The strength of the Minnesota Wild forwards is at left wing. They have three of the top seven left wings in the division.
Here is a ranking of the 10 best left wings in the Central Division. Players are those listed as left wings on their respective teams’ official website roster.
No. 10 – Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets
The physical forward recorded career highs for assists, points penalty minutes and hits last season as well as tied career highs for power play goals and game-winning goals. Ladd is a tough power forward with some scoring skills. He is the captain of the Jets, but has a history of undisciplined play. He has found himself in the penalty box at inopportune times and does not have top six offensive skills.
No. 9 – Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars
The veteran scorer was traded in the offseason from one Central Division team to another. Sharp posted the lowest scoring output of his career in a non-strike-shortened season since 2006-07 (his first full season in Chicago). The Blackhawks were looking to move his contract and found a taker in Dallas. The Stars hope that he can build off his resurgent playoffs, in which he had 15 goals in 23 games). He has a very dangerous shot off the rush, especially on the off-wing, as well as the skating ability and smarts to remain a top-six player. However, at 33-years-old, age appears to be catching up with him. He does not have the stamina nor consistency he once had.
No. 8 – Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues
The undersized Saskatchewan native is a quick and skilled forward. Schwartz has improved his offensive numbers in each of his two full seasons and two partial seasons in the NHL. He is a smaller player, but can play either wing or center. He does a lot of the little things necessary to win games. He still needs to improve his defensive skills as well as add strength to his frame.
No. 7 – Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild
The former University of Minnesota star really struggled in his first season with the Wild. Vanek came to the Wild as a free agent last offseason and it took him a while to adjust. He is a natural goal scorer. He is most effective in close to the net where he can utilize his quick and accurate shot as well as his ability to stick handle through traffic. He scored some big goals for the Wild last season. He is not a strong skater and has a tendency to get out of position.
No. 6 – Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues
The late bloomer finally reached 50 points as a 27-year-old in the 2010-11 season. Steen has progressed to top 60 points in each of the last two seasons. He is a smart two-way player that can be a goal scorer or a playmaker. He can be streaky at times, but can impact every game with his defensive skills.
No. 5 – Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild
The Las Vegas native had a breakout season in the 2014-15 season. Zucker progressed through the Wild lineup from the fourth line on up to the second line with captain Mikko Koivu last season. He more than doubled his career goal output and point output last season. He is a natural goal scorer with tremendous speed. He has become a complete end-to-end player with defensive smarts. He has become a nightmare for opposing defenders with his speed and knack for timing his exit from the defensive zone perfectly. He has developed a physical aspect to his game as well, but he does not have the size to consistently get involved in physical altercations.
No. 4 – Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
The Sweden native has been the Avalanche captain since September of 2012. Landeskog, not yet 20-years-old at time, has been the leader of the up-and-down Avalanche. He has good size and power forward skills, but he still needs to mature as an NHL player and improve his discipline. He may not be an elite NHL player, but can be a very good secondary scoring option on one of the top two lines.
No. 3 – Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
The Sweden native had a breakout season as a rookie in 2014-15. After having six points in 18 games over portions of the previous two seasons, Forsberg recorded 26 goals and 37 assists while playing all 82 games for the Predators. He has good size, a quick and accurate shot as well as very good offensive instincts. He also can play all three forward positions. He still needs to add strength to his frame and improve his consistency.
No. 2 – Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota native has helped change the culture of the Wild. Parise chose to sign with the Wild after his hometown team failed to make the playoffs the previous four seasons. They have made the postseason in each of the three seasons since. He has upped his goal scoring as well his assist, shots on goal and hits output in each season with the Wild. He does not possess elite skill level in a lot of offensive tangibles, but outworks and out-hustles everyone. That hustle and smarts provide himself and his teammates with scoring opportunities. He is not afraid of being physical, despite giving height and/or weight to a lot of defensemen in the NHL.
No. 1 – Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
The British Columbia native has become one of the league’s best offensive players. With the exception of the strike-shortened season, Benn has improved his point total in every season. Last season, he reached the pinnacle as the league’s leader in points. He has reached the 30-goal, 45-assist plateau in each of the last two seasons. He has good size, is willing to be physical and can play all three forward positions. He has a tendency to take bad penalties when frustrated and can take himself out of games.