2018 Outlook: Teams waited until the 25th pick to select Pastrnak in the 2014 NHL draft, but the 21-year-old Czech wasted no time producing at the highest level. He combined for a solid 25 goals and 28 assists in 97 games over his first two seasons, then made a leap with a 34-goal, 70-point campaign last year. Playing with defensively responsible linemates has also allowed Pasta to mask any growing pains on that end, with his career rating sitting at a healthy plus-26. There's little not to like even if he plateaus, but it's fair to expect more growth from Pastrnak given his career trajectory and that new six-year, $40 million contract.
2018 Outlook: While most players would be ecstatic with a 33-goal, 69-point campaign, that output last season was considered a disappointment by Ovechkin's lofty standards. It's possible the soon-to-be-32-year-old is slowing down a bit, but his power-play production alone should keep him among the game's elite. Ovechkin has held at least a share of the league lead in power-play goals every season since 2012-13, never dipping below 16 in that span. While the team around him lost a lot of depth in the offseason, all the major cogs that made its man advantage work will be back once again. One "down" year isn't enough to write off a player of Ovechkin's caliber, and an eighth 50-goal season isn't out of the question for the Russian if things break right.
2018 Outlook: Seguin has quietly rounded into one of the league's most prolific players. In the four seasons since being shipped down from Boston to Big D, the 2010 second overall pick has posted 84, 77, 73 and 72 points, with his best performance (based on points per game) coming in 2014-15 when he potted 37 goals and 77 points in 71 contests. Yes, his 72 points and minus-15 last year were his worst marks as a Star, but he also recorded more than 300 shots for the first time. With even minimal statistic correction to his 8.6 shooting percentage — which was 4 percent less than his previous three-year average in Dallas — Seguin is a surefire bet for 30-plus goals in 2017-18. In addition, he forms a lethal two-headed monster with stud linemate Jamie Benn, and having Alexander Radulov in the mix certainly won't hurt.
2018 Outlook: Dubnyk was the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy in the first half of last season, but his play faded badly down the stretch. The overall numbers came out just fine, though, as the 6-foot-6 behemoth was one of only four goalies to finish among the top 10 in wins, GAA and save percentage. While Dubnyk's second half certainly left a bad taste in fantasy owners' mouths, he still has a sparkling 99-54-13 record, 2.17 GAA and .924 save percentage since being traded to the Wild in January 2015. Minnesota is expected to contend once again, and Dubnyk's locked in as the starter, so another strong campaign should be in the cards.
2018 Outlook: Tarasenko is the only player with at least 35 goals, 70 points and 260 shots in each of the past three seasons, which is even more intriguing considering the sniper is just entering his age-26 season and still in the heart of his offensive prime. The Blues have undergone a number of personnel changes the past few years, and Tarasenko is now the unquestioned go-to scorer for St. Louis. After Mike Yeo took over as head coach, the new bench boss leaned on his star, and Tarasenko averaged 19:05 of ice per game, a full minute more than he did with Ken Hitchcock calling the shots. Tarasenko is a high-floor, high-upside asset with potential to take a run at the league's top mark in goals.
2018 Outlook: Scheifele lived up to his breakout status last season with a 32-goal, 82-point campaign, which included an incredible 67 points at even strength. He finished the season off with seven tallies and 22 helpers over a torrid 24-game stretch, and the 24-year-old still might be able to take it up a notch offensively, considering he's just entering his offensive prime. Winnipeg is loaded with talented wingers, so with Scheifele locked in as the top center, it's an ideal fantasy setup. Additionally, head coach Paul Maurice leaned on Scheifele in offensive situations last year, as the center averaged a career-high 20:34 of ice time, which included 3:06 on the power play. While it's not a lock that Scheifele will improve on last season's numbers, he's quickly solidifying himself as a high-end player up in the middle.
2018 Outlook: Backstrom is often thought of as Alex Ovechkin's setup man, but that doesn't do the slick-passing Swede justice. He has more points than the Capitals' captain over the past four seasons and has played at a point-per-game pace over his 10-year career. Where playing with Ovechkin certainly helps is on the power play, as Backstrom has racked up north of 30 points with the extra man in each of the past four campaigns without reaching double-digit power-play goals in any of those seasons. He's not going to light the lamp 30 times, but there's room on every fantasy team for a defensively responsible center capable of leading the league in helpers.
2018 Outlook: Rinne made up for a so-so regular season with a stellar playoff run, carrying the Predators to within two wins of their first Stanley Cup with a 1.96 GAA and .930 save percentage in 22 starts. While it's nice to see the 34-year-old veteran is still capable of elevating his game to that level, it's fair to wonder whether the physical and mental fatigue of that deep run will take its toll on him this year. His regular-season GAA has already been better than 2.40 in each of the past two campaigns, and young backup Juuse Saros is hungry for more work after outplaying Rinne when given the chance. There's more risk here than you'd expect for a veteran netminder coming off a stellar postseason.
