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2016-17 Fantasy Winger Primer: Rookies


The fate of rookie wingers depends on the types of situations they're exposed to right out of the gate and who their linemates are at 5v5 (most rookies won't see power-play time). Depending on how teams choose to develop them they may be relegated to third-line duties to begin a season, thus diminishing their fantasy appeal by limiting their opportunities to produce on the offensive end.

Here are some wingers likely to begin 2016-17 with a prominent role alongside other skilled forwards:

RW Jesse Puljujarvi, Oilers

Puljujarvi should begin the season with either C Connor McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In a worst-case situation, he'll be on the right side of Leon Draisaitl, who had 19 goals and 51 points in his sophomore season last year.

The Oilers are desperate for improvement this season, and they need to make up for the 286 shots on goal and 26 goals lost in the Taylor Hall trade. Puljujarvi was the biggest offseason acquisition, along with the signing of LW Milan Lucic. The two play drastically different roles, with Puljujarvi likely to be a higher-volume shooter.

LW/RW Patrik Laine, Jets

Selected two picks ahead of Puljujarvi in the 2016 draft, Laine should begin the season on the left side of C Bryan Little and RW Drew Stafford, if not on the top line with C Mark Scheifele and RW Blake Wheeler. From a fantasy perspective, owners should be hoping for the second line, as he'll have much more opportunity on the offensive end.

Little and Stafford were the Jets' fourth- and fifth-leading scorers last season, combining for 42 assists. Laine scored 17 goals in 46 SM-liiga games last season. Laine is one of the few rookies with the potential for power-play time this coming season.

RW Anthony Mantha, Red Wings

Mantha scored three points in 10 NHL games last season, but he should receive his first true opportunity this year as the Red Wings begin life without Pavel Datsyuk. Matha scored 21 goals with 45 points for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League last season.

The 2013 first-rounder will most likely slot into the top six with C Frans Nielsen and LW Justin Abdelkader. A pass-first center and the grinding Abdelkader should open up the ice for Mantha, who projects as a top-end goal scorer.

LW Kevin Fiala, Predators

Fiala has played just six NHL games over the past two seasons, scoring one goal at the NHL level last season. He did score 18 goals with 50 points in 66 AHL games last year. The Swiss native was the 11th pick in 2014, and he immediately joined the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.

The Predators' top-six forward group is full of talent but even a third-line role alongside C Mike Fisher W Calle Jarnkrok could be enough for Fiala to produce fantasy-worthy numbers. Consider him in the later rounds of drafts, or watch his early-season production at the very least.

LW Timo Meier, Sharks

Meier is in the rare situation of being a high-end rookie on a team which just participated in the Stanley Cup final. The ninth-overall pick from 2015 totaled 87 points over 52 games in his final QMJHL season. He should begin the season alongside extremely talented C Tomas Hertl with veteran RW Joel Ward on the other side.

LW Matthew Tkachuk, Flames

Tkachuk should join the Flames' thin forwards corps from the start of the season. While the Flames typically develop prospects slowly, they haven't had many of Tkachuk's caliber in recent years and a string of poor seasons could force their hand.

He's unlikely to join C Sean Monahan and LW Johnny Gaudreau on the top line, but he could earn a spot on line two with C Sam Bennett. Bennett has had a disappointing start to his NHL career, but the potential new duo could turn into a light version of the Monahan/Gaudreau combo.

LW Adrian Kempe, Kings

Kempe has an outside shot to replace Lucic on the Kings' top line with C Anze Kopitar and RW Marian Gaborik. He had 28 points in 55 games with the Ontario Reign of the AHL last season.

Taken 29th overall in 2014, expectations can be kept low for Kempe, but Kopitar has the ability to speed up the development of his linemates, and the Kings have few other options for the role.

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