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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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.