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Top 15 Western Conference Fantasy Forwards

1. Jarome Iginla, Calgary (projection: 102 points)-  My #1 choice may surprise a few people but that is a reflection of Iggy simply not receiving the credit he deserves outside of Cowtown. Iggy is a tried-and-tested warrior and put up 98 points last year, his highest point total ever. Expect Iggy to click again playing with Daymond Langkow, who serves as an ideal linemate. Iginla may very well captain Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

2. Joe Thornton, San Jose (projection: 101 points)- Thornton put up 96 points last year and it was viewed as a disappointment by many hockey poolies.  I guess when you register 125 points, like Big Joe did in 2005’06, anything significantly less seems like an aberration.

3. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit (projection: 95 points)- To say that Datsyuk had success in 2007’08 would be an understatement. He registered a career-high 97 points during the regular season, captured a Stanley Cup ring and won both the Frank J. Selke Trophy and Lady Byng Memorial trophy. Datsyuk gets to play with Marian Hossa on the power play this year.  Draft this man early.

4. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit (projection: 93 points)- Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy to cap off what was simply a dominant season.  Z-berg may be the best player in the league when he is creating scoring chances off the rush.  Zetterberg has developed into a great two-way player in addition to being one of the most consistent scorers in the NHL.

5. Marian Gaborik, Minnesota (projection: 90 points) Gaborik stepped up his play last season and actually only missed five games.  Gaborik is coming off a career-best 41 g-42 a-83 PTS season, which included a five-point game in December.  Expect Gaborik to improve on his point totals from last year playing alongside proven veteran Andrew Brunette.  Marek Zidlicky is a slick puck-rusher and will only help the lightning-quick Gaborik.

6. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim (projection: 85 points)- Getzlaf was a bright spot for the underachieving Ducks last season and matured into more of a two-way player under the tutelage of Randy Carlyle.  By netting 82 points, Getzlaf improved on his totals from 2006’07 (58 points) and jumped into the upper echelon of Western Conference forwards.  The Getzlaf-Kunitz-Perry line should be one of the best in the league this season.

7. Mike Ribeiro, Dallas (projection: 83 points)- Ribeiro clicked nicely on Dallas’ top line last season and proved to be one of the nicest fantasy surprises in the league.  Ribeiro shattered his previous best last season with 83 points and turned into one of the league’s supreme playmakers, especially behind the net on the power-play.  Ribeiro definitely has an attitude, but he also has the play to back it up.  Don’t let him slip out of the first round of your pool.

8. Marian Hossa, Detroit (projection: 82 points)- Hossa signed a one-year deal with Detroit in the off-season after splitting time between Atlanta and Pittsburgh last season.  Hossa’s decision to sign with a Western Conference team was one of the biggest news stories of the summer and bolstered a perennial powerhouse.  Hossa will fit in perfectly with Detroit’s euro-style offense.

9. Paul Stastny, Colorado (projection: 81 points)- Stastny was better than a point-per-game player last season for Colly (71 points in 66 games) and has a tremendous pair of playmaking hands.  Stastny is entering his third season in the league and already plays with the poise of a 10-year veteran.  His on-ice vision is tremendous.

10. Patrick Kane, Chicago (projection: 80 points)- 2007 1st Overall pick Patrick Kane easily won the Calder Trophy last season and showed many flashes of brilliance on a defensively-weak Blackhawk team.  Kane needed an offensive defenseman and he got it. Brian Campbell will get him the puck, and Kane usually does the rest.

11. Brenden Morrow, Dallas (projection: 77 points)- Stars Captain Brenden Morrow may be the most physically-intimidating first line scorer in the National Hockey League. Morrow was praised for his play during the 2008 playoffs and it was rightly deserved.  Morrow is an extremely intelligent hockey player who knows how to pick his spots in a game.  Morrow will not disappoint poolies or fans in this season or any season.

12. Shane Doan, Phoenix (projection: 75 points)- Doan is the only Winnipeg Jet remaining on the Phoenix Coyotes and is one of the most popular Canadian hockey players of all-time.  Doan has not made the playoffs in awhile but has still represented his country annually at the World Hockey Championships.  Phoenix has a boatload of young guns and Doan must be ecstatic that Olli Jokinen is now a Desert Dog.

13. Jonathan Toews, Chicago (projection: 74 points)- Toews scored one of the nicest goals of 2007’08 but had some injury problems that limited his offensive production.  Toews had 54 points in 64 games last year and was still a Calder-finalist.  Toews is a magnificent skater who loves to receive the puck mid-flight.  Toews may even hit 80 points if all the stars are aligned.  He’s that good.

14. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver (projection: 73 points)- Henrik Sedin is a slick skater and nifty stick-handler who gains confidence given the right situation.  Although Sedin’s production dipped a little last season (76 points in 2007’08, 81 points in 2006’07), he is still a premier playmaker in the Natonal Hockey League. 

15. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver (projection: 73 points) Daniel Sedin is more of a sniper than Henrik (29 goals last season) and seems to really click playing with Taylor Pyatt.  Both of the Sedins will benefit from playing with an offensively gifted player like Pavol Demitra on the power-play this season but don’t expect their point totals to skyrocket in the defensively-tight Northwest Division.


For Illegal Curve, I’m Ezra Ginsburg.

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