2018 Outlook: The 27-year-old winger has scored at least 25 goals in each of the past three seasons, with consecutive point increases in each campaign. He received a career-high 3:11 of power-play time per game last year and exploded for 26 points -- 13 goals -- with the man advantage, which was a huge boon to his fantasy value. His points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 dropped to its lowest mark (1.9) of the past three seasons, but it's still encouraging to see Hoffman receiving the prime offensive minutes needed to shine, and he should seamlessly slide back into a similar role in 2017-18. Hoffman owns blazing speed and a sniper's shooting arsenal, so now that he has established himself in a go-to role under head coach Guy Boucher, another rock-solid offensive showing is well within reach for the winger.
2018 Outlook: While Connor McDavid is the new face of the NHL, Draisaitl -- his top-line flanker from the right side -- is similar in that he embodies virtually everything a fantasy owner looks for in a player. The German forward is a fervent competitor who possesses tremendous awareness and control in the attacking zone. Plus, he is superglued to the Oilers' primary power-play unit, which ranked fifth (22.9 percent) last season. Draisaitl provided Edmonton with 29 goals and 48 assists in a full campaign and personified the team's "Orange Crush" moniker during the playoffs (6 goals, 10 assists, plus-8 rating). In August, at the age of 21, Draisaitl signed an eight-year, $68 million contract to keep him in Edmonton until 2024-25. He's officially elite.
2018 Outlook: Together with teammate Mark Scheifele, Wheeler went off in 2016-17, making the Jets one of three teams (Chicago, Edmonton) that featured two players in the top 12 in league scoring. His 74 points were actually four fewer than the previous season, but Wheeler has been Mr. Consistency, lighting the lamp exactly 26 times three years in a row while emerging as one of the league's most prolific shooters (244, 256 and 259 total shots during that span). The icing on the cake? The big-bodied Minnesotan has missed only five games in the six seasons since the team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg, making him easily one of the most dependable fantasy assets in hockey.
2018 Outlook: Rask's save percentage has never dipped below .915 since his four-game rookie campaign, and the 30-year-old Finn's career GAA is a sparkling 2.24. Playing for a Boston team that's always at least in the playoff picture also gives him a high floor in the victory department, as evidenced by his four consecutive campaigns of over 30 wins heading into this season. The Bruins have two decent goalie prospects behind him in Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre, but they're far from locks to even beat out Anton Khudobin for the backup job. Rask has a clear path to 60-plus starts after logging at least 62 in each of the past three seasons, making him a safe choice with upside.
2018 Outlook: Not only was Matthews just the sixth teenage rookie to score 40 goals in NHL history, he was also the first since Eric Lindros in 1992-93. Toronto's five-year rebuild morphed into a win-now plan when Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner showed high-end upside out of the gate last fall, and Matthews was at the forefront. Matthews isn't a lock to build on his 40-goal, 69-point rookie season, though. It will be difficult to match last year's 13.4 5-on-5 shooting percentage, and no Leafs forward averaged 18 minutes of ice time (or more) in 2016-17. Still, Matthews is an obvious candidate for more ice time, and he's a high-volume shooter, so offensive growth is within reach. Just modest statistical improvement will place Matthews among the most valuable fantasy assets in the league. The sky is the limit for the Californian.
2018 Outlook: Regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the modern era, Bergeron snagged his fourth Selke Trophy after his 2016-17 campaign of 21 goals and 53 points. While those numbers were his lowest in the past four seasons, he maintained a high level of special-teams production to preserve his status as a must-own fantasy commodity: eight tallies and nine helpers on the man advantage complemented three shorthanded setups, a plus-12 rating and a 302-shot output. Bergeron was his typical productive self in Boston's short postseason run (four points in six games), and given the positive reports on his offseason sports hernia surgery, he should be ready for his 14th season with the Bruins, the only NHL franchise he has ever known.
2018 Outlook: Karlsson is the cream of the crop as far as puck-moving defensemen go, having racked up 82-game averages of 19 goals, 56 assists, 28 power-play points and 264 shots on goal over the past six seasons. Despite bringing a rather unimposing frame to the ice, Karlsson has proven to be quite durable with five games last year the only ones he's sat out since sustaining an Achilles laceration by Matt Cookie in 2012-13, and he toughed out multiple foot ailments in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. His status for Opening Night is up in the air, but even so, while he may not be able to match the transcendent facial-hair game or goal-scoring ability of Brent Burns, Karlsson continues to have a serious case for being the league's most offensively-gifted blueliner.