2018 Outlook: McDavid's hypersonic burst through hockey's ranks has been quite the spectacle. After shredding the OHL circuit, the do-it-all golden boy dropped jaws as a rookie for the Oilers, producing 16 goals and 32 assists in 45 games, but a broken clavicle shortened his season and foiled his bid for the Calder Trophy. A silky-smooth skater, McDavid returned with a vengeance last season, coexisting harmoniously with Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl on the top line and netting the Art Ross and Hart Trophies after a 100-point season. McDavid's lopsided power-play production ratio of six goals to 35 helpers to date is noteworthy, but he should still fly off the top of draft boards given his prolific production.
2018 Outlook: Fresh off his third Stanley Cup and second straight Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, Crosby is on top of the hockey world. No. 87 also claimed his second career Rocket Richard Trophy with 44 tallies to go with an equally impressive 45 assists and 255 shots on goal, finishing 2016-17 second in points only to Oilers phenom Connor McDavid. Heading into his age-30 season with a clean bill of health over the past four campaigns, there's nothing to suggest that the Nova Scotia native will produce at anything less than a point-per-game pace. Surrounded by a loaded supporting cast that boasts Conor Sheary, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, Crosby should again challenge for the league scoring title while wreaking havoc on the Eastern Conference. He's a no-brainer top-3 draft choice.
2018 Outlook: Holtby looked on as Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky claimed the 2017 Vezina Trophy in Vegas, but the Canadian has one on the mantel from the previous season and still ranks in an elite class of netminders. In 2016-17, "Holtbeast" fashioned his strongest peripherals (2.07 GAA, .925 save percentage) as a full-time starter and iced the cake with a league-high nine shutouts. While the Capitals haven't won a Stanley Cup in 43 years of existence, they've clinched back-to-back Presidents' Trophies with Holtby backstopping them to 90 wins in 129 starts since 2015-16. Seizing up Holtby before Bobrovsky and Habs star Carey Price is virtually the same as test driving any sports car of your choosing, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
2018 Outlook: Kane took a step back after leading the league with 106 points in 2015-16, but last year's 34 goals and 89 points were still good for the second-best totals of his career. While it's a shame that he won't be playing alongside Artemi Panarin anymore after displaying tremendous chemistry with the Columbus-bound Russian over the past two seasons, Kane's ability transcends linemates, and Chicago still has plenty of talent to stick alongside him. A top-15 finish in goals, assists and shots is the absolute floor for a healthy Kane, but the American-born winger is capable of much more given all that he's already accomplished before his 29th birthday.
2018 Outlook: Marchand stands alone as a world-class agitator with an inimitable skill set. He's dubbed the "Little Ball of Hate," having been suspended four times and fined thrice for various dirty play infractions over eight years of NHL service with the Bruins. Last season, the Nova Scotian amassed a career-high 85 points (39 goals, 46 assists) in 80 games while setting the scoring standard for skaters at the left wing position. He was typically proficient on the penalty kill and also fashioned nine goals and 15 assists with the man advantage -- remarkably, an increase of 16 power-play points over his previous career high -- to complement a plus-18 rating. All things considered, Marchand is perhaps the only pest that you'd love seeing every day. Draft accordingly.
2018 Outlook: It's fitting that Kucherov has the bolt emblazoned across his chest; he's fast, explosive, and lethally charged in the offensive zone. The Russian has emerged as the leader of the Lightning while captain Steven Stamkos dealt with blood clots and a torn meniscus in his right knee. Kucherov shouldn't lose any luster with Stamkos back since he's an unselfish player who is nearly as proficient a scorer as he is a playmaker. Last season, the 2011 second-rounder amassed a career-high 40 goals, 45 assists, and an otherworldly 32 points with the man advantage, ranking inside the top 20 in each of those categories. Want Kucherov for your fantasy squad? Be prepared to pay the premium.
2018 Outlook: Price wasn't quite at his 2014-15 MVP level last season, but still played well after missing most of the previous campaign due to an MCL sprain. He finished sixth in GAA (2.23), ninth in save percentage (.923) and fifth in wins (37), all while holding 15 of his final 19 opponents to two or fewer goals after defensive-minded Claude Julien took over behind the bench. A full season with Julien should do wonders for Price's peripherals, but an elite win total will be hard to achieve given his expected workload. Montreal has expressed a desire to limit Price to 60 starts in the first year of his new eight-year contract, even though top netminders routinely see 65-70 per season. Still, Price should be one of the first three goalies off the board.
