Ranking the Top 50 Fantasy Players for the 2013-14 Season

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IISeptember 15, 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Fantasy Players for the 2013-14 Season

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    The funnest thing about compiling this list of the top 50 fantasy players in the NHL was trying to consider all the different angles people use to view players from.

    No two fantasy hockey enthusiasts value players the same way. They won't ever agree 100 percent on a particular player's value or promise, and that's what makes the game so enjoyable. At the end of the year, only one person is proven right by winning the league crown.

    Everyone else was wrong.

    Despite a season of considering hot and cold streaks, potential linemates, storylines and so on, only one can be crowned the winner.

    We've compiled this list of our projected top 50 fantasy contributors to make your fantasy hockey life a little easier.

    While reading this slideshow, please keep a few things in mind. For starters, if you think a player should be 10 or 12 spots higher or lower, they probably could be. Not a whole lot separates these outstanding players outside of objectivity and preference.

    From a fantasy perspective, players are viewed in a tier system. So could Patrick Sharp, who comes in at No. 47 on our list, make the jump to No. 33? Sure! It just depends on who and what you value.

    Again, this is one of the elements that makes the game so fun.

    All statistics for this list appear courtesy of Yahoo!'s fantasy sports database.

50. Evander Kane

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    The Winnipeg Jets put in a lot of work over the summer to keep their core intact. While the likes of Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler are undoubtedly important parts of the equation for Winnipeg, the most important forward on the team is Evander Kane.

    He has 40-goal upside and could have hit that mark had 2013 been a full season. Kane is going to take a ton of shots and doesn't shy away from taking the body either, as evidenced by his 147 checks last season.

49. Jakub Voracek

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    Depending on how deep your league is, Jakub Voracek might be one of the bigger bargains available heading into the fantasy season. In 10-team leagues, he's likely to slip to the fourth or fifth round, which is an outstanding place to grab a potential 80-point player.

    That's roughly the pace the former seventh overall pick had in 2013, and this upcoming year could be a massive breakout season for Voracek as he becomes a central cog in the attack of the Philadelphia Flyers. There arguably wasn't a better forward for the team last year, and he'll receive every chance to shine moving forward.

48. Marian Hossa

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    While Marian Hossa always carries with him an inherent injury risk—he missed substantial amounts of time in 2009 and 2010—he also carries 70- to 80-point upside while playing within one of the best top-six units in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks are loaded up front, and Hossa gets to cash in on that as a talented player himself.

    While it's tough to justify Hossa going in the third round above more steady (read: healthy) players, if he slips in your draft because of those injury concerns, you shouldn't hesitate to take him if he becomes even a mild bargain.

    If he plays a 75-game season, he's a lock to put up at least 20 goals and a healthy amount of shots for your team. Hossa is also underrated as a plus-minus contributor and is plus-235 for his career.

47. Patrick Sharp

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    Six straight seasons as a 20-goal scorer came to an end in 2013 for Patrick Sharp. He only posted six goals while struggling through an injury-riddled campaign, but that shouldn't deter you from picking him up for your team this year.

    Like Marian Hossa, Sharp will benefit greatly from playing with one of the best top-six units in the NHL. Aside from the goals, Sharp can also provide a ton of shots. He took at least 260 over the three-year span leading up to the shortened year last season.

46. Ryan Suter

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    Ryan Suter is sitting just outside of being a top-five fantasy option for us. While he is ranked at 46 here, don't expect him to slide that far in your draft. He's as steady a performer as you'll find on the blue line and didn't miss a beat while moving from the Nashville Predators to the Minnesota Wild last season.

    His peripherals aren't going to blow anyone away, but he's still good for some hits here and there and can post solid blocked shots numbers as well.

    In drafting Suter, you're securing the services of a guy who's never going to miss a lot of time because of injury and will be spending plenty of time on a strong power play with the Wild.

45. Craig Anderson

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    Craig Anderson would be much, much higher on this list had his 2013 season not been derailed by injury. When he was playing, he was arguably the most dominant goaltender in the NHL. His 12-9 record was solid, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a goalie that sported better than his 1.69 GAA.

    The .941 save percentage is a tad ridiculous as well.

