11 – David Pastrnak
The six-year, $40 million deal the Bruins were able to get Pastrnak to agree to at the start of training camp is going to be a steal. He’s been one of the NHL’s top offensive producers per 60 minutes since coming into the league and last season put up 34 goals and 70 points after the Bruins took the training wheels off. The future is bright.
12 – Cam Atkinson
One of the biggest breakout stars on a Columbus team that was full of them last season. Atkinson exploded for 35 goals in 2016-17, nine of which were game-winners. He was the best player throughout the Jackets’ 16-game winning streak that stretched from November to January, putting up 10 goals and 18 points in that stretch.
13 – Patrik Laine
The second overall pick of the 2016 draft is the best pure goal scorer to come out since Alex Ovechkin was selected first overall in 2004. He was the best rookie not named Auston Mathews in the NHL last season, putting up 36 goals and 64 points in 73 games. Of those 64 points, 50 came at even strength. Laine won’t bury at the 17.6 percent rate like he did in his rookie campaign, but you have to figure he’ll shoot for a higher volume than the 204 pucks he put on net last season. Running alongside Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler won’t do his numbers any harm, either.
14 – Johnny Gaudreau
Gaudreau ripped it up in college but his size (or lack thereof) raised questions about how he’d fare in the NHL. Turns out he was just fine. At 24, Gaudreau is the face of one the NHL’s best young teams and among the best playmaking forwards in the league. Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are one of the top center-wing combos in the game.
15 – Filip Forsberg
When Forsberg caught fire in the second half of the 2016-17 season (22 of his 31 goals came in the final 41 games), it energized Nashville’s top line that consists of the 23-year-old, Ryan Johansen, and Victor Arvidsson. Much was made of the Predators defensive corps en route to the their first Stanley Cup Final appearance last season – and for good reason – but that top forward line had as much to do with it.