2021-22 NHL Position Rankings: Top 10 left wingers entering new season

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2021-22 NHL Position Rankings: Top 10 left wingers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NHL is blessed to have an extraordinary amount of offensive talent right now and the left wing position is no exception.

Several of the league's most dynamic and consistent goal scorers play this position, including Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, who has a legitimate chance to threaten Wayne Gretzky's career goals scored record over the next couple years. Ovechkin currently stands at 730 -- 164 behind The Great One.

Break up the McAvoy-Grzelcyk pairing? There are pros and cons

Here's a look at the top 10 left wings in the league entering the 2021-22 season.

Our previous positional rankings: Top 10 centers

10) Max Pacioretty, Golden Knights

2020-21 Stats: 24 G, 27 A in 48 GP

Pacioretty has been a consistent offensive player for the Golden Knights over the last three years with 20-plus goals scored in each of those seasons. He's also an excellent leader for Vegas and a huge reason why the franchise has been so successful early in its history

9) Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks

2020-21 Stats: 32 G, 24 A in 56 GP

DeBrincat had a phenomenal 2020-21 season with 32 goals -- the third-most in the league. He's scored 91 goals over the last three seasons. The Blackhawks found an absolute gem with the No. 39 overall pick (second round) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

8) Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

2020-21 Stats: 19 G, 30 A in 56 GP

Gaudreau has disappointed a bit over the last two seasons following a breakout 99-point campaign in 2018-19. His stats haven't been poor by any means, but someone of his caliber is expected to be a consistent 20-goal scorer, even in a 56-game shortened season. The Flames as a team have fallen short of expectations over the last two years, and if Calgary is going to turn things around soon, Gaudreau needs to be a huge part of that.

7) Kirill Kaprizov, Wild

2020-21 Stats: 27 G, 24 A in 55 GP

Kaprizov was an easy choice for the Calder Trophy last season after leading all rookies with 27 goals and helping the Wild secure a playoff spot as the third-place team in the West division. The challenge for Kaprizov going forward is matching or exceeding that offensive production on a consistent basis over several years, but that shouldn't be a tough one for him given his extraordinary speed and skill.

That said, the expectations and pressure on Kaprizov to perform at an elite level will be sky high after he recently signed a five-year contract worth $9 million (!) per season. 

6) Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes

2020-21 Stats: 15 G, 27 A, 55 GP

The Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2019 but haven't been able to return since, even though they won a strong Central Division last year. For Carolina to take that next step into the top tier of East contenders, the team needs a breakout season from Svechnikov. The No. 2 overall pick from the 2018 draft has been very good for the 'Canes in three pro seasons, but he definitely can take his game up a few levels. 

5) Kyle Connor, Jets

2020-21 Stats: 26 G, 24 A in 56 GP

The only left winger with more goals over the last three seasons than Connor's 98 is Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin (123). Connor is not only one of the Jets' most valuable players, he also should be one of the United States' key players at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Not many wingers have a harder or more accurate shot than Connor.

4) Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers

2020-21 Stats: 20 G, 41 A in 55 GP

Huberdeau's consistency has been impressive of late with three consecutive seasons scoring above a point-per-game rate. He's also scored 20-plus goals four straight years. Huberdeau is more than a really good offensive player, though. He's also an excellent defensive winger who plays a solid 200-foot game. Huberdeau is very effective on the power play, too, and his 53 points with the man advantage over the past two seasons are the fourth-most in the league.

3) Artemi Panarin, Rangers

2020-21 Stats: 17 G, 41 A in 42 GP

Panarin is an excellent goal scorer who will find the back of the net 25-30 times over a full season. His playmaking ability is even more impressive, though. Panarin has averaged just over 50 assists per season during his six-year career. His 240 points over the last three years are the second-most among left wingers.

2) Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals

2020-21 Stats: 24 G, 18 A in 45 GP

Ovechkin is the only player in the league to score 50-plus goals in a season since the start of the 2013-14 campaign. He's done it four times over that span. He also tied for the league lead with 48 goals just two years ago. Ovechkin might not be the same almost-unstoppable force he was during his prime, but the Capitals captain remains an elite offensive player.

The Russian forward is still one of the most effective power-play scorers, too.

1) Brad Marchand, Bruins

2020-21 Stats: 29 G, 40 A in 53 GP

Marchand is one of the most underrated and underappreciated superstars in the league. Over the last three years, Marchand ranks No. 3 among left wingers in goals (93), No. 1 in assists (163) and No. 1 in points (256). In addition to his elite offensive production, Marchand is a very good defensive player and, along with Patrice Bergeron, makes up half of the league's top penalty killing duo. 

Marchand often annoys his opponents and rival fanbases, but you have to respect the Hall of Fame-worthy career he's building.