    In 2011-12, Anderson played in 62 games for the Senators while compiling a 33-22 record to go along with his 2.83 GAA and .914 save percentage.

    Somewhere between those two seasons lies the real Anderson. It'll be interesting to see what he manages to do moving forward.

44. Matt Moulson

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    We're a bit weary of drafting players high because of whom they play with. While there's no denying that Matt Moulson and John Tavares are one of the best one-two combinations in the NHL, what happens to Moulson's value if they are separated for a 10-game "spread the wealth" type of experiment?

    It drops exponentially. While that isn't to say that Moulson can't get the job done with another center, it's unlikely he'd still be considered a top-50 fantasy option after a year without Tavares.

    Those concerns aside, the value you receive from Moulson while he is with Tavares is exceptional. He was nearly a point-per-game player in 2013, and while his plus-minus isn't otherworldly, he makes up for it in just about every other offensive column.

43. Logan Couture

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    Logan Couture could very well be a top-25 fantasy player by the end of the year. The San Jose Sharks are slowly becoming his team, but it isn't quite there yet. Joe Thornton will still play a lot of important minutes up the middle, preventing Couture from reaching his considerable fantasy ceiling.

    He'll get you everything besides PIM though. Couture will score at least 20 goals, but has been within the 30-goal range like clockwork over the last four years. Fantasy contributors don't get much more steady than that.

    Tack on a good amount of power-play points and a bunch of shots, and Couture is a lights-out No. 2 center for your fantasy team.

42. Max Pacioretty

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    Max Pacioretty has had his fantasy growth stunted a bit by neck and shoulder injuries, but appears to be healthy heading into training camp. He's an important part of a surprisingly effective Montreal Canadiens attack and is good for a minimum of 30 goals.

    His presence will continue to improve on the power play, which only further increases the youngster's value. He also loves to shoot and could break the 250-shot barrier for the second time in his carrier.

41. Matt Duchene

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    2011-12 was a tough season for Matt Duchene. Young players on bad teams sometimes suffer through tough campaigns though, and the Colorado Avalanche pivot bounced back nicely last year.

    The Avs aren't suddenly going to become a defensive powerhouse, so Duchene's plus-minus will still be lackluster, but he could push 40 goals on the top line this season. The shifty pivot will also contribute in the assist column and has put up 200 shots before in his career, though that should be considered a bonus and not a must for your team.

40. Jimmy Howard

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    Detroit Red Wing goaltenders tend to catch a lot of flack in fantasy circles. Still, Jimmy Howard is one of the stronger second-tier goalies available, especially if he's still hanging around in the fourth or fifth round of your draft.

    The wins will continue to be there as Detroit managed to bolster a good roster during the offseason, but Howard's save percentage and GAA will be more solid than people realize. He was the best player on the Wings as they pushed toward the playoffs last year and finished with five shutouts.

    His 2.13 GAA and .925 save percentage from 2013 are good indicators of what Howard can do, and while those numbers won't win him a Vezina, he could help you win your league if paired with another strong goalie.

39. Antti Niemi

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    Some pundits felt that Antti Niemi should have won the Vezina last season, and a quick glance at his numbers makes it easy to see why. His 24-12 record would have been ridiculous across an 82-game season, and he was a rock for the San Jose Sharks down the stretch.

    He posted four shutouts to go along with excellent peripheral stats. Niemi's GAA came in at 2.16 while his save percentage was a strong .924.

    Like Jimmy Howard, Niemi can help you win your league if paired with another goaltender of equal-or-greater caliber.

38. Shea Weber

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    More so than the fans of the Nashville Predators or management, Shea Weber struggled with Ryan Suter's departure. He seemed lost on the blue line for much of the season and didn't really begin to show signs of his old form until the end of the year.

    Losing your longtime defensive partner and friend to free agency and then dealing with a lockout can take the legs out from under even the best players around, and that's what happened to Weber in 2013.

    We're bullish on his chances of bouncing back and becoming a serious scoring threat on the power play and during five-on-five play for the upcoming year.

37. Sergei Bobrovsky

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    It's not very often you'll see the reigning Vezina Trophy winner this low on a draft board. The only knock against Sergei Bobrovsky is his small body of work. The risk vs. reward in picking him in the first two or three rounds may be too much for owners to stomach, as the Columbus Blue Jackets are still a team with work to do all around.

