Rasmus Dahlin: This year’s No. 1 draft pick has the talent to make a memorable first impression on the Sabres’ blue line. Not only is he a smooth-skating offensive starter who can join the rush, but Dahlin is responsible in his own end. He’s a complete player and at 18 years old, that immediately makes him one of the game’s best up-and-comers.
Erik Karlsson: All eyes will be on Karlsson in San Jose — to see how he adjusts after getting traded from the Senators and whether or not he signs an extension to remain with the Sharks. If he doesn’t, Karlsson likely will become the most coveted free agent next summer and his value will only increase if he helps the Sharks succeed.
Connor McDavid: Since debuting three years ago, McDavid has captivated the hockey world with his speed and skill. The Oilers captain has led the NHL in points each of the past two seasons, reaching at least 100 both times. With a track record like that, he’s an early favorite to win his second Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Alex Ovechkin: How Ovechkin returns to work after finally lifting the Stanley Cup should be interesting to watch. He posted a league-high 49 goals in the regular season but was just as important during the Capitals’ run, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Ovechkin’s poised once again to set the tone for Washington.
John Tavares: The intense spotlight that focused on Tavares in the offseason while he was deciding where to sign as a free agent hasn’t faded — not when Tavares returned home to hockey’s mecca after signing a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Last season, the 28-year-old center scored 37 goals and racked up 84 points — production Tavares could exceed with Mitch Marner on his wing and Auston Matthews his power-play partner.