2016 Outlook: If you prorate his statistics from the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season to 82 games, Alex Ovechkin has three straight seasons of 50-plus goals, close to 25 power play goals and almost 400 shots -- easily leading the league in all three categories each year. There really isn't an argument against taking Ovechkin first overall. He gives you a statistical headstart in three categories and is by no means a slouch in the other ones. Ovi has really bought into Barry Trotz's system, and with Nicklas Backstrom still getting him the puck (potentially along with newcomer T.J. Oshie), the fantasy stock will once again be through the roof.
2016 Outlook: John Tavares has established himself as a bonafide superstar that can be argued among the game's best players at the moment, turning in arguably the best fantasy performance last season by any player not named Alex Ovechkin or Carey Price. A true threat for 90 points, Tavares doesn't have any drawbacks to his fantasy profile, and as the strong supporting cast will help him remain the ace of your fantasy team. While Kyle Okposo has been his wingman for some time, the most interesting question this season will be whether Josh Bailey continues to play that role on the opposite side. Take Tavares with your first pick with confidence, regardless of where you are drafting in your league.
2016 Outlook: The basement for Sidney Crosby's production is top three in the NHL. The basement. He'll drop 80 points as a start and, now with goal scorer Phil Kessel at his side, Crosby is probably the only NHLer with a shot at 100 points this season. You know what you are getting with Crosby as the anchor for your team and you can make the argument for him being the first overall pick in any fantasy draft -- though we'd definitely argue Alex Ovechkin over him. Why? While the two are close enough in most categories, Ovechkin has the chance to take almost twice as many shots -- almost single-handedly winning you a category. But the Penguins have the most potent lineup they've ever had around their star centermen and the points will come raining down this season in Pittsburgh.
2016 Outlook: Can we look forward to an encore performance of the 'Benn & Seguin' show in 2015-16? Sure, why not? Playing alongside Tyler Seguin -- at least when the centerman wasn't injured -- Benn collected 35 goals and 52 assists, achieving personal bests in both categories. Barring disaster, the projected first-round fantasy draft selection could theoretically hit the cosmic 100-point plateau this season. He shoots a ton and he's only missed one game in the past two regular seasons. Sign us up.
2016 Outlook: With Jamie Benn on his left side, and averaging four shots and more than a point per game in 2014-15, Seguin serves as an elite fantasy centerman. His points-per-60 minutes was tops in the NHL (3.33), and with offseason acquistion Patrick Sharp possibly playing on the other wing opposite Benn, there isn't much of a reason to think he can't record similar numbers this year. If you're worried about his knee (injured in mid-February), have peace of mind that the 23-year-old has been skating brace-free this summer and has no plans of going back to one. Go on and grab him in the first round, particularly if Sidney Crosby and John Tavares are already spoken for.
2016 Outlook: G is the ultimate playmaker in the NHL and that translates perfectly to superstar fantasy value. Giroux offers a bankable 25 goals to complement anywhere from 50 to 60 assists. His power play points are among the league leaders, and he fires more shots on goal than most playmaking centermen. It is unlikely Giroux is going to turn in a career season better than his 93 points in 2011-12, but he could easily come close to that number if the Flyers offense improves even a little. There are some stars who need to come off the board before him because they score more goals, but Giroux shouldn't be available beyond the halfway point of the first round in your draft. He is a player to build a potent fantasy offense around.
2016 Outlook: We anticipated a breakout season from Tarasenko in 2014-15, and the young Russian happily overcompensated, scoring 37 goals and 36 assists on 264 shots. What's frightening -- in the best sense -- is the 23-year-old winger seems even more motivated to earn his keep, after signing an eight-year, $60-million extension. Still just 23 years old, Tarasenko is a star that you can build a team around for not only this season, but for years to come.
2016 Outlook: After two seasons of 60-plus points, 200-plus shots on goal and 20-plus power play points, the best news about Ryan Johansen for fantasy hockey owners is that he just turned 23 years old this summer. That means he still isn't close to the peak performer he could be for the Blue Jackets and fantasy owners. Johansen turned Nick Foligno into a superstar last season on the Jackets top line, but don't for a second think the relationship works both ways. Johansen, whether Foligno is at his side or a host of other talented young forwards on the team, will achieve fantasy star status. Offseason changes that include some new forwards, including Brandon Saad, are just peripheral anecdotes to a player of Johansen's ilk. A step up closer to 80 points this season should be expected and Johansen will continue to move into the realm of the elite players.
