2014 Outlook: St. Louis is still as dangerous a playmaker on the ice with Steven Stamkos as any of the young bucks in the league. His damaging reduction in power-play assists from the 2011-12 season proved to be an aberration, and St. Louis was back to his old tricks in the lockout-shortened campaign. Why isn't he higher in the forward rankings? For one thing, St. Louis is 38 years old now and not getting any younger. We don't think he will slow down just yet, but the downside of the hill is getting closer. To that end, the Lightning added Jonathan Drouin at the top of the entry draft this offseason and he may start getting work with Stamkos as early as this season. Don't knock the veteran St. Louis too far down your draft lists, but remember his best days are behind him.
2014 Outlook: There has been nothing keeping Marian Hossa from being an elite fantasy asset with the Blackhawks other than the health of Marian Hossa. Some of his health issues have been far from his own fault, but with just one nearly-complete season in four attempts with the Hawks, there is clearly some cause for concern. The stats are there when Hossa is on the ice, and he consistently plays with an elite talent in Jonathan Toews. Really, the only aspect that should give you pause when looking at Hossa is the games played. Hossa does have a history of consistent health and that should encourage fantasy owners to invest in him; just don't do it before some other reliable options are off the table.
2014 Outlook: There was nothing particularly wrong with Parise's first season away from the New Jersey Devils, but it was still below some of the high hopes that the Wild had for him. Certainly, 38 points in 48 games isn't anything at which to sneeze, but Parise was above a point-per-game pace for two seasons before he blew out his knee in 2010-11. His speed does not appear to be an issue as much as having linemates with the same kind of chemistry he had with the Devils. Dany Heatley did not prove to be an asset to Parise, and Mikko Koivu, while more than serviceable, did not fit like a glove with Parise. There were some encouraging signs at the end of the season with Jason Pominville and Parise on the ice together. In addition to the continued development of Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle, Pominville's presence is reason enough to be bullish on Parise going into the season. But he has a lot to prove before he can be considered a first-round target again.
2014 Outlook: Sharp looked no worse for wear after his elbow injury last season, and returns to a considerably comfortable spot in the Blackhawks' lineup next to Patrick Kane. With Kane returning to form last season, and looking to be among the best in fantasy this season, Sharp has to be considered a candidate to ride to the top with Kane. Will he have incredible fantasy value again thanks to a strong plus/minus like he had in 2011-12 (plus-28)? That might be a bit much to ask, but Sharp can be counted on for 30 goals and 70 points, which is a lot more than most forwards have as a basement to their value. Whether Sharp can add more value from there will depend on how the team handles finding a third member of the line. If Brandon Pirri isn't ready for showtime, the other options don't look as tantalizing for Sharp's offensive potential.
2014 Outlook: One of last season's biggest fantasy headaches -- for all the right reasons -- Green stormed back from a worrisome mid-season groin injury to notch 19 points in his 19 final regular season games (he didn't slow down much in the playoffs, either). The performance was nothing short of ferocious, especially since Green missed most of 2011-12, undergoing hernia surgery. Any fantasy owner willing to take a small leap of faith in the 28-year-old's good health may reap rewards reminiscent of 2008-09 or 2009-10. Remember? That's when Green led the league's defensemen with 73 and 76 points, respectively.
2014 Outlook: With an expectation for 30 goals and near as many assists, Pacioretty has taken over as the centerpiece of the Canadiens' offense. He has flashed his ability to find the back of the net with an array of linemates during his breakout over the last two seasons, and there is no reason to think he can't at least continue to pile up fantasy value. In fact, Pacioretty comes with some upside, as the Habs are far from locked in when it comes to the depth chart. Young players with potential are sprinkled through the lineup in the form of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher. Pacioretty only worked extensively with Gallagher last season, leaving the upside of a breakout from Galchenyuk or Eller at Pacioretty's side untested.
2014 Outlook: While not the dominant fantasy asset that was hoped for, Benn has proven to be a solid role player at the top of the Stars' depth chart. He remains near the top headed into this season, but with the bonus of having Tyler Seguin at his side. Benn broke out late in the 2010-11 campaign, turned in a solid, if unspectacular season in 2011-12, but struggled on a weak overall offense in 2013. The Stars have turned things over again, with the acquisition of Seguin and hope that the two standouts can form a dynamic top line with veteran Ray Whitney (or maybe Erik Cole or rookie Valeri Nichushkin). Benn wasn't a great fantasy forward last season, but is a great candidate for a post-hype breakout with Seguin at his side.
