Predicting the 2012-13 Statistics for Sidney Crosby, NHL's Top 25 Players

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJune 29, 2012

Predicting the 2012-13 Statistics for Sidney Crosby, NHL's Top 25 Players

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    It's early in the offseason, but many NHL teams are already holding their rookie/prospect camps and training camps will reopen before we know it.

    Predicting the future performance of a player is always tricky. There are so many variables, including trades, injuries, coaching changes and other factors, but we can still make an educated guess as to how a player will perform based on his past statistics, age, the team he plays for and many other factors.

    So, here's a look at some of the top players in the NHL and how they should do in 2012-13.

    There will surely be some disagreements and discussion, but that's always part of the fun, so enjoy and bring it on.

25. James Neal

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    After a rough start in Pittsburgh, Neal caught fire in his first full season in the Steal City.  Playing on a line with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can bring out the best in any goal scorer.

    Neal is just 25 and about to enter his prime. He should continue to play on the Penguins' first line and get plenty of power-play time, which should mean another productive season for the Whitby, Ontario native.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 39

    Assists: 44

    Points: 83

24. Brad Richards

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    Richards put up good, not great, numbers in his first season on Broadway, but proved his value to the team with a strong showing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Richards is more of a setup man than a sniper. He and the Rangers will be without Marian Gaborik early in the season due to injury, which may affect Richards' assist totals, although the Rangers are rumored to be looking to add a big-time goal scorer either via trade or free agency.

    Now that he is more comfortable in his new surroundings, look for Richards to have a slightly better year in 2012-13.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 25

    Assists: 48

    Points: 73

23. Zach Parise

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    Parise has been a model of consistency for the Devils. In each of the past five seasons, he has been healthy and has scored more than 30 goals and 62 points.

    This summer, Parise will be the most highly sought after free agent on the market, and where he signs will have an effect on his production next season.

    While some pro athletes struggle after signing big contracts, look for Parise to continue his steady output and maybe or even improve upon it if he lands in a system that is more freewheeling than the one the Devils played until this season.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 36

    Assists: 45

    Points: 81

22. Henrik Zetterberg

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    Zetterberg's point totals fell off a bit last year, and at 32, some critics may be ready to say he is slowing down, but don't count him out just yet.

    The hard-working Swede should continue to put up good numbers despite the loss of Nick Lidstrom on the Red Wings' blue line.

    The Wings now have some cap space to bring in more talent in free agency, and if they are able to land a top-shelf talent like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, it will only help Zetterberg's production.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 23

    Assists: 55

    Points: 78

21. Shea Weber

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    Weber remains one of the steadiest and most talented defensemen in the game today, and he will get plenty of ice time for the Predators next season.

    The biggest questions surrounding Weber revolve around his contract status. Unless he signs a new extension with the Preds, he can become a free agent next summer. Does Weber have a monster season to try to secure a huge new contract, or does the pressure of impending free agency hurt him?

    Also, the likely loss of fellow defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency this year will probably make things tougher on Weber.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 17

    Assists: 31

    Points: 48

20. Jason Spezza

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    Spezza had a bounce-back season in 2011-12 after two injury-plagued campaigns that saw him put up sub-par point totals.

    He's been a force in this league for so long that it's hard to believe the Senators pivot is still only 29.

    With a healthy Daniel Alfredsson and the electric moves of Erik Karlsson, the big Senators center should continue to produce if he stays healthy.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 32

    Assists 55

    Points: 87

19. Martin St. Louis

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    Critics have been doubting Martin St. Louis throughout his hockey career. He was too small or too old or whatever, but somehow, the undrafted Laval, Quebec native gets the job done.

    St. Louis has excellent hockey sense and is the perfect setup man for Steven Stamkos, arguably the game's best sniper.

    It is likely the 37-year-old will start to slow down a bit, but a slightly slowed down St. Louis is still better than most players in this league.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 23

    Assists: 55

    Points: 78

18. Zdeno Chara

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    At 35, big Zdeno Chara remains one of the most dominant defenseman in the NHL and a force nobody wants to play against.

    At 6'9", he is the largest player in the NHL and can be almost impossible to go around for opposing forwards.

    Chara has a strong shot and continues to contribute to the Bruins' power play. He is also capable of playing 25-plus minutes a game.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 11

    Assists: 39

    Points: 50

17. Jonathan Toews

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    Toews got through an injury-plagued season that saw him miss 23 games, but he still nearly scored 30 goals.