    They made a great run of it toward the last half of the shortened 48-game season, but the odds of Bobrovsky coming back to earth at least a little bit are too great for him to be considered a can't-miss No. 1 goalie.

    Still, if he does maintain even a portion of his 2013 form, Bobrovsky could end up being one of the steals of your draft.

36. Alexander Semin

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    After falling out of favor with the Washington Capitals despite being a constant goal-scoring threat, Alexander Semin found a new home with the Carolina Hurricanes. He wasted no time in returning to the form he showed in 2009, when he put up 84 points in 73 games.

    He was outstanding while playing on one of the NHL's most dominating lines along with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty in 2013. Rotoworld claims that this line will remain intact for at least the first few months of the regular season, which means the points should keep on coming for Semin.

    He's an excellent option for your No. 2 right wing and should be drafted with confidence.

35. Pekka Rinne

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    The Nashville Predators had serious issues scoring goals last season, and not even superb goaltending from Pekka Rinne could help the team make the playoffs. His 15-16 record wasn't what most were hoping for when they drafted Rinne to be their No. 1 goalie.

    If you're a glass half-full type, a third of Rinne's wins were shutouts, and his peripheral stats weren't all that bad considering the support he had. The 2.43 GAA was the second worst of his career, as was his .910 save percentage.

    We still like the odds of Rinne becoming a borderline-elite goaltender though, and he's a great second-tier option for your team at this point.

34. Jason Spezza

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    It's either boom or bust with Jason Spezza, as he typically plays either the full season or misses 20-plus games due to injury. Losing your No. 2 center for that long can derail your championship chances, but if he stays healthy, 80 points isn't out of the question.

    If Spezza develops chemistry with Bobby Ryan, that total could go even higher. Again, that's if Spezza can stay off the IR.

    If you end up drafting him, it might be worth a late-round pick to hedge against Spezza by selecting Mika Zibanejad or Kyle Turris just in case he does go down again. Those are the most likely candidates to fill his vacant spot, and you could absorb some of the damage by rostering one of those two during Spezza's IR stint.

33. Chris Kunitz

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    Like Matt Moulson, we're hesitant to call Chris Kunitz a top-50 fantasy option. There's no denying his output while playing alongside the best offensive fantasy player in the world in Sidney Crosby though, so he's a safe pick for your No. 1 left wing.

    As long as he's on that line.

    If something odd happens and he sinks even one line down, Kunitz could see his numbers fall off drastically. Still, he was one of the best fantasy players in the league in 2013 and should remain effective moving forward.

32. Jamie Benn

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    After more or less learning to play center on the fly in 2013, we're dreaming of big things for Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin could be the best thing to happen to Benn's career and vice versa.

    If those two find a decent amount of chemistry—the exact opposite of what Benn had with Jaromir Jagr—then they both aid each other's fantasy value exponentially. Seguin could once again become a top-end option for fantasy teams, and the equally talented Benn could end up a top-25 player by the end of the year.

    Thirty goals is hardly out of the question, and the bruising forward can aid your hit totals as well.

31. Bobby Ryan

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    Bobby Ryan won't be able to replace Daniel Alfredsson as an icon for the Ottawa Senators, but he'll be more than able to fill that gap in production. According to Rotoworld, it's already been announced that Ryan will be skating on Ottawa's top line alongside Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.

    Spezza brought the best out of former linemates like Dany Heatley, and Ryan is just as capable of scoring goals as anyone Spezza has ever played with.

    He scored 30 goals or more in four straight seasons prior to the shortened 2013 campaign and is almost a lock to break that number once again this year. His shot total should jump noticeably as well as he suddenly becomes the go-to scoring option for the Senators.

30. Henrik Sedin

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    We're on the fence about both Sedins as top fantasy options moving forward. There's no denying the John Tortorella effect here, and Henrik Sedin's point total could drop off considerably if he's tasked with blocking shots and clogging up passing lines like, say, Brad Richards was for the New York Rangers.

