It's never too early to look ahead if you're a fantasy hockey nut. So, in preparation for draft season, we rank the upcoming crop of rookies:
Note: We considered only standard-league categories (goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, penalty minutes, shots on goal). Ages are listed as of the start of the 2018-19 regular season.
10. Martin Necas, C/RW, Hurricanes
|HC Kometa Brno (Czech)||19||24||9||8||17|
Necas, whom Carolina's brass seems to adore, should slot in as the No. 2 or No. 3 center out of camp. The speedy youngster has the chops to make an impact as a rookie, will skate alongside quality NHLers - perhaps Sebastian Aho or Jeff Skinner - and should find a role on the second power-play unit. He's a safe bet for 30-plus points, but could be a plus/minus liability.
9. Andreas Johnsson, LW/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs
|Toronto Marlies (AHL)||23||54||26||28||54|
If Johnsson were on, say, the Canadiens, he wouldn't crack this list. As a member of the Leafs, however, his value is sky high, as he's one injury or lineup shuffle away from playing alongside Auston Matthews or John Tavares. And the small Swede's projected starting spot - Nazem Kadri's left wing - is nothing to sneeze at, either.
8. Filip Zadina, LW/RW, Red Wings
|Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)||18||57||44||38||82|
Zadina is a wild card who's worth the gamble. He's not guaranteed a full-time NHL gig this season, but is armed with an incredible shot. A fair projection would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 points, but there's a real possibility he spends more time in the AHL/junior ranks than with the Wings in 2018-19. Still, a near certainty is that the 6-foot, 196-pounder will be an all-world sniper sometime soon.
7. Henrik Borgstrom, C, Panthers
|University of Denver (NCAA)||21||40||23||29||52|
Flying under the radar due to his team's low profile and because he's never been hailed as a top prospect, Borgstrom will properly introduce himself to the hockey world this fall. The 2018 Hobey Baker Award finalist is a big-bodied playmaker with creativity in spades. He's in line to assume the Panthers' No. 3 center role behind Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck.
6. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sabres
|Frolunda HC (SHL)||18||41||7||13||20|
The first overall pick of 2018 is immediately the best defenseman in Buffalo. Dahlin will get first-pair minutes, quarterback the power play, and share the ice with Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt. The problem is, the Sabres are still a really bad hockey team, which means Dahlin will be shouldering a large defensive role and his plus/minus rating will most likely be in the red. Buyer beware.
5. Filip Chytil, C, Rangers
|Hartford Wolfpack (AHL)||19||46||11||20||31|
Chytil is ready for the big leagues after some marination. The Czech center is an excellent skater - especially for his size - and last year recorded 31 points in 46 AHL games and three points in nine NHL contests as an 18-year-old. Based on the state of the Rangers - new coach, young core, low expectations - Chytil should get every opportunity to rack up fantasy points in 2018-19.
4. Casey Mittelstadt, C, Sabres
|University of Minnesota (NCAA)||19||34||11||19||30|
The Minnesotan with magical hands will probably slot in right behind Jack Eichel on the Sabres' depth chart, as he appears ready to grab the No. 2 center role and run with it. Mittelstadt, who was named best forward at the 2018 world juniors, impressed in a six-game call-up last season, registering five points. Warning: Linemate quality - or lack thereof - may stymie his production.
3. Eeli Tolvanen, LW/RW, Predators
Tolvanen's an interesting case. He came to North America and the Predators this spring as a hot commodity - breaking KHL records will do that - but went pointless in a three-game stint before sitting out the entire postseason. Still, with a proper camp, time to acclimate, and a few goals early on, the skilled winger could set the table for a 50-point campaign. This is a potential high-reward option.
2. Elias Pettersson, C/RW, Canucks
|Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL)||19||44||24||32||56|
One of the most talked-about players outside of the NHL, Pettersson lit up the SHL last season, leading all scorers with 56 points in 44 games. He won the MVP award and became YouTube famous for his dynamite highlights. The hype train is gaining speed, and the crafty Swede - assuming the Canucks offer appropriate ice time and an offensive role - looks Calder Trophy-worthy.
1. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Hurricanes
|Barrie Colts (OHL)||18||44||40||32||72|
True rookies are inherently difficult to peg. Svechnikov, though, is the 2018 draft crop's sure thing with regards to fantasy production. The all-around power forward - who's both a volume shooter and an elite scorer - is joining a 'Canes team starved for goals. He should step right into a first-line role at five-on-five and a trigger spot on the power play. Bonus: he takes penalties.
* Honorable mentions: Jordan Kyrou (STL), Sam Steel (ANA), Lias Andersson (NYR), Owen Tippett (FLA) and Brady Tkachuk (OTT)