    Toews is a great young leader and the most talented player the Blackhawks have. Expect him to bounce back from last year and put up more typical Toews-like numbers if he can stay healthy and play at least 75 games.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 41

    Assists: 44

    Points: 85

16. Anze Kopitar

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    Anyone who watched the Kings in the playoffs had to notice the immense talent and ability that Anze Kopitar brings to the ice.

    The big Slovenian actually increased his point total last year despite the offensive struggles of the Kings for most of the season. Kopitar is just 25 and still hasn't reached his prime.

    Look for Kopitar to continue to be the No. 1 center in Los Angeles and to continue to develop with the Kings,, despite a possible Stanley Cup hangover.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 28

    Assists: 52

    Points: 80

15. Jordan Eberle

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    22-year-old Jordan Eberle nearly doubled his point total in his second season, and as the young Oilers mature as a team and Eberle matures physically, his point totals should continue to improve.

    The talented young center will earn plenty of power-play time and ice time. The addition of Nail Yakupov and a healthy Ryan Nugent-Hopkins adds some more weapons to the Oilers' arsenal. That can only help give Eberle more room on the ice as opposing defenses have more players to worry about.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 38

    Assists: 47

    Points: 85

14. John Tavares

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    Tavares has increased his point total in each of his three NHL seasons. He is a determined player who has worked hard to improve his strength and skating, two things that were considered weaknesses when he first entered the league.

    Tavares may lose linemate P.A. Parenteau, but as long as Matt Moulson is still playing with Tavares, he will have plenty of support.

    It's hard to believe Tavares will be 22 just before the season starts. Look for him to continue to make progress towards NHL stardom.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 33

    Assists: 55

    Points: 88

13. Pekka Rinne

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    Rinne has been THE man in Nashville recently, leading the Preds to back-to-back appearances in the second round of the playoffs.

    Expect Rinne to play at least 65 games this year for a Nashville team without a lot of scoring prowess. The Preds rely on Rinne to keep them in games, even when they are badly out-chanced.

    Rinne will turn 30 during the coming season and is in the prime of his career. Right now, he is one of the best goalies in the NHL.

    The likely loss of Ryan Suter on defense could have an adverse affect on the Preds as a team, and will likely make Rinne's job more difficult.

     

    Prediction

    Wins: 40

    Save PCT: .921

    GAA: 2.31

12. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Kovalchuk had a great season last year for the Devils and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

    The biggest question facing the Russian superstar is what effect the anticipated departure of Zach Parise will have on Kovalchuk. Playing on a line with Parise last year helped increase Kovalchuk's point total by 23 points over the previous season.

    Expect Kovy to get plenty of ice time and continue to play the point on the Devils' power play. Unless the Devils find an adequate linemate to replace Parise, though, expect Kovalchuk's stats to level off just a bit.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 31

    Assists: 42

    Points: 73

11. Phil Kessel

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    Phil Kessel remains a supremely talented offensive player. Kessel should benefit from the Leafs' recent addition of a new weapon in James van Riemsdyk. At the very least, a big forward like JVR will prevent opponents from keying on Kessel and should give him some more space on the ice.

    Kessel will still be the Leafs go-to goal scorer next season, and expect him to play plenty of minutes and see time on the first power-play unit. 

    He will turn 26 just before opening day and is just entering his prime. This should be a strong year for Kessel.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 40

    Assists: 44

    Points: 84

10. Henrik Sedin

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    Twin brother Daniel gets a lot more goals, but Henrik Sedin remains one of the reasons for his brother's success as a sniper and is one of the more talented setup men in the NHL.

    Henrik is sure to have some talented players on his line and see action on the Canucks' top power-play unit, so there should be plenty of opportunities for him to have another very successful season with a heavy emphasis on assists.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 18

    Assists: 72

    Points: 90

9. Erik Karlsson

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    Karlsson had a breakout season last year and put up such strong offensive numbers that he won the Norris Trophy despite his defensive shortcomings.

    As he enters his fourth NHL season, Karlsson is still just 22 years old and his best hockey should still be in front of him.

    The Senators' coaching staff allows Karlsson to freelance a lot and step up into plays to join the rush. He is a very accurate passer and has a good shot from the point as well.