    Sedin was still nearly a point-per-game player in 2013 though, and he's a known fantasy commodity. He'll help you in leagues that count power-play points, and while he's never shot the puck much, this Sedin can put you over the top in the assist column.

29. Daniel Sedin

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    Like his brother Henrik, we're unsure of the impact that John Tortorella will have on Daniel Sedin's production. Contract talks are looming as well. Roll those situations together and it might be tough to just go out and play hockey for Daniel.

    It's tough to ignore the fact that he's only two seasons removed from a 104-point year though, especially if he's still floating around in the third round of your draft. Will he be a No. 1 fantasy left wing again? Probably, but if he falls into the dreaded and fantasy-value sucking Tortorella doghouse, things could get ugly for Sedin and his owners.

28. Tyler Seguin

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    Tyler Seguin knows that he's a lucky man. He's receiving a new lease on life after (kind of) blowing it in Boston. He heads to the Dallas Stars with a chance to be something that he's never been before: a top-six forward.

    Not only will he be a integral part of the attack in Dallas, he'll arguably be the most important part of it. Can he be a No. 1 center in the NHL? If the answer is yes, then he can be a No. 1 fantasy center as well. If he ends up sagging under the weight of the new responsibilities for the first 15 games of the season, don't fret.

    The kid has chops. Don't be the guy to dump Seguin for beans while flipping into all-out panic mode in the middle of November.

27. Anze Kopitar

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    It's easy to forget that Anze Kopitar is 25 years old and is just now starting to come into his prime as an athlete. Point-per-game production isn't a stretch by any means, but if your league counts PIM then Kopitar is just shy of being an elite option.

    Still, his potential is outstanding and the Los Angeles Kings are one of the most well-constructed teams in the league. He's insulated against a poor plus-minus rating due to a strong defense and could hit 30 goals for the first time since 2009.

26. Nicklas Backstrom

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    Nicklas Backstrom's value is very much tied to how well Alex Ovechkin is performing. While Backstrom is an outstanding player in his own right, his true fantasy asset is being able to find No. 8 for goals. He's not going to put up many himself and probably won't score more than 15 goals for your team.

    Still, Backstrom is a massive contributor of power-play points—he had 18 in 2013 alone—and is capable of winning that category for your team in any given week if Ovechkin gets going.

25. Zach Parise

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    No one expected the new-look Minnesota Wild to come out of the gates on fire in 2013. Bringing in big-time players in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and integrating them was expected to take time, and those two missing out on any form of real training camp due to the lockout didn't help matters either.

    The outcome was a solid but unspectacular showing from Parise.

    With the jitters of playing in front of a hometown crowd out of his system, Parise should return to 80-point form for the first time since 2009-10. There's a lot of talent in Minnesota, and Parise will be right in the thick of it for years to come, scoring goals and taking shots.

24. James Neal

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    We don't view James Neal in the same light as Chris Kunitz. The former would be an elite goal-scoring threat regardless of whom he lined up with. He just so happens to be lining up with Evgeni Malkin on most nights, which only increases his already considerable value as a fantasy contributor.

    Neal has put up massive goal totals over his last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and another 40-goal outing is likely as long as he can stay healthy. He's also a threat to take more than 300 shots on goal and produces buckets of points on the power play.

    Draft Neal as your No. 1 left wing comfortably and with confidence.

23. Kris Letang

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    If you're looking for the potential league leader in power-play points, look no further than Kris Letang. If he stays healthy, he'll be quarterbacking one of the most loaded power-play units in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin are all top-end fantasy producers, and they all tend to hit the ice together when the Pittsburgh Penguins go on the power play. All of this bodes incredibly well for Letang as he's an outstanding passer with great vision.

    His 38 points in 35 games came mostly in the form of assists, but he still contributed at least one shot and one hit per game.

22. Henrik Zetterberg

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    You'll be hard-pressed to find a better option at left wing than Henrik Zetterberg. He's not going to score 40 goals any more, but he'll take a ton of shots and is good for at least 25 lit lamps. Zetterberg is a well-rounded fantasy asset and contributes plenty of assists as well.

    Add in top-end power-play minutes with the Detroit Red Wings, and the only thing that could slow him down this season is the injury bug. Eighty points is well within reach, as is a massive 300-shot total.

