2014 Projections

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11. K. Letang, Pit D
Skill plus opportunity; that's the essential formula for hammering out any single player's fantasy value from a wide spectrum of relevant sports. And Kris Letang is a top beneficiary of both. One of the most gifted offensive defensemen in the league, Letang also reaps the ultra-rich rewards of playing regularly with the likes of forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Chris Kunitz. If anyone is going to knock a healthy Erik Karlsson off his projected top-producer's pedestal, our money is on Letang. Plus, the 26-year-old plays a ton of minutes and his plus/minus is beyond reproach. Feel free to draft him super early.
12. T. Rask, Bos G
One thing sticks out when peering at Rask's career stats: he's had a remarkable run of final save percentages by season over the past four campaigns: .931, .918, and a pair of .929 marks. This is certainly impressive, though there is some durability concern as we look ahead to 2013-14; it's an inconvenient truth that Rask has never started more than 39 games in any one season, although he did have 56 starts in the regular season and playoffs combined in 2013. However, this is about all the negatives one can find on Rask, and he sits positioned as one of the truly elite No. 1 goalies in fantasy.
13. H. Zetterberg, Det C, LW
Zetterberg stuffs stats across the board, with a slight emphasis on his playmaking ability. The result in fantasy hockey is an often-overlooked Top 10 forward who could use a little more respect. Even in campaigns which can be considered "down" seasons for him, Zetterberg churns out fantasy value for the Red Wings with goals, assists, power-play production, shots on goal and, often times, plus/minus. The Red Wings have brought in some new toys for the offense this season, including veteran scorer Daniel Alfredsson and consistent center Stephen Weiss. It will be an improvement on last season's offense, and offer a chance for Zetterberg to find better chemistry than he ended up having with Damien Brunner in the NHL last season (despite the duo's chemistry in the Swiss league).
14. P. Kane, Chi RW
Boy, did Kane have a nice bounce-back season last season. That's right, Kane's stellar performance in the 2013 lockout-shortened campaign was not a breakout; it was a bounce-back. Kane's prorated numbers from last season bring him back up to (and a little beyond) the pace he put up in the 2009-10 NHL season. To be sure, he was on a 40-goal pace for an 82-game season last season, but his overall points would have been just seven more than he had in his third NHL season. The bottom line is that we've seen this before from Kane, and he still sunk down to the 23-goal, 66-point season he had in 2011-12. Now, maturity issues outside the rink are not something we tend to analyze, but Kane's antics have certainly been well documented. It does make sense that he would turn a corner as a 24-year-old, and will be here to stay as a first-round worthy fantasy fixture. That said, he scored the same number of goals the past two seasons despite the fact he played 82 games in one of them and only 47 games in the other. At the end of the day, Kane is an elite offensive weapon on the defending Stanley Cup champions that are still loaded in the top six. Here's betting on at least a point-per-game pace.
15. A. Kopitar, LA C
Kopitar brings a complete game to the ice and the result is often a strong fantasy performance for the defense-first Kings. As a consistent presence on the ice with Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, Kopitar has found a groove that will inevitably bring him close to 30 goals and 80 points each season. The result for fantasy owners is consistent, if unspectacular, performance from the 26-year-old fantasy second-round staple. Should we continue waiting for another step forward from the Kings' top centerman? No, but that doesn't mean his production is anything to sneeze at. Just like Steven Stamkos has used consistency to edge into the top spot in our rankings this season, Kopitar is using consistency to stick around as a Top 12 forward.
16. C. Anderson, Ott G
Despite playing in just 24 games this past season due to injury, Anderson finished the 2013 campaign as the No. 1 goalie (and No. 2 overall player) on ESPN's fantasy hockey Player Rater. The reason? He posted an eye-popping ratios split of 1.69 in goals-against average (you read that correctly), and .941 in save percentage. Save percentage is not a stat that is officially kept by the league -- so the record for it is unofficial as well -- but that mark by Anderson would have set a new bar if it qualified (Brian Elliott is the current all-time seasonal leader with a .940 mark in 2011-12). Ottawa underwent a big psychological change this offseason with the departure of Daniel Alfredsson, but they brought in Bobby Ryan, and are getting Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson back fully healthy. Expect nothing short of another elite fantasy campaign out of Anderson.
17. P. Subban, Mon D
After sitting out of training camp and the start of an ultra-compact 2013 season, Subban put in a superlative performance for the Montreal Canadiens and subsequently won the Norris Trophy. As far as fantasy assets go, it's hard to find fault with 38 points, 126 shots, plus-12 and 57 PIM through only 42 games. A tough act to follow, surely, but don't anticipate too much of a letdown in 2013-14. In the second of his two-year bridge deal, Subban will be looking to earn max dough and term on his next one.
18. P. Datsyuk, Det C
It certainly makes Pavel Datsyuk's mantle-full of Frank J. Selke Trophy's more impressive when you consider that he isn't just one of the top defensive forwards, but one of the best fantasy forwards around, too. Datsyuk's creativity with the puck makes him a threat every time he is on the ice, and makes his linemates better. A virtual lock for a point-per-game pace, Datsyuk also contributes on the power play, and is liable for a rock-solid plus/minus. Though he doesn't appear to be a threat to approach 100 points like he was five or six seasons ago, Datsyuk's reliability make him a great choice as your first forward if you are picking late in your draft.
19. H. Sedin, Van C
While the Sedin brothers may have peaked in the 2009-10 season, they -- by no means -- are plummeting in value. Both a threat for 85 to 90 points, the twins are still a great anchor for your fantasy squad. Henrik, as you will recall, is the playmaking brother that will finish with close to 75 assists and chip in upward of 20 goals. So if the ESPN Standard Game and most other fantasy leagues put a premium on goal scoring, why is Henrik ranked better than Daniel? Because Daniel's goal-scoring did plummet last season. In fact, Henrik scored 11 goals to Daniel's 12 last season, completely nullifying Daniel's only advantage in the battle for twin supremacy. If Daniel isn't going to threaten to double-up Henrik's goal tallies, then we'll take Henrik's extra assists as the difference when ranking them.
20. P. Rinne, Nsh G
If Jonathan Quick was the most disappointing fantasy goalie in 2013, Rinne wasn't too far behind: also thought of as an elite option heading into the season, the Predators' franchise netminder finished No. 24 among goalies on the Player Rater, with ratios that fell off considerably (2.43 and .910) from recent seasons, and only 15 wins in 42 starts (a .357 winning percentage, compared to .597 and .516 the two seasons prior). The good news for Rinne (and Nashville) is that the top defenseman prospect in the draft -- Seth Jones -- fell to them at No. 4, and he should bring help to the unit right away, hopefully helping to put 2013 out of mind for Rinne. He may be downgraded a bit based off of last season, but another elite campaign is certainly right around the corner.
* - Projected
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