2014 Outlook: 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.
2014 Outlook: Toews has quickly transformed into a point-per-game, versatile centerman that can take over a game when he needs to. Already a two-time Stanley Cup champion captain at the age of 25, Toews will continue to lead the dynamic Blackhawks offense and pick up plenty of fantasy value along the way. It is even conceivable that if Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp manage to stay healthy, the Hawks' offense -- and therefore, Toews -- could even put up improved numbers when compared to the last couple seasons. One notable trend when selecting Toews to anchor your fantasy offense is the lack of power-play production when compared to other elite forwards. The Blackhawks' glut of talent has limited Toews' power-play points in recent seasons. With a similar offense returning and coach Joel Quenneville set in his ways, that doesn't appear likely to change.
2014 Outlook: Unlike in years gone by, Byfuglien looks positively svelte going in to camp this September. Still physically intimidating, and very "Big Buff"-like, just not sporting as much unnecessary padding as before. This bodes well for the Winnipeg Jets and his fantasy owners, alike. Fitness is a big factor in Byfuglien's case; the more he plays, the more he produces. A full 82-game campaign would conceivably see the imposing 28-year-old flirt with the 60-point mark, all the while racking up nearly 300 shots and around 80 PIM.
2014 Outlook: When provided with an improved supporting cast last season, Staal showed renewed vigor on the ice. In fact, his numbers were better than a point-per-game for the first time since his sophomore season in 2005-06. Alexander Semin proved to be a potent linemate for Staal and his actual value last season was closer to that of a Top 5 forward. But we can't draft him in that realm without some reservations. For one thing, relying on another player for value is a dangerous game, especially a player with Semin's injury history. Staal is, however, an exceptional talent, and as close to a lock for 75 points as you can find in the NHL. Drafting him will be an exercise in just how much faith you have in the Hurricanes' offense this season. The nice part about Staal is that if you take your chances on him and things don't work out, you aren't stuck with a dud. Worst-case scenario you are stuck with a Top 25 forward instead of a Top 15.
2014 Outlook: What Kunitz turned in from a value standpoint last season was beyond exceptional. He was selected in most fantasy leagues, but not as a top forward. He was probably your fourth winger or sixth forward, but turned in fantasy value comparable to that of the very best NHL players. Let's not mince words here: Kunitz rode Sidney Crosby's coattails every step of the way to that value. Now, that isn't a knock on Kunitz in any way. As we've seen over the seasons, not just anybody can ride coattails and turn in ridiculous fantasy value. Being a star by association is a skill in and of itself. However, at the end of the day, Kunitz is still a star by association. Without Crosby at his side, he might not have any fantasy value at all. Now that we've been clear about that, here is the good news. Kunitz is going to line up beside Crosby again, play with Evgeni Malkin on the power play and have Malkin to fall back on if anything should befall Crosby. As stars by association go, Kunitz is in a pretty darn good situation.
2014 Outlook: Where did all of Daniel Sedin's goals disappear to? Scoring just one more goal than his brother Henrik last season, Daniel's fantasy value bread and butter was missing. Now, the Canucks were without a secondary attack on offense for most of the season, and that forced reliable linemate Alex Burrows away from the twins more often than they would have liked, but it is still a concerning drop in goals. Expect a bounce-back from Daniel this season, but perhaps not back into the 35- or 40-goal range as he once was. The Canucks still have plenty of questions on offense, and Daniel has given us reason to question his durability in two of the past four seasons. Daniel will be hanging around in the second round of your fantasy draft this season, and while he has earned the low ranking, he may be one of the only lottery tickets with Top 5 upside, too.
2014 Outlook: Though Neal's second season with the Penguins wasn't as spectacular as the first, it is a better example of what we should expect going forward. While Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz will create a dangerous top line for the Pens, Evgeni Malkin and Neal are more than an adequate secondary attack. Then there is the power play, where Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Neal all come together to create a force that few teams can stop. Neal will generate plenty of his fantasy value from the power play, top it off at even strength and give you great return on your investment. As with Kunitz, there is less risk to Neal's star by association status with the Penguins because the team boasts two superstar centerman. If one goes down, you can be sure that a top supporting talent like Neal will join with the other.
2014 Outlook: As anticipated, after a slightly bumpy start, Suter managed just fine without long-time partner Shea Weber. And by "fine", we mean played well enough to become a finalist for the Norris Trophy. In his first season with the Wild, the elite defenseman amassed 32 points in 48 games, while averaging over 27 minutes per contest. Poised to partner with Jonas Brodin full-time in 2013-14, Suter is in position to (bold prediction alert) hit the 50-point mark for the first time in his career.