21. Ryan Getzlaf

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    Like Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan Getzlaf is capable of providing support across multiple categories. After a bit of a down year in 2011-12, he really bounced back well during his 2013 campaign. Getzlaf returned to his point-per-game form while throwing his body around enough to help you in the hits category as well.

    On top of that, Getzlaf is the center around which the Anaheim Ducks's power play revolves. He had 15 power-play points last season, making him a multi-cat threat that you can select with confidence as your No. 1 center.

20. Rick Nash

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    Derek Stepan's continued holdout is the only knock on Rick Nash's value right now. For the first time in his career, he's playing on an offensively capable team with an offensive-minded coach. The stars are aligning for Nash, and he's prime for a burst in value.

    Is a 90-point, 40-goal outburst possible for Nash? If Alain Vigneault truly lets his big dogs off of their leashes, then absolutely. Don't draft him ahead of locks for that kind of point total, but Nash is perfectly capable of becoming one of the top left-wing options for fantasy owners once again this year.

    He put up 21 goals and 21 assists in 44 games while playing in a defense-oriented system. The sky really is the limit if he's given freedom out on the ice. 

19. Martin St. Louis

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    No one in the NHL scored more points than Martin St. Louis in 2013, so it's tough to rank him this low. Still, as he approaches 40 it's only logical to expect regression to some degree. Injuries have never been an issue for Mighty Mite, but age erodes even the most talented players eventually.

    The 38-year-old will still skate alongside Steven Stamkos and he'll still be an elite point-producer. Just don't draft him expecting an encore of his Hart Trophy-winning 2013 season.

18. Pavel Datsyuk

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    If you're looking for raw point output from your center, Pavel Datsyuk is money in the bank. He's been a point-per-game player over the last three years, and while his peripherals prevent him from being ranked higher, that shouldn't force him into the third round of your draft either.

    Datsyuk's plus-minus totals have always been stellar, and while he doesn't shoot often enough to be a factor there, he's still an elite playmaker capable of doing a lot of damage on the power play. He also gets a big boost in leagues that factor in faceoff wins.

17. Tuukka Rask

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    Tuukka Rask suffered zero hiccups during the regular season as he became the Boston Bruins' top netminder. Tim Thomas left quite the gap to fill, but the young Finn filled in more than adequately. The Bruins play within an outstanding defensive structure, and that only helps Rask on his off nights.

    He went 19-10 last year while posting a mildly ridiculous 2.00 GAA. His save percentage of .930 is approaching the elite level of goaltenders like Henrik Lundqvist, and a sustained performance across 82 games will propel Rask into that kind of company.

    If the playoffs were an indication, Rask is just now starting to show how elite he can be. Don't be shocked if he finished the season as the No. 1 fantasy goalie.

16. Taylor Hall

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    Most pundits are incredibly bullish on Taylor Hall this season—and with good reason. There's a chance he could have broken the 100-point barrier had 2013 been full length, and he appears to have kicked the injury bug that has prevented him from reaching elite status sooner.

    Hall is coming into his fourth year as a professional player and will see increased responsibility with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins starting the season on the shelf.

    Ninety points is well within range for the remarkably slick and talented Hall. He's likely to put up at least 20 points on the power play and will register more than 200 shots on goal. He won't hit and he doesn't block shots, but he managed a plus-four rating on an Edmonton Oilers team that didn't produce many plus players.

15. P.K. Subban

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    The top fantasy defenseman in the books of many, many onlookers, you can't go wrong with P.K. Subban at this point. His 38 points in 42 games last season was impressive, especially after missing training camp as he held out for a new contract.

    He hit the ice cold and still managed to become one of the top fantasy options at any position. He's an excellent consolation prize for picking late in larger leagues and could be the most electric point-producer from the blue line since Mike Green.

    We have our money on another defender securing that mantle, but that shouldn't be reason enough to make you shy about grabbing Subban if you can. He shoots, he hits, he scores goals and is productive on the power play.

14. Eric Staal

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    After appearing to have settled in at the 70-point range, Eric Staal re-established himself as one of the best fantasy centers around in 2013. He clicked on a line with Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty, and exploded for one of his best seasons ever.

