2017 Outlook: Benn is in a class of his own. Over the past three seasons, the Stars' captain has emerged as an elite, consistent offensive force. He has continuously upped his goal and point totals during that span, culminating last season with 41 goals (17 on the power play) and 89 points -- both career highs. The 2007 fifth-round pick has also racked up exactly 64 PIM during those three campaigns as well, while firing no less than 247 shots on net, giving him that rare multi-categorical value so coveted in fantasy circles. Although he's not as big as many might think at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Benn plays a heavy, all-around game and is far-and-away the league's most dynamic, productive power forward. Together with linemate and fellow Canadian superstar Tyler Seguin, the duo form arguably the most dangerous two-headed monster in the NHL, and owners would be lucky to build their fantasy roster around either of them come October.
2017 Outlook: Kane was fantastic in 2015-16, capturing the Art Ross Trophy with a 106-point campaign that included a 26-game point streak. The skilled winger formed a lethal 1-2 punch with rookie Artemi Panarin and set a career high with 46 goals. While the Blackhawks seem to lose key players every offseason, the team's core remains intact and Kane is the centerpiece. The 27-year-old is in the prime of his career and his ridiculous consistency makes him one of the most sought after fantasy players entering the 2016-17 season. Kane was held without a shot on goal just once last season and was the only player to appear on the scoresheet in more than 60 games. Kane should continue to skate on a line with Panarin and be the key cog on the power play, where he piled on 37 of his points in 2015-16. After breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in his career, Kane is bound for greatness once again on a dynamic and potent Chicago team.
2017 Outlook: It's no secret that Holtby is an excellent netminder, but the 26-year-old reached another level in 2015-16 and cemented himself as elite. The Vezina Trophy winner etched his name in the history books with 48 wins, tying one of the greats, Martin Brodeur. His record (48-9-7), .922 save percentage and 2.20 GAA were good enough to beat out the likes of Ben Bishop and Jonathan Quick for the hardware, but now all eyes are on a repeat performance after the Caps' season ended earlier than expected. With essentially the entire roster returning, don't expect a step back from Holtby, who has now reached 40 wins in two straight campaigns. Don't underestimate the hunger to silence the critics, either, as the team -- and Holtby -- must prove that 2015-16 regular season was no fluke. Draft him as the first or second netminder off the board and you'll be sitting pretty in the blue paint.
2017 Outlook: You know you're dealing with a special player when none of his 36 goals, 49 assists, 85 points, plus-19 rating, 20:28 of ice time and 248 shots on goal amounted to career highs in 2015-16. Crosby now has a second Stanley Cup in addition to the two gold medals and pile of other hardware he's racked up in his 11-year NHL career, and at 29 years old, he once again belongs in the discussion as the very best player in the game. It doesn't appear that Sid the Kid is likely to post gaudy triple-digit point totals like he has five times in his career, but he doesn't have to. The Pens boast a deep arsenal of offensive weapons with guys like Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist, and it's exactly that depth that allows Sid to do his thing on both sides of the puck. Fantasy-wise, that scoring-by-committee luxury in Pittsburgh might put Crosby behind Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn as the most coveted player on draft day -- especially since the center position is so deep -- but No. 87 should still be a top-4 pick this fall, as long as the concussion he was diagnosed with just before the opening of the season costs him more than a few games, which at this point, we are unable to ascertain. Drafting Crosby at this time is the ultimate high risk, high reward proposition.
2017 Outlook: Will the best goalie in the world be healthy this season? That's the big question surrounding the 2014-15 league MVP, who was limited to just 12 appearances last year due to a strained ligament in his knee suffered in November. Price is reportedly back to 100 percent and ready for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in September, a tournament that will be something of a fantasy godsend for determining his health status -- and ultimately, his value -- heading into the NHL season. At his best, the 29-year-old is an easy choice for the first goalie off the board in drafts, but considering the uncertainty regarding his knee and the struggles of the Canadiens last season, a safer option might be the Capitals' Braden Holtby, who is coming off an insane 48-win year that saw him take home the Vezina trophy. On the flip side, if Price is good to go, he's more than capable of carrying just about any team, so if others sleep on him too long in drafts for some reason, make sure you capitalize.
