Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
NHL players are in training camp as they prepare for the 2018-19 season.
Plans are being made for successful seasons, and every team in the league would like to emulate the Stanley Cup won by the Washington Capitals last June.
The Caps’ triumph was particularly meaningful, because it represented the franchise’s first title after years of frustration. Prior to last season, it seemed like the Capitals would engage the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs nearly every year and come out on the short end.
This time Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals got the best of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. That was reality, although it must have seemed like a fantasy to long-time Capitals fans.
Just as players are preparing for the start of their season, fantasy players are also preparing for their fantasy leagues and pools.
While there are many developments in the coming weeks that could lead to changes in the names at the top of the draft, we offer a potential first-round mock draft. We expect many of these selections to hold barring serious injuries.
Here is the first round of a 10-team league.
1. C Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid may or may not be the best player in the league at this point, because Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin can make an argument that they are better and more impactful players. But McDavid is still surging as he starts his fourth year in the NHL. He scored 100 points two years ago and 108 points last year, and he is the fastest skater in the league. When it comes to fantasy hockey, McDavid is clearly the choice for any player with the No. 1 pick.
2. RW Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Kucherov is the best player on the defending Atlantic Division champions, and he is a bonafide 100-point scorer after reaching that level last year. Kucherov is an outstanding skater who has a slew of moves and can embarrass goaltenders with his skilled hands. The 25-year-old is a clearly established superstar, and he is still on the rise.
3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
At this point in his career, Crosby has clearly earned his place among the sport’s all-time greats. Perhaps he is not in the most elite group with Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe or his boss Mario Lemieux, but he may be in with the next group with Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull and Mark Messier. Crosby is all about coming through in the playoffs and bringing home another Stanley Cup. However, Crosby is still a big-time scorer and very dependable. He has scored between 84 and 89 points each of the last four years, and there’s no reason why he can’t reach that level again this season.
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
There have been times when Ovechkin has slumped and he can go for a week or two without scoring a goal. Those periods never last, and he is one of the game’s all-time best goal scorers. Ovechkin has the most powerful wrist shot in the game, and his slap shot can be unstoppable when he is hitting the corners. Ovechkin scored 49 goals last season, and he has exceeded the 50-goal mark seven times in his career. The 33-year-old Ovechkin is always hungry to score goals, and he should be one of the top scorers again this year.
5. C Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
It appeared that Seguin was heading to free agency as he went most of the summer with just one season remaining on his contract. However, the Stars and Seguin came to an agreement on an extension that will keep the high scorer with the team through the 2026-27 season. Seguin has scored 384 points in his five seasons with the Stars, with a peak of 84 points. There’s no reason Seguin could not score 90 points or more.
6. C-LW Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
With a couple of high-powered scorers like Seguin and Benn, the Stars could achieve great things if they could get the nuances of the game down. However, when it comes to fantasy hockey, these two are already formidable. Benn scored 36 goals and 43 assists last year, and his career high is 89 points.
7. LW Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
The “Little Ball of Hate” gets under the skin of most Boston opponents and he is not one of the more popular players in the league. However, his Bruins teammates love him for his dependable scoring and his confidence that comes to the forefront on an every-day basis. Marchand has improved steadily throughout his career, and he is coming off back-to-back 85-point season. The 30-year-old Marchand could exceed 90 points this season.
8. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
If and when Ovechkin starts to slow down, Laine has a chance to be the No. 1 goal scorer in the league. He has a vicious shot and an overwhelming release. The 20-year-old Laine has scored 36 and 44 goals in his first two seasons and it is just a matter of time before he nets 50 or more goals. Laine has a chance to be the key player on any fantasy team, and he is always hungry to score.
9. C Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are looked at as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year. While that may be a bit much because the team has not won a first-round series yet, the Leafs look like one of the more powerful teams in the league. Matthews is a devastating scorer who has a vicious wrist shot that he can get off from a variety of angles. The 21-year-old has scored 74 goals in his first two years, and he could easily score 40 goals or more every year.
10. LW Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
Hall came into his own last year and he won the Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Hall carried the Devils on his back to the playoffs, and he scored a career-high 93 points. Hall is just finding his stride and he could be able to meet or exceed that scoring totals this season.
Fantasy Team Names
If you’re holding a draft, you need a creative team name. We offer several for your consideration:
Barkov up the Wrong Tree
Everyday I’m Byfuglien
Fast & Fleuryious
Shut Your 5-Hole
These are Krejci, Krejci Times
The Vlasic Pickles
Glass of Marleau
Crash Test Domi