2018 Outlook: Health is the only major concern for Murray, as racking up wins won't be an issue playing for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs. The 23-year-old netminder is 41-12-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .928 save percentage in his regular-season career and will be given every opportunity to eclipse last year's total of 47 starts with Marc-Andre Fleury no longer in town. If he can stay on the ice for 60-plus appearances after missing time with a broken hand and torn hamstring last season, Murray should be in contention to finish as the league's top fantasy goalie.
2018 Outlook: Somehow, No. 88 managed to outdo his eye-popping 27-goal, 75-point campaign of 2015-16 with 29 snipes, 320 shots, 76 points (ninth overall and tops among league defensemen) and a plus-19 rating en route to his first Norris Trophy last season. The 2003 first-rounder isn't afraid to get involved in the defensive zone, either, as evidenced by his triple-digit blocked shot tally (142). It's also important to note that Burns' career-high production came while skating a full minute less (24:52) than the previous year. That increase in efficiency suggests he may still have more to give. That said, it won't be an easy task for the bearded blueliner to join the exclusive 80-point club in his age-32 season, so it's probably wise to make sure the league's top offensive powerhouses are off the board before calling Burns' name.
2018 Outlook: Finally healthy last year, Bobrovsky bounced back for arguably his best season ever en route to his second Vezina Trophy win. He led the league in GAA (2.06) and save percentage (.931) while finishing third in wins (41) for a Blue Jackets team that achieved a franchise-record 108 points. While the Russian maintained similar form over a 38-game sample back in 2012-13, his struggles in between suggest regression is definitely on the table. That said, he turns just 29 in September, and the young team around him is only getting better. Only one man has pulled off the goaltending triple crown since Ed Belfour in 1991, but Bobrovsky has the combination of ability and situation to achieve the feat after falling one win short a year ago.
2018 Outlook: Something of a Ryan Getzlaf 2.0, the Stars' captain is arguably hockey's best power forward. Benn took a step back last season, finishing with "just" 69 points after racking up 89 and 87 in each of the previous two campaigns, one of which amounted to an Art Ross Trophy. His 26 goals were his lowest total in a full campaign since his third year in the league (2011-12), which can somewhat be attributed to Benn's reduction in shots (201, down from the 247, 253 and 279 he put up in each of the previous three seasons). If he throws more rubber on net, he's got the grit, skill set and physical presence — as well as the supporting cast in fellow Canadian superstar linemate Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg and newcomer Alexander Radulov — to again flirt with 80-plus points. After all, he's still just 28.
2018 Outlook: Talbot made a whopping 73 regular season starts last year, which amounted to a tie with 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby of the Capitals for a league-high 42 wins. Additionally, Talbot's peripherals -- a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage to complement seven shutouts -- were quite strong. Conservative fantasy owners may pass over the 30-year-old early in drafts, concerned about the fatigue potential brought on by his heavy usage and 13 grueling playoff appearances factored in, but he's in the thick of his prime entering his fifth NHL season. Talbot is your guy if you seek a set-and-forget type No. 1 netminder.
2018 Outlook: Pavelski has exemplified durability and offensive prowess over his past six full seasons. During that span, "Little Joe" has only missed a combined nine games while cracking the 60-plus point plateau all six times, reaching career-high heights of 41 goals and 79 points in 2013-14. However, there is reason for concern heading into 2017-18. Pavelski's 29 goals were a notable drop from the 38, 37 and 41 from the three previous seasons, and his 22 power-play points lagged behind his three-year average of 30 despite similar man-advantage ice time (3:20 on average). Given that he's arguably past his prime at 33 with a lot of miles on him, it's possible Pavelski's best days are in the rearview. With that in mind, plan conservatively for a floor of 25 goals and 60 points from the American center.
2018 Outlook: Jones has established himself as a surefire top-10 fantasy goaltender heading into his third season with the Sharks. San Jose took a chance on him as a starter after a pair of strong campaigns backing up Kings No. 1 Jonathan Quick, and that move has paid tremendous dividends given Jones' 72 wins, 2.33 GAA and .915 save percentage in 130 starts with the club. His combination of workload and favorable situation on a good team give the 27-year-old netminder a high floor at a position that tends to be fickle from year to year outside of the cream of the crop.
2018 Outlook: The only thing holding Malkin back is his health, as he's arguably the most talented player on a team that also rosters Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. While the talented Russian has tallied more points than games played in all but one of his 11 NHL seasons, he's missed 97 contests over the past five alone due to a variety of ailments. Malkin has finished 10 campaigns with more than 20 power-play points and nine with more than 60 PIM, and his career plus/minus rating is plus-75, making him an elite all-around producer. If he can keep his games missed to single digits, Malkin could lead your fantasy squad to a championship.