2017 Outlook: Last season was Jones' first with the Sharks, and the 26-year-old netminder was able to make one heck of a first impression, compiling an impressive 37-23-4 record with a 2.27 GAA and .918 save percentage over 65 regular-season appearances. The former King also earned six shutouts during his debut campaign with San Jose, good for second most in the NHL, and backstopped the Sharks to within two wins of the franchise's first Stanley Cup title, posting a 14-10-4 record with a 2.16 GAA and .923 save percentage during San Jose's impressive postseason run. Despite his fantastic performance in 2015-16, the British Columbia native is still somewhat of an unproven commodity, and could regress a bit in his second season as a full-time starter. Either way, as long as Jones can stay healthy and continue to handle the rigors of life as a No.1 goaltender in the NHL, he should be one of the top fantasy options in net in 2016-17.
2017 Outlook: Over the past few years, Pavelski has quietly emerged as a top-tier fantasy player who can deliver in almost all categories. The sniper set a career high with 38 goals in 2015-16 and finished sixth in the NHL scoring race with 78 points. With three consecutive seasons in the 70-point range, Pavelski is no longer a hidden fantasy gem. The 32-year-old, who has scored 30-plus goals in each of his past four full seasons, is now one of the best fantasy centers out there. He's the centerpiece on a talented Sharks squad that recently made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and is a proven goal-scoring machine who thrives while manning the point on the team's top power-play unit. Given his 14 goals in the 2016 postseason and willingness to always fire the puck on net, Pavelski will likely be one of the NHL's top goal-scorers once again in 2016-17.
2017 Outlook: Quick traded in a few overtime losses for wins last year, but otherwise nearly replicated his stat line from 2014-15, notching a .918 save percentage (identical) and 2.22 GAA (0.02 lower). Those ratios fall short of elite status, but Quick's high volume of starts for a quality Los Angeles team resulted in his first 40-win season. At 30 years old, the American netminder shouldn't be slowing down anytime soon, so he appears to be in line for another season of close to 70 starts. Other goalies may put up better save percentages, but the Kings' strong defense keeps his GAA solid, and Quick's huge volume combined with his ratios makes him enormously valuable in fantasy. After Braden Holtby and Carey Price are off the draft board, Quick makes for an easy, low-risk choice over the rest of the field as part of one of the most consistently solid teams in the Pacific Division.
2017 Outlook: If you're searching for the first blueliner off the board, look no further. The Swede has recorded 65-plus points in four of the past five seasons while staying exceptionally healthy despite being so heavily leaned on by the Senators. The 26-year-old exploded for a historic season in 2015-16, scoring 16 times and tacking on a whopping 66 assists, not to mention 175 blocked shots. It should come as no surprise, then, that he was also prolific with the man advantage with a goal and 25 helpers in 4:39 per game, numbers that are actually set to improve as Ottawa figures out its 29th-ranked power play under new head coach Guy Boucher. If your league counts shots on goal, the case could be made for Brent Burns (353 SOG plus seven power-play goals last year) to supplant Karlsson (248 SOG) as the No. 1 fantasy rearguard. At the end of the day, though, the Sens' captain is pure fantasy gold and any owner would be lucky to build their squad around him.
2017 Outlook: Tarasenko is a bona fide NHL star who is only just entering his prime. His 40 goals in 2015-16 put him one out of the top three in the NHL and his 292 shots were fourth-best in the league. He was also top-12 in overall scoring with 78 points. In addition, Tarasenko finished tied with Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Tyler Seguin (among others) with 24 power-play points. There has been plenty written about his so-called postseason rift with head coach Ken Hitchcock and perhaps there's a bit of fire with all that smoke, but the numbers don't really indicate that, as Hitch treated him like the star he is by starting him in the offensive zone 65 percent of the time. Still, Tarasenko does have some growing up to do, as everyone saw from his postseason pouting. As long as he does that, a repeat of 40 goals and an 80-plus point season should be on tap for the 24-year-old.
