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: Quick may have been the biggest disappointment of the 2013 fantasy season. A consensus elite option prior to the season -- and a first- or second-rounder in every league -- he wound up in the not-so-coveted No. 30 spot on the Player Rater by season's end. A 2.45 goals-against average and .902 save percentage (after a 1.95/.929 split the season prior) will do that. The good news is that Quick recovered quite nicely in the postseason, to the tune of a 1.86/.934 ratios split, and there will no longer be the distraction of Jonathan Bernier as his backup, as the latter was shipped to Toronto this offseason. Expect something in the range of 70 starts, along with ratios between his marks from 2010-11 (2.24/.918) and 2011-12 (1.95/.929). So yes, he's worth that high pick that will be required to snap him up.
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: The Canadiens finished the shortened 2013 season as the Eastern Conference's No. 2 team, but they did so in large part despite an off season by Price. To wit, Price's 2.55 goals-against average was his worst since 2009-10, and his save percentage of .905 was his worst since 2008-09. He's a nice candidate for a bounce-back campaign this season, as the Canadiens' collection of young NHL talent will only get better, and he himself just turned 26 this offseason. He can be drafted as a low-end No. 1, with high-end No. 1 upside.
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.
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: Crawford was a 30-win goalie in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, but his ratio stats were sorely lacking in that latter season (2.72 in goals-against average and .903 in save percentage). He picked a good time to get hot, though, as his regular season work (including 19 wins in 28 starts, 1.94 goals-against average and .926 save percentage) and postseason dominance led to a lucrative, six-year extension this offseason. With much of the Blackhawk core group returning in 2013-14, there's no reason to think that the elite production won't continue, and the fact that the capable Ray Emery has been replaced as the backup by living fossil Nikolai Khabibulin means that we can expect an even greater starting load for Crawford. You'll have to pick him early, but he's worth it.
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.