1. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI — The Chicago Blackhawks right wing was the most-dynamic forward at the 2018 World Championship. Kane led all players with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 games, including multiple highlight-reel plays, to win tournament MVP and help the United States to a bronze medal. He was the first player to amass the 20-point mark in the World Championships since 2008, when Dany Heatley had 12 goals and eight assists in nine games for Canada. Kane’s performance indicates he could easily bounce back and finish among the top 10 fantasy players next season. It’s also intriguing that he played on a line with Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat, who had nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 10 games. This duo could carry over its chemistry to reap fantasy rewards next season.
2. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR — The New York Rangers center was electrifying for Sweden en route to the gold medal at the Worlds. The 25-year-old finished the tournament with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 10 games centering the top line with mostly Anaheim Ducks wing Rickard Rakell and Dallas Stars wing Mattias Janmark. Zibanejad’s strong performance signifies a potential breakout season in the Rangers’ No. 1 center role. New York’s top six will look different than in years past without Rick Nash and J.T. Miller, so Zibanejad, Chris Kreider (United States) and Pavel Buchnevich (Russia) will be given every opportunity to succeed under reported new coach David Quinn and will be worth targeting in fantasy drafts.
3. Sebastian Aho, LW/RW, CAR — The Carolina Hurricanes forward finished second in tournament scoring with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in eight games despite Finland not advancing to the medal round. Aho carried over NHL success with forward Teuvo Teravainen (C/LW/RW in Yahoo), who finished fourth with 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in eight World Championship games. The Hurricanes will have a new look next season with recently hired coach Rod Brind’Amour and could see Aho and Teravainen each eclipse 70 points for the first time in their NHL careers.
Worth noting: Hurricanes forward Martin Necas, 19, finished the tournament with five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games for Czech Republic. The 2017 first-round pick (No. 12) will be competing for a spot in the young, talented Hurricanes top six.
4. Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS — The 20-year-old defenseman was a late arrival to the tournament after the Boston Bruins’ second-round loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but wasted no time slotting in as the United States’ top defenseman. McAvoy finished the tournament tied for first among all defensmen with nine points (three goals, six assists), despite playing in two fewer games than Finland’s Markus Nutivaara (Columbus Blue Jackets; three goals, six assists). McAvoy missed 19 games during the NHL regular season but still showed signs of being an elite all-around defenseman; he led all rookie defensemen in even-strength points (25) and may see an increased role on the power play next season. His performance on this stage proves McAvoy can produce with the best players in the world and is a must-target player in middle rounds for the Bruins, whose roster will remain largely intact.
5. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM — The Edmonton Oilers forward fell short of his Yahoo preseason rank (16), but still managed his second-consecutive 70-point season despite the Oilers finishing 17 points out of a playoff spot. Draisaitl had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven World Championship games for Germany, who struggled to generate offense (next-highest scorer had five points). Draisaitl’s individual performance highlights his potential to have a bounce-back season with exposure to elite center Connor McDavid (17 points at Worlds), forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (eight points) and prospect Kailer Yamamoto, who could be a mainstay for the Oilers next season.