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: 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.
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: Byfuglien brings an unmatched combination of skill and grit from the blue line, averaging exactly 50 points and 120 PIM over the past three seasons. The former forward has also cleaned up his defensive game recently, posting a positive rating in three consecutive seasons after finishing in the negatives during eight of his first nine NHL campaigns. A healthy Byfuglien is a lock for over 200 shots on goal and double-digit power-play points, making him one of the few players capable of providing sizable contributions in every single category. Just remember that the 32-year-old defenseman has established a clear ceiling for himself, having failed to top 20 goals and 56 points in a season.
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: Only Brent Burns topped Hedman's 72 points from the blue line last season, which was a remarkable achievement, given that Burns had him beaten by 154 shots. Tampa Bay's premier blueliner also tripled his previous career high in power play points, as he collected four goals and 29 assists with the man advantage. Hedman uses his 6-foot-6, 223-pound frame to control the point, block shots and flatten opponents whenever necessary. Case in point: He totaled 155 hits while fearlessly throwing his body in front of 264 shots since the start of the 2015-16 campaign. He ranks in an elite tier of fantasy defensemen, but Hedman very well could regress on the heels of a personal-best shooting percentage of 9.6 in 2016-17.
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.