    Look for continued production from this young Swedish star.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 20

    Assists: 64

    Points: 84

8. Alex Ovechkin

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    Getting Adam Oates as his new coach may be the best thing that happened to Alex Ovechkin this offseason.

    Ovechkin has seen his point totals drop for each of the last four years as the Capitals tried to play a more conservative style of hockey that never seemed to work too well with the personnel they had in Washington.

    Oates favors an aggressive forecheck and knows offense as well as anybody in the game, while still stressing discipline. That should be a good combination for Ovechkin, who needs to recover his love for the game and his desire to excel.

    A healthy Nicklas Backstrom for a full season could only further help Ovechkin.

    Look for "The Great Eight" to have a bounce-back season next year.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 42

    Assists: 43

    Points: 85

7. Henrik Lundqvist

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    The biggest question surrounding Lundqvist and the Rangers is whether or not GM Glen Sather will provide more offensive help for a team that struggled to score goals in 2011-12.

    If the Rangers add a Rick Nash or a Bobby Ryan to their roster, Lundqvist's win total could go up even if his save percentage and goals against average slip a bit from last season's Vezina Trophy-winning performance.

    At 30, Lundqvist is in his prime and plays in front of a team that blocks a lot of shots and plays a defense-first style preferred by John Tortorella. It should be another solid year for "The King."

     

    Prediction

    Wins: 40

    Save Pct: .919

    GAA: 2.15

6. Daniel Sedin

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    The scoring half of the Sedin twins missed 10 games due to a late-season injury and was ineffective in a cameo in the playoffs, but he still finished the season with 30 goals.

    As long as Daniel and brother Henrik remain on the same line, there is no reason to believe the 32-year-old Swedes should start to slow down just yet.

    Daniel should continue to see first line minutes and get major power-play opportunities.  Furthermore, he plays with one of the best setup men in the game. Look for a bounce-back year from Daniel in 2012-13.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 39

    Assists: 55

    Points: 94

5. Jonathan Quick

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    Jonathan Quick showed that his outstanding regular season was no fluke. The 26-year-old Connecticut native was last seen leading the Kings to a Stanley Cup title and collecting the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

    Sure, the Kings may have a Stanley Cup hangover—almost all teams that win do—but even with a sluggish start, expect Los Angeles to have a stronger regular season in 2012-13 than they did last year when they barely squeaked into the playoffs.

    Quick should show no signs of slowing down and there is a big, talented club in front of him.

     

    Prediction

    Wins: 38

    Save PCT: .924

    GAA: 2.03

4. Sidney Crosby

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    Crosby remains the biggest wild card on this list. Does he finally have a healthy season? Do all of the concussions he has suffered start to affect his game?

    "Sid the Kid" is still only 25, and even during the past two injury-shortened campaigns, he averaged more than a point a game. He sees the ice very well, finds creases to get shots away and has great hockey sense, but can we count on him to play more than 60 games?

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 36

    Assists: 55

    Points: 91

3. Claude Giroux

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    Giroux remains an up-and-coming star who is just starting to enter his prime at the age of 24.

    Playing on a line with Jaromir Jagr was a big help for Giroux last year, and he may not have that luxury again if the Flyers don't re-sign the veteran winger. Either way, Giroux seems to have learned a lot from Jagr and will take those lessons with him.

    He promises to see plenty of time on the Flyers' top line and should continue to develop into one of the league's better players.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 31

    Assists: 68

    Points: 99

2. Steven Stamkos

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    Stamkos hit the magic 60-goal mark and it's hard to believe the Lightning star is just 22 years old and probably still hasn't reached his prime.

    As long as the Bolts keep Martin St-Louis around to feed Stamkos pucks, he should continue to put up impressive numbers. Stamkos is the best sniper in the league and sees plenty of time on the power play, where he is even more dangerous.

    He may not hit 60 goals again this season, but he should come close.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 56

    Assists: 51

    Points: 107

1. Evgeni Malkin

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    Malkin is coming off a great season, leading the NHL in points and winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP, and he did it all without Sidney Crosby for most of the season.

    And that may be just why Malkin won't be able to match last year's numbers. While he still may be the most talented player in the league, Malkin will lose some ice time and some scoring chances to Crosby if "Sid the Kid" plays 60 or more games. "Geno" also seems to pick up his play when Crosby is out of the lineup.

     

    Prediction

    Goals: 41

    Assists: 50

    Points: 91