (he’s topped 20 power-play points in nine of his last ten seasons) but combined that with a reenergized performance at even strength, posting a 5.94 relCF that was second behind only Sean Couturier on the Flyers.

3. Taylor Hall (NJD)
Last year’s rank: 2

Coming off of a career year in 2017-18, expectations were high for Hall - but like some of his fellow ranked wingers on this list, the injury bug came calling and shortened his season to just 33 games. Of course, he did a lot in that time, with 26 assists and 37 points before his knee injury eventually led to season-ending surgery. He should be back, healthy and ready to go for 2019-20, however, and has a new-look Devils team around him - which is good news for them and bad news for the rest of the division.

2. Artemi Panarin (NYR)
Last year’s rank: 3

After breaking out in a big way over the past few seasons in Columbus, Panarin was The Name at this year’s trade deadline and heading into free agency - and when the dust had finally settled, he was the newest member of the New York Rangers. The late-blooming Panarin already has over 300 points in his first four seasons, and his production has been pretty consistently great from year to year. He set a new career high in points with 87 last season and should be well on his way to getting at least 30 goals again this year... especially if he ends up on a line with rookie phenom Kaapo Kakko.

1. Alex Ovechkin (WSH)
Last year’s rank: 1

Endless awards and milestones and history-making moments... and another 50-goal season at the young-at-heart age of 33. What more needs to be said about one of the greatest goal-scorers of all time? He is, quite simply, the greatest goal scorer of our time... and likely beyond.