    Nothing should change for Staal this season, as it appears likely he'll line up with those two to reform one of the most dangerous trios in the NHL.

    Staal is strong in the faceoff circle and that should be considered a bonus if your league counts that stat. The rest of his peripherals aren't nonexistent, but they aren't outstanding either. Staal with make a few hits here and there, but doesn't go out of his way from a physical standpoint.

13. Jonathan Quick

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    Jonathan Quick is the second-best available option in net for fantasy teams in 2013-14. Regression was expected after a ridiculous 2011-12 season, but he's still capable of being an elite netminder even when he isn't putting up a sub-2.00 GAA.

    He was 18-13 last year, and his GAA jumped all the way to 2.45. Somewhere between last season and the season prior is where Quick's median is. He'll see better numbers moving forward as people stop expecting him to be superhuman, so a respectable 2.20 GAA and a save percentage closer to .920 should be very doable for this backstop.

12. Phil Kessel

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    One of the most belabored players in all of hockey, all Phil Kessel has done since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs is score. Last season would have been his fifth straight 30-plus-goal season had there been 82 games to play, making him one of the most consistent goal scorers in fantasy hockey.

    He gets knocked in fantasy circles a lot for his plus-minus, but he's improved that stat every year for three consecutive seasons. Weird—the Leafs improve as a team and Kessel's plus-minus goes up.

    He finished a minus-three last year, but that dent shouldn't be bad enough to lose the category for you unless you're icing the top line of the Florida Panthers every night. Kessel is also good for close to 300 shots and plenty of power-play points, making him an excellent option to be your No. 1 right wing.

11. Claude Giroux

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    According to the official website of the Philadelphia Flyers, a freak golf injury will keep Claude Giroux out of action for most of (if not all of) training camp. Some quick math shows that he'll be healthy and ready to go for the team's season opener on October 2 though.

    It might take him a few games to get going, but once Giroux is in his groove there are only a few better fantasy options available at forward. He seems to be good for at least 80 points after a strong 48 points in 48 games last year.

    Giroux is capable of posting 90 though, as he proved in 2011 despite playing in only 77 games. While owners shouldn't expect that kind of output, they shouldn't be alarmed by it either. Anything over 80 points is a bonus for Giroux.

    He'll take a ton of shots and even takes the body occasionally, helping your team in multiple catagories.

10. Erik Karlsson

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    People were drafting Mike Green within the first five selections in 2009 after he posted 73 points for the Washington Capitals the year prior. Why people haven't taken to Erik Karlsson in the same fashion after his 78-point 2011 is beyond us, but we think he's the strongest defenseman available to fantasy owners.

    He's had all summer to fully recover from that nasty Achilles tendon injury, and that shouldn't be an issue for the fleet-footed Swede any longer.

    No other defender has even a remote chance to put up similar point totals to Karlsson. P.K. Subban is the second-best option, but the gap between the two is still wide. He's guaranteed to take more than 250 points for the Ottawa Senators and could approach 40 power-play points for the second time in his career.

9. Corey Perry

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    Corey Perry is another multi-cat stud that happens to play for the Anaheim Ducks. He's capable of leading the league in goals when he gets hot, will post a healthy assist total and will rack up more than 100 PIM in an average season.

    Consider the fact that he's likely to come close to firing the puck nearly 300 times in a season and that Perry has been a plus-player in all but one of his eight NHL seasons. He's freakishly consistent.

    Few players can help you in three or four different categories. Perry is one of them.

8. Patrick Kane

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    Through an entire 82-game season, Patrick Kane would have scored 40 goals and reached 96 points in 2013. He's unlikely to fall off after winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe and discovering what it truly takes to be an elite player in the NHL.

    At only 24, we likely haven't quite seen the best that Kane has to offer either.

    He'll deliver the goods in every offensive category and hasn't finished as a minus-player since 2008. Do we really need to say "draft with confidence" here? 

7. Jonathan Toews

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    If you're looking for balance with your top fantasy pick, Jonathan Toews is your guy. He'll score 30 goals for your squad while posting another 40 assists. His plus-minus will only continue to climb as he becomes one of the best two-way players in the NHL—a plus-40 rating isn't unachievable for Toews next season.

