2016 Outlook: He plays with Corey Perry at even-strength, and like Perry, he remains a point-per-game threat. He reigns fourth in the NHL in first assists, tied with Sidney Crosby and Jakub Voracek (all situations, 2014-15), but if you prorate the lockout season to 82 games, he has also netted at least 25 goals in each of the past three seasons. There aren't a lot of cases against grabbing him.
2016 Outlook: Legal issues and subsequent trade rumors aside, Kane is a five-star fantasy asset by conventional standards. He was pacing 36 goals and 86 points last year before a broken clavicle kept him off the ice. Plus, playmates Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa aren't going anywhere. We'll leave it at that for now.
2016 Outlook: The combination of Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat was the most dangerous even strength line in the NHL last season. But with the bar set so high, opponents will have to continue to underrate the Lightning's second-line center (which they are unlikely to do) and the chemistry will have to remain strong enough to resist line shuffles for Johnson to earn his lofty status as a top fantasy forward. What if Kucherov or Ondrej Palat get a chance to play with Steven Stamkos and are even more dangerous? It's not out of the realm of possibility. Johnson's position directly clashes with that of the best player the Bolts have (Stamkos) and the Triplets will have to defy the odds to stay together for another full season. But even if he suffers a small fall from grace, you will probably still be very happy with 60 points from Johnson. Just don't draft him thinking that last season's 72 points are the basement for his potential -- that was likely the ceiling.
2016 Outlook: Will Big Buff and his expiring contract (2016) be traded during the regular season? Will he serve regularly as a forward or defenseman, or both, in 2015-16? Irksome unknowns, sure, but what isn't in question is Byfuglien's potential as a fantasy beast. When healthy and motivated, the hybrid skater has the wherewithal to put up serious figures in certain categories -- goals, assists, power play points -- and dominate in others, such as shots and PIM. Plus, performing for a new deal will undoubtedly motivate the 30-year-old all the more. We like him as a second- or third-round (if you're lucky) draft pick in most standard leagues.
2016 Outlook: While we have offered concerns about Tyler Johnson's fate if the Triplets are broken up, Kucherov, on the other hand, can only fall up. If the deadly trio of Johnson, Kucherov and Ondrej Palat can't carryover their amazing chemistry for another season, a line shuffle would land Kucherov on the wing of Steven Stamkos as an alternative. And yes, that would definitely be falling up. Kucherov's sniper shot is the driving force behind the Triplets' success, and Kucherov could stand to improve on his 64 points from last season. He has the shot of a 35-goal scorer in the NHL and should push that threshold -- with or without Johnson and Palat at his side.
2016 Outlook: It's likely Backstrom will be ready for the start of the season, but not guaranteed. He is recovering from hip surgery and has no specific timetable or estimation as to when he will return to the ice at full tilt. But even if he does miss a bit of time, you are still drafting the NHL's reigning assists leader and a threat for almost a point-per-game pace on offense. Like linemate Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom has put up the same huge numbers for three seasons running, making him about as sure a thing as you can find. The addition of either T.J. Oshie or Justin Williams to the top line is an upgrade, too, all but solidifying Backstrom for another run at 60-plus assists.
2016 Outlook: Making up a third of one of the most dynamic lines in the NHL, Gaudreau was named a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist in 2014-15 (losing to Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad). The diminutive winger proved he was more than ready to play with the big boys, scoring 24 goals and 40 assists, including 21 power play points. We expect no less from Gaudreau this campaign. Those concerned that the Flames top line was a flash in the pan can rest assured that they are for real; they appeared to grow collectively stronger as the season regular season wore on.
2016 Outlook: Proving his back problems are behind him at least for the time being, Henrik Zetterberg topped 65 points and managed a mostly healthy campaign as one of the Red Wings' offensive catalysts once again. Though his shots on goal have been muted somewhat from years past, the reason is actually a positive for Zetterberg -- the quality of his linemates is on an upward trend. Zetterberg has chemistry with Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist at even strength, and the trio is downright deadly on the power play. Expect a lower goal total as Zetterberg transitions his game to accommodate his linemates -- as he always has -- but note that the final tally will still come out north of 60 points. The addition of Mike Green to an already dangerous man advantage pushes an already high ceiling even higher for Zetterberg on the power play.
2016 Outlook: Last summer, we projected Couture would reach the 70-point mark, for the first time, in 2014-15. He nearly did, missing the mark by only three (27 goals, 40 assists on 263 shots). So here we sit, reiterating that prediction, with even greater confidence.
2016 Outlook: After a surprisingly strong showing the previous season under then-new head coach Patrick Roy, the Avalanche fell short of expectations in 2014-15. While several factors played into the regression, the effectiveness of the power play -- 15 percent, down from 19.5 percent in 2013-14 -- sticks out. Yet Landeskog's personal numbers weren't awful, 59 points as compared to 65 a year earlier. Look for the Colorado captain to rebound to the mid- to high-60s, adjacent center Matt Duchene and a fully-fit Nathan MacKinnon.
2016 Outlook: Tying for the rookie scoring lead last season, Stone showed he is ready to be a top-line winger in the NHL. There may be a tendency to point at his low shot total and high shooting percentage as a problem going forward, but taking quality shots has been a hallmark of Stone at the professional level. His shooting percentage in the AHL for two seasons was even higher than the 16.6 percent mark he managed in the NHL last season. Playing with Kyle Turris and getting top power play time with Erik Karlsson on the ice will mean more scoring from Stone, and another run at 60 points is in order. Don't expect a big jump in his counting stats as a sophomore, as he actually played an impressive 17 minutes per game as a rookie and doesn't have a lot of growing room there -- but you will happily take what he is giving you.
2016 Outlook: Last season's haul of 33 goals ands 29 assists on 259 shots (74 games) feels a bit pedestrian for Minnesota's most dangerous winger. Once a point-per-game player for the Devils, Parise could be again if members of his immediate supporting cast (Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund, etc.) do their part.
2016 Outlook: In a second-straight season with coach Willie Desjardins, don't rule out a point-per-game output from Daniel or his brother, especially with Radim Vrbata part of the power play mix. The now-35-year-old registered 76 points last season and is primed to be in that ballpark once again.
2016 Outlook: Think Hudler is having fun playing with a couple of kids in Calgary? Look no further than his 31 goals and 45 assists earned alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for the answer. His 19.6% shooting percentage is high, but when you consider that it wasn't even his career high and that he hasn't finished a season with a shooting percentage below 15.6% since 2010-11, there shouldn't be too much regression to worry about. Draft Hudler as your No. 1 -- or, if you're fortunate, No. 2 -- right wing in most conventional leagues.
2016 Outlook: A prime bounce-back candidate, MacKinnon is poised to equal, if not better, the 24 goals and 39 helpers earned in his outstanding rookie season. According to ESPN Insider's Matt Coller, "The 2013-14 Calder Trophy winner had a disappointing follow up showing last season, scoring only 14 goals in 64 games for a team that regressed heavily from winning the Pacific Division two seasons ago. One of the biggest factors in their fall was their 29th-ranked power play, which only scored on 15 percent of opportunities. MacKinnon's goal-scoring numbers were squashed by their man-advantage struggles. He scored eight power play goals during his rookie season and is very likely to get back to that mark or more this season."