2014 Outlook: Being dished off to the Stars does two major things for Seguin in the upcoming campaign. It establishes him as the clear-cut top forward on a franchise, which will result in increased minutes on the ice. It should also motivate him to make the Boston Bruins sorry. Seguin has a respectable selection of linemates to choose from, including the exceptionally-skilled Jamie Benn. If Seguin can score 29 goals as the second-line winger on the Bruins as a sophomore, here's betting he can pot a few more than that two seasons later as the keystone of the Stars' offense. Will the plus/minus be what it once was with the Bruins? No, but Seguin's increased power-play responsibility should help offset the value. There is a limit to Seguin's overall potential, however, as the Stars will be hard-pressed to have significant secondary scoring to help take the focus off the Seguin-Benn combo.
2014 Outlook: As was somewhat expected, Getzlaf bounced back to form last season during the lockout-shortened NHL campaign. Getzlaf's 49 points in just 44 games was just eight points shy of the 57 points he scored in 82 games during the 2011-12 season. Playing with Corey Perry, we expect more of the same fantasy goodness out of Getzlaf as coach Bruce Boudreau continues to deploy the team in an offense-first fashion. New potential weapons such as Jakob Silfverberg or Emerson Etem could be huge for maintaining the Ducks' strong offense, but with Teemu Selanne to help on the power play, the younger options don't absolutely have to perform. What of the 91-point Getzlaf we saw in 2008-09? Well, he could return in the right situation. If Silfverberg, Etem or another option happen to fit in perfectly with Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks could be in for a very potent first line. So even though Getzlaf is safer as a third-round pick in your draft, he has upside.
2014 Outlook: The fact that we had a lockout-shortened NHL season definitely muted the fact that Nash had the best season of his career. Nash's 82-game pace of 39 goals and 39 assists to go with an improved plus/minus were a significant improvement on his recent seasons with the Blue Jackets. While Nash did not hit things off with Brad Richards the way that was hoped, he didn't need to. Derek Stepan proved to be a more than formidable linemate for Nash as he bounced around different configurations under coach John Tortorella. With the steady hand of Alain Vigneault taking over, expect Nash to be the focal point of the Rangers' attack. Could he bust the ceiling on his previous career highs? It's possible. But without significant improvements in the Rangers' offense -- and with the threat of a Stepan contract holdout -- it is best to draft Nash for his high floor (as opposed to that high ceilng) heading into the season.
2014 Outlook: We still don't have a full season of Taylor Hall statistics to look at following his three campaigns in the NHL. He has two injury-shortened campaigns and one lockout-shortened campaign, however, that all tell us he is the best of the Oilers' dynamic young offensive players. It is absolutely within the realm of possibility that Hall can make the jump into the elite group among the fantasy forward hierarchy this season. He'll probably play with Jordan Eberle again and from there, the team can choose sniper Nail Yakupov, puck wizard David Perron or elite passer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to join them. No matter what, Hall is due for a big season. Holding him back is the track record of playing the game hard and getting hurt; that's been the case in Hall's career thus far. There is also a risk that with so many young weapons on offense that all have so much upside, Hall turns out to be a secondary piece of the puzzle. After all, Yakupov and RNH both have untapped potential as superstars. We think Hall will be the best fantasy asset on the Oilers, but it's not crazy to think there is another answer.
2014 Outlook: As Alex Ovechkin's value goes, so goes the value of Nicklas Backstrom. Luckily for Backstrom, Ovechkin's value is on the upswing thanks to his offense returning late last season under coach Adam Oates. Backstrom showed that his injury issues from the prior season were behind him, and that he can be the playmaker to Ovechkin's sniper again going forward. Is there another 100-point campaign in Backstrom? There very well could be if Ovechkin is all the way back. That said, Backstrom isn't going to get to triple digits by scoring 30 goals again. Look for typical elite playmaker numbers in the range of 20 goals and upward of 75 assists from Backstrom, and you will walk away happy. The only question mark that remains is whether a third member of the line could take Ovechkin and Backstrom's numbers up another notch. But no matter who the third member of the line is, their numbers are not going to go back down.
2014 Outlook: Suffering a suspected form of separation anxiety following his divorce from long-time partner Ryan Suter, Weber sported no more than a single assist through the first 13 games to start last season. Oh, it was ugly, and his fantasy owners were freaking out something serious. Then the perennially elite defenseman settled in with new partner Roman Josi and all was well with the world (27 points in his final 35 games). Weber can also always be counted on for oodles of on-ice minutes and lots of shots.
2014 Outlook: Semin's first season as a member of the Hurricanes was a roaring success. Paired with Eric Staal on offense, Semin helped propel Staal to new heights while picking up his own fair share of fantasy value along the way. The duo will, no doubt, be back again for the Hurricanes this season and with potential for an improved secondary attack, the top line should have no trouble repeating its success from last season. Now, Semin has changed as a fantasy player from his days with the Capitals. His wicked wrist shot still exists, but he doesn't use it as much anymore. Look for reduced goal numbers, and a continued increase in Semin's assists for the coming season. Another factor in whether Semin outperforms his draft day value will be the success of the Hurricanes' power play. It struggled mightily last season and an improvement would be a boon to Semin's numbers. Here's hoping Ryan Murphy can help change things on the man advantage.