    He'll tack on 40 PIM for good measure and will win a ton of faceoffs. And he'll shoot the puck upward of 200 times.

    While Toews isn't elite in any one or two categories like Steven Stamkos, he's arguably the most well-rounded producer in fantasy hockey.

6. Henrik Lundqvist

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    The King returns.

    Until someone proves that they are better than Henrik Lundqvist from a fantasy standpoint, this is where he'll remain—toward the top of lists like this as the reigning best goalie available. 

    He went 24-16 last year and was once again the most important player for the New York Rangers. Lundqvist's 2.05 GAA was tremendously low as usual, and his .926 save percentage was among the best of his career.

    Simply put: you can't draft a more sure-fire goaltender than Lundqvist.

5. Evgeni Malkin

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    When Evgeni Malkin is healthy, he has the talent to be the No. 1 player in all of fantasy hockey—period. Sadly, playing through a full 82-game season is something that Geno hasn't done in a half-decade. If you can't stomach the injury risk that looms with Malkin, if might be best to pass on him.

    If you're an all-in type of player though, few fantasy assets can produce at the same level as Malkin. He had 33 points in 31 games in 2013, once again missing a chunk of the season on the IR. When he's not in the press box, he'll give you massive goal, shot and assist totals and is a monster on the power play.

    He can be tough to win leagues with though. Few champions are crowned after their top selection misses half the season. If you take Malkin, bring the heat in the later rounds to insulate yourself against the possible loss.

4. John Tavares

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    The new captain of the New York Islanders has improved over each of the last four years, and 2013-14 figures to be his best yet. Reinforcements are on the way for John Tavares in the form of Cal Clutterbuck—someone whom Tavares had great chemistry with at the junior level—and Ryan Strome.

    Matt Moulson will still be by his side though, and the two will once again form one of the most dynamic scoring duos in all of hockey.

    Forty goals are well within reach for Tavares, and he'll continue to pile up assists to Moulson at even strength and on the power play.

3. Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Ovechkin revived his sagging career with the help of Adam Oates in 2013. The move to the right side took a while to click, but once Ovie got going, no one could stop him once again. He's just as dangerous as ever, and few players in the NHL are capable of scoring a goal in every game they play in for a few weeks straight.

    Could Ovechkin return to 100-point form in 2013-14? Would anyone be surprised if he did? It's been three years, but coaching carousels never help star players. Ovechkin seems comfortable with his game for the first time in a while, and his fantasy owners will reap the benefits.

    Ovechkin can win his owners the shots category by himself, and the hits are still coming in bunches. It's tough to rank him at No. 3 here, but we'd like to see one more batch of 40 games of domination from the right side before committing to him as the top player in fantasy hockey again.

2. Steven Stamkos

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    Steven Stamkos will contend for the Rocket Richard every year for the next decade. Only Alex Ovechkin has an equal goal-scoring touch, and only Ovechkin can match the ferocity of Stamkos' one-timer. There's a chance that he'll line up with another dynamic talent in Jonathan Drouin this season.

    Along with Martin St. Louis, the trio could form the most deadly line in all of hockey. Regardless of who he plays with, Stamos is a constant 50-goal, 40-assist threat and can crack 300 shots during a down year.

    His plus-minus is so-so, but that shouldn't deter you from grabbing Stamkos early in your draft. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see Stamkos be taken over our No. 1 player quite frequently this year.

1. Sidney Crosby

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    Sidney Crosby is the best fantasy player available when he's healthy. He's missed considerable amounts of time over the last three seasons with various injuries, but the good news is that he wasn't on the IR in 2013 because of a concussion.

    He took a puck to the face and missed the final 12 games of the season and still garnered consideration for the Hart Trophy. Pretty ridiculous when you think about it.

    Crosby's point-per-game average over the last three years is 1.61. If he's in the lineup, he's going to put up a point of some kind. His plus-minus is always in the plus-20 range, and Crosby is capable of firing close to 300 shots on goal through an 82-game season.

    We could ramble on about Crosby and his accolades, but either you're in his camp at this point or you aren't. If you want to let the most explosive offensive force in the NHL slide to the guy who has the second pick in your league, we're sure he won't mind.