2017 Outlook: Bishop is a monster. He brings size, skill and speed to the blue paint, and that has translated into 37, 41 and 35 wins in the past three seasons, respectively -- not to mention two Vezina nominations. Big Ben is heading into the final year of a contract that pays him $5.95 million and he has Andrei Vasilevskiy barking at his heels for playing time. With that in mind, Bishop is going to be traded; it's just a matter of when, as the Bolts just can't afford to pay his asking price. The American netminder will be the top dog in Tampa if he breaks camp with the squad, just as he'll be the top goalie anywhere he happens to play after the trade deadline. Elite is elite, and Bishop's game translates anywhere. If healthy, he should deliver stats just like he did in 2015-16, and that means he'll be at or near the top of the GAA and save percentage leader list. The only caveat? He has suffered some weird injuries in the postseason in each of the past three years. Bishop is fantasy gold as long as he stays healthy.
2017 Outlook: Ovechkin is the most prolific scorer in the NHL. The Great Eight slammed home 50 goals in 2015-16 (he also had 21 assists), earning his fourth straight Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, an award that's almost expected of the veteran at this point. Turning 31 years old in September, Ovechkin led the Caps to the Presidents' Trophy, and despite an early exit in the playoffs, the superstar should repeat his efforts in 2016-17 with a returning roster starving for its first Stanley Cup. At this point, you know Ovechkin is going to fire on net consistently and effectively, with 400 shots always in the cards (and a scoring rate greater than 12 percent). The 2004 first-overall pick has dominated the NHL in 11 years of service, and while the assist numbers will fail to compare to his early days, Ovie is still the best bet around to score 50 times and absolutely feast on defenses night in and night out.
2017 Outlook: While McDavid has only 45 career NHL games under his belt, he enters the 2016-17 season as an elite fantasy option. The 19-year-old burst onto the scene last year, exploding for 48 points in an injury-riddled campaign that earned him a Calder Trophy nomination. The top-line center is an explosive skater with ridiculous skill who can take over the game on any given night. While the Oilers dealt away top goal scorer Taylor Hall over the offseason, they still have some talented wingers who can line up next to McDavid, including Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic and the recently drafted Jesse Puljujarvi. McDavid scored 16 times last season and was a force on the power play, so it's scary to think what this all-world talent could accomplish in a full 82-game season. Look for the young phenom to be one of the first players taken off the board in fantasy drafts this season.
2017 Outlook: If you're looking for an all-around fantasy stud on the blue line, Burns is your guy. The 6-foot-5 rearguard has established himself as one of the most coveted fantasy commodities with his dynamic offensive talents and fearless playing style. Burns finished the 2015-16 campaign with 75 points and just missed cracking the top-10 in NHL scoring. The 31-year-old continued his success in the postseason where he produced at a point-per-game rate, helping San Jose reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. The workhorse logs heavy minutes in all situations and led all defensemen with 30 power-play points last season. The talented Sharks roster from 2015-16 remains largely intact and Burns will continue to lead the charge on the blue line. He is always willing to jump into the play while still delivering hits and earning penalty minutes. Burns should be in for another productive campaign in 2016-17.
2017 Outlook: After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in six years two seasons ago, the Flames were a huge disappointment in 2015-16, but Gaudreau certainly wasn't. The diminutive winger cranked things up after a tremendous 64-point rookie campaign, lighting the lamp 30 times while dishing out 48 helpers to finish tied for sixth in league scoring with 78 points in 79 games. Like most elite fantasy forwards, Gaudreau has a highly productive linemate in Sean Monahan -- who's put up 125 points over the past two seasons and is still just 21 -- so it's almost scary to think what these two are capable of as they continue to develop at the NHL level. They'll welcome veteran Troy Brouwer to their line this season after he was signed by Calgary in the summer, and as long as he brings his typical hard-nosed game and 30-40 points to the lineup, Gaudreau should continue to flourish as one of the game's most prolific wingers.