Every fantasy hockey manager knows the importance of selecting a franchise-type player in the first round of the draft, but the beauty of a keeper league is that it forces us to look ahead and consider who those guys might be three-to-five years down the road.
Here are five young players you must add to your keeper team this season.
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres
The rebuild is well under way in Buffalo, and key to the team's expected resurgence is the 18-year-old Reinhart.
Drafted second overall by the Sabres at the 2014 NHL Draft, the center possesses high-end passing skills that saw him average 1.15 assists per game in the WHL last season, adding 36 goals in 60 games to boot.
Reinhart signed his entry-level deal earlier this summer, and could be set to make the leap to the NHL as early as this season. Scoop him up and start reaping the benefits.
Sam Bennett, Calgary Flames
The Flames are as starved for talent as the Sabres, and could make room for the 2014 fourth overall pick on their roster this season.
Bennett boasts a strong two-way game that appeals to the Flames' brass, recording 36 goals, 55 assists and 118 penalty minutes in 57 games at the junior level in 2013-14.
Calgary kept Sean Monahan up with the big club last season, and Bennett is likely in line to start filling up the stat sheet as early as October.
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto may finally have found an ever-elusive number one center in the form of Nylander, drafted eighth overall back in June. The 18-year-old is undersized yet immensely skilled, and greatly impressed team president Brendan Shanahan at the club's rookie camp.
General manager Dave Nonis also pumped the kid's tires upon calling his name at the draft:
[Nylander] is the most talented player in the draft ... An issue for him is size (five-foot-nine, 170 pounds), but he’s grown a lot. In terms of foot speed, puck skills, he’s got all that ... He’s got NHL speed, NHL hands and an NHL shot right now.
(via The Toronto Star)
Nylander may need some AHL seasoning before plying his trade at the NHL level, but astute keeper managers should display the patience needed to benefit in the long run.
Anthony DeAngelo, Tampa Bay Lightning
Elite offensive defensemen are extremely valuable in fantasy hockey. DeAngelo - drafted 19th overall by the Lightning - led all OHL defensemen in scoring last season (averaging 1.39 points per game) and is already dreaming of dishing the puck to Steven Stamkos on the power play.
Steve Yzerman compared him Dan Boyle, who has been a fantasy staple for years. If DeAngelo even comes close to reaching that level, his fantasy owner's blue line will be in good hands for years to come.
Joshua Ho-Sang, New York Islanders
Islanders general manager Garth Snow claims Ho-Sang "probably has the most talent of anyone in that entire  draft," and the 18-year-old recently stated his goal is to be better than teammate John Tavares (via TSN).
It's a lofty aspiration to be sure, but his motivation to prove wrong the 27 teams that passed on him could spell big things for fantasy managers willing to bank on Ho-Sang's bite being as big as his bark.
There's no denying his talent; Ho-Sang scored 32 goals and added 53 assists in 67 OHL games last season.