- Alexander Ovechkin (82-65-47-112-40) AO is the unquestioned top commodity in fantasy hockey. He should be the first guy off the board in every draft this season. I really don't know what else to say here. If I have to explain why Ovechkin is the clear top pick then you really have no business playing fantasy hockey to begin with.
- Dany Heatley (71-41-41-82-76) If you have a mid to late first-round pick you should start crossing your fingers that Heatley drops to where you pick. Heatley excels in all stats and managed to put up outstanding numbers last season despite things going about as badly as possible for Ottawa after October. Even if the top line is broken up in Ottawa, Heatley should still be skating with Spezza and he is going to produce.
- Henrik Zetterberg (75-43-49-92-34) Zetterberg may be the best all-around player in hockey, but that is only good for third on this list. There is no real question about whether or not Henrik will put up good numbers this year, but will the amount of talent on Detroit cut into his minutes (especially on the power-play) and keep him from putting up great numbers? That question is enough to put him behind AO and Heatley.
- Ilya Kovalchuk (79-52-35-87-52) I am going to make this entry as clear as I can... Kovalchuk is going to get you a lot of goals and not a lot else. If you draft Kovalchuk (which I am totally in favor of) be prepared to make up for some of his statistical shortcomings with other picks.
- Rick Nash (80-38-31-69-95) I like Rick Nash a lot as a player, but until Columbus gets some more complimentary talent around him I just can't bring myself to put him higher on this list. For now Nash is a solid fantasy player, but not a guy you want to be counting on to carry your offense.
- Brenden Morrow (82-32-42-74-105) Brenden Morrow is another guy who is going to contribute across the board. 2007-08 was by far the best season of his career offensively and he may not put up numbers that good again this season, but he has a lot of upside, an excellent playmaking center, and will play a lot. That's a recipe for a good fantasy campaign.
- Thomas Vanek (82-36-28-64-64) Thomas Vanek is probably the guy on this list with the biggest chance to make a big move up it by season's end. Vanek had a very good second half of last season and also has some talented players to run and gun with in Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. He is also a year removed from signing his big offer sheet, which should help him between the ears. A return to the 40-goal plateau is definitely a possibility for Vanek this season.
- Patrick Sharp (80-36-26-62-55) Right about here is the place on this list where a lot of guys start to run together. What gives Sharp the edge to me is +/- and shorthanded goals. Assuming you play in a league that tracks SHG, Sharp's value goes way up. Plus Chicago is a definite team on the rise so Sharp should at least match last season's production if not improve on it.
- Daniel Carcillo (57-13-11-24-324) When you hear about Daniel Carcillo most of the talk will revolve around PIM, and for good reason. If you have Carcillo on your team you can pretty much disregard PIM for the rest of your draft and be just fine in the PIM column. That said Carcillo brings some offense to the table, and that is what sets him apart from your average NHL tough guy. Carcillo would make a great second LW on any roster.
- Ryan Malone (77-27-24-51-103) I am very conflicted on Ryan Malone heading into this season. I like him as a player and I know the he is going to get every chance to excel in Tampa this season. At the same time, we are talking about a guy who played with Evgeni Malkin almost all of last season and only managed to put up 51 points. Are you going to argue that the Lightning have someone significantly more talented than Malkin for him to play with? I also think Malone will be dropping the gloves a lot less this season, and that hurts his value.
Chris Yarbrough is the GFH Fantasy Guru for the 2008-09 season. You can read more from Chris on his own blogs, Taking One for the Team and The Flower Shop.
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