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: 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: Panarin took advantage of the open ice and beautiful dishes that come from playing with Patrick Kane to the tune of 151 points in 162 games with the Blackhawks, but he'll have to create for himself more after being acquired by Columbus in a blockbuster offseason trade. The Blue Jackets don't exactly lack in talent, though, so Panarin should still be plenty effective while skating on the first line and top power-play unit. Notching a third consecutive 30-goal, 70-point campaign won't be easy, but the Russian is capable of doing so if he can find chemistry with his new teammates.
2018 Outlook: Considering Tavares has played his whole career with underwhelming linemates, it's remarkable that the 2009 first overall pick has fallen just 10 points short of performing at a point-per-game pace over the past six seasons. He has also grown as a two-way player, finishing with a positive rating in each of the past three campaigns after starting out at a combined minus-45 over his first five. The offseason addition of Jordan Eberle didn't move the needle much in terms of providing New York's captain with some scoring help, but Tavares comes in healthy after an April surgery fixed a thumb issue that had been bothering him for years. Furthermore, he still has room to grow his game, since he doesn't turn 27 until September.
2018 Outlook: It was another monster fantasy showing with strong cross-category coverage from Simmonds in 2016-17. He topped the 30-goal mark for the second straight season and propped up his 32 tallies with 54 points, 224 shots, 122 PIM and 162 hits. Simmonds' 25 power-play points were also a career-high mark. Unfortunately, Simmonds' minus-18 rating was a crippling ratio, and he also slowed down significantly after recording 16 goals and 29 points through the first 32 games. The 28-year-old winger remains locked into a top role for the Flyers at 5-on-5 and with the man advantage, so his fantasy floor is still high. Additionally, he also receives a huge boost in formats such as hits and PIM. It wouldn't even be shocking to see improvement in the plus-minus column this season.
2018 Outlook: Laine took the league by storm after getting drafted second overall in 2016 and potting 36 goals and dishing 28 helpers in 73 games as a rookie. The 19-year-old winger already possesses a nearly unmatched combination of size and skill, but he still has room to fill out his 6-foot-5, 206-pound frame. Laine also benefits from skating on a line with one of the league's most productive centers in Mark Scheifele, which allows him to avoid the heavy defensive attention and playmaking responsibilities that often limit high picks with mediocre linemates. All signs point to him being a top-10 goal scorer for years to come.
2018 Outlook: Only two players have at least 30 goals, 60 points and 250 shots in each of the past four seasons: Pacioretty and Alex Ovechkin. The Montreal captain has cemented himself as a high-floor, high-ceiling fantasy asset and enters 2017-18 locked into the same scoring role. After all, Pacioretty logged 19:25 of ice time per game -- 2:31 with the man advantage -- through 23 games after head coach Claude Julien took over. Entering his age-29 season, there could potentially be room for offensive improvement, too. Pacioretty has shown excellent chemistry with Alex Galchenyuk, and the duo combined for 3.5 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 last season. If Julien deploys Patches and Galchenyuk on the same line, it should provide an offensive boost for both.
2018 Outlook: Kopitar hit a career low in 2016-17, as his points per 60 minutes dropped all the way to 1.4, and he scored just 12 goals. Now entering his age-30 campaign, it's likely that Kopitar is clinging to the final year or two of his offensive prime. However, even with his down season and age in mind, there is reason to believe a rebound showing is ahead this season. Kopitar's 8.0 shooting percentage last year was a career low, so with statistical correction in his efficiency, approaching 20 goals again seems likely. Additionally, Kopitar logs huge minutes (20:46 last year) and is locked into a role on the No. 1 power-play unit -- both of which prop up his fantasy value. The Slovenian is a strong candidate to have a bounce-back season in 2017-18.
2018 Outlook: Scoring more than 1,000 NHL points like his dad, Keith, did will be a tall order for Matthew, but he got off to a solid start with 13 goals and 35 assists in 76 games after being selected sixth overall in the 2016 draft. Almost as importantly for fantasy purposes, Tkachuk inherited his father's mean streak. His 105 PIM ranked 11th in the league, and only Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Byfuglien finished with more points among players with at least 100 minutes in the sin bin. The 19-year-old offers a much higher growth potential than either of those established veterans, and his plus-14 rating as a rookie was already better than anything Byfuglien or Simmonds have put forth with their current teams.
2018 Outlook: After scoring just three goals with a 3.8 shooting percentage through the first 38 games of last season, Forsberg caught fire with 28 tallies and an 18.7 shooting percentage over his next 48 contests. The 23-year-old winger finished 2016-17 with 31 goals, 58 points and 234 shots, and he played all 82 games for a third consecutive campaign. Forsberg hit stride with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson atop the Nashville depth chart, and the trio projects to remain the go-to scoring line for the Predators entering 2017-18. Looking back at last season's numbers, Forsberg recorded just nine power play points after collecting 42 over the previous two campaigns. Production with the man advantage can fluctuate year to year, but considering his skill set, improvement is probably ahead. As a result, a career-best showing could be in store with Forsberg entering his offensive prime.
2018 Outlook: The addition of Lucic's toughness helped Edmonton make its first playoff appearance since 2005-06, though some would argue that Connor McDavid's ascension to league MVP in just his second season had a little more to do with it. Either way, Lucic's presence in front of the net made a massive difference with the extra man, as he led the team with 12 power-play goals and topped his old career high of 14 power-play points by 11. The veteran power forward ultimately exhibited more skill and less toughness than ever before, finishing with only 50 PIM and a career-best 175 shots on goal. Both of those numbers should return closer to their respective per-season means of 90 and 125, while 40 points is a reasonable floor given, that Lucic has topped that mark in seven of 10 NHL campaigns, including six of the past seven.
2018 Outlook: Kessel is a shining example of both durability and production. The speedy forward hasn't missed a game since 2009 while notching at least 20 goals in each of the past nine seasons. He's surrounded by more talent than ever before on a stacked Penguins team, as evidenced by last season's career-high 47 assists. Consistently skating alongside a top center in either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin also helps mask Kessel's defensive deficiencies, as he has finished both of his seasons in Pittsburgh with a positive rating after landing in the red during eight of his first nine campaigns. The Wisconsin native doesn't turn 30 until October and has a clear path for improvement if his shooting percentage rebounds to his career 10.6-percent mark after dipping below that the past three seasons.
2018 Outlook: Last season turned out to be extremely poor for Perry, as the veteran posted his worst offensive showing since he established himself as a regular way back in 2006-07. There is definitely bounce-back potential, though. Perry recorded a career-low 8.8 shooting percentage last season after posting a 16.0 mark over the previous three campaigns. Even modest statistical correction will provide an uptick in production, so while the 32-year-old winger is past his prime, an offensive rebound is within reach. Perry also still moves the needle across all categories and is locked into a prominent role with the No. 1 power-play unit.