2014 Outlook: Spezza's lost-to-injury 2013 campaign wouldn't be so annoying if he hadn't missed at least 20 games in three of the past four seasons. The injury-riddled past is more than enough to take a player that is a threat to score 100 points and leave him outside the first four rounds of your fantasy draft. From a what-if-he-is-healthy perspective, losing Daniel Alfredsson as a potential linemate isn't so bad when Spezza now has Bobby Ryan, Cory Conacher and Mika Zibanejad to choose from alongside he and Milan Michalek. But it remains difficult for a fantasy owner to do any less than bank on Spezza being absent for a quarter of the season. There is a huge payoff to be had if he stays on the ice, but fantasy owners will have to consider how much risk they will take on to get him.
2014 Outlook: Stepan missed much of the preseason in a contract holdout, but things were settled just in time for him to be ready for the regular season. He'll head into the season as a linemate with Rick Nash, and that generally comes with the potential to set career highs across the board. Stepan has shown great chemistry with top players, and the Rangers will need him to be a consistent performer. Stepan won't light the world on fire with his goal totals, but his on-ice awareness means he will get points, and plenty of them at that. Just beware the expectations of a lofty plus/minus, as the stat can be quite fickle for fantasy prognostication.
2014 Outlook: The Canadiens insisted his surgically reconstructed knee was just fine. So did the medical experts intimately familiar with the joint. So did the 34-year-old player himself. And as it turns out, as far as a 2013 sample size is concerned, they were all correct. Andrei Markov potted 10 goals and 20 assists -- including 23 power-play points -- all the while averaging 24 minutes per game through a full 48-match season. Consider yourself reassured that the elite D-man hasn't lost a beat.
2014 Outlook: Thornton's numbers don't show a sharp decline in recent seasons, but there is a steady decline happening from the time when he was a threat for 100 points. If you bank on fewer than 20 goals and in the range of 50 to 55 assists, Thornton will not let you down as a fantasy centerman. As players like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski continue to take on more responsibility for the Sharks, Thornton is relied on less in key situations. There is no immediate threat to his ongoing role as a top-line player though, so expect another quality season of production from Thornton.
2014 Outlook: Kane brings some solid fantasy statistics to the table, thanks to some penalty minutes and shots on goal that will trend higher than many other wingers who are also a threat for 30 goals. The surprising part about Kane is that he is not a first-line player for the Jets; that role has belonged to Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little. Kane has settled for linemates including Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood in recent seasons. What might he do with a higher quality of linemate? That is a question that the Jets are hoping is answered by Mark Scheifele, Devin Setoguchi or Michael Frolik in 2013-14. Given that there is decent upside and very little downside to taking Kane for your team, he is a solid choice.
2014 Outlook: With 30 goals and a dozen power-play goals a near-lock for Franzen, he makes for a safe and steady selection on your fantasy team. The Mule will miss a handful of games, but that comes with the territory of playing around the net. Franzen will take to the ice with either Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk (or possibly both) and now could have an improved supporting cast with Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss in town. The continued development of Gustav Nyquist is yet another threat that the Red Wings boast. But don't worry, Franzen can only be helped by more skilled players firing pucks at the net for him to rebound.
2014 Outlook: A formidable fantasy beast since coming into his own with the Senators (never mind those four developmental Islander years), Chara remains more than capable of satisfying all of your basic, standard-league needs. It was only two seasons ago that -- at age 35 -- the veteran collected the most points of his career with 52. Chara can continuously be counted on to rack up an exceptional number of shots and PIM, all the while boasting an ultra-healthy plus/minus rating. Speaking of health, "Big Z" has the market cornered on stamina and endurance. He has missed an average of 2.2 games per season since 2006-07.
2014 Outlook: Voracek's 2013 numbers were bolstered by a blistering hot February in which he managed 21 points in 15 games. But even when that month is removed from his numbers, we are left with a physical, scoring winger that plays regularly with one of the league's better playmakers in Claude Giroux. Sure, Voracek's numbers are boosted thanks to Giroux, but it is not as if the Flyers have other options. He'll play with Giroux again -- on the top line and top power play -- and Voracek will be prone to more hot streaks to boost his totals while doing so. It's not as if Voracek doesn't come with pedigree. He was a former Top 10 draft pick that put up gaudy numbers in junior. While he is for real as a fantasy asset, Voracek is likely due for a slight regression on a per-game basis. But, he's still a solid Top 30 forward.