2016 Outlook: Want to hear something scary? The Lightning are expecting even more production out of their best player this year. Stamkos scored 43 goals and 72 points, so there doesn't seem to be much to "bounce back" from, but last season marked the first time since Stamkos' rookie season that he wasn't at least on pace for a minimum of 89 points. His lockout-shorted campaign was on pace for 97 points and his 82-game pace was 89 points when he broke his leg in 2013-14. The supporting cast kept him under that pace in 2014-15. Jonathan Drouin clearly wasn't quite ready to be the elite playmaker on the top line (yet) and the success of the Triplets (Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov) kept the best wingers off of Stamkos' line. Essentially, a superstar was limited to a role as a No. 2 center for his own club. That can't continue to be the case and, at some point, the best wingers the Lightning have will find their way to Stamkos' side. He should return toward the 90-point threshold and make his case to be among the fantasy elite once again.
2016 Outlook: Phil Kessel won big this summer, escaping Toronto when he was traded to the Penguins. For a skilled goal scorer who has some lofty career numbers, it's saying something that Kessel could have a career season this year with Pittsbrugh. But that's what happens when you suddenly get a chance to play with the best centerman in the game, Sidney Crosby. Kessel netted 37 goals with Tyler Bozak as his centerman, so 40 goals this season seems almost a lock. It's scary to think about what the ceiling is here if Kessel and Crosby have chemistry. There is an element of the unknown here, as not all players always have styles that complement each other, but that's the absolute best part of this situation. Even if for some reason he doesn't click with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin is the other option, serving as the ultimate alternative.
2016 Outlook: Well, Rick Nash certainly showed us a thing or two. After showing evidence that his 40-goal campaigns were a thing of the past and being selected barely inside the top-100 in fantasy leagues, Nash scored a career-high 42 goals and tied a career-high with 69 points in his 12th NHL season. There is no doubt Nash will be back with playmaker Derick Brassard and slick-handed Mats Zuaccarello, as the line was one of the best and most consistent in the NHL last season. All said, the poor showing in 2013-14 appears to be the outlier in Nash's productive career and considering him among the elite forwards is definitely the way to approach him. Even if his production is somewhat scaled back, he is still going to crack 30 goals and 60 points as a basement for production. Throw in his shots on goal and a potential for better power play numbers with a full season of Keith Yandle and you have the makings of a borderline overall top 10 fantasy asset.
2016 Outlook: While Malkin has registered 702 points in 587 games over his nine-year career, he is far from the picture of health and makes a habit of missing time. The past six seasons, Malkin has only played 75 percent of the games in the regular season. But if you account for the missed time and get a draft day discount in the second round, Malkin will miss a dozen games and still outscore most of the NHL. As he settles into a playmaking role, with the 50-goal season of 2011-12 now in the distant past, the supporting cast is still improving around him. Malkin will join some combination of Patric Hornqvist, David Perron, Chris Kunitz or Sergei Plotnikov as linemates, as he is forced to the Center No. 2 notch on the center depth chart behind Crosby, but no matter who he plays with, it's a higher talent level than usually found on a second line and he will bring plenty of points to the table.
2016 Outlook: He's the best defenseman in fantasy hockey and it's not even close. It would take a lot of improvement from P.K. Subban to close the gap on just how good Karlsson is for fantasy numbers. Two straight seasons with 20 goals and over 65 points is ridiculous from the blue line, and his near 300 shots are what you might expect from a forward. In fact, because Karlsson puts up stats like a forward and plays 27 minutes per night, there is a clear argument to have him in the top 10 overall. He gives you that much of a strategic advantage with his production, as he is in that top defenseman tier all by himself, head and shoulders above the next best option. There is no reason not to expect more of the same from Karlsson this season as he has put up the same numbers in his past three healthy seasons.
2016 Outlook: There's no way Pavelski scores another 40-plus goals, we suggested ahead of last season, not after catching the back of the net 18.2 percent of the time in 2013-14. No chance. Well, Pavelski only scored 37 goals in 2014-15 (14.2 percent success on 261 shots), while contributing 33 assists. You just keep doing you, Joe, and we'll mind our own business.
2016 Outlook: After flashing point-per-game potential during the lockout-shortened campaign, but following it up with 62 points in 2013-14, Voracek broke through to the elite scoring threshold last season. With 81 points -- including an impressive 59 assists -- Voracek established himself and linemate Claude Giroux (48 assists) as the deadliest setup duo in the NHL not born within minutes of each other (Henrik and Daniel Sedin combined for 112 assists). The result is that both Giroux and Voracek are fantasy stars and the players around them on Philadelphia Flyers become better. The Flyers power play will have to remain just as deadly for Voracek to approach 80 points again, but even if he slips to 70 points, fantasy